Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘UNITE

Skwawkbox devotes itself to attacks on Labour.

with 2 comments

Skwawkbox Publicises ‘Strike’ Against Labour Campaigning.

Breaking. Exclusive.


The Skwawkbox alt-news site is now running anti-Labour stories on a daily basis.

But Lo! A rapprochement with Britain’s most famous Vegan (after Morrisey) is on the cards.

The SKWAWKBOX Retweeted

Walker has a new fan.

Tiring perhaps of his latest man-crush, Tony Greenstein, Williamson is head over heels in love with Skwawky.

Monday night saw a hard-hitting discussion between Ian Hodson of the Bakers’ union (BFAWU) and the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) Matt Wrack on Socialist Telly’s ‘Skwawk Talk’ programme.

And in an explosive section of the programme, Bakers’ president Hodson indicated that the union’s affiliation with the Labour party may not last much longer, such is the dissatisfaction of union members with the Labour party’s direction and policies under Keir Starmer.

BFAWU has been consulting with its members since January and Hodson said that the results so far show that only 9% of its members think that the Labour party is serving their interests or values:

The comments on Skwawkbox are from a world in itself.

What a disgrace the labour party has become these mp’s don’t represent the working class anymore maybe the Israelis can fund new labour or TB and chums but i doubt it , Fuck labour.

As a factional tool Steve Walker’s site continues its fight for one side in UNITE>

Exclusive: PULS secretary backs Beckett – and accuses United Left of gerrymandering selection and misusing Scottish member data

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2021 at 5:50 pm

Len McCluskey: Keir Starmer is “Absolutely on the Side of Working People.”

with 4 comments

Len McCluskey, the leader of UNITE has announced, in effect, that he will follow Andrew Fisher’s recommendation that the left cooperate with Keir Starmer.

Here are Len McCLuskey’s tweets,

Labour List notes,

The Labour leader’s TUC address got a very warm reception from trade unions, particularly Unite general secretary Len McCluskey who said it “showed him to be absolutely on the side of working people”. Unions have come together in recent months to use the same key terms to deliver their demands and warnings: we need to ‘build back better’, and the government is risking a ‘tsunami of job losses’. UNISON launched a ‘No Going Back to Normal’ campaign earlier this week, stressing that we must not “return to undervaluing our public services and the people who provide them”. Labour’s call for the furlough scheme to be replaced by more targeted measures shows the movement is working as one. Reinforcing the message, McCluskey has today written to the PM urging him to act before the “redundancy floodgates” open and requesting a meeting.

The Morning Star has yet to comment on these statements.  It has published this article by Len McCluskey, which does not mention Keir Starmer:

Labour left must work with Starmer or risk ‘return to tomb’, says Corbyn adviser

The left has got to build an alliance with that centre-left of the party that voted for Starmer – and a lot of Corbyn supporters who voted for Starmer – to defend that kind of programme. That’s the sort of constructive role we’ve got to play.”

Fisher’s intervention echoes that of former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who received some criticism within the left after saying Starmer had gauged his response to the government’s handling of Covid-19 “exactly right”. He added that he believed Starmer was a socialist.

The leader of a major trade union will have to work with the Labour leader.

McClusky’s reaction should be seen first and foremost in this light.

But it comes after reports of a more fraught relationship (Sir Keir Starmer warned not to take Unite’s Labour funding for granted by union leader.)

One of the reasons for McClusky’s difficult relations with Keir Starmer comes from the fall out over Europe that marked the Labour Party in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU in 2016.

In Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick MaGuire’s  Left Out, The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn. (2020), there is an account of the conflicts inside the Party over a Second Referendum on Europe. The present head of Labour, they state, has “never intended to be Labour’s Remainer-in-chief” (Page 128)  He wanted to “govern”, to negotiate, even, in his role as Shadow Brexit Secretary,  to ‘save’ Brexit with a soft version.

Michael Chessum of Another Europe is Possible,  claims that Starmer had not initially joined the campaign for a Public Vote.  Yet outside support for a new ballot rather than a ‘better’ Brexit, grew, accelerated by the protests organised by the People’s Vote campaign launched in April 2018. One sign of membership feeling was the large numbers of motions, sent by constituency parties to Labour’s annual decision-making body that year.  They were aimed at cancelling Brexit. The future leader was not involved.  Chessum asserts, “There was no sense in which Keir Starmer was cooperating with the Remainers who had got those motions to conference,” (Page 137) But, there were those, who had worked with Starmer on the radical left in the late 1980s,  who had got the message (or at least the hope) that he was unlikely to stand aside on the issue.

In the midst of the Parliamentary struggles over the implementation of the Referendum, and the impasse of new PM  Theresa May in the Commons, pressure grew for a move towards an assertive pro-EU opinion began. Pressure came from both anti-Corbyn People’s Vote Labour wing, and the pro-Corbyn AEIP. The activists were spurred on by the first wave of large public demonstrations (without a parallel from the pro-Brexit left for their own ‘People’s Brexit’). The subject started to make waves inside the party being taken up in Branches and constituencies.

