Analysis Breaking comment Exclusive

Exclusive: supporters say right trying to drive new left-wing president out of Unison through council disciplinary process in early Sep

Paul Holmes has been suspended by Kirklees council and by the union – along with his union branch, preventing it from acting on his behalf

Working-class union activist Paul Holmes came close to preventing the right-wing succession plan at the top of the giant Unison’s staff structures – and would have beaten Christine McAnea to election as general secretary of the union had the machine-left heeded warnings that their candidate was too weak to win and would split the left vote. That contest saw the Unison national executive then in place change its voting rules during its nomination meeting to prevent Holmes – who had pledged to take a salary of only £32,000 and donate the remaining £100,000 or so to charity – winning the executive’s backing in the contest.

McAnea went on to use her first radio interview as general secretary to attack the left-wing general secretary of fellow giant union Unite, rather than to attack the Tories.

Holmes then went on to help orchestrate the left’s fightback that resulted in a big left majority on the union’s national executive – and was subsequently elected as Unison’s president. But the Unison machine had suspended him in what his supporters say was an attempt to nobble his general secretary bid and has so far been unable to take up his post.

And now Holmes faces an attempt to remove him from the union entirely, through what those who know him say is a blatantly political disciplinary process by his employers at Kirklees council – with Holmes’s union offering no support and even obstructing his fightback.

The Bakers comparison

Last week, when Labour threatened to suspend Bakers’ union president Ian Hodson, the BFAWU responded by recalling its conference to hold a vote to disaffiliate completely from the party – and timing the vote to pull press attention away from Keir Starmer’s make-or-break conference speech.

In stark contrast, Holmes’s supporters say that the union has organised no action to defend its president from the council’s vexatious action – and argue that the union has in fact obstructed Holmes’s efforts to defend against the undisclosed charges against him and two branch colleagues.

Instead, while Kirklees council has refused to say what Holmes is being investigated for – despite a fifteen-month investigation – Unison publicly agreed with the investigation and backed the secrecy about what Holmes is supposed to have done, issuing a statement that there were ‘confidential’ issues, but without saying why confidentiality was supposedly needed.

The hearing

And now, six months after the investigation concluded in March, the council is holding a protracted hearing into the hidden charges that will begin on 6 September and drag on for 5-6 weeks, with one day’s hearing every week or so – bizarrely, not at the council’s offices but at a four-star hotel outside Huddersfield – and without even the provision of teas or coffees for Holmes or his team.

A source close to Holmes’s campaigns said that the union is at a ‘pivotal moment’ for its future direction and that they believe that the union right sees Holmes as a threat to its plans, both as president now and as a future left challenger to McAnea. They went on:

Where every other union would normally be shouting about victimisation of a trade union rep, organising a ballot for industrial action, the general secretary writing to the employer to demand that the victimisation persist.

If Kirklees council decides it can get away with terminating his employment, that will be the end of his position as president and even as a member of the union. The right thinks it can cut the head off the resistance and neutralise the threat. He hasn’t even had a response to his emails and letters to Christine McAnea – from the union’s president to its general secretary – and she hasn’t even bothered to respond.

Paul’s not just the elected president either. He’s also been elected as Unison’s delegate to the TUC but he can’t fulfil that either because of all this.

This is a Corbyn moment, the right trying to destroy the left’s threat. But if Paul is dismissed, the things that will come out will reveal atrocious conduct by the union and its officers.

The rally

Paul Holmes’s supporters have organised a rally in person and online to support Holmes from the first day of the council’s hearing, with a physical presence at the venue and an online event:

Skwawkbox contacted Unison’s press office for comment via its emergency number, with the following questions:

  1. what assistance is Mr Holmes receiving from the union to fight the case?
  2. why is Mr Holmes’s branch suspended and unable to provide support?
  3. what activities eg pickets, industrial action is Unison planning to defend its president?
  4. what statement has Christine McAnea put on record to support him?
  5. BFAWU is holding a conference vote on disaffiliation from the Labour party because of Labour’s threat to its president. Why isn’t Unison, the UK’s biggest union, making a huge noise about this action against its elected president and taking every possible action to force Kirklees council to back down?
  6. why does Mr Holmes remain suspended by Unison and unable to take up the role to which he was overwhelmingly elected?
  7. the council has hired a hotel for the disciplinary hearing, rather than use its offices. What intervention or representation has Unison made against this unusual procedure?
  8. Holmes is Unison’s delegate to TUC, but unable to fulfil that role because of this situation. Why is Unison not acting?
  9. Mr Holmes’s supporters allege that the union has in fact been obstructive of his efforts to fight his council suspension. What is the union’s response to the allegation?

