Members demand Turner condemn ‘disgraceful’ manoeuvre ‘to protect a small cabal in London & Eastern region, fearful that the region with the biggest left membership in Unite would take over at the upcoming AGM’
‘United Left’ (UL), the notionally left grouping of Unite union members has expelled the whole of its Scottish body for calling for transparency and an investigation into the result of UL’s hustings for its preferred candidate in the union’s general secretary election that is expected to take place next year.
UL announced Steve Turner as the winner of the hustings by just three votes – but an investigation of complaints from supporters of Howard Beckett who were barred from voting revealed a Beckett win by a significantly larger margin. However, UL insisted that the result must stand.
Progressive United Left Scotland (PULS), the Scottish affiliated group, called for independent scrutiny of the result and process, but UL refused, instead insisting that the result had already been ratified – and has now announced the expulsion (which it terms ‘self-exclusion’) of the whole of PULS from its organisation.
“Despicable, desperate, ‘divide and conquer’ tactics we see from the worst employers”
In a statement on UL’s action, PULS has condemned the ‘disgraceful’, ‘divide and conquer’ attack on its democracy and has called on Steve Turner to repudiate the move:
While expelling PULS en masse, UL also emailed individual PULS members directly in an attempt to ‘poach’ them back to support the manoeuvre by the largely London-based UL faction, in what PULS has condemned as a use of PULS’s member data outside the permitted purposes.
An investigation into the result of the hustings revealed:
- a substantial number of Beckett supporters were blocked from voting in the contest and received no response to requests for help on the issue
- at least two Turner supporters allowed to vote despite joining after the cut-off date for eligibility
- the sudden appearance of a separate ‘United Left’ section in Scotland, adding eleven new voters when voting in hustings has traditionally been exclusively via PULS
- failures to provide ballots to members who queried why they did not receive one
- no validation of regional lists of voters, in spite of requests by the Beckett campaign
- issues with the entitlement to send campaign emails
- the pre-recording of a hustings statement when the rules of the contest stipulated live presentations
- unequal treatment of voters in arrears, with some allowed to vote and others not
- the promotion of Turner’s candidacy on official UL social media
- lack of provision of lists of eligible voters
At the time of writing, Steve Turner has not publicly commented on the expulsion of the entire Scottish affiliate or on PULS’s other accusations.
Social media sabotage
A new left-unity group, Unite Unity Left, has recently emerged and is considered by many to have precipitated UL’s action – and it is referenced in UL’s announcement of the expulsion. The new group, which says it is “unapologetically dedicated to winning workplace power and organising collectively”, has already seen attempts to sabotage its launch via a fake Twitter account that tweeted a video in support of Steve Turner.
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