Insiders allege that two proxies attempted to make organiser call off fringe in support of oppressed Palestinians on behalf of general secretary – but were sent packing. No response from Unite to request for comment
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has been accused by union insiders of trying to force the cancellation of a Unite Palestine solidarity fringe organised during Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool earlier this week.
According to allegations by Unite sources, Ms Graham first sent Chris Stiles – a union official allied to Graham and previously associated with an attempt by paid official Derek Thomson to rally support for her on the union’s newly-elected executive – to Simon Dubbins, the union’s director for international affairs, who had organised the fringe, with instructions to cancel the event. Dubbins refused and said that if Ms Graham wanted it cancelled, she needed to come and tell him herself.
The insiders say that Unite’s assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail then went to see Dubbins and also told him that Graham wanted the event cancelled, but Dubbins sent her away with a similar response that he would not be cancelling it and if the general secretary wanted otherwise she could and should come and convey the instruction herself.
Ms Graham did not appear, so the fringe went ahead. The Palestinian ambassador was a guest at the fringe.
Sharon Graham does not appear to have commented on the Gaza situation since the violence began. Skwawkbox asked Unite’s senior press officer:
During Lab conference Ms Graham tried via first Chris Stiles and then Gail Cartmail to make Simon Dubbins cancel the Unite Palestine solidarity fringe. He refused, saying [she] needed to tell him herself if she wanted it cancelled and the event went ahead. Please provide Unite’s relevant comment no later than 5pm and also why Sharon Graham hasn’t commented yet on the Gaza situation.
The union did not respond.
Sharon Graham has previously used proxies on issues against events related to Israel and Palestine. In July, she told assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail to cancel a showing of the film ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn/The Big Lie’, which exposes the political abuse of antisemitism accusations against left-wingers in the Labour party and discussion of Asa Winstanley’s forensic book Weaponising Antisemitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn. The union has banned showings of the film in any of its buildings, despite widespread interest from members. The weaponisation of antisemitism against the left for factional purposes was confirmed even by the Starmer-commissioned Forde inquiry, but its inconvenient findings have been ignored by the party regime.
Graham’s tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has 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
- the union’s appalling treatment of Irish union legend Brendan Ogle has led to Ogle 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
- 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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