Amid today’s furore about Tom Watson’s ludicrous and hypocritical – and unchallenged by his BBC interviewers – claims that an innocuous conversation involving Momentum’s Jon Lansman represented a ‘left-wing takeover’ when the right-wing has been doing exactly the same and worse, a potentially far more serious piece of information has reached the SKWAWKBOX.
The SKWAWKBOX’s article on Watson’s nonsense highlighted similarities between his behaviour and that of Gerard Coyne, incumbent Len McCluskey’s rival in the Unite General Secretary election, who also received a slap-down from Unite in the same way that Watson has.
Watson and Coyne are close and Watson has been a staunch advocate of Coyne’s candidacy – even at the same time as calling it a ‘golden rule’ not to interfere in union elections. And it appears that Coyne may have an unhealthy relationship with someone at Labour HQ.
Tom George, a London-based pensioner contacted this blog to advise he is receiving email from Gerard Coyne’s campaign – when he has never been a member of Unite, nor of any of the unions that merged to form it. Here are Mr George’s words:
Although I was a union member of during my working life (retired in 2005), I have never been in Unite Union. I received an E-Mail from Gerard Coyne asking for my support.
I wrote back asking where he got my details but cannot get him to say. I have now lodged complaint with his Union.
Here’s my union history in brief: British Seaman’s Union 1959, Seamans Union of Aussie 1961 to 66, back to British Seaman’s Union 66 to 77. Short time in Usdaw, when worked for Co-Op after work accident, then to CPSA as joined Civil Service. We then became PCS. Retired in 2005 and became member of Civil Service Pensioners Association.
None of these unions are part of Unite. I am a longstanding Labour member, though. What is going on??
Coyne is, of course, entitled to access Unite’s member data for the purposes of the General Secretary contest. But that does not give him access to information on members of other organisations.
For Coyne’s campaign to contact a non-Unite member asking for his vote is a spectacular own-goal. But it also raises extremely worrying questions about Labour HQ’s handling of confidential information protected by the Data Protection Act (DPA).
This blog has already featured complaints from Labour members about emails received from Tony Blair when they have never been part of his organisation nor signed up to receive emails. Now we have Labour members receiving emails from Gerard Coyne about a contest in a union they have never been part of.
If Labour members’ details are being provided by someone at Labour HQ to assist his campaign, then this is a flagrant breach of the DPA – and a prosecutable one. And the information is not coming from Labour, where is it coming from?
The SKWAWKBOX calls on both Unite and the Labour Party to investigate this issue as a matter of urgency – and to throw the book at anyone found to be providing or receiving members’ details illegally.
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