Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Why We Need Len McCluskey

The upcoming Unite General Secretary leadership contest has been described as ‘a battle for the soul of the labour party’.
There have been some spurious claims made in the campaign, allegations of misuse of party funds for Jeremy Corbyns leadership campaign and claims that Len McCluskey has used members money to purchase a plush flat in London.
Politically we live in turbulent and quite extraordinary times and the ride at times hasn’t been pleasant, but now it is all too evident that the political ‘dirty tricks’ campaign is spilling over into our union elections.
These days it is a difficult task trying to find reliable information, the press are very selective indeed when portraying information, as it attempts to sway your vote, to their advantage. So what I have done is to look behind the headlines and try to find the real story.
I have looked at Gerard Coynes election manifest and as a union member, it deeply concerned me, it should concern everyone of us regardless of what union we belong to because Gerald Coyne is advocating the separation of Unite from the Labour Party. In effect, this would sever our links, as union members with those who make our employment laws. Unite, through Len McCluskey is the conduit that our voices, hopes and futures use to reach those in power. For the first time in a very long time, we have a leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of our greatest union Unite, who truly share our hopes and aspirations. As members, if we severed this relationship, we would sever our voice in parliament and leave ourselves at the mercy of those in power. This is the choice we are faced with and your vote will determine how protected your future prosperity, security and rights will be.   

Severing our link with the Labour Party will silence our voice in parliament.

Those that wish to deprive us of our voice are the same as those trying to discredit both leaders. And its fair to say that they have used some fairly imaginative journalism, otherwise known as a ‘smear campaign’ to swing your vote and further their cause. So, I have taken a look behind the headlines to find the real story behind the smear.


The first story makes claim, that Len McCluskey spent £400k of members money on a flat.
Well the first thing I discovered was that it wasn’t £400k that Len used for his flat, but £417K, slightly more than we thought. However, as Len now works in London, it is not unreasonable for the leader of the largest union in the UK, to have some form of accommodation in the area. But did the Unite executive really ‘gift’ Len £417K to by a luxury London flat? 

Well, the answer is, no.

What Len actually did was enter into a ‘shared equity’ agreement with Unite where the £417K represents 60% of the value of the flat, belongs to the membership. An agreement approved overwhelmingly by the Unite Executive. Conditions were included that meant that the Unite membership, could never be ‘out of pocket’ because of the deal. Incidentally, deals such as this are quite commonplace for union chief executives.

The Unite investment in the property was £417K on a £700k apartment. Len is funding the rest. This same apartment as of June 2016 had increased in value by £24,000 meaning that the value of the unite members investment had also increased to £430,800, making unite members just shy of £14,000. So Len has ‘made’ money for Unite members, not squandered it.


Len has been criticised for donating money to the Labour Party. The reality is that we, as members, gave Len that money specifically to donate to the Labour party. Its an optional political levy made in addition to our membership fees. In 2013, unite members voted overwhelmingly to ‘opt in’ to this political fund, a political fund which is regulated in law.
The political levy is the members only route to influencing our working terms and conditions that are dictated by government to enhance the good and oppose he bad. Severing these links, that have been built on for generations, would only serve to weaken all unions, expedite the erosion of our terms and conditions of employment rendering us compliant or having to resort to the increased prospect of taking industrial action, that no-one wants.
Unite, under Lens leadership, Unite recognized that Labour's new leadership team would be a great asset for the work of Unite. The money used to help secure Jeremy Corbyns successful leadership campaign was an investment for our futures and will serve to keep the strength in all of our unions.
We cannot allow our relationship with our closest political ally to wither.

Voting day is just around the corner, you are voting to protect your rights, your prosperity, your futures but above all, you are voting for you.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

How To Repair an Irrepparably Split Political Party

I wrote this story about 35 years ago on my Commodore64, neither its USB or HDMI connections were functioning but I managed to Bluetooth it directly to my tablet.
Today It seems almost profetic but as you know, having been written so long ago, it couldn't possibly have been based on any recent events.

