‘Starmer thought police now running my union’, says insider in response to union email
Unite has banned the film ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn/The Big Lie’, which exposes the sabotage, racism and coordinated smear campaigns of the Labour right to bring down Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and defame the left, from all its buildings.
The move, believed to have been triggered by the explosive showing of the film at Unite’s Tony Benn House in Bristol, first came to light in the union’s south-east region, where a planned showing at Unite’s regional HQ in Portsmouth was cancelled by Unite’s regional secretary. Local members passed a motion condemning the move and the union’s ‘appeasement’ of right-wing, anti-democratic Labour ‘leader’ Keir Starmer, as well as making a donation to the film’s makers to help the film be seen more widely:
Banning of Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie – By Southern Regional Secretary
This Branch condemns the decision of Sarah Carpenter, Regional Secretary, to cancel showings of Oh Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie, put on by Portsmouth Community Branch for 12 and 19 June.
The pretext offered for the cancellation is that ‘The issues covered in the film are pertinent to internal Labour Party’ and therefore not relevant to Unite members.
This Branch Resolves:
It is not the purpose of union officials to try and control what members are allowed to see. Nor is it within their remit to try to cancel basic rights of free speech by branches and members.
To reject the idea that the issues in the film are internal to the Labour Party and not relevant to Unite members. The film is about the orchestrated attack on Jeremy Corbyn and the socialist leadership of the Labour Party from 2015-19.
To recognise that since Keir Starmer has taken over the leadership, the Labour Party has become a neo-liberal party whose policies are indistinguishable from that of the Tory Party.
We do not believe that
- increased privatisation of the NHS, which Keir Starmer supports
- public ownership of water, rail and the utilities which Starmer opposes
- Zionism and Apartheid Israel which Starmer supports
- the racist treatment of refugees which Starmer supports
- worker’s struggles which Keir Starmer opposes
- Tory legislation restricting the right of protest and our civil liberties which Starmer supports are irrelevant to Unite members
The decision by Carpenter is not an isolated one. It comes on top of the attempts of Starmer to forbid councillors in Swansea watching ‘The Big Lie’ and the attempts by local authorities such as Carlisle to ban its showing and the decision by the SW TUC to prevent the showing of the film at the Tolpuddle Festival.
There is a determined attempt to erase the memory of the Corbyn era and how the Labour Right, in conjunction with the Tory press, deliberately destabilised the elected leadership of the Labour Party through false accusations of anti-Semitism.
It is extremely disappointing that the leadership of Unite, in attempting to appease Keir Starmer, is now a party to this erasure of history. Far from appeasing Starmer Unite’s leadership should be vigorously challenging the neo-liberal government that he has promised.
We demand that the showing of A Big Lie should be reinstated immediately and we urge other Unite branches to ensure that it is shown as widely as possible.
This Branch wishes to donate £250 to Platform Films in order to enable them to facilitate distribution and make more socialist films.
But the union’s ban is not limited to the south. Skwawkbox understands that emails have been sent out in other regions warning Community section branches and officials that the film cannot be shown in any Unite building and giving weak excuses for the decision:
A number of co-ordinators have been asked to facilitate the screening of the ‘Big Lie’ film from Unite offices. Some Community members have expressed interest in seeing this. The issues covered in the film are pertinent to internal Labour Party matters and that is not the focus of our union.
Unite’s Community members are working on issues linked to our local communities and to industrial issues, and union resources are prioritised in these areas. Resources include use, maintenance and security of Unite buildings. There are a number of screenings in local independent venues, which are open to interested members.
I have no doubt that there will be some questions from Community members regarding this. I trust that the above is clear enough to explain the rationale for the position.
A further note confirms that this is ‘Unite’s position’ and not a decision for individual officials. A senior insider told Skwawkbox:
The idea that events in the Labour party, to which Unite donates huge sums in affiliation fees and donations, is not relevant for Unite members is laughable. It all smacks of [Labour general secretary David] Evans’s ban on discussing his and Starmer’s actions as ‘not competent business’. So much for freedom of speech.
The move, which comes hot on the heels of the Glastonbury festival’s cowardly decision to cave in to pro-Israel groups that do not want the smears of the pro-Israel right inside and outside the Labour party exposed, appears to be a further confirmation of longstanding reports from insiders that Unite general secretary, for all her protestations about Starmer’s behaviour, has made an accommodation with his regime.
Another senior figure in the movement told Skwawkbox that:
Starmer’s thought police are now running my union. It’s a disgrace.
Sharon Graham’s tenure as general secretary has been marred by allegations – which neither she nor the union have denied – that she attempted to have evidence destroyed in bullying and misogyny complaints about her husband, whom she now employs in her office despite a final warning from the union for his behaviour and by the union’s appalling treatment of Irish union legend Brendan Ogle, who is now taking legal action over Unite’s ‘disgusting’ abuse and bullying following his return from cancer treatment. Ogle did not support Sharon Graham in the union’s general secretary election and the union’s conduct toward him led to protests during Graham’s recent Dublin visit, outrage among Irish politicians and even threats from a whole sector to disaffiliate entirely.
In addition, after her supporters failed in their bid to take control of the Unite executive despite ‘dark money’ spending on advertising, ineglible and racist members being allowed to stand and the alleged use of paid organisers in and following the exec election campaign, her faction has resorted to Starmerite tactics to try to discredit the executive members’ election of a new left-wing union chair and both vice-chairs, as well as the vital Finance and General Purpose Committee.
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