Right-winger Gerard Coyne, who in January announced his intention to stand for election as Unite’s general secretary next year despite his shocking record and data breaches in his last bid in 2017, looks set to fail to achieve the required number of branch nominations to enter the contest, according to Unite insiders.
If Coyne fails to qualify to stand, the Labour party and union right will be forced to choose a new ‘horse’ to back among the candidates likely to qualify – and early signs are that they view Steve Turner as the option least threatening to right-wing interests:
Dromey was not only an avid supporter of Coyne during his 2017 bid to take over Unite, but also directly linked to Coyne’s campaign. A year earlier, he was a vocal supporter of right-winger Owen Smith’s attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.
Yet now we see him gushing about Steve Turner in what appears to be a sign that the Labour right – of which Dromey is a senior figure – views Turner as the one least likely to upset their apple cart.
By chance or design, Turner is pictured standing in front of a banner showcasing the union’s victory in the Birmingham bin strike in 2017 – but Howard Beckett, Turner’s rival for the general secretary position, was the architect and engine of the bin strike victories both in 2017 and 2019, as the evidence makes clear, with Beckett meeting bin workers to get their view on the 2019 deal and testimonials (as shown in the video above) from the workers about his tirelessness and solidarity in the disputes:
While Beckett has won victories for Unite members against right-wing Labour councils and has relentlessly challenged Keir Starmer and others on the many occasions when they have failed to stand alongside workers and the vulnerable. Steve Turner, by contrast, has made overtures toward a rapprochement with Starmer (again referencing a dispute in which Beckett played a leading role):
And now Dromey’s backing is a bad look for Steve Turner – and a signpost to Unite members that if they want the leader who will defend their interests the most, they need to back Beckett.
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