Gerard Coyne’s campaign for Unite General Secretary has already plumbed such depths of contemptibility that he earned an unprecedented rebuke from the union for making false claims that damage it.
The decision by almost 1,200 Unite branches to support McCluskey’s nomination, compared to only 187 for Coyne, must be pushing the latter to desperate measures. Such as the interview published today in the Jewish Chronicle:
Coyne chose to manufacture an imagined exodus of Jews that has driven senior Unite officials to distraction at its distance from reality, in order to issue a ‘call’ to Jews to ‘re-join’ a union there’s been no departure from:
Worse still, Coyne chose to smear members of his own union – and the Labour Party – by reasserting antisemitism smears in a frankly disgusting way:
Responding to last week’s JC investigation which revealed how three Unite representatives on Labour’s NEC had been behind a decision not to issue warnings to two students accused of antisemitism and bullying, Mr Coyne said: “My view has always been, when dealing with discrimination as a union official, it is with those on the receiving end of the allegations where you start.
“You don’t start by defending those who are accused of having made the inappropriate comments.
“First and foremost, our representatives on Labour’s NEC are there to do a role on behalf of Unite. They are not there to be putting resources into defending the very people accused of wrongdoing. We don’t defend the indefensible. I don’t think that is right.”
As a Unite member, I’m extremely thankful that I’ve never been in a position to rely on Mr Coyne to argue anything on my behalf, because he seems to have forgotten – or simply discarded for short-term gain – one of the basic principles of justice: innocent until proven guilty.
Simply being accused of something is no indicator of guilt – and, given that the accusations were eventually completely discredited, ‘defending those who are accused” is exactly what union officials (on the NEC or anywhere else) should be doing.
Coyne is clearly lacking in principles and integrity, but he’s no idiot. He knows full well that the investigation found that there was no substance to the accusations – and not only in the eyes of his three Unite colleagues.
Labour Peer Baroness Royall, who conducted the investigation into the events at Oxford University that Coybe is referring to, found no evidence of antisemitism on the part of the accused and spoke of:
at least one case of serious false allegations of antisemitism which was reported to the police.
Ultimately, both people responsible for the antisemitism accusations were found to have been supporters of LibDem candidates with an obvious interest in damaging the Labour Party – and at least one of them was expelled from the party.
What’s more, as Coyne again must know, there was another case of alleged antisemitism not at Oxford University that was part of the same investigation – and which was proven to have been invented for political purposes.
Jasmin Beckett, a contender for the Youth position on Labour’s NEC, was exposed as inviting her supporters to spread rumours of antisemitism against her opponent Jason Elliott – as long as they hid their links to her first.
In a a Facebook group created to help co-ordinate her campaign, Ms Beckett asked her allies to:
Get a few people tweeting saying ‘shocked my union GMB are supporting James Elliott who is anti-semitic’?
Wishing to distance herself from the smear, even though it was her idea, Ms Beckett told supporters:
If you’ve got my twibbon on [a tag Twitter users can add to their profile photo to support a cause or person] and you want to go hard please take the twibbon off.
Another prominent supporter elaborated a methodology that has become all too familiar to those who follow such events:
Needs to look like a genuine complaint about racism and not a smear campaign!
In the end, Beckett won by one-tenth of a percent – and still holds a place on Labour’s NEC, unpunished for her despicable tactics, so if there is any fault at the NEC with regard to antisemitism allegations, it’s that those who make them up are allowed to get away with it.
If he feels informed enough about such events to presume to pontificate to the Jewish Chronicle about them, Mr Coyne has no excuse for not being aware of these facts – and it beggars belief to imagine that he is not.
Coyne is clearly prepared to fling old mud in the hope of renewing smears to revive a campaign that has grown increasingly hideous and is clearly foundering. And he doesn’t care whether he smears the Labour Party or fellow Unite officials.
It’s up to all Unite members to make sure Coyne sinks into the obscurity he deserves. Branch nominations may have overwhelmingly supported incumbent Len McCluskey, but the contest will be decided on individual votes and a low turnout would work in the challenger’s favour.
So if you are a Unite member, make sure that you cast your vote and cast it well. This contemptible and unprincipled individual must not be allowed anywhere near the leadership of the UK’s biggest union – for its members’ sake and for the country’s.
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