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Why the left is supporting Len McCluskey for General Secretary

United Left, which holds a strong majority on UNITE’s executive council, is backing a general secretary election to give Len McCluskey a new five year mandate. This will give us time to complete the merger (of Amicus and the TGWU) and make UNITE “fit for purpose“. It also delays the next general secretary election some two years after the general election 2015, avoiding a clash which would invite outside interference. This is an astute political decsion by United Left to maximise Len’s term of office and embed the left in our new Union.

Len’s record over his first two years in office has been an extraordinary success. Together with a left Executive we are building the best and biggest fighting back union in Britain and Ireland.

Here are just some of Len’s achievements as a Left General Secretary:

  • Real leadership in the fight against austerity – UNITE’s message is clear: “no to all cuts-don’t make workers pay for the crisis
  • Real progress in branch reorganisation to create workplace branches
  • £25m dispute fund set up
  • Major resources devoted to our highly successful Leverage strategy in disputes
  • A genuine fighting back strategy that is seeing real wins for UNITE workers when they take strike action
  • Community membership introduced – a first in the union movement
  • 50,000 new members from a relaunched 100% campaign
  • Plans for a new conference/training centre in Birmingham city centre
  • New fightback in the Labour Party – no more blank cheques!
  • New e-comms strategy giving UNITE the best website and member contact in the union movement
  • Membership data systems overhauled and simplified
  • No repudiations of any dispute since Len took office
  • Root and branch review started of every UNITE department to make it “fit for purpose
  • A tolerant open and democratic union

Len McCluskey’s popularity within UNITE is riding high. A refreshed mandate for Len will strengthen UNITE’s position as the leading Union in the fight against austerity. That’s important not just for UNITE members but for the movement as a whole.

This article previously appeared in LRC Briefing and on the United Left website. Martin Mayer is chair of United Left and a member of both the UNITE executive council and Labour’s national executive.

22 Comments

  1. Laban says:

    How are the wages, terms and conditions of Unite’s membership keeping pace with inflation? I don’t see anything about improving their standard of living.

  2. RedKev says:

    McCluskey and his supporters are setting a very dangerous precedent . Since when, in the history of democracy, has it ever been acceptable for a “leader” to unfairly extend their term in office , by calling a snap election . ALARM BELLS SHOULD BE RINGING!!!

    McCluskey, would have gained much more credibility , and possibly my support, if he had called an election on the basis that he would (a) take home a workers wage (b) ensure all Union officials were elected by the membership and accountable to them (c) given a guarantee he would not waste £millions of Unite members money on the Labour Party , without first securing a guarantee those workers would benefit ( Note: I am a LP member).

    But McCluskey hasn’t promised or even suggested that he will do any of this – He and some of his full time officials stand to do very well out of this attempted “coronation” – very well indeed! .

    Unfortunately, even many “lefties” have been fooled by McCluckey’s “well timed” speeches and Press Releases. Promising action, promising change tomorrow, Sure , yeah, jam tomorrow……… Wake up peeps !

    In order for our unions to become truly democratic and representative of the membership there needs to be a fundamental change in their structure. The top down domination of a bureaucratic , self-serving elite must be challenged and brought to account.

    Vote Jerry Hicks!

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      RedKev: Since when, in the history of democracy has calling an election been a dangerous attack on democracy? And we don’t censor – we just moderate in accordance with our comments policy, but we are sometimes allowed a few hours off!

  3. John Stone says:

    Bringing this election forward is a poor decision indeed. We are fighting one of the most evil governments in recent history so to have this distraction now is bad judgement. The United left have a grip on our Union that means we the members have very little say, members representation has been weajened by the badly handled branch reorganisation too with many active branches mine included closed and new massive now dormant branches to replace them. Members of this Union are at odds with the positive spin being put on McCluskey’s two years so far. He is slow to join disputes but takes the credit for them when they are a success BESNA for example. What happened to the general strike?
    The reasons the left give for calling an election now are so we will be free to campaign for New Labour in 2015. Why are we campaigning for a centre party?
    This whole election debacle is a disgrace and dishonest attempt by vested interests to consolidate their powerbase and make it impossible to remove them in the future.
    Think before you support this attempt to fool you.

  4. Rob the crip says:

    Community membership what a great idea, so long as it’s real and people who are unemployed get the same rights, then yes.

