Unite result on knife edge – can even Beckett save Turner’s faltering campaign?

Turnout low in Unite general secretary election and result ;neck and neck’ between Graham and Turner

Unite candidates Sharon Graham, Steve Turner and Gerard Coyne

According to a good half dozen credible sources, Unite general secretary candidate Steve Turner’s camp is privately admitting that they their campaign did not deliver and asking a single question: has Howard Beckett delivered enough votes to get Turner over the line?

Beckett dropped out of the election to condense the contest and asked his supporters to back Turner, but many said that they would vote either reluctantly or not at all. Skwawkbox understands that Beckett’s inner circle did dutifully cast their votes in Turner’s favour.

Low turnout in the contest – 10-11%, down 10-20,000 votes from even the low numbers of the 2017 election – supports Skwawkbox’s prediction that many Beckett supporters would simply abstain, rather than feel manipulated into voting for a candidate that didn’t inspire them – as happened in the Labour leadership contest last year.

Now, after ebullience at the weekend the confidence of Turner’s campaign is said to be muted, with his allies briefing that the contest is ‘neck-and-neck’ and the social media output from some involved in the campaign has become increasingly tetchy. Union sources have said that in a vote-sampling yesterday, with 8,000 randomly-selected votes spread across 22 tables, Graham was narrowly ahead on every one and is now the bookies’ favourite to win.

With the winning vote total likely to be in the low-mid 40,000s, the extent to which Beckett supporters moved behind Turner will be decisive in the result. Beckett’s dominance in Scotland, Ireland and Wales – and among 20,000 politically-engaged Unite Community members who will have turned out at a higher level than the average – means that if Turner does manage to get over the line, he will owe his victory to the man who dropped out for the sake of the movement.

SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to without hardship, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


    1. timfrom, i never knew any of them but trusted steve’s judgement re howard beckett. however having heard sharon graham at a general public hustings, i was tremendously impressed+++
      content & delivery were both exemplary. an example for all on tbe “left”. i’ve always been impressed with every union bigwig i’ve heard speaking to the widest audiences. every single one to me, defends their ideas as they should when they turn up, which is lamentably rare.

      however, sharon graham outshone all i’ve heard to date. she did not have what i’ve noticed sadly even with the kens; livingstone and loach, and of course jeremy most of the time.

      i.e. all of them; laid back + deadened by excessive “off the cuff” dirges, lacking a sense of urgency, monotone (not so much loach), flat deliveries and worst of all an irritating (to me) self indulgent approach as if giving an endowment sermon to a captive audience FORCED to listen in polite silence lest they be executed. WEARINGLY slow and inaudible. SHORT of any sense that THEY have any responsibility to bring about change…

      Like detached visiting prophets who are satisfied that they need only deliver truths. All should bow down and worship the visiting Buddhas… spell bound with gratitude to be so highly favoured with their presence.

      Gardner is the tiresome worst eg of that manner, except, unlike Jeremy who every five months or so, will ELECTRIFY the the general public, yet in the next hour or two return to his most awful dreadful lifeless mumbling, throat clearing and shallow breathing.

      Gardner on the other hand almost never causes the slightest hint of a spark… except when pressed. I’ve been amazed, after reading, to find him worst than underwhelming. Were it not for wanting to hear what he’s saying, i’d switch stations, … and sometimes do as the voice and delivery is one of the worst i’ve ever heard anywhere. The torture causes one to give up struggling to hear him. He speaks as if passing an unenergised wind through David Cameron’s cloacal like odd mouth.
      But even worse, Gardner does that whispering wind so slowly as if the sun would set sixty six times b4 he’s finished.

      For absolute clarity, i’m no fan of Gardner🔴

      Charlie Watts R.I.P.

      1. You could be a writer one day if you polished up some of this prose. By the way do you like Barry Gardiner? I have not heard Sharon but from what yous say she is OK.

      2. u r v kind poetrymuseum. sadly though excessively meticulous in other areas, i’m ALWAYS multitasking when typing this politics stuff… ALWAYS on my phone. Hence the many typos. We r strange beings. Whenever i spot errors AFTER sending, the question is why not check it in the first place?!?!?! I’ve realised too that my fingers are way behind my thoughts. I change my thoughts but the finger are left running to catch up … hurdling over truncated ideas.

        There is definitely the thought that i’ll never press send, but we all have our failings.

        Re Sharon Graham, i was very surprised. Will check notes if any made, but cannot remember thinking of any weak point except what someone else mentioned of her saying she would stay out of politics. I agree with who ever mentioned that. VERY worrying. Similar to Izzard who said similar suspicious words right here on when campaigning for the NEC i think.

