Exclusive: Progress MP ‘joins Unite’s UNWAGED section’ for GenSec vote

As regular readers of this blog will know, the contest for the position of General Secretary of Unite is underway at the moment and the campaign of challenger Gerard Coyne has been criticised for its smear-tactics and a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) that Coyne admitted on national radio but claimed ‘was agreed’ – which showed a poor understanding of the law, as only ‘data subjects’ can agree to data they provided to one organisation being used by someone else.

Coyne also claimed that use of the data had ‘concluded’, but this was also untrue, as further emails and texts were sent to non-Unite members this week.

It appears that these are not the limits of the lengths Labour’s right-wing faction will go to in their efforts to lever in a candidate that they hope can undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The SKWAWKBOX has learned that substantial numbers of right-wingers joined Unite’s ‘Community‘ section (UC) before the January deadline to be entitled to vote in the leadership ballot. Unite Community membership costs only 50p a week, as it is exclusively for the unwaged.

However, many of those who joined UC to vote for Gerard Coyne are not unwaged – and therefore made a false declaration in order to do so.

Not only that, but one of them – the visible tip of the iceberg, so to speak – is according to sources, a prominent Progress MP with a track record of contempt for Unite’s incumbent General Secretary Len McCluskey.

anna turley.jpg

Labour/Co-op MP and Progress spokesperson Anna Turley

In July last year, Anna Turley – a spokesperson for Progress, an extreme anti-Corbyn faction at the heart of much of the agitation against him – perhaps frustrated by Len McCluskey’s continued, steadfast support for the Labour leader, urged a Twitter contact to join Unite in what has become an infamous Tweet:

turley len

It’s safe to say she’s extremely invested in McCluskey’s removal. Enough, if reports are correct, to join in order to vote against him – as she appears to have done.

However, she has been reported to the regional office for the way in which she did so.

Joining Unite costs around £12 a month and it appears that Ms Turley was keen to do so as economically as possible and save £10 a month by joining UC instead of as a full union member – which means she would have had to declare herself unwaged.

The SKWAWKBOX understands that an official complaint has been sent to Unite’s Regional Secretary for the north-east, Karen Reay.

Ms Turley’s office was contacted this afternoon to see whether it wished to comment on the matter but has, so far, declined to make any comment. Ms Turley is also a full member of the separate union Community, but this is coincidental and is not at issue here.

The McCluskey campaign was also contacted but did not wish to comment on what it said was a matter for the union.

A Unite spokesperson today confirmed that there exists no exemption for an MP to join UC and issued the following statement:

Unite welcomes new members but anyone joining on a fraudulent basis will prompt an investigation. A complaint has been received and is being investigated.

If the complaint is upheld and Ms Turley has, in plain words or by omission, declared herself unwaged in order to join a low-cost section of the union, it speaks volumes for the desperation of the Labour right to remove Len McCluskey as a route to toppling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – and of the principles they are prepared to forsake in order to achieve that end.

Joining Unite in order to participate in the General Secretary ballot is legitimate and some are known to have done so to support McCluskey. However, making a false declaration in order to do so ‘on the cheap’ is certainly not legitimate and such applications need to be routed out and their votes invalidated.

The SKWAWKBOX urges Unite to investigate all applications for Unite Community membership and to not only expel but also expose those who have done so fraudulently, as this is a matter of huge interest to the union’s 1.4 million members, over 500,000 Labour Party members and the public at large.

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17 responses to “Exclusive: Progress MP ‘joins Unite’s UNWAGED section’ for GenSec vote

  1. Pingback: Exclusive: Progress MP ‘joins Unite’s UNEMPLOYED section’ for GenSec vote | Jaffer's blog·

  2. While I am unhappy about them joining UC in order to vote in Unite’s election, I do recall, on my joining form, that there were options other than the low cost for unwaged. I’m glad it’s being investigated, but if she took the option for ‘waged’ payments, then there’s probably nothing can be done about it.

    • You can join Unite for various costs, as I recall – but not UC. Straight from the horse’s mouth (Unite press office) that UC is only for unwaged members.

  3. Too many gullible female MPs ruining their careers in acting as Mandelson’s ‘cannon-fodder’.

  4. I’m pretty dissed off with all these attempts at getting at JC through ousting LM i for one hope Len trounces Coyne like JC did in the two leadership challenges that he won fair and square
    Moving on I’m also pretty miffed at all this anti semetic crap because that’s all it is crap , i for one will post anything I like about Israel and Palestine and anyone doesn’t like it tough they can shove it right up their Gaza strips , yet more crap , JC has shown us he can take pressure he will make a fantastic PM
    Unite Member and leader of aforesaid group

  5. Any idea how many MPs have done this? Why is the NEC not taking action against these MPs. First we have 6 labour MPs bullying Richard Burgon on Saturday night then the Dark Lord came out of his hidey hole looking for blood – McTernan – to join in. A lot of us contacted Iain McNicol and so far sweet FA. Then RW Jewish sector started a riot on Twitter about Ken & JC. Now this. Meanwhile in the real world Mary Creagh, Hilary Benn & usual suspects all back slapping about how good it is that Syria is being bombed again. What sort of Labour Party have we got here? There’s a lot of bullying, warmongering & corrupt MPs who don’t give a toss for the poor. Time to deselect the lot of them.

  6. Please keep us informed on the outcome of this. I don’t have time today to write more but I need to hear that the people who have mendaciously joined Unite with the intention of skewing the vote for its leader, have been thrown out and publicly disgraced.

  7. Unite election rules 16.1/2/3 give awesome power to the union appointed independent electoral commissioner.

    We are a long way from Michaelmas yet I fancy Mr Coyne has cooked his goose already.

  8. There is a better, more left-wing candidate than Len McCluskey standing in the Unite General Secretary Election. Ian Allinson (#ian4unite) supports Jeremy Corbyn on issues such as Trident and free movement of labour where Len has undermined him.

  9. The Unite Community guide says Community Membership is open to those “not in paid employment; a student, carer, retired or unemployed” so it is not exclusively unemployed people. Having said that, it’s not intended for highly paid MPs either.

  10. I have just read on the UNITE Now site (which is part of UNITE and linked from the UNITE the Union main website) this section, “Community activism
    Unite has recognised that it is not only in the workplace where justice is often undermined. Those not in work – whether they are full-time carers, disabled, unemployed or self-employed – can also have access to the benefits of union membership through Unite Community. Member fees are greatly reduced and you’ll get to be part of one of the most exciting innovations in trade unionism in the UK now.”

  11. is this the end of the end of greedie mps whose only goal was themselves

  12. Pingback: Shadow Cab member comments on DPA breach and UniteCommunity member scandal | The SKWAWKBOX·

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