LOTO (the Leader of the Opposition Office)  stayed hostile, even virulently so, to anything other than accepting Brexit. How could they deal with the political move in the direction of the national populist right, as the strident public presence of Nigel Farage was there to remind them? They buckled down. Having a new contest would, they believed, feed Anti-EU anger, if not worse. Xenophobic reaction could not be fought head on, only answered by a watered down, better Brexit   Close to LOTO, McCluskey wanted no option to roll back the principle of leaving the EU “Do we want to go back into the European Union? he asked, “The people have already decided on that.” (Page 141)

Left Out presents Starmer’s speech to the Labour Conference in 2018, when the issue came to a head. The Party appeared to have ruled out the possibility that there be a new vote on Europe that included the possibility of staying in the EU. The key  that without an election, “It’s right that Parliament has the first say but if we need to break the impasse our options must include campaigning for a public vote and nobody is ruling out Remain as an an option.” This received a standing ovation.

LOTO had already accused AEIP of “sabotaging the project”. Now they railed that Starmer had “completely fucked us”.” Pogrund and  MaGuire agree, the Shadow Brexit Secretary “had screwed LOTO and the Project”.

This is the interpretation that some believers still hold to. Descriptions in Left out of Andrew Fisher’s willingness to attempt compromises with internationalists and other Remain forces – not to mention the sheer weight of facts about the looming hard-right shift leaving the EU would bring –  over Brexit indicate that The Project was never cast in the fixed mould the pro-Brexit group around Corbyn would have wished for. People were there to point out that the Brexit steamroller would push hopes of socialism aside. A form of national neoliberalism, linked to Donald Trump,  was taking hold inside the Tory Party. Under Boris Johnson it won a landslide victory in December 2019.

But the accusation of “sabotage” remain.  Writers for the Morning Star continue to believe, like Solomon Hughes, that opposition to the EU was used as a “scam” to get Starmer elected as Labour Leader, and ” the real aim wasn’t to stop Brexit — it was to stop a Labour government take power under a socialist leader.”

The anger over Starmer’s pro-Referendum stand might also be part of the reason why licence has been given to minions such as Steve Walker of Skwawkbox. He continues attacks on Keir Starmer (Corbyn enters fray over school return in implicit rebuke to Starmer’s failure and ‘School is safe’ Starmer IS self-isolating because one of his children ‘at school throughout’ showing C19 symptoms, say insiders) Other alt-left ‘news’ sites compete at this kind of tale-telling  and vitriol directed at Labour’s leader.

These anti-Labour voices look as if it’s about to lose some prominent support. That is, from people who, while not running with this pack, have  not shown displeasure at its barking.

Whether the anti-Starmer yelps will quieten down, and critical support – returning to issues raised by AEIP about subjects like freedom of movement –  takes their place, remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see how the following develops.

Efforts to co-ordinate a major gathering of the left are still under way, though they have been disrupted by the pandemic. A Unite insider said: “There have been some very active discussions over the summer with key people on the left and it is clear there is an appetite to work together to help Labour back into power.

“When conditions allow, there will be an event that brings us together. That’s clearly not possible now, but it is great to see the enthusiasm for ensuring Labour stands for a better, fairer Britain and that Keir’s 10-point electoral platform is delivered.”



The Fall of the House of Andrew Murray? UNITE’s McCluskey Succession Battle Hots Up.

with 6 comments

Jeremy Corbyn Defends Labour Campaign Role For Ex-Communist Andrew ...

Andrew Murray, “Leaving the EU” was a “democratic impulse” 

In the 1970s it used to be said that, “The Communist Party can float an idea early in the year. It goes to trade union conferences as a resolution and it can become official Labour Party policy by the autumn. A few years ago we were on our own, but not now.”

These days the group that claims to carry the flag of British Communism, the Communist Party of Britain, has more modest achievements.

UNITE’s chief of Staff, Andrew Murray, who belately left the CPB in 2016, after joining the old Communist Party of Great Britain in 1976, followed by active membership of  the party linked to the Morning Star, has had more modest successes.

He has taken against “the poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights”,  “rancid identity politics”, the “newly declared culture war”,  and the “Brexit derangement syndrome” of those opposed to leaving the EU (Pages 97, 214 – 5. The Fall and Rise of the British Left.) 

Apart from Spiked, always ready to denounce the Woke Taliban, Murray’s bundle of views on these issues is not popular.  On the left they seem to have been swept to one side, above all by the Black Lives Matter movement, which, is clearly one for human rights and has been accused, by right-wingers of waging a “culture war”.

This is no doubt a reason why Murray has backtracked a little.

The working class has become, he writes in Tribune this weekend(Class Politics After Corbyn), largely a “sociological classification”, a”mass of wage labourers without collective institutions or an ideological project”. In Marx’s early terms, it is a “class in itself” but not a “class for itself”.

The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have noted only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle.

The Poverty of Philosophy (1847).

In the absence of this unity, and political direction,

The space has been filled to some extent by what is now termed ‘identity politics’. Mention the term and right-wing columnists will start foaming about the demands of women and black people, above all, to have their identities as such recognised, and the specific and intensified oppressions which have shaped that identity addressed. The labour movement may have been ahead of the curve here, but not by very much.

