Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, has welcomed a u-turn by Len McCluskey over opposition to council cuts and called on Gerard Coyne, the right-wing candidate, to follow suit.
Len McCluskey, the outgoing General Secretary of Unite who is hoping to be re-elected next month, is reported to have told a public rally in Leicester:
“The idea at the moment is that there are huge reserves that Councils have. Particularly in many of the Conservative shires but within Labour Councils as well there are significant amounts of reserves. There is an argument that says that Labour Councils should use those reserves in order to stave off cuts, or certainly the most damaging of cuts, until such time as relief arrives, or until such time as the cavalry arrives over the hill. And we support that.”
“I welcome this u-turn from Len McCluskey. The Unite leadership’s opposition to this policy last year made campaigning against the huge local authority cuts imposed by the Tory government more difficult.”
“A serious attempt to stop the cuts would require industrial, political and community campaigning. It would mean putting industrial action against the implementation of cuts on the agenda – not just leaving it to a few councils where members have managed to push for this under their own steam. It would mean demanding that Labour councillors work with unions and their communities to campaign against the budget cuts being imposed by the Tory government rather than, in most cases, meekly implementing them. Members in local authorities and involved in local anti-cuts campaigns should work to put this into practice immediately and demand that Unite’s leadership backs them.”
“Members will also want to know what Coyne, the right-wing candidate, has to say. Will he join us in opposing cuts? Or would the be a step too far for his Blairite backers – the people who saddled public services with massive PFI debts to the private sector and who are more concerned with pursuing their own careers and cosying up to business than representing working class people?”
McCluskey’s speech reverses a 2016 policy conference decision he fought for. Allinson argues that this illustrates the top-down culture in Unite, McCluskey’s lack of respect for democracy, and the dangers of operating by maneouvre rather than principle. This unnecessary General Secretary election, arranged for his benefit (for the second time), is another sign of how McCluskey manipulates our union’s democracy to suit himself.
Allinson went on:
“We can have no repeat of the experience of 2013 when McCluskey’s anti-cuts election rhetoric was never delivered. Members need to get active to ensure we develop a serious plan to fight the cuts. We can’t depend on McCluskey, we have to depend on ourselves and each other.”