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Stop negative campaigning in the Unite General Secretary election

Jerry Hicks’ campaign for Unite General Secretary seems to involve campaigning on the line that Len McCluskey has not been vocal or organised enough in the struggle against austerity; a position which is totally untenable when tested by a quick look at the current General Secretaries’ record and stated public positions.

In reality, Unite’s message has been clear, saying “no to all cuts-don’t make workers pay for the crisis.” Indeed, even in the time since Hicks declared his candidature, Len McCluskey has been a leading signature in the call for the Coalition of Resistance initiated People’s Assembly Against Austerity in June!

United Left – the explicitly socialist current within the union which most organised left groups and individual left-wingers within Unite clearly belong to – has endorsed Len McCluskey for this reason.

Jerry Hicks also argues that it is wrong not to hold a General Secretary election around the same time as the next General Election, even though clearly all class-conscious labour movement activists will be prioritising removing the Con-Dem Government at that time.

One would hope such a sectarian approach will not gain much support within the Labour Left or readers of this website.

To conclude, whilst it is true that some small elements of the organised Left may support Jerry Hicks’ candidature, the fact that McCluskey has been nominated by 1046 Unite branches, compared to 136 for Hicks demonstrates that McCluskey not only has the overwhelming backing of broader progressive opinion but also of the active membership of his union.


  1. John Stone says:

    I read your comment with interest and will declare from the outset that I am a Jerry Hicks supporter.
    I believe that Len McCluskey has been very vocal on a number of issues affecting our members. But, our members want action not words. Stand with them on picket lines, shout from outside the factory gates. Complaints have been made that disputes are only joined under this leadership once the winning post is in view.
    Len has achieved a great many more nominations than Jerry Hicks, as he did in 2010. In 2010 Jerry Hicks got more than half Len’s total in votes of the membership with two other candidates standing. This points t a disconnect between the leadership and the membership. Branch nominations are not an indication of how our members will vote.
    I wish Len good luck and hope that the negative campaigning of both sides is kept in check.
    I hope you will be allowing Jerry Hicks the right of reply to this article.

  2. i have been a member of a trade union for 25 years i have aslo been a work place rep for 16 years i am fed up with the union and the labour party not being in touch with normal people after this election in unite i am thinking about giving it all up its a lot to give up but my health is not so good and i want to spend more time with my family the struggle may continue and i wish all my brothers and sisters the best of luck

  3. Sean McGovern says:

    John Stone, I recall in September 2010 at the Friend’s Meeting House in Manchester that Hicks was given a platform from which to speak to a cross section of Unite’s Left; and I also recall he carried out a couple of expertly choreographed walk-outs.

    So stage-managed was the event that Hicks had even had the foresight to book a room in the same venue from which he gave a press conference.

  4. Anne Bonny says:

    I also note your careful use of language in this article and agree that Len has been vocal. That’s where it ends though isn’t it? That’s exactly the problem.
    I also note your line about ‘class-conscious labour movement activists’ wanting to concentrate on getting rid of the Con-Dems and I would say to you that there is more than one way to skin a cat, you simply lack imagination, which is quite surprising for a group which claims to be, what are you? Left wing? Socialist? Yet you back Len and therefore New Blue Labour. Hmmmm

  5. Ivan Monckton says:

    Two of your comments are complaining of Len being vocal, but not “acting”, which is ironic given that the commenters have been both very vocal and very vitriolic throughout the election campaign so far. So, here’s a question for them both…What “action” have you been on in the last month? For the record, I have a deal of respect for Jerry Hicks and his record. However, some of his “supporters” appear to have come from nowhere and done nothing within the union.Indeed, some who have infiltrated Unite and other sites are not even members….

  6. Jerry Gould says:

    The problem here is trust not declared political policies, the supporters of Jerry Hicks are saying ‘Don’t take the Union for granted’ it is the responsibility of the General Secretary to represent us, if he is following any Party Line he is clearly not doing that. The democratic reforms JH proposes should be discussed, the election should be contested this is just the democratic process at work. The only thing that would stop me voting for Len McClusky is believing he is a Labour Party hack and is representing the Party in the Union rather than the other way round.

  7. Graham Durham says:

    Well ,Matt,you seem to be receiving plenty of opposition to this backing for Len – unusual for this blog.

    This reflects the strong feeling amongst UNITE members that we need more action and less words from our Gen Sec – £6million worth of UNITE to the LP and trade unionists got what from Brown and Miliband.As a Labour member,supporter ,former Labour councillor I would say NO Funding UNLESS WE HAVE CLEAR PLEDGES AND ACTION IN GOVERNMENT ON UNITE POLICIES.It was awful to see McCluskey clapping Miliband’s One Nation speech which promised austerity,attacks on the working-class and not a word on restoring basic trade union rights

    It is astonishing that Jerry Hicks has received 130+ branch nominations – considering all the well paid and highly motivated union bureaucrats trying to prevent this .Admit it Matt Mc\Cluskey thought there would be no election – well we are not satisfied with left talk and no action

  8. Anne Bonny says:

    Vocal and vitriolic is it Ivan? I’m not the one who had to be told to stop swearing and name calling on Unites FB page. Nor was it me censoring the page by removing comments which broke no rules. It was the Unite establishment who didn’t want to have any discussion about the election.
    I have been to plenty of rallies over the last two months and long before that too and both myself and friends who have been treated badly and undemocratically are all members of Unite as are my family and former members of staff.
    I would go into more detail for you Ivan, but I don’t want to be called names and sworn at when you respond.

