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Exclusive: PULS secretary backs Beckett – and accuses United Left of gerrymandering selection and misusing Scottish member data

Lorna Robertson, the Secretary of PULS – the group representing left members of the Unite union – has accused ‘United Left’ (UL) of gerrymandering the selection of its preferred candidate to stand as the union’s next general secretary.

She has also accused UL of unlawful use of Scottish members’ data to try to bypass PULS after UL expelled PULS for objecting to the way in which the selection was run.

Lorna Robertson

And she says that left members across Unite’s UK regions persuaded Beckett to stand, rather than acquiesce to the unjust result. She writes as follows:

@BECKETT4UNITE – No ego here!

Left lay members across the regions persuaded Howard Beckett to stand as Unite General Secretary after gerrymandering of UL hustings.

The result of UL hustings

The problems with the United Left hustings and selection are all in the public domain but for those that don’t know, Howard Beckett won the left hustings last July.  This is not speculation, it is fact!  It is for this reason members got together and persuaded a principled Howard Beckett to stand as the best candidate for the next General Secretary of Unite.

When the result was announced that Howard had “lost” by just 3 votes, questions were rightly asked about missing ballots and discrepancies in regional membership figures, with sudden rises in areas known to support Steve Turner.

It seemed clear to many at the hustings that Steve had already been “assured” of his positive result.  Even though it was a live event, he was allowed to send a pre-recorded statement – yet even with clear sight of the pre-submitted questions his answers were merely lip service, and with no real policy other than he had served his time. He seemed ill prepared but it looked like he knew he didn’t need to win anyone over.

In order to fend off any independent scrutiny of the data and results, UL were forced to share a breakdown of regional voting.  It was clear from this that the result had, as suspected, been gerrymandered for a Steve Turner win.

The data showed that 10 “Scottish ex-UL” ballots had been issued to ULS members – a grouping suspended from UL for ongoing personal attacks on good left comrades, and indeed for physically threatening and intimidating the UL Chair.  Their inclusion was hidden from the appointed Scottish regional co-ordinator, John Gillespie (PULS chair), against the NCC’s own criteria, and their votes used to get a small cabal’s candidate over the line.  Of the 10, 7 votes were cast, 6 for Steve.  Howard Beckett therefore won the UL hustings by 2 votes, even leaving aside other major issues with the process.

PULS has since been expelled for supporting the winner of the hustings and soon there will be more “out than in” the self-appointed “official” left – a deadline for Welsh members to sign a totalitarian pledge has been set for this coming weekend.  Our comrades have been told they must sign a contract dictating what social media pages they can like, share or retweet along with another long list of rules or face expulsion.  Welsh members are understandably angry and feel their inclusive organisation is now being steered towards a dictatorship under the command of a Unite assistant general secretary.

Data breaches

Despite our expulsion, UL have been using PULS data, given only for use with the hustings, to bombard PULS members in Steve’s name and even shared this data with a 3rd party  – #TeamSteve.  They have continued to email members despite them “unsubscribing” 2 or 3 times, a clear breach of GDPR.  All Unite members must have confidence that their data is secure and this is another blight on Steve’s campaign.  Where is the solidarity across the regions and sectors if any Scottish disputes are on the “banned list”!

Unite Unity Left

Despite smears to the contrary, Unite Unity left is not Howard’s “alternative left”. It’s a collective, a welcoming and inclusive home formed by and for all passionate lay activists within Unite.

Our first event “Rally for Health” earlier this month gave a voice to our health members across all the regions.  It is pinned to our Facebook page – give it a watch to see what we are about.  We are proudly endorsing Howard to be the next General Secretary of Unite the Union.  Unite Unity Left is growing and we want you to get involved at

Howard for Unite

We may have “marched” Howard up to the top of the hill but he is absolutely leading from the front, as we would expect from our next Unite General Secretary.  I don’t want to give away any campaign plans but look out for Unite Unity Left’s next event, get involved, like and share us on Facebook and Twitter.  Howard’s messaging, politics, and results are on point and concern issues important to members.  His campaign is inclusive and positive – as it should be.

With so many disputes, threats to our members with fire and rehire, the need to defend our NHS and of course coming out of COVID, the campaign for @Howard4Unite is spreading the solidarity and sharing across sectors and regions

With the threat of right-winger Gerard Coyne, whose misconduct in the 2017 election was repeatedly condemned by a judge, getting on the ballot, we all know the only person in the race that can beat him is Howard. Sharon will be fighting for her vote with Coyne and the ask of Steve is to stand down and allow the winner and the best candidate from the hustings to go forward.

Who knows if Steve and what’s left of UL will have an outbreak of decency but if not “feck it – vote Beckett”!!

Lorna Robertson
PULS Secretary and Unite Unity Left Activist

The SKWAWKBOX was unable to reach United Left for comment on Lorna Robertson’s allegations, as the group provides only a contact form on its website, but it was not working.

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