At the time of writing, more than a day later and more than 14 hours after the deadline, there has been no response at all from the union.

Those wishing to participate in the online rally to support Holmes can do so by clicking here at 9am on 6 Sep and entering eeting ID: 860 4303 5667 and passcode ‘Paul’.

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  1. It is impossible to reach an informed decision about this until we know what he is accused of. Hopefully SB will keep us all informed as more details emerge.

    1. ALWAYS pa-trolling, eh! Do you not do ANYTHING in your life apart from posting comments on this site all day long every single day, monitoring every single comment that gets posted???

      As if any ordinary legitimate person would literally spend their whole waking life posting comments and monitoring the site every single day for years on end!!!

      1. WFM – You are also quite a regular contributor, but I guess that is different in your eyes.
        Returning to the subject of this article rather than your repetitive ‘look at me’ nonsense do you agree or disagree with my comment above?

      2. I quite agree Allen and I can see from your reply that he’s still at it. I reached your very conclusion some time ago so I now automatically scroll past his posts.

        It is however difficult to avoid him entirely because he manages to distract so many other correspondents which I presume in his terms he considers to be some sort of a success . Whether he simply craves personal attention or deliberately seeks to disrupt the Comments section he is certainly having a very negative effect upon the exchange of views and ideas that it is meant to facilitate. That is rather a shame and its sad that he is permitted to continue to do so.

        Perhaps if he is genuine (which I personally doubt) he might wish to reflect up on the negative impact that just the sheer volume of his contributions is having & restrict himself to only making a comment when he has something of real worth or interest to say. One can only hope.

    2. And that steveH is the whole point which has gone straight over your head. The most basic fundamental standard of due process principles and protocols is the right to know what you are accused of. Without knowing that you cannot mount a defence.

      Every action which is taking place within the LP and the movement is driven by a total absence of any recognisable due process.

      You can’t have it both ways.

      1. Sorry Dave but I have to use your post to reply to the one above. Is SteveH genuine? I used to flog pictures etc at local fairs. Once, a bloke flogging rubbish next to my stall impressed me. I asked him what he was selling. His reply,” genuine fakes”.

      2. Wobbly – You and others are more than welcome to ignore me.
        Yes I agree that this thread is a distraction but having said that, could you please explain how my comment at the head of this page is in itself a distraction. The only distraction I can see is the drivel that has been posted in response to what is a reasonable comment from me.

  2. I fully realised that the unions were the target of the Labour party and alarmingly nothing was done whilst a true socialist leader was in power because he was too busy protecting his own position.The majority of power brokers grabbed the Labour party and choked the socialist revival under Corbyn and captured the Labour party.We won last week in Unite and todays development is not a suprise to anyone who has followed the fight for democracy and freedom inside the UK and the last bastions of working-class people the unions.Labour are the enemy and the unions are now in the last chance saloon like jeremy and the Labour party were.The battle for the Labour party as a working-class movement was over even before jeremy corbyn had the Labour leadership and its now a fight for unison and all other unions that are infiltrated from the enemy within.We are talking about the survival of the Working-class people in the UK not just about the unions here.This evil of the right wing stalks all of the UK and fight or flight thats the choice.

    1. Seems to me Jokeefe that whenever you see an opportunity to try and discredit Jeremy – however tenuous – you put the boot in. So WHEN were the unions the target of the LP? And what could Jeremy have done about it even if they WERE?

      ALARMINGLY you are spouting anti-Corbyn B/S and smearing him yet AGAIN, just like your chum signpost does on a daily basis! In practically EVERY thread!!

    2. Joseph – Are you involved in the struggle for democracy in your chosen home of Cambodia or do you restrict yourself to fighting ‘the good fight’ from a very, very safe distance.
      Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose 35-year rule makes him one of the world’s longest serving leaders, used the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to further tighten his grip on power. During the year, the government repeatedly resorted to violence against peaceful protesters, and arrested human rights defenders, journalists, opposition party members, and ordinary citizens for peacefully expressing their opinions. At time of writing, Cambodia held over 60 political prisoners.

