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The Unite election was triggered earlier this month when McCluskey announced his resignation from Unite – a common practice which allows current leaders to renew their mandate. A fresh election contest will now take place in April 2017.
If McCluskey wins, he will still be General Secretary come the next general election. This will be a massive blow for the Blairites and they are determined not to let it happen.
Consequently, Labour’s right wingers are backing Gerard Coyne, currently the union’s West Midlands Regional Secretary, against McCluskey. The Blairites claim to be supporting Coyne because he will deal with the “real” issues facing union members. They claim that ordinary members are not concerned with Labour’s internal politics.
But let there be no mistake. Their support for Coyne has nothing to do with the wellbeing of Unite’s members. It is a political manoeuvre aimed at isolating Corbyn.
Labour’s right wing factions Labour First and Progress have been campaigning to get people into Unite in order to vote against the Corbyn supporter. They are also attempting to mobilise the passive membership of the union, who encounter the debates only through the capitalist media, against McCluskey.
Though unlikely, the threat of a Coyne victory must be taken seriously. To ensure that the Blairites do not gain a victory, it is essential that Corbyn supporters join up to Unite, and those that are already members cast their ballot to support McCluskey.
Under the leadership of McCluskey, the union has taken a more militant stance on a number of important disputes. Last summer, for instance, Unite supported workers at Fawley Oil Refinery who took strike action to ensure that migrant workers were paid union negotiated rates
Unite is also playing an important role in building for the national demonstration to save the NHS on March 4, called by Health Campaigns Together. UNISON, by contrast, the largest NHS union, still refuse to get behind the demonstration.
McCluskey is far from perfect as a trade union leader, but if we are to stand a chance at building a truly socialist Labour Party it is paramount that he wins this election.
New members can only vote if they are registered before January 1, 2017. So join Unite here and have your say.