Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Allinson on BBC 2 Daily Politics!

Workplace activist, Ian Allinson, who is standing as a "grassroots socialist" candidate for the position of General Secretary, of the trade union, Unite, was interviewed yesterday by Jo Coburn, on the BBC2 'Daily Politics' show. Both Gerard Coyne and Len McCluskey, who are also standing in this election, declined to appear.

Allinson, is the only candidate in this election who is not a full-time paid trade union official. An employee of the global tech firm Fujitsu, in Manchester, and a trade union convenor, he is the underdog in this election having fewer branch nominations than the other two candidates. If elected, as General Secretary of Unite, Allinson has vowed to forgo the six figure salary that goes with the job and to work for his current pay. He also wants to see all Unite officials elected, rather than appointed.

Questioned by Coburn about being the favoured candidate of the 'Socialist Workers Party' (SWP), Allison said that he had a broad range of support within Unite. Nevertheless, Allinson's political background is within the SWP.

During the run up to the election, there has been a certain amount of mudslinging between two of the candidates. Gerard Coyne, the West Midlands, Regional Secretary of Unite, accused McCluskey of taking a loan off the Union to buy a property in London and  he claims that McCluskey, is more interested in Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour Party, rather than Unite members. His brother, Kevin Coyne, is  also a national officer of Unite.  

Coyne, is seen as the candidate of the Labour right and the one candidate who is most acceptable to New Labour and the bosses. He was recently given column inches in Rupert Murdoch's "Sun" newspaper, to present his election address, entitled - "I'll get your union back." He says in his election address to Unite members - "Just last year, Unite put £417,000 of your money into a luxury London apartment for his (McCluskey's) personal use."

Writing for the Murdoch press, is hardly likely to endear Coyne to many British trade unionists, given the way in which, the Murdoch press have vilified trade unionists over the years. Rupert Murdoch also backed Donald Trump in the U.S. Presidential elections and News International, was also embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal.

Unite have stated that the loan made to McCluskey was a -"shared equity arrangement made with officials required to move to London with the property being sold after the official left the post." However, prior financial assistance of £90,000 was given to McCluskey in 1994, to buy a house with his then partner, Jennie Formby. In 2013, Formby was appointed Unite's political director on a salary of £75,000.

Len McCluskey, has been General Secretary of Unite since 2011 and until his resignation, in December 2016. In his election address, McCluskey says - "I'm overwhelmed that nearly 1200 branches - more than 80% of the total - have nominated me... I regret that this election has been marred by so many smears and lies by Mr Coyne, aided by the right-wing anti-union media, designed to undermine your union to further his own ambitions..."

Yesterday, on 'Daily Politics', Allinson said that he felt that Unite had not put up enough fight against government austerity policies and the recent Trade Union Bill. Like many Trotskyists, he believes that English workers are always itching for a fight but are being restrained and held back by the likes of trade union leaders, like McCluskey. He said that he was in favour of the free movement of labour across countries and opposed Trident. He feels that the money could be used to create sustainable jobs and to build more council housing. Asked about the allegation that McCluskey, was intending to affiliate Unite to 'Momentum', which supports Jeremy Corbyn, he said this was utter nonsense as only a Unite conference or the NEC, could make that decision.

Len McCluskey recently stated that Jeremy Corbyn should be given 15 months to see if he could improve Labour's opinion poll ratings. If not, he feels he should be replaced by another leader. Allinson, supports Corbyn unequivocally, in spite of his shambolic performance as leader of the opposition. Although Labour held Stoke in a recent by-election, with a reduced majority, it also lost the safe Labour seat of Copeland, which went Conservative.  At the Richmond by-election held in December 2016, Labour lost its deposit and got fewer votes in the constituency than there were Labour Party members.

Jeremy Corbyn, leads a party that was pro-Remain and pro-EU, yet he's been a life-long opponent of Britain's membership of the European Union. After the vote for Brexit last summer, he stupidly called for Article 50 to be invoked immediately. John McDonnell, also claimed that Britain leaving the EU was nothing less than an "enormous opportunity." In February, having seen all their amendments defeated, Corbyn led his Labour MPs into the House to vote alongside the government for its Brexit bill. However, some Labour MPs, opposed the three line whip and voted against it.It was reported that immediately after Labour voted for the Brexit bill, some 7,000 Labour members stopped their standing orders and packed it in. Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, said that the un-amended bill was the "blueprint for an extreme Tory Brexit and Labour waved it through."

Already there is speculation as to whom might be the next Labour leader. Keir Starmer, Clive Lewisand Rebecca Long-Bailey, have all been tipped as future Labour leaders.

Ballot papers for the 2017 election of Unite General Secretary were sent out on Monday 27th March.

1 comment:

Ian Allinson said...

Ta. Slight correction - Coyne went on the show a few weeks ago. Only McCluskey declined.