Unite Threatening to Bankrupt Labour

Labour is on the brink of their second financial crash in 20 years: its biggest donor, Unite the Union, is threatening to pull all its “remaining financial support” to the cash-strapped party over a pay dispute between Coventry Council and its bin lorry drivers. Having already reduced its affiliation fee by 10% back in October 2020, Unite is now promising all-out war unless Labour acts like “the party for workers” again. New General Secretary Sharon Graham has warned, “if we have to escalate, we will escalate” and called Sir Keir’s party “bad employers”. Dear General Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money…

Since Starmer became leader, Labour’s finances have nosedived thanks to – in the words of party General Secretary David Evans – “lost members and dealing with antisemitism cases”. Back in the summer, they had just enough cash for one month’s payroll. Even last week, a Labour spokesperson said they were being “open about the challenges [they] faced”. Challenges, in this case, meaning they’ve already passed mass redundancies and offered a real-terms pay cut to those who stayed…

Despite a Unison source pointing out to The Times last night, “Who are they going to ask to pay for May’s elections? Other unions are skint,” a Labour spokesperson boldly shot back:

“We’re not going to get into the specifics of this dispute. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party will always act in the public interest. These sort of threats won’t work in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. We would have hoped that Unite would have got the message that the Labour Party is under new management.”

It’s not all bad for the Labour Party coffers, however. As Guido pointed out yesterday, the BBC’s supposed Tory donor who slammed Boris hasn’t actually donated to the Conservatives since 2020, and last year gave £25,000 to Sir Keir’s party. Surely they can tap him up to plug the multi-million funding hole…

mdi-timer 10 February 2022 @ 12:25 10 Feb 2022 @ 12:25 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
McCluskey Welcomes QC Inquiry into his Members-Funded £98 Million Unite Hotel

Earlier this month Unite announced it is to cut its funding to Labour due to believing money would be better spent on union campaigns. That was what their newly elected leader, Sharon Graham, claimed. Since 2017 Unite membership fees have been plunged into Len McCluskey’s hotel and conference centre vanity project in Birmingham. It was supposed to cost £7 million, however ballooned to an eye-watering £98 million…

Last night Sharon Graham confirmed there would be a transparent, QC-led inquiry into the building of it, which has also had questions surrounding the fact the development’s main construction contract – worth £95 million – was awarded to a mate of Len McCluskey.

Despite Len telling Sky News back in September that “it’s a fantastic investment and [Sky’s] the only one who is interested in that any more”, Graham’s admitted there are questions that “need to be answered in a timely fashion”.

“to ensure transparency the outcome of the inquiry will be made public.

“I will also be doing everything possible to recover all monies due back to the union.”

Last night he tweeted an inquiry was “sensible and will answer any questions”. Unfortunately for any Unite members hoping to hold McCluskey to account, he’s already checked out…

mdi-timer 21 December 2021 @ 15:52 21 Dec 2021 @ 15:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Starmer Could Face Doorstep Picket Line, New Unite Leader Promises to “Ramp Up” Protests Outside Bosses’ Homes

With the unions favouring strike action over Labour’s plan to lay off 90 employees, Sir Keir might now have to brace for a few unwanted visitors outside his North London home, as new Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham, elected last week, has promised to “ramp up” leverage tactics against company bosses in order to “defend jobs, fight cuts and protect pay”. We know what works and how to deliver pain to employersshe claims. Historically, this has involved inflating a 10-foot “Scabby Rat” in bosses’ front gardens…

Graham also boasted in her manifesto of “winning twelve Leverage campaigns and representing workers for over 20 years“, claiming:

“Now is the time for practical action – not empty political rhetoric or strongly worded press releases. If we are going to stop our members paying the price for COVID-19, we need urgent reform and to work differently both now and in the future.

Would be amusingly awkward for Starmer to cross a picket line outside his own home…

mdi-timer 2 September 2021 @ 15:32 2 Sep 2021 @ 15:32 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Anti-Starmer Trot Sharon Graham Wins Unite General Secretary Election

As per the rumours swirling yesterday afternoon, the anti-Starmer Trot Sharon Graham has won the Unite General Secretary election, on a platform to cut political ties with the party:

  • Sharon Graham: 46,696 (37.7%)
  • Steve Turner: 41,833 (33.8%)
  • Gerard Coyne: 35,334 (28.5%)

Starmer’s man Coyne – who wrote an op-ed for The Sun during the course of the campaign – came last. Last night Labour insiders were putting on a brave face over the prospect of the result – let’s see how long that lasts…

mdi-timer 25 August 2021 @ 12:08 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Rumour Round-Up: Furthest Left Candidate Set for Unite Leadership Upset

It sounds like the race to be next Unite boss could be heading for a big upset as The Mirror and Huffington Post report the far-left Sharon Graham, an overlooked outsider, looks set to steal a win. According to The Mirrora sample of 8,000 votes spread across 22 tables showed her to have the largest pile on each. They point to a “formidable” grassroots campaign…

Back when Guido did his last runners & riders article, Sharon was seen as “unlikely to take the top prize this time”; which would more likely go to either the Unite establishment candidate Steve Turner, controversial left-wing McCluskey ally Howard Beckett, who dropped out to back Turner, or the Starmerite “right” candidate Gerard Coyne. The final result isn’t out until Thursday.

