Twitter is abuzz this morning with news of the EDL’s (English Defence League, a neo-fascist, racist organisation) ‘systems adminstrator’ Roy Higginson outside the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port campaigning for Unite leadership challenger Gerard Coyne. Here is Higginson’s own image of himself outside the plant, which he posted on an EDL Facebook page and which is already in general circulation:
Incumbent Len McCluskey’s campaign has issued a strong statement calling on Coyne to explain or repudiate the fact of his support by a far-right hate group.
Distance and poor light flatter Mr Higginson. This image taken by a Unite officer, which to our knowledge has not yet been in circulation, shows him a little more clearly:
Other coverage also – from what we’ve seen so far – has also missed Mr Higginson’s own explanation for his support for Gerard Coyne, which is further down his personal Facebook page:
That’s right. Higginson supports Gerard Coyne because he doesn’t like socialists.
Which is kind of awkward for Coyne, given that he hopes to be elected as leader of the country’s biggest union – which is affiliated to the largest socialist (or for that matter political) party in Europe.
Higginson really doesn’t like left-wingers. In his own picture, he’s carrying a campaign leaflet for Coyne along with a copy of The Herald, which features Len McCluskey on the front page. Yesterday, Higginson posted a picture of it with this comment:
Higginson commented on his own Facebook photo of his ‘campaign’:
One has to wonder where Higginson got his pro-Coyne ‘ifno’. But even if that had nothing to do with Coyne’s campaign directly, even the barely-literate neo-nazi fringe can recognise easily that Coyne is a man in the wrong organisation, wrong party, aiming for the wrong job.
Coyne has not, at the time of writing, responded to McCluskey’s call for an explanation, nor has he distanced himself from his latest and possibly most perceptive supporter. But even if he does, the fact that the EDL sees him as a figure to support must surely sink a campaign that was already holed in multiple places below the waterline.
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The official statement from the McCluskey campaign:
Re: Fwd: Unite4Len calls on Coyne to explain EDL support
NEWS FROM UNITE4LEN
For immediate use Friday 31 March, 2017
Issued by Unite4Len, the campaign to re-elect Len McCluskey as general secretary
Unite4Len calls on Coyne to explain EDL support
A prominent member of the English Defence League (EDL) is working with Gerard Coyne’s campaign, Unite4Len can reveal.
Roy Higginson, an “administrator” at the EDL, according to his Facebook page, has posted photographs of himself giving out Gerard Coyne campaign material outside Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant.
A spokeswoman for Unite4Len, Len McCluskey’s campaign to be re-elected as general secretary of Unite the union, said:
“Roy Higginson is a prominent member of the EDL and is openly distributing Gerard Coyne campaign material at one of Unite’s biggest workplaces in the North West, along with promoting that material via social media.
“Cosying up to a group that peddles division and fear and violates the principles of the trade union movement really would represent a new low for the Coyne campaign. Perhaps we should not be surprised, however, given that he has already written a column for the Sun and been rewarded with the support of that publication’s columnist Trevor Kavanagh.
“Unite members will rightly be appalled that Len’s opponent is now being said to be relying on the far right to advance his campaign to discredit Len McCluskey and their union.
“Len McCluskey has spent his life fighting racism, from preventing apartheid friendly ships entering Liverpool docks, when he was a young shop steward, to recently being inducted to the Show Racism The Red Card’s Hall of Fame at a celebration in the Speakers residence in parliament.
“By contrast, Gerard Coyne now faces very real questions about his commitment to an anti-racist, tolerant society. His Brexit language has been described as anti-migrant and now EDL members are being said to support his campaign. He needs to explain to Unite members why he has these people working for him because, for our members fighting against prejudice and racism, this is an awful revelation. That a man who wishes to lead our union is allied with some of the most divisive elements of political life is utterly appalling.
“We also call on the prominent Labour MPs who back Gerard’s campaign to condemn this development and distance themselves from Mr Coyne.
“Unite has called on the Trade Union and Labour Party liaison organisation (TULO) to investigate outside interference in its election. But the engagement of members of extreme groups is alarming, not just as confirmation of that outside interference but as an indication of the distasteful company Team Coyne is now being said prepared to keep in order to exact maximum damage to the union.”
Update 9 July 2021: an anonymous supporter of Gerard Coyne claimed in 2017 that Coyne had repudiated Roy Higginson. However, the url he provided for the statement does not link to a live page and Google’s only record of it is the mention by the Coyne supporter:
Neither does the ‘Wayback’ archiving site appear to have ever found it to archive, nor does archive.li have any record of its existence.
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