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UNITE General Secretary Election: Some Issues for Gerard Coyne to Address

Challenger to McCluskey doesn’t know who the Business Secretary is.

Gerard Coyne employs Nick Buckley, ex tabloid hack.

Where are the concrete proposals for changing the Union?


One major qualification to lead a Union as big as ours must be basic day to day competency so the the Union is driving the story, rather than being the story itself. Imagine the gwaffs and (not so) stifled laughter amongst the press corps when leading historian and Independent senior reporter Andy McSmith issued a press release of behalf of Gerard Coyne which described Sajid Javed as the Conservative Business Secretary. Whilst Mr. Javed was a memorably inept portfolio holder, he was shifted to Communities and Local Government in July when Mrs. May became Prime Minister. His successor at the Business Department is the equally hapless Greg Clark who as Housing Minister built virtually no err… houses.

Coyne says he wants the Union to move away from politicians. But surely lobbying and holding our leaders to account is a huge part of the role? How else can our members have a voice in the seats of power? I actually agree that we are too close to Labour, especially as they implode and make themselves unelectable but for the Union to scale down political activity as our members are under increasing attack is just not credible.

Andy McSmith is a formidable force in Coyne’s team having written, “No Such Thing as Society”  about the Thatcher years, and well received biographies of Ken Clarke, Labour Leader John Smith, and Stalin. Nick Buckley however, was a hack at the Sunday People, the paper that brought you the unedifying sight of Nigella Lawson being assaulted by Charles Saatchi. Although cleared of any wrong doing Buckley was one of the first journalists to have his collar felt regarding the 2003/04 phone hacking scandal when he was deputy editor at the People. Buckley either knew about it, or was totally incompetent. Either way he sailed close to the wind and is part of that arrogant New Labour set whose ethos was that things were only wrong when done by others, especially poor people.

As the fiasco of the Article 50 Bill unfolded at Westminster where Labour were unable to wring one single concession from a Government with a wafer thin majority, Len McCluskey was campaigning on one the fundamental issues facing thousands of our members; the status of EU nationals in the wake of BREXIT. Labour’s utter failure to get Mrs. May to make this a red line issues meant that someone had to take up the fight and that was the General Secretary of UNITE. As with the NHS cuts, privatisation and the threat of TTIP Len McCluskey has become de facto Leader of the Opposition. Whilst the Labour Party is indulging in terminal acts of self mutilation Len is building a coalition to take on the Tories. Gerard Coyne wants to change the Union but has yet to tell us why and how.

We eagerly await Mr. Coyne’s response. Just as an aside Gerard’s latest slogan is; “Take Back Control”. Where have we heard THAT one before?!





About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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