      1. Steve H Hall centrist Dad davidh….Like most of the poison you are allowed to spread you betray your bent ideology by attacking a leader of one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the best leaders.Your toilet paper edition betrays itself with the attack on Cambodia for moving from under the jack boot of the US war machine and of course its little helper Great Britain.The last part finished with the crude and usual attack upon our neighbour China.You are a cruel and distasteful lacky of the neo liberal alliance and the sooner you come off the payroll the better.This wonderful country doesn’t deserve the amount of attention it gets from CIA trained infiltrators that seek to bring down a government that has helped the country to remain at peace since Hun sen the leader liberated the country with the help of Veitnamese comrades from a insane genocidal dictator of the Pol pot regime.IN Buddhism mr H you would probably come back as a Snake?

      2. Stop posting links to the fake NGO human rights watch. And stop posting deflecting comments that have nothing to do with the article troll.

    3. I agree 100% with your comments, that the demonisation and actions against the left wing of the Labour Party, which represents the true values and policies o fthe Labour Party, is a battle for the survival of the working class. We are now at the point where we need mass civil disobedience, and massive and peaceful direct actions throughout the whole country, in order to have a chance of bringing this evil down. We must get rid of Starmer and the whole of the evil that is the Blairite faction of the Labour Party, which is nothing but a gang of bullies. It is time for the vast majority of working class people to stand up and fight back, and one of the first actions they need to take is to join the unions en masse, because united we stand and can win, divided means this evil will only continue and get worse.

  3. Steve H Hall is basically telling you “Nothing to see here move along” Remember the “Thief in the night” thats the enemy complacency and encouragement from the parasite above and thats what hes paid for as he watches the sun 🌞 go down in his Carrabean bolt hole

    1. Joseph – Not at all, I’m saying what I said, nothing more and nothing less. This habit you have of making stuff up to suite your agenda doesn’t do much for what little credibility you have. Contrary to your claims I have encouraged SB to keep us all informed.

      Here is what the Huddersfield Examiner has had to say about it/
      ExaminerLive understands that Mr Holmes’s suspension by the council is not associated with industrial relations.
      A Unison spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on the suspensions. These are serious and confidential issues that have to be investigated.
      “Paul Holmes’s suspension by the council is a separate issue.”
      All will be revealed soon.

      1. “Making stuff up….Steve H Hall centrist Dad?How double dare you…Coming on here ouoting every low life media propaganda that fawlty towers hq sends you.I am shocked Stevie boy 👦.PS when is the Rat logo going ?

      2. Joseph – Inane rants aren’t a substitute for evidence.

  4. Unison is a completely compromised, Tory sponsored union that will drop you like a stone the minute you get gaslit, intimidated and bullied by your employer and you need costly legal representation to fight your case. Do NOT join it and I’m afraid, yes, I smell a rat when I see a prominent actor at a senior level inside it, regardless of the ideological claims and counter-claims. The Tory bosses’ nark and fixer Prentiss has dismantled and destroyed this basket case.

  5. “It is impossible to reach an informed decision about this until we know what he is accused of.” –
    What an odd comment. We are not being asked to make a decision about anything. We are simply being informed of events which are unacceptable. When any trade unionist is under threat from his/her employer, the union has the DUTY to provide whatever support is necessary. That UNISON has not done so is a shameful dereliction of duty.
    That someone who is commenting is more interested in wanting to know what the allegations are demonstrates either a lack of understanding of trades unionism and workers’ solidarity or a desire to insidiously undermine this report for factional reasons.

  6. I’m assuming Holmes has been informed of the charges he faces and the actions that constitute that offence otherwise that would be Stalinesque. Holmes could announce what those charges are unless he’d had to sign some NDA on peril of even more sanctions against him. Anyone got an inkling what these charges/actions are? It’s not a criminal case and he’s not been charged with any criminal offence so there is no bar on anything being discussed. Either way the conduct of the Union does not look good in this. A searchlight needs shining on this lot followed by the disinfectant of publicity and transparency. Secrecy usually means someone is embarrassed about their actions because they are nasty or corrupt or both.

