Analysis comment

What the Unite candidates stand for – according to their social media

As nominations close tomorrow, a look at what each candidate’s Twitter posts since campaign began say about their positions, politics and intentions

Nominations close on Monday in the Unite leadership election, with three of the candidates already past the threshold of 172 nominations required to secure their place on the ballot and the fourth claiming to have done so.

But what do the candidates actually stand for – and what do they intend to do with the union if they get to lead it? Their social media tells a story – and Skwawkbox has conducted an analysis of their output on key issues that will be of interest to its readers. While not exhaustive, it is reasonable to assume that the issues or stances that each candidate feels are important would have at least cropped up during the nominations phase – and most likely in their Twitter feed, where the communication of key policies and intentions would often be focused and most succinctly communicated given the platforms 280-character limit.

The table below ranks each of the four hopefuls on their Twitter posts, based on a ‘traffic light’ system of red, amber or green. Red means a candidate has not mentioned the issue, amber means it has arguably been alluded to and green means it has been clearly stated at least once. The relevant period for posts was defined from the start of the nominations phase in early May until the time of writing, for the reasons outlined above and because positions may have changed since historical comments were made:

A brief summary of the scope of each summary point above is provided below:

  • Devolution – has a candidate committed to devolving power and resources to nations and regions
  • NHS privatisation – has a candidate condemned privatisation and committed to working to reverse it
  • Starmer – has candidate publicly held Keir Starmer to account for failures to oppose or for treatment of Labour members
  • Palestine – has a candidate expressed solidarity with Palestinian people or condemned their treatment
  • BLM – has a candidate publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Green issues – has a candidate committed to action on environmental issues and/or on forcing the government to take such action
  • Women’s rights – has a candidate committed to improvements in pay equality, workplace rights on issues such as childcare and menopause
  • Kill the Bill – has a candidate publicly supported the movement to prevent the Tories’ ‘policing bill’ that will damage freedom of speech and the right to protest as well as targeting minority communities
  • Labour funding – has a candidate pledged to adjust or end funding of the Labour party if the party does not properly oppose
  • Community development – has a candidate outlined plans for developing and enhancing the involvement and status of Unite’s unique Community branches
  • Mandatory reselection – has a candidate supported the rights of Labour members to choose their parliamentary candidate at every election
  • Islamophobia – has a candidate publicly supported Muslims and condemned Islamophobia
  • GRT issues – has a candidate expressed solidarity with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and condemned racism against those communities, regardless of where the racism originates
  • LGBTQ+ issues – has a candidate expressed solidarity with LGBTQ+ people and condemned discrimination against those communities, regardless where the discrimination originates
  • Coronavirus needless deaths: has a candidate publicly drawn attention to the horrific death toll caused by Tory policies and inaction and/or Labour’s failure to hold the Tories to account for those deaths

Of course, this is a limited analysis. Some candidates may score green for a single clear mention of an issue and their position or stance on it. Others might have referred to issues repeatedly and in stronger terms, but to keep the table ‘at a glance’ simple, such nuances are not reflected.

And of course, any such list is subjective and this one is intended only as a guide. Unite members who wish to make their own examination of a candidate’s comments and plans on any issue can easily do so on Twitter via the advanced search feature, or if they wish to check Facebook comments each campaign has a dedicated Facebook page that can easily be located.

If you feel a candidate’s mentions of an issue have been missed, please email details to and Skwawkbox will be happy to amend where appropriate.

Skwawkbox is supporting Howard Beckett to be UniteUnite’s next general secretary but every effort has been made to standardise the assessment of each candidate’s posts fairly and to use the same search terms in each instance.

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