                                                             Setting The Scene

Imagine if you will, a political party split on whether to go to war or not, a split that runs so deep, that it threatens the very existence of the party. The leader of that party only has a few merry men and women standing firmly behind her, but to her advantage she holds the support, of the majority of the membership. The remainder of the party leadership are pro-war and vastly outnumber the leader, but their membership following is far smaller. Neither side is willing to give any quarter.
So, the pro war faction decide to stage a coup to oust the anti war leader. And to lend weight to their treachery, they devise a plan to assissinate her, not with weapons, no, but with words. They were not brave enough to use weapons, because they thought that they might get into trouble. So they called her names and made shit up.
The pro war side had a terrible weapon in their arsenal, for they held power over the selection process for new candidates and undemocratically, they have selected all of their own candidates for election. Meaning that, even though the vast majority of members support the anti-war agenda, they will never get to see any of their preferred candidates selected, which they felt was very, very unfair.
To make matters worse, every time one of the pro war candidates lost, they tried to put all of the blame on the shoulders of anti-war candidate, but her supporters were having none of it.
Both sides stake claim to having the support of the wider electorate, but neither can prove their claims because they are based on heresay, doorstep gossip. Their refusal to put this question to the electorate meant that the answer to this question will never be discovered.

                               The situation seemed hopeless, stalemate, or was it?

Whilst both sides of the party had reached an impasse, a small group of 500 of the most faithful and loyal members had had enough and decided to do the unthinkable, they resigned their membership of the party and created a new party so they could carry on with their anti-war beliefs without hinderance.

Eventually, the time to start campaigning for the long awaited general election arrived, the pro war faction of the party fielded all of their own candidates and were ready for battle. The anti war majority, predicted to have done well in the elections, had no-one standing. 

On the day of the election the candidates were announced, the 500 loyal anti-war members who resigned from the party, re-emerge as independent candidates. Well funded by a number of wealthy benefactors, foreign governments, we'll never know but they have a clear purpose in mind, to stand against everyone except, the anti-war members from their old party.
The campaigns came went and were surprisingly strong for the independents, no-one expected it.

When election day finally arrived, slowly over the course of the night, the results came in......
1st place 250 seats - The pro war party.
2nd place 180 seats - The anti war party.
3rd place 120 seats - The Independents
Everyone else won 50 seats between them.

The massive loss of seats cost the anti-war party dearly in the election and the pro-war party of division, hate and poverty were duly elected.

                                                                   The Fallout

On day one of the new government there was nervousness in the air, no victory celebration from the pro-war party and the entire country were glued to their TV sets, waiting for the announcement that they had long suspected was coming.

The news reader came on....

"We are hearing reports of mass defections from the independents to the Anti-war party, we will keep you posted with developments".

By early evening, the news anchor came back on the TV, the atmosphere in the country was charged with excitment and anticipation, could it really happen? could it be true? because everyone knew what had just happened, they just wanted it confirmed.

"Well its been an extraordinary day in politics, a day that shall be long remembered. The final counts are in and we understand that all, I shall repeat that, all of the independents who won their seats have now all defected to the anti-war party, We are unclear what this means exactly, but it does appear that the main opposition to the government actually hold more seats in parliament than the elected government itself. Ladies and gentlemen, on their first day in office, the elected government has been rendered a 'lame duck'. Quite extraordinary."

On day one, all of the winning independents defected to the anti-war party who, for the first time in years, are now unified in their anti-war majority, massively strengthening the leaders position. Their resignation wasn't an act of desperation but a calculated act to illicit a specific outcome. Some called it unfair but the fact remained that defections were well within the rules.

The benefactors and the public were well aware and supportive of their agenda but no-one believed it could happen, for they knew that these independents had no intention of remaining as independent. On day one of the new parliament all of those who won, defect back to their old party to rejoin the leader in her anti-war stance. Sadly, because of the unavoidability of this action, the party lost this election by 130 seats and handed the victory to the party of division, hate and poverty. But, 180 of the faithfull 500 won their seats and immediately defected.

This now resulted in the unprecedented, extraordinary situation where the opposition party had lost the election, but had more representatives in parliament than the government, thereby rendering them a lame duck government, with no power to enact any of their dreadful, punishing laws. It was only a matter of time until the government in waiting, the anti-war party, seized power.

The End