Sharon’s platform has included saying the union’s “obsession with the Labour party needs to end”:

“We need to move beyond the internal struggles of the Labour Party. Labour will likely be in opposition for most of the next decade and workers can’t afford to wait.

As General Secretary I make no bones about saying that I will not be giving out blank cheques to any politician or political party.”

Her offering won over the hard left Socialist Worker, who have argued her campaign “reflects a thirst for change in Unite.” She also won backing from the SWP and Socialist Party, something she praised…

The reaction inside Labour to the speculative news is interestingly split; on the one hand she’s on record saying “Keir Starmer has failed workers” and is threatening to cut off funding. On the other if she’s promising to move away from internal Labour politics she may prove quieter on some rows, which may save face for Starmer. A Labour insider tells Seb Payne “The moderates haven’t won, nor have the communists”…

mdi-timer 24 August 2021 @ 16:16 24 Aug 2021 @ 16:16 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Either a Loony Leftie, Socialist Worker, Communist or Starmerite Will Soon Control the Purse Strings of The Labour Party

There are three left-wing candidates for general-secretary of Unite, Britain’s biggest union and Labour’s main paymaster, vying to replace Len McCluskey. They are Howard Beckett, Sharon Graham and Steve Turner. The moderate candidate is Gerard Coyne.

Despite Steve Turner winning the most branch nominations, the other two left-wing candidates are unwilling to stand their campaigns down, both arguing that they each have the best chance of beating the Coyne campaign.

Howard Beckett, who has the implicit backing of Len McCluskey and Karie Murphy, is running a noisy social media-led campaign supported by the alt-left media. Currently suspended from the Labour Party, he is a lawyer who sold his law firm for a £2.6 milion to Thompson Solicitors, Unite’s main law firm for industrial litigation, in a deal brokered by McCluskey. That dodgy deal made Beckett, the far-left’s candidate, a millionaire.

Beckett became Unite’s legal director after the transaction, overseeing the multi-million losses resulting from backing Swawkbox in their defamation case against Anna Turley. McCluskey is supporting Beckett, say rivals, because he has done McCluskey’s dirty work over the years and will ensure his mentor’s financial shenanigans don’t get exposed by his successor.

Sharon Graham would become Unite’s first woman general secretary, and has the support of the vocal minority of dedicated Socialist Worker Party activists who managed to secure her more nominations than Howard Beckett. The trots are running a slick campaign on her behalf, as you’d would expect from the experienced Unite organiser. Opponents say a Unite led by Graham would be a wildcard. She might expose the goings on of the McCluskey era, or she might focus on bringing down the Tory government.

Steve Turner is supported by the Communist Party and is the “official” left candidate. He is said to feel betrayed by Len McCluskey’s support for Beckett: after all, he ran Len’s campaign for general secretary – twice. Starmer is said to expect him to win, and sees him as someone who will be pragmatic in his relationship with the Labour Party, since he has previously said he has “no interest in a public spat with the leader of the Labour Party.” Beckett, on the other hand, wants to cut funding for the party.

Turner is the establishment left’s candidate, backed by the likes of the Owen Jones and many of the union’s top officials. McCluskey might be worried that murky financial dealings could be exposed if Turner won. He won by far the most branch nominations. If a deal is brokered by McCluskey for Turner to be the left’s single candidate, it would probably require a promise that Beckett would be given a finance job and a guarantee that nothing would come out about past financial misdemeanours. That’s still the most likely outcome.

Gerard Coyne is the “right-winger” of the race, at least in union terms. Starmer’s man for the job. The moderate narrowly lost to McCluskey for the role back in 2017, 41.5% to McCluskey’s 45.4%. He surprised the other candidates by winning enough nominations to go to the vote, because McCluskey and allies had deregistered a lot of the branches that supported him last time. Splitting the left vote between the other three candidates will work to Coyne’s advantage under FPTP and be the first bit of luck Starmer’s had…

Ballot papers will be sent out to more than one million Unite members at the beginning of July and the result will be declared at the end of August.

mdi-timer 16 June 2021 @ 16:41 16 Jun 2021 @ 16:41 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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