Last month, Labour MP Melanie Onn received death threats after writing that she would oppose another referendum in order to respect the views of her constituents.
It seems that such behaviour was not a one-off.
Tom Harris, a prominent pro-referendum activist and supporter of the group Another Europe is Possible (AE) thought it would be a good idea to publicise an AE-backed ‘stop Brexit’ event by promoting it as a movement for the lynching of a senior Unite official who serves as an aide to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:
The post, since deleted, has caused considerable outrage among Unite members and Labour supporters.
The post was not the only AE-related attack on Unite this week. The organisation helped to coordinate a letter published today by the Guardian that was highly critical of the union’s general secretary Len McCluskey.
McCluskey was one of a number of union leaders who visited Downing Street last month to voice the concerns of working people and the letter – signed by AE director Michael Chessum among others – accused McCluskey of enabling Tory austerity. It did not criticise the other union leaders involved in meetings with May.
The Guardian letter, which admits its assumptions are based on ‘reports’ – confirmed today by Chessum as mainstream media reports – has drawn a heated response from Unite, which has published a strongly-worded statement on its website, titled “Unite responds to misleading letter from Another Europe is Possible“:
Responding to today’s (Thursday 7 February) letter published in The Guardian coordinated by second referendum campaigners Another Europe is Possible, a Unite spokesperson said: “The criticisms of Len McCluskey from second referendum campaigners are malicious and deliberately misleading. Len McCluskey is not negotiating a Brexit deal with Theresa May.
“He has met the prime minister once, as have several other trade union leaders, when he took the opportunity to raise a number of concerns for working people, including the danger of a no-deal Brexit and the need for a customs union in order to preserve jobs.
The terms of Brexit can only be determined by MPs, and Unite fully supports Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to secure the best possible arrangements.
“We endorse the proposals set out in his letter to the prime minister yesterday as being an approach that can bring all people of goodwill together. We urge all Labour party members and supporters to get behind them.
“Len McCluskey continues to liaise with government ministers to ensure that jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere are safeguarded and makes no apologies for doing so. Posturing will not keep a single factory open.
“Unite activists for the most part know better than to believe media rumours about their union, and we urge Another Europe is Possible to take the same sceptical approach.”
The SKWAWKBOX spoke to AE director Michael Chessum. He declined to comment on the post by Harris, except to distance the organisation from Harris, whom he described as ‘not a core person‘. But he was more forthcoming on the issue of the Guardian letter, claiming that by talking to May McCluskey was exceeding Unite and Labour policy.
But when asked why McCluskey was singled out for criticism when other union heads were not, his answer was revealing:
Because Len went in with a very public anti-referendum line.
Chessum claimed that this was not in line with Labour policy, even though the motion passed at the party’s annual conference last September does not commit the party to supporting a referendum, merely to keep the option on the table along with all others.
Chessum also repeatedly referred to what McCluskey had ‘reportedly’ said during the meeting with May and admitted that his conclusions were based on media reports rather than any first-hand knowledge.
The SKWAWKBOX was unable to reach Tom Harris for comment.
On one level, Chessum’s comments and the AE-backed Guardian letter confirm the foolishness of believing reports by ‘MSM’ known to be hostile to McCluskey for his support of the Corbyn project. Taking the word of the Establishment on any issue relating to the Labour leadership and its supporters is an exercise fraught with problems.
On another, they reflect the damaging course taken by anti-Brexit, pro-referendum campaigners in attacking leaders in the Labour movement who refuse to dismiss the views of 2016 leave-voters and insist on trying to work for leavers and remainers alike.
Doing so successfully is not compatible with simply supporting another referendum – and following the lead of the centrist MPs and commentators who routinely and vocally attack Labour for their own ends is counter-productive for any organisation that wants to see an end to Tory austerity and the misery it inflicts on the vulnerable.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.