  5. Anne Bonny says:

    Under Len McClusky, as far as I can see, Unite has become a bedfellow of New Labour and moved further away from supporting grass roots membership, more and more bureaucratic and less and less accessible, more jobs for the boys than jobs for the workers.

  6. Dave says:

    Hi Rob – As I’m not working at the mo I joined the Unite community section and would recommend it – it’s a way of getting involved with campaigns and causes when your not in a particular workplace. I’ve found out about a lot of stuff going on that I would’ve otherwise missed.

    Best of luck to Len in the election.

  7. Rob the crip says:

    I have spent a life time 1966 in my Union the GMB well when it finally became the GMB, I may well change because to be honest the GMB is not as good as it use to be…..

  8. RedKev says:

    Why is Left Futures either delaying or censoring my contribution ?

  9. John Stone says:

    I think Len is wonderful.

  10. John Stone says:

    Why are you not publishing my comments?

  11. Greig says:

    I’m interested to see Len’s plans for the construction sector and in particular the election of shop stewards, safety reps and the re-organisation of construction branches because in construction it is not always clear cut, for instance when Len says “Real progress in branch reorganisation to create workplace branches”. That’s all fine in factories or offices etc but it isn’t always possible in a transient and more often bogus self employed workforce of hundreds of thousands, scattered to the four winds!
    After our historic win when we beat the biggest electrical contracting firms in Britain, all pushed by the successful creation Rank and File organisations all over the land, it’s time now to completely re-start with construction inside UNITE!!!

  12. RedKev says:

    Apparently ;

    “Left Futures is an independent on-line network which seeks to bring to the web the best writing and the sharpest criticism on the Left, and open debate about shaping the future. It is committed to socialism, sustainability, internationalism and democracy…”

    Why are you still either censoring or delaying my posts ?

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      RedKev & others: Satisfied now?

  13. Dave Plummer says:

    Another of Len’s achievements:

    Being part of the public sector pensions sell out which neutered the fighting unions and made it much harder to fight any other fight.

    Thanks Len!

    (In the interests of disclosure I’m a PCS rep finding it very difficult to build for action after the TUC PSLC pensions betrayal.)

  14. RedKev says:

    No -Not really happy Jon.
    I believe you were probably put under pressure not to go ahead and censor my ( and others ) comments by the mounting outrage you were causing . I originally posted on Jan 26th @ 12.33am yet nearly 12 hours later you finally decided to allow my comments on your site . Why was this ? Especially when others , who were supportive of Len, had their comments posted ,apparently , without any delay . If you try to calm this is NOT the case then I can provide photo evidence.

  15. RedKev says:

    PS: Sorry, slight correction: It wasn’t 12 hours later that you finally decided to allow my comments on your site – It was nearer 24 hours

  16. what we need is len mc and jerry hicks to go head to head on union tv mind you no more biased veiws from left wing media and it has to be on a even footing with both supporters having equal time to question each candidate like a labour husting

  17. so long as no one swears or makes sick jokes and yes their have been some bad taste remarks in this election we all have a duty as socalists and union members is to share are views and make coments on the 2 candidates in this election remember who we are and what we represent and who we represent we owe it to our selves and to our trade union brothers and sisters

  18. RedShift says:

    Some of the above comments from the Jerry Hicks fanclub are utterly ludicrous.

    United Left are backing Len. He’s been a good leader. He’s called an early election, yet apparently this is undemocratic (?!). Not to mention the bizarre conspiracy theories about posts not going up immediately (quite a lot of blogs do that).

    One of my only issues has been some of the unintentional affects of the branch reorganisation (i.e. pushing workplace branches means members in smaller workplaces that used to be grouped with larger ones, no longer have an active branch, which is going to make organising harder).

  19. John Stone says:

    United Left are backing Len McCluskey? Well that’s a shock I don’t think when a majority of the Executive are United Left members. Be very careful with this Election and the Branch reorganisation because it has parallels with what went on in the EETPU under Chappel. Member’s lost any power to make change under that regime and many changes since the Merger are doing the same. One of the reasons given to elect McCLuskey is so the Merger can be completed. I don’t know about you but that scares me to death…

  20. [...] month Martin Mayer, Chair of United Left, outlined McCluskey’s achievements to date as general secretary and why he [...]

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