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Unite leadership election. Left wing challenge emerges
11 February 2017
The Unite union leader Len McCluskey has called a snap election, again, and this time it sits against a background of collapse on Brexit and the nationalist mood that is engulfing the left both outside and inside the British Labour Party. He is opposed on the right by Gerard Coyne who is enthusiastically backed by the right of the British Labour Party and is in favour of “taking back control” of Britain's borders as a “red line in Brexit negotiations”. Fears that this divisive right wing candidate should succeed is being exploited as a scare tactic to divert support from a left challenger, Ian Allinson. The same scare tactics were used at the last election to oppose Jerry Hicks but in the event the right wing candidate came a poor third after Hicks.
Neither of the two full timers have anything to offer the working class. Both Coyne and McCluskey have huge resources and the machinery of the bureaucratic apparatus behind them but no real experience of class struggle. Ian Allinson however, depends on the voluntary mobilisation of support among rank and file membership. He has recently been on strike at Fujitsu, is an elected member of the Unite NEC, is in favour of electing officials instead of appointing them and has promised to do the job on his current salary, real moves towards the democratisation of the union. The introduction of a left candidate has already had an effect. McCluskey began fighting the election by giving ground to Coyne and the right wing of the Labour Party calling for “some” control on immigration and saying that “workers do best when labour supply is controlled”. When Allinson criticised this McCluskey back tracked and qualified his position to mean that the 'controls' should be only on firms' ability to recruit abroad if they do not have a “proper trade union agreement” and the language was changed from using 'controls' to 'introducing safeguards'. Even after this slight shift this disgraceful concession to the right would still officially introduce divisions into the workers movement based on nationality or race.
Ian Allinson unequivocally stands for workers “rights to free movement and equal treatment”. Capital can roam freely in search of profits, workers should be at liberty to travel freely to seek a living and support their dependants. The Allinson campaign is the only one that is “clearly championing these rights and consistently opposing nationalism and racism”. Ian Allinson's campaign represents an opportunity to rebuild working class initiative and independence. As we face into the coming period of austerity the need was never greater for workers to break with the economic outlook and ideology of the ruling class and to take back control of our unions. This campaign should be supported as such an attempt. Ian Allinson stands a reasonable chance of making a difference in Unite and more importantly, has already been successful in stimulating a trade union rank and file response to the growth of the regressive British nationalist outlook that threatens the whole working class in the wake of Brexit.
There is only one left candidate in the Unite election for General Secretary: Support Ian Allinson!
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