By Dave Sewell
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Failing campaign in data buying scandal

This article is over 7 years, 1 months old
Issue 2544
There are accusations of wrongdoing in the Unite union leadership election
There are accusations of wrongdoing in the Unite union leadership election (Pic: Andrew Skudder/Flickr Creative Commons)

The Unite union leadership has accused Gerard Coyne of donating union funds in exchange for Labour Party membership data to help his leadership campaign.

West Midlands regional secretary Coyne is the right wing challenger in Unite’s general secretary election.

Unite last week blocked a £10,000 donation from the region to Labour’s West Midlands mayoral candidate Sion Simon.

Acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said Unite had received “overwhelming evidence that Mr Simon’s campaign and Mr Coyne’s campaign have entered into some form of a mutual support arrangement”.

“It was unauthorised and that it should be halted,” she said.

Coyne has accused Unite’s incumbent Len McCluskey of spending too much time on internal Labour Party politics.

But Coyne should look at his own record. He was formally disciplined last year for speaking at an event hosted by Labour right wingers Tristram Hunt and MP Chuka Umunna.

Despite Coyne’s high profile and connections in the union bureaucracy, his campaign is floundering. He won 187 Unite branch nominations, compared to McCluskey’s 1,185.


Left wing challenger Ian Allinson, a rank and file worker reliant on the backing of grassroots activists, got 76 branches to nominate him.

McCluskey talked about the Labour leadership last week, after being pressured for not standing clearly behind Jeremy Corbyn.

Allinson called for an “unambiguous statement” to “end the confusion about how reliable his support for Corbyn is”.

Even right wing deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said last week, “Where’s Len McCluskey defending his leader in this difficult time?”

So McCluskey told Channel 4, “I always support the leader of our Labour Party,” and that Corbyn “is a man of principle”.

This leaves plenty of room for ditching Corbyn after the Unite election.

McCluskey supporters’ claim that voting for Allinson would let Coyne win looks increasingly implausible.

McCluskey is under pressure from both left and right—and a left wing challenge is needed in the union more than ever.


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