On Friday, the ‘directions’ hearing takes place in Gerard Coyne’s attempt to persuade the Certification Officer that Len McCluskey broke campaigning rules in his victory over Coyne in the contest for the General Secretary position in the Unite union.
Coyne has made several attempts to overturn last year’s democratic result, in spite of the findings of both the Election Commissioner (EC) and the Returning Officer (RO) – and Coyne’s own admission on BBC Radio 4 – that Coyne had breached election rules and had used data which he and his campaign were not entitled to access.
Questions have been raised about the source of Coyne’s funding for his continued legal case, which he has pursued in spite of the weakness of his ‘ten points’ against McCluskey’s conduct of his election campaign.
It seems the Coyne campaign is also lacking basic campaign discipline, as one of his supporters – possibly, given the location of events, a Labour HQ ally – has apparently been guilty of loose talk on a train from London Victoria to Denmark Hill that was allegedly overheard by an informed witness.
According to the witness, the supporter boasted about the amount of money at the Coyne campaign’s disposal – it has already spent a significant sum to hire a senior QC – and about the campaign’s plan to win the battle via ‘patronage‘:
According to the inadvertent witness, the functionary boasted that:
The witness told the SKWAWKBOX:
It was a guy on a phone call on a train from Victoria. There are no unions round there so I’m guessing it’s someone from Labour HQ. He got off at Denmark Hill.
This “coalition” – I don’t know what they are but he sounded pretty confident about winning them over. As in, they wouldn’t naturally swing to Gerard but he’s the leader-in-waiting sort of thing.
He said they have a nice design for the website but it isn’t built yet… Sounded like they wanted to launch something on Monday but difficult to figure out hearing only one side of the conversation.
It also sounded like that “we’re standing with or without the coalition” thing was a bluff, i.e. what they were going to say to “the coalition” as a way of winning them over if you know what I mean. Not actually a real guarantee.
The question of the source of Gerard Coyne’s funding for his continued legal attempts to thwart Unite members’ democratic decision looms larger than ever – and the likely nature of the loose-lipped ally does nothing to allay fears about complicity among Labour’s ‘Southside’ HQ staff after the evident leak of Labour member data to the Coyne campaign last year.
The nature of the ‘coalition’ is unclear, but it is likely consist of right-wing Labour groups and possibly right-wing unions – but Coyne may be unsure of their support.
The outcome of tomorrow’s ‘directions’ hearing in London may well take the wind out of his sails, as his ‘ten points’ have been shown to be without substance and he is likely to be forced to disclose the additional evidence he has claimed to have but failed so far, a year on, to produce – if indeed it exists.
By contrast, investigations have suggested breaches of rules by Gerard Coyne and Unite employees have been sacked or disciplined for illicitly passing data to his campaign.
Jeremy Corbyn’s majority on Labour’s NEC committee is more secure than it was when Coyne announced his ill-judged challenge. However, a win for Len McCluskey, about whom both senior officials monitoring the election have said there is no evidence of impropriety, will be important for Labour and vital for Unite employees who avoided his narrow version of ‘leadership’ last year.
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