By Dave Sewell
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Bluster and bitterness in Unite leadership race as officials lash out against each other

This article is over 5 years, 4 months old
Issue 2548
Len McCluskey talks a good fight - but hasnt delivered enough of one
Len McCluskey talks a good fight – but hasn’t delivered enough of one (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The Unite union general secretary election reached new depths of bitterness last week with complaints against each of the two senior officials standing.

Unite has threatened to report right wing West Midlands regional secretary Gerard Coyne to the Information Commissioner.

Labour has admitted improperly giving Coyne contact details from its membership lists, allowing him to phone potential voters.

But incumbent Len McCluskey is also in hot water.

His campaign emailed members in branches that had not nominated him telling them they had.

This includes branches that actually nominated left wing, rank and file challenger Ian Allinson—and “defunct” branches that no longer meet.

Right wing Labour MP John Spellar complained to the Trade Union Certification Officer that 178 of the branches that nominated McCluskey “may not be bona fide”.


Spellar, a former EETPU union official, can give no lessons on democracy. His backing for Coyne is part of the Labour right’s drive to unseat twice-elected party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Unite responded with a threat to report Spellar to the Information Commissioner.

The one row of substance last week, about the 2013 Falkirk row, showed how little either McCluskey’s leadership or Coyne have to offer.

Smears about Unite’s role in Labour’s candidate selection were used by Grangemouth oil refinery bosses during the course of their attacks.

Coyne blamed McCluskey for “messing about” in politics.

But Unite official Pat Rafferty said Unite was blameless—despite its failure to lead a fight back.

Socialist Worker calls for a vote for Ian Allinson.

Coyne would be a big step backwards—but McCluskey’s leadership isn’t delivering the action that’s needed.

The election runs until 28 April. Go to

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