Red water opens between left hopefuls for Unite general secretary as Beckett pledges fight for jobs and Turner targets Westminster consensus

Contrasting styles and substance differentiate the two candidates who will contest United Left nomination this weekend

Contrasting approaches

Incumbent Len McCluskey has described both candidates bidding for the United Left group’s nomination in the next general secretary election of giant union Unite as fit and able successors – but clear dividing lines have emerged between Howard Beckett and Steve Turner, who will face United Left members on Saturday in an online hustings before members of the left group cast their ballots to decide who will be their nominee.

Beckett’s public comment on Starmer’s attack on ‘Black Lives Matter’

Steve Turner’s strategy appears to be to seek consensus in the corridors of Westminster, extending even as far as warm words yesterday for Tory MP – or now ex-Tory – MP Julian Lewis, after Lewis was elected chair of the Defence Select Committee.

Howard Beckett, by contrast, has focused on the conflict between the interests of working people and those of the Establishment, majoring on the power of solidarity and collective action to win those battles.

The contrast in the two candidates’ stances can also be seen in their differing approaches to the Labour leadership. Where Turner has praised Starmer’s performance in PMQs and does not appear to have been publicly critical, Beckett has openly taken the Labour leader to task on a number of occasions, from Starmer’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement to Labour’s decision to sack furloughed staff at the earliest opportunity, on which a Beckett-led Unite response forced a u-turn, to Starmer’s decision to drop a wealth tax from Labour’s proposals to fund the post-pandemic recovery.

When United Left members ‘attend’ Saturday’s online hustings and vote to decide the group’s nomination, they will be faced with a choice between two genuinely different candidates and approaches: if successful it looks clear Steve Turner will seek to work with Starmer, whereas Howard Beckett is more determined to keep Labour on the left.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This site 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 the SKWAWKBOX 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.


  1. Cant see what Starmer could do to make us believe he is anything other than a Blair clone, next move is to bring back Elman
    Now if he had a brain he would bring back Chris Williamson
    What is for sure is that we will know in next few months

    1. Doug “next move is to bring back Elman”.

      I think you are mistaken, it was RLB who very clearly stated that she would welcome both Louise Elman and Luciana Berger back into the party “with open arms”.

      1. SteveH, are you saying that Starmer would choose not to “bring back Ellman” just to spite RLB, or is there some other reason, possibly even less savoury?
        Just asking 🤣

      2. David – I’m saying exactly what I said in my comment above, nothing more and nothing less. Anything else you dream up to read into my comment is entirely your own doing and bugger all to do with me.

  2. Howard Beckett, “I won’t shy away from saying what needs to be said to keep Labour honest & socialist”.

    Which requires getting rid of Starmer the Zionist racist.

  3. Anyone else finding that this specific SB post is only accessible by clicking on the email notification and not from the main Skwawkbox front page, or is it just me?
    This is the second time it’s happened in the last week or so that the latest post wasn’t appearing – I thought it might be the slow mobile broadband I’ve been getting since lockdown began but now I’m wondering if it’s something else..

    1. It came up on the “social” page for me,but that is not uncommon though not regular.

    2. Sometimes they’re hidden just below the ‘main’ article in the top left corner. This thread is an example on my screen too.

      Last email notification of it in my inbox but showing below the three in the grey border (in circles) below the ‘main’ article.

      If I knew how to make & post a screenshot it’d help, but they usually find their way to the top left of the homepage after a while anyway.

  4. David – The articles no longer appear in chronological order on the home page. SB appears to be pinning selected articles to the head of the page. If you are using a mobile to view then you will find the entry for this article a little further down the page and a chronological list about two thirds down the page. I f you are viewing on a tablet or PC you will find a chronological list of articles down the right hand side of the screen.. Hope this helps.

  5. Ahh – so the most recent post gets shuffled back to sixth – that makes a lot of sense – not.
    Thanks, Steve, it could have taken me hours to spot that with this new format. I have to zoom to 150% read it.
    Videos occasionally will play in Chrome but more often than not I have to switch to Firefox to watch them, presumably because Chrome doesn’t support flash any more.
    Websites repeatedly demand acceptance of cookies, images zoom for no reason when the cursor touches them – it’s like geeks have to keep moving or die.
    W10 is shite so I’m still using 7, I use ios and Android and a couple of Linux distros too for other stuff but nothing plays well with anything else.
    No matter how specific the search terms Google now leads with what IT thinks I should want to read…
    Does anyone actually think the internet is better now than it was 5 years ago?
    Cos I think it’s getting dumber all the time.

  6. It’s weird that when I scroll down to the foot of this page I only see ‘PREVIOUS ENTRY’ on the left, and no ‘NEXT ENTRY’ on the right, which there ought to be now that it’s sixth from the top.
    I don’t see much sense in this new format – and I like things to make sense..

  7. I’m surprise that nobody seems to have noticed that Lloyd Russell-Moyle has quit Labour’s front-bench.

  8. I’m not sure why you need to be so partisan in your support of Howard B and to twist Steve T’s words to suit your agenda. Steve is the national Chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and a close ally of Laura Pidcock and Jeremy Corbyn, both of whom, like uncle Len, have had the grace and good sense to stay above the contest. Either candidate will make a great contribution to the cause of British workers and you should present them fairly rather than using innuendo and omissions to give a falsely negative perception of one particular candidate.

Leave a Reply