        VVV worrying. In fact someone said same about Turner as if it was a plus.

        Almost EVERYTHING IS politics. I can only hope that may have been her trying to campaign “clever”. You may guess, that makes me nervous. Straightforwardness is underestimated. Gordon Brown lacked that, hence stitched up with Back room Granita deal. Ditto Jeremy several times incl the last a-S apology palaver č McCluck Rayner and whoever else. Same re Beckett, Turner, Bernie Sanders… now Biden č his Taliban, and John McDonnell č Campbell…

        Back room deals are incompatible with the words hackneyed words “bottom up”, “grass roots” and “democracy” “solidarity” “comradely” and many more ideal sounding words unrooted … not even in shallow sand.

        Stitch ups ALWAYS exclude the many, because the few are convinced they are oh sooooo “smart” and never reflect on the words they use.

        How are the BRDs of McCluskey Beckett / Turner (Austerity educator and pivot of Jeremy’s victories)❓❓❓
        Yet some will NEVER learn.

      3. I assume you talking about Barry Gardner who’s is not standing for election in Unite or making any challenge in The Labour Party (god forbid) so what have I missed in or are simply nuts?

    2. If Sharon does win how did Beckett get it so wrong (twice) and Skwawk? And why did SWP back the least political candidate, and get it right? I am confused.

  1. I have ALWAYS maintained that Coyne was just a flag waved by the ghastly Turner camp; and so it has proved. I dearly hope that Sharon Graham, my own choice goes on to win!!!

  2. To be honest Turner does not deserve to win his campaign was pathetic gutless and empty of any excitement. Most people still do not know who he is!

    1. The only campaigning I have seen has been by Howard Beckett, who I would have preferred under any circumstances to Steve Turner, because Beckett comes across as being more steadfast in his commitment to the working class. So, once agani,we have a decent left wing candidate capitulating to the less favoured candidate, who we are told is on the left, and who supports the working class, but i have yet to be convinced about that with Turner, but I was convinced by Beckett. This could be one of the very reasons why many are now considering the Labour Party to be dead, because of the left union and party leaders always capitulating to the right and then acting surprised and shocked when results go against them. This is the very opposite of what the Progressives in America are doing, they are sticking to their guns with their threats of refusing to co-operate with the corporate Dems, and, for the moment,it seems to be working. Surely, Beckett must have realised that he had the support of Scotland and Wales,and so his decision to stand aside, in favour of Turner, tells me this is all about the political situation in England, rather than the whole of the UK. I am sick to death of this, and I feel this proves once and for all that Beckett’s so called whole hearted support for the working class is a lie, and I will never trust anyone in the Labour Party ever again as the result of this. Time to stop supporting party politics, and to start supporting democratic groups within our own communities instead and to have politics devolved down to local level. I am finished with the Labour Party, this is really the last straw.

    2. Listen to him speak and it explains why his campaign was so low key. Underwhelming. How did Beckett read it so badly wrong?

  3. The fact uninspiring Turner was backed by many of those who had previously urged the left cast their votes for Starmer, didn’t help.

    Beckett was the insurgent,he had the energised campaign. Although, fully understand why he dropped out of a crowded field. If it ends up being Coyne, it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory for the Blairites, as any further moves against the left – to deny a political voice – will surely just hasten the formation of a new party, one that’ll very quickly drain New Labour 2.0’s support.

  4. I emailed Steve Turners campaign as chair of Unite Community Birmingham offering help and asking what could we do and got no reply.
    I telephoned, left messages and eventually got through being told that “they’ had everything in hand thanks very much and there was nothing we could do. I had offered to campaign outside workplaces etc to help garner support and even emailed our branch members.
    We were highly active on social media none-the-less but extremely disappointed by the campaign being run by the campaign team.

    Yes we were Team Beckett but wanted to take the spirit of “Birmingham Bin Workers”campaign (and others) to the workforces on behalf of Turner but they didn’t want us.

    Jae (Bham Unite Community)

    1. Well! Jay! That spirit did come from The Bins! (Joke)
      We’re not good enough for the “People’s Party” ANY MORE!
      At least you didn’t want to do it in The Spirit of “Us Undeserving Poor”!
      I reckon if you rung from the nth floor of xyz, in The City, their drooling would have oozed through your screen!

  5. Skwawky
    All the ingredients are there for Coyne, what did he get last time
    Then if left is neck and neck and turnout is 40,000 votes
    Pray God I’m talking ess aitch one tee

  6. The main worry would be a win for coyne .Beckett did the decent thing and stood down to let the best placed candidate win.Graham has other ambitions and its obvious that the left vote will be split.I wouldn’t worry too much about a Graham win,but Iam sure that the best candidate for the left Steve Turner will win.