    1. Plain Citizen
      NDA’s can be assumed to be unenforceable if they are illegal
      So because the Left are always on the defensive and never getting their retaliation in first, in other words practically useless
      Bullies will bully until you stand your ground, then they run away
      Red Tories are in the wrong party so Off they must fuck
      There’s not that many of them
      They will fall like domino’s

      1. Is THAT the best you can do Doug so as to get your put-down of the left in – ie ‘So because the Left are always on the defensive and never getting their retaliation in first, in other words practically useless’. Shouldn’t you have made some point in respect of your ‘So because the Left are always on the defensive and never getting their retaliation in first… they blah blah blah’? Presumably you couldn’t think of anything to ‘inject’ there, so you just threw in the bit you wanted to say anyway, even though it doesn’t constitute a proper sentence!

        So can you give us an example or two of when someone could have got their retaliation in first. Your post – as on numerous OTHER occasions – is just a bunch of platitudes strung together to discredit the left. As for bullies running away…… when the ‘bullies’ own and/or control the MSM or have the ‘SUPPORT’ of the MSM they are NOT going to ‘run away’, and will continue to smear and demonise their targets as they please.

        NB If you happen to be relatively new to this site, be advised that it is infested with im-posters – ie professional black propagandists and their secondary personas – falsely discrediting left-wing MPs and the left in general on a daily basis. Funny, isn’t it, how THEY are supposedly left-wingers themselves, but they ALWAYS refer to the left as if they are not part of the left! And if the left are so useless – as Doug has said on numerous occasions during the course of the past year or more – then why would you post comments on a left-wing Jeremy Corbyn supporting blog every single day in practically every single thread. Surely anyone who thought GENUINELY thought what Doug supposedly thinks about the left would have given up on the left long before now and, as such, wouldn’t bother posting ANY comments on this site, let alone every single day in practically every single thread!

      2. AH
        When you hold the purse strings and have been told the party are about to fall off a financial cliff, it would take a lot to push them over
        Now a simple question, what would Red Tories do if they were in a similar position

  7. The Times they are a changin’. As Starmer’s mentor Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis congratulates AIPAC on removing Bernie Sanders & Jeremy Corbyn from mainstream politics; MSM moves further to the right as the Murdoch Media Empire expands & the BBC Chairman pays his political masters in the Tory Party in preparation for The End of Days; The End of Socialism & the End of Palestine.

    1. It is not the end of socialism. The Labour Party has never been the world bench mark of Socialism. This is not new, but, I admit the concentrated efforts of the dark side have worked together as never before. This shows how scared they are of even Cobyn socialism. Honest reflection, admission of failure and recognition of false friends would be a good start. We were outwitted albeit by enemies with deep pockets.

  8. Seeking moral support for Over 50s party (policies for ages 1 to 100) that offers manifesto:


    • All General Secretary, top admin and shop stewards, can only be Corbynite socialist politically.
    Right wing politics has no place in worker representation.
    The bosses have their own associations to represent them.

    over50s party org uk

  9. So the union won’t even back its own President, must fill other rank & file members with confidence?
    Have read about Paul and have heard about him from Left Wing Unison members and they argue he is a very decent human being.
    Perhaps what terrifies the lumpen Right is Paul’s Left Wing IDEAS!
    The Left Wing Unison members I know are furious at what they perceive as dirty tricks by the Right?
    Hope it all gets sorted out, sounds like Paul could make a fine Unison President.

  10. I voted for Paul. I am horrified at unison’s stance. Having been a unison membsr and shop steward for many years i am very angry at this as it is not fitting for a union. To withhold support for Paul in his fight back is in my view downright criminal.
    All this shows tgat we got to get our act together or we will be totally swamped by right wing oppression.
    We need to get our act together to fight this together.

  11. Kirklees Council unlike the Labour Party is subject to the employment legislation and I understand Unison, as a Trade Organisation, is too. If either stitch Paul up they will have to answer to an employment tribunal. Employment Judges have no political axe to grind and will no doubt take a very dim view of the lack of openness in the process to date and the way the Council has dragged its feet in this matter. I think you will find that Kirklees Council will have second thoughts about taking action against Paul -they may has these already which would explain the delays to date

      Supporters of victimised union rep Paul Holmes are calling on trade unionists to join a solidarity lobby at the start of his disciplinary hearing……….
      ………..His supporters have organised a lobby in Huddersfield, and an online rally for those who can’t attend.
      Lobby Paul’s hearing 9-10am Mon 6 September, The Clarion, Cedar Court Hotel, Ainsley Top, Huddersfield HD3 3RH. Or join a Zoom rally, 9am, Monday 6 September at

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