In fact, identity politics has an ancient pedigree within class politics. For example, the Labour Party in the East End of London was bitterly divided in the 1930s between its large Jewish and Irish elements. The former were stalwart opponents of fascism at home and abroad, while the latter were not, due largely to the influence of Catholicism — indeed, priestly influence won much of the Irish element in Stepney Labour to a pro-rebel or at least neutral position in the Spanish Civil War.

At this point Murray wanders further into history, and finds solace in abstract reference to ‘imperialism’, “As in the USA, any approach to class politics has to be framed not just by the eternal verities of exploitation but also by an acknowledgement that the working class has been shaped by the experiences of imperialism and its concomitants of racism and relative privilege on a global scale.”

The left was indeed ahead of the curve but not because it confronted cultural clashes in the past, which one could extend to religious and national differences in Scotland and cities like Liverpool.

The 1980s, a formative time for Murray’s faction, Straight Left, was caught up in debates begun and collected in The Forward March of Labour Halted? Eric Hobsbawm,  (1981) Tribune’s editor Ronan Burtenshaw  may, like many, assert that with 80% of people today working in the Service Sector they are still objectively working class. But Hobsbawm was right to indicate that the decline (if not vanishing) of heavy industry  and  manufacturing, the closely knit politics based on work and community has effects which we can see today.

As Hobsbawm wrote, “the development of the working class in the past generation has been such as to raise a number of very serious questions about its future and the future of its movement.”

Murray visits the North and meets people who have difficulties with the use of migrant labour. A ” brand-name retailer had established a warehouse creating around a thousand jobs — but few if any were advertised in the local job centre. Instead, the work was subcontracted to a labour agency which recruited exclusively in Poland. ” This example could be found around the country, and not only in the ‘left behind’ areas.

Only wishful thinking can ignore this. There is no easy answer. There is nothing on the horizon  like the kind of struggles portrayed in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906) on the exploitation in the Chicago meat-packing industry, which could draw different nationalities together.

But for Murray there is a common cause that united at least some people, Brexit. 

I asked: ‘When people around here voted for Brexit what problem did they think they were solving?’ The answer: ‘Everything.’

He continues,

The desire for an alternative reality attainable through democratic endeavour remains alive, despite the marginalisation of the concept of political alternatives throughout the neoliberal era.

Leaving the EU was the issue that this desire came to hang its hat on in many areas. This was a democratic impulse which Labour, despite a radical leadership committed to popular initiative, got itself on the wrong side of. These are the people Labour left behind in the dash to support a second referendum.

 Murray was a key Corbyn adviser, drafted in to help on issues such as Brexit (“Labour should stay neutral in Brexit ‘culture war’, warns Corbyn ally“. October 2019)

He is not ‘neutral’ now.

Taking sides for Brexit – that is dividing people – is a stand, Murray claims is to be against an institution which is “an effective constitutional bulwark against democratic choice in its member states on major economic questions.”

In other words, all the reasons why people voted for Brexit, and one hopes that even the UNITE Chief of Staff is aware of less noble ones than democracy,  are less important than this.

Arguing backwards from what he sees as the neo-liberal nature of the EU onto the intentions of Brexit voters Murray claims they were following a “democratic impulse”.

The urge may have driven them to support a campaign backed by the free-market right, the fancy may have taken them to dream of a People’s Brexit as a stage on the British Road to socialism. But somehow, just somehow the ” democratic empowerment” of the vote now leaves Labour with new possibilities, away from “liberal fiat” ” It now falls to Keir Starmer to lead the long march from the security of North London to the battleground industrial hinterlands.”

That a majority of people in work voted to stay in the European Union, that manufacturing and industry (such as it is) are hit by Brexit, that many working class people backed Remain out of hard-headed self-interest, including an interest in the protections offered by the EU’s ‘liberal’ legislation, is beneath Murray’s radar.

Above all, if it was conflicts over , and dislike of the use of migrant labour is a form of “class politics”, then what kind of political class for itself is being created?

It is hardly one of class unity.

The trade union movement has been called the greatest movement for human rights in history, but what kind of sectional rights against others is he responding to?

What kind of future, what kind of bread-and-butter improvements can be campaigned for on that basis?

Is it a surprise that Murray’s team is  breaking up?

Last week the hard right Express ran this story,

LABOUR PARTY civil war could be in the offing, with a fierce critic of Sir Keir Starmer edging towards a breakthrough in the battle to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite.


Last week Mr Beckett issued a warning to the Labour leader, accusing him of punishing the working class for the coronavirus crisis.

He tweeted: “Boris Johnson & Keir Starmer, I have a message for you both.

“We won’t stand idly by while you dump the pandemic fall out on the working class.”

Mr Beckett has been tipped to see off the challenge of Steve Turner, a union official that has played a leading tole in industrial disputes involving industry sector giants British and Bombardier.

Beckett is proud of this record,

Things did not go according to plan.




Written by Andrew Coates

July 19, 2020 at 11:15 am