    1. Joseph – Turner and Beckett’s supporters don’t appear to be natural bedfellows so maybe we’ll find that some of Turner’s supporters have been put off by his alliance with Beckett.

  7. Sharon Graham seems to have it sewn up, if the bookies are right.

    Previously said she opposes Unite disaffiliating from the Labour Party, but wants to de-prioritise engagement with it. Seems similar to Coyne on that? Give how much they give the Labour party, that seems a stupid approach, especially now the right-wingers are back in control.

    1. p.s. i think Sharon Graham will make an excellent union leader. We must now learn to ignore the tripe offered by those who made laughable claims about Turner; especially the most astonishingly ridiculous claim that Turner, whom MOST have never heard of, educated the public about austerity, thereby creating Jeremy’s win of the leadership⁉️⁉️⁉️

      For clarity – we ALL have different, gifts, strengths, talents etc. Progress is a COLLECTIVE exercise. We must find our strengths and play to those. If we find ourselves presenting breathtaking stuff like Turner played some vital part in making the public aware of “Austerity”, then observation, analysis, strategic advice, nor any even tangental element related to those are NOT our area🔴

      The welfare of THE MANY depends on your silence in those areas, ESPECIALLY after “THIRTY” years experience.

      I believe, if Beckett had not pulled out like Bernie Sanders, and if he like Sharon Graham had turned up to GENERAL PUBLIC HUSTINGS to “communicate to the general public” using ABUNDANT means CONTRARY to MYTHS, Beckett may have been second to Sharon Graham or even the new Gen Sec. if he performed as she did🔴

      Let this also be the END of Len McCluskey. He FAILED Jeremy. He FAILED Beckett. He FAILED his union members. He FAILED all workers. He FAILED us party members and FAILED “The Many”🔴

      Having heard SteveH’s revelation that McCluskey was the one who scheduled the “IMPORTANT meeting” which took Jeremy and the ENTIRE Shadow Cabinet away from the Alex Salmond vote to ‘IMPEACH’ the War Criminal Blair, we need no more evidence that he IS the ARCH APPEASER who brought out one of Jeremy’s WORST qualities🔴

      Len McCluskey, i’ve always been impressed with your too rare speaking appearances to the WIDEST public. I now suspect, that you like most of our “Left”, sincerely believe it OK to hide from the General Public as much as possible. Hence Jeremy’s absence and Turner’s🔴

      ALSO, i’m convinced now that you are WEDDED to Back Room Deals and Stitch Ups. None done with ill will / bad intentions etc. Those doings in my FIRM opinion are due to TOTALLY unrefreshed … STALE entrenched attitudes and outlook. You and ALL the experienced adults have NEVER imagined that you could improve🔴

      You did what you thought was best. That is all any of us can do ESPECIALLY if deprived of honest feedback by choice🔴

      Go get a good rest and MUCH reflection. After that, if you cannot accept you needed to improve, then please spare us delivering more of the same. Too much is at stake.

  8. I supported Turner, but would not mind that Graham wins and becomes Unite next General Secretary. Beckett did the decent thing standing down and has actively supported Turner’s campaign.
    In many ways a victory for Graham is bad news for Starmer’s Labour Party as she will cut the funding to the bone, unless Starmer’s start engaging in active listening with the Trade Unions.
    I would be supper happy if Coyne comes third in the race.

    1. Regardless of the outcome, Coyne only stood a chance because they insist on using FPTP.

      Why they don’t adopt the 1st ,2nd preference Supplementary Vote system, idk? It would’ve allowed Beckett to stay in without risk.

      1. Also instead of anyone leaving the should/could have added the next two most popular Right-Wingers making it 3 vs 3!
        Ideally the Party and Unions need to split we are no longer dealing with The Right and The Left of the same Movement we are dealing with Two Polar Opposite Parties/Movements/Factions Thatcher’s Neoliberalism is so far removed from anything that Democratic Socialism is/stands for, it is openly/actively Anti Socialist & Anti-“Left”!
        Neoliberalism is not Liberal, Bogus “Centrist”, Soft Left, Left Leaning, etc!
        NO! The (New)Neolabour Party’s Neoliberalism is the SAME Neoliberalism as The Conservative Tories’ Neoliberalism, there are no different kind/flavours of Neoliberalism, Thatcher & Reagan’s fandangle of Neoliberalism adorned with shards of Neoconservatism is the same Neoliberalism Practised by The Conservative TORIES as it is Practised by The Neolabour Party TORIES!
        We need to have a Divorce!