  9. Ben says:

    If Jerry’s campaign really wants to reach out beyond the active membership who attend branch meetings (who clearly support Len), I’d suggest they need to up their game substantially.

    The website listed in Jerry’s Twitter profile hasn’t been updated since April 2012, whilst this then refers people on to the Grass Roots Left site (i.e. not Jerry’s campaign), which has only had one item (a press release) posted this year.

    I’m trying to remain positive, but I don’t think it’s an unfair expectation in 2013 for challenging candidates to be regularly updating us on the kind of movement they’d want to build. It would be rather worrying if the first (and final) words ordinary members get to hear from Jerry is what goes out in the ballot mailing.

  10. John Stone says:

    It seems that the only reply here is to attack personally the commentators to this article. What we are seeing here is not vitriol Ivan, what we is seeing is anger. I am and have been a member of Unite since it was created, a member of the T&G since 1988, I have been on protests up and down the country and I do not need to validate myself to you.
    The anger is due to our Union being hi-jacked for a self-interest led by Len McCluskey, even if I believed the excuse given, (please note Jerry), that the election was moved 3 years forward to stop a clash with the general election in 2015 and so our Union is free to campaign for New Labour. WHY?
    NOW is when we should be campaigning. NOW is when the members are being picked off and terms and conditions being attacked. NOW is when we should be supporting and standing shoulder to shoulder with the Blacklisted workers fighting right now for justice.
    Ivan Monkton, you launched a foul mouthed tirade at Jerry Hicks supporters in the Unite Facebook group, so do not speak to me of vitriol.
    Give us reasons to elect Len McCluskey and stop the arrogance.
    Sean I don’t understand what your point is. Jerry Hicks should be given a right of reply to this article and there should be a debate between the two candidates.

  11. George Anthony says:

    Hicks sold his members out when they struck for him to be reinstated
    Instead he took £50,000
    What will he do for the members, if he gets GS

  12. Ivan Monckton says:

    St Anne,
    Full of lies and rubbish, what IS the matter with you? I used 1 swearword on FB and nobody apart from a few of you fanatics took me to task for it….of course, none of you ever swear do you.
    Anyway, I have no intention of playing your childish games. If you ever get around to debating issues, rather than your boring whinges, I may engage, otherwise, enjoy the rest of the campaign and goodbye.

    John Stone
    If you had been an active member of United Left at last GS election, you would know what Sean was talking about. And, by the way, I suggest you get hold of a dictionary….

  13. Dave says:

    As a Unite member I do believe the contribution to the L.P. needs to be reviewed – why bother helping the undemocratic Sainsbury party, already with a substantial presence within the PLP, achieve further advances? They’ll most likely walk (as did the Sainsbury funded SDP) should Labour present a non-Tory alternative.
    But I’ll be voting for Len because I don’t think Hicks is up to the task.

  14. John Stone says:

    Mr Monckton,
    I thank you for your contribution to this article. You are the perfect example of why we members will not vote for a continuation of the current leader, you are one of his bullies who can only spit insulting language and insults at paid up members of Unite. You are a member of the Executive that voted for this early election, what has angered you is that there is an election that was not supposed to happen. Your attempt to deny the members a vote has failed. Shame on you.
    I suggest you stop insulting members and get back to running your business, by the way, how is it that a self employed businessman can get a place on the Executive?
    Any time you want to debate with me I am there and I may even bring a dictionary just to please you. Shall we debate why a GS gets a six figure salary? Or why McCluskey has given Labour 6 Million pound of member’s money despite saying in 2010, “No blank cheques for Labour”? I tell you what, how about you open up all the Len Supporting groups, so we can have the debate instead of hiding behind, blocking, banning and censorship of member’s opinions.
    How was my spelling that time.

  15. all len mccluski seems to do is talk and more talking with little action 2 marches in london and nothing else while pcs and rmt calling for 24 hr strike nothing from unite and yet we hear strong language from our gs but nothing else as a member and a activist i feel the we should be doing more to fight this goverment we were promissed that their would be no more blank cheques to the labour party that was a lie labour have received large sums of members money that realy should be spent on looking after and education our people i was banned for a comment made on unites face book page remember you may feel that it is your union but it is ours as well and we have a right to post our views just as you have

  16. Ivan Monckton says:

    John Stone
    As I have told you on other forums, I never had any doubt there would be an election. As I also told you, but which you failed to understand, I, and the majority of the Executive voted AGAINST increasing the threshold for nominations needed before a candidate could stand.
    As for insulting members, who was it that used nazi jibes against me? Self employed?….you really know nothing about the history of rural trade unionism at all, do you? (Or for that matter Unites cab section).How did I get a place on the Executive? By being chosen and supported by members in my section….you should try it sometime, but then, it’s always better to start as a shop steward or branch official first.
    Blocking? Who blocked me on facebook?
    And finaly, I loved your reference to “paid up” members….
    Goodbye Mr Stone, I hope you don’t feel too crushed when paid up Unite members DO vote for a continuation of the current leader.Maybe then you will put in as much energy and gusto into fighting for working people (God knows there are enough causes) as you do into rubbishing the best Unite/TGWU/Amicus leader we have had in decades.

  17. we will see who gets nominated for gs its up to rank and file members and not ec members or officers of the union and as for best gs you cannot compare lens 2 years in office compaired to tony woodley reign

  18. John Stone says:

    Ivan Monkton everyone. An example of your Executive.
    I rest my case. My work here is done.

  19. lets get this election over it may be len mc or jerry hicks leading us but who ever wins we need to fight this goverment before its too late before every thing we hold dear is destroyed by the con dems and their rich chums

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