McCluskey’s high-risk gamble to secure Corbyn’s ground. Join Unite and help


News today of Len McCluskey’s intention to resign this week as General Secretary of Unite has come as a bolt from the blue. Or has it?

It’s been obvious for some time now that an attack on his leadership was going to be the culmination of the moves by Progress to pull Corbyn’s union support base out from under him – just as it’s obvious that the right-wing faction would happily lose the next election if it allows them to regain their control of the Labour party.

USDAW is already compromised. GMB is uncertain. Unison is heavily infiltrated and its leader’s loyalties in doubt. But for the Blairite faction to succeed in their ultimate aim it needs Unite under its control.

McCluskey was secure until the next Unite leadership election – in 2018, just as Corbyn’s Labour would be ramping up its preparations and campaigning for a 2020 election, giving the Progress plotters 2 years to conspire and organise to topple the steadfastly pro-Corbyn leader of the UK’s biggest union.

So his resignation now is a bold, brilliant but extremely risky strategy to make Unite a firm, pro-Corbyn base until well after the next election in 2020 or earlier.

Bold because it was unexpected, stakes everything on the outcome and will have caught by surprise both Labour’s right wing and any stooges they were hoping to stand against him.

Brilliant because in forcing them to battle he has deprived them at a stroke of two years’ preparation, making them fight an agile, ad hoc campaign to which they’re ill suited.

High-risk because if he fails and falls to a Progress candidate, it is likely to fatally wound Corbyn’s structural support-base.

So he must not fail.

If you’re a Unite member, make sure you vote – and if you can, make sure you campaign in your workplace, branch and region.

If you’re not – join. If you’re not a union member at all, it’s high time you became one anyway. If you’re a member of Unison or USDAW, you’re far better – at least right now – in Unite.

Here‘s where to join. Do it now and jump in – and share this so others do the same.

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      1. I have just been checking this and, according to my reading of the rules, it would appear the Community members ARE allowed to vote for General Secretary. See this:


        Note in particular:

        ‘2) All members of the union can vote in this election including members who pay retired members plus contributions and COMMUNITY members but excluding ordinary retired members who are not entitled to vote as per rules 3.2 and 15.1.’

        See also section 3.2 and 15.1 of the Unite Rules:


        Rule 3.2:
        ‘There shall be a category of membership for those members who are unable to follow employment because of retirement or permanent disablement. The Executive Council shall determine the qualifications for membership of this category as well as the level of contributions and entitlement to benefit. Such membership shall not accord an entitlement to
        vote in any ballot or election held by the Union OTHER THAN an election to the office of GENERAL SECRETARY under rules 15 and 16, an election to any position within the Retired Members’ Association or any ballot or election in which all members must by statute, be accorded an unconditional entitlement to vote, unless otherwise specified in these rules.’

        Rule 15.1 states:
        ‘All elections for the General Secretary shall be on the basis of a ballot of the WHOLE membership of the Union.

        Note also Rule 16.15:

        ‘The Executive Council may decide that members who have joined the Union after a prescribed date shall not be eligible to vote, provided the date shall not be more than 13 weeks before the first day on which voting is due to take place in that election.

        (my emphasis throughout)

        I am newish Unite members do correct me if I am wrong. It is important we clarify this point.

  1. “If you’re a member of Unison or USDAW, you’re far better – at least right now – in Unite.” Bridlington?

      1. 1939 Bridlington Principles are the rules set out to stop TUC members poaching one another’s members & ease competition between them

        Have to say, I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of autonomous unions being used for faction fighting, on whichever side. Join the union that matches your profession or with which your workplace has a collective bargaining agreement. using them for point scoring is hugely damaging.

      2. Yes, with respect, it’s a bit naughty, Skawk, suggesting that members switch unions from USDAW and Unison to Unite.

        Encouraging people who are NOT in a union to join Unite is one thing and is to be applauded. However, as Trade Unionist writes, this is in breach of the Bridlington Agreement which forbids TUC-affiliated unions from poaching members from other affiliated unions. It would cause chaos and disunity within the union movement if this were allowed to happen.

      3. Neither this blog nor the writer are a TUC-affiliated union, so the BA doesn’t apply, nor is anyone being poached anyone to join this blog.

  2. I am a retired life member of the GMB and I would gladly resign from the GMB and take a life time membership of Unite, If that is possible.

  3. “Neither this blog nor the writer are a TUC-affiliated union, so the BA doesn’t apply, nor is anyone being poached anyone to join this blog.”

    Missing the point massively. Encouraging people to change unions for factional reasons only weakens our movement. Trade unions shouldn’t be a tool for infighting.

    If you’re a member of any union other than Unite this is none of your concern.

    1. The point was I’m not ‘poaching anyone to join me’. And yes, I’m a Unite member – but it’s a much wider issue than that.

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