  9. I must congratulate Steve walker on the report,its very canny to skew the Turner win to Howard Beckett and his dignified step down.Dont worry if Steve Turner wins and he should then Howard Beckett and his future prospects are looking good…I Still see Beckett tagged as a politician and we certainly need more like him with a bit of backbone but knows that honouring a pledge to not split the left vote will not be forgotten…..!

  10. Depends on what people call ‘Left’. For me, there was only one candidate who espoused democracy and giving power to the members, and looks like that’s exactly what members voted for. Accountability and democracy are rare things these days and obviousy has an appeal. Presumably the same reason so many people joined the LP to support JC.

    1. This idea of being a disinterested observer of the LP’s factions & machinations doesn’t make sense now. Not when people who are politically to the right of Blair, appear intent on grinding the party into the dirt. There’s a war being waged against anyone perceived as being pro-Corbyn, or on the left of the party. No union boss should be comfortable and numb about that.

      Giving Starmer and his RW crew of wreckers a blank cheque to continue this purge shouldn’t be an option for any union leader either; especially not for their main financial paymaster in a time they’re already shedding members and their subs due to their political direction.

      1. Andy – The turnout seems to suggest that most of Unite’s members don’t give a toss.

      2. The turnout seems to suggest that most of Unite’s members don’t give a toss.

        Something I said – And you used low turnout to question the legitimacy of McCluskey’s reelection against coyne

        And what about that 37% you complained didn’t vote in the referendum – which you claimed made it undemocratic?

        You need to make your mind up and stick to it, instead of using turnouts to suit your agenda(s).

      3. Toffee – As usual you are talking bollocks again.
        “And what about that 37% you complained didn’t vote in the referendum – which you claimed made it undemocratic?

        No I haven’t, you are mixing me up with someone else. You are more than welcome to try and prove me wrong.

      4. There’s only one person on this site talks bollocks…No prizes.

        And I just can’t be arsed proving it once again. To which you’ll once again claim I can’t – even though I’ve repeatedly done so previously on many occasions.

        But yhere’s the reply you gave when I once made note of the fact you’d previously bored us rigid. with your 37% claim

        “It’s good to see you’ve acknowledged this”

        Why say that if you’ve never never claimed as much, gawp?

      5. Toffee – It isn’t my fault that you are too dumb to realise when someone is taking the piss at your expense.
        It is also not my problem that you have so little faith in your own assertions that you need to tell rely on partial and out of context quotes as well as just making stuff up.

      6. Except you’re far too removed, too socially unaware (as well as inadeqaute), and waaay too humourless TO take the piss out of anyone, lad.

        I’ve bought and sold far better than a twerp like you when it comes to piss-taking. You don’t know your arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to appropriating the micturition…Unless of course you refer to when you take the piss in order to provoke – as is your raison d’etre.

        Now tell us ANY reason people should vote stammerist labour is???


  11. Seems now it could be Graham so if this is the case then at least Coyne shown the door.
    But bloody risky with initially 3 Leftish candidates then 2, nearly let the Right in.
    Some members I understand were disappointed that they were marched up to the top of the hill by Beckett’s Campaign then marched back down again but put purity aside and voted for ST.
    I didn’t like SG’s apparent workplace only mantra?
    We care about you as employees but once you clock off you are on your own?
    But the workers may have an health issue, a family member or themselves on hospital waiting lists or in need of social care, housing, education, may have kids at school etc etc – no workplace is an island!
    Hopefully the executive will make such points.
    Next time perhaps would be good to have one grassroots left activist as a candidate.

    1. Passed unanimously. A victory for everyone (except those who would want to abuse retail staff).

      1. goldbach – This was a Private Members Bill put forward by Daniel Johnson a Labour Party MSP so yes a victory for everyone but given that a Labour MSP proposed the bill my comment above is entirely justified

    2. Good point Goldbach, Labour was slaughtered in Scotland when it took on board Blairism (which is supported by the current Right Wing Labour there) and the SNP opportunists were grateful for old Labour’s clothes.
      This was unanimous because the SNP know which side their bread is buttered on.
      Their fear is that a genuine left wing democratic opposition may appear and expose them as the one trick pony they are PRETENDING to be socialists.

      1. Bazza – Did Labour propose similar legislation in our 2019 manifesto?

      2. Bazza – I managed to find it in the 2019 manifesto
        Ensuring that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence.
        Banning unpaid internships

  12. Goldbach, a very good point. Right Wing Labour are always bold on SAFE ISSUES!
    Right Wing Labour was slaughtered in Scotland because it adopted Blairism and still does.
    Even those who history has passed by can offer the occasional squeak but they fool few apart from a few lumpen commentators.
    Right Wing Labour in England, Scotland calling!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: