Jerry Hicks of there rank and file Grassroots UNITE campaign, who opposed Len McCluskey for General Secretary, writes of the significance of two press reloads, one from Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, the other from McCluskey.

Len McCluskey adjusts his politics to Westminster time and the 2015 General Election
Len McCluskey adjusts his politics to Labour Westminster time and the 2015 General Election
Ed Balls adjusts Labour politics to meet the needs of the CBI
Ed Balls adjusts Labour politics to meet the needs of the CBI

On a day of press releases, two stand out. One from Unite’s Len McCluskey, the other from Labour’s Ed Balls.

McCluskey promises Unite’s full support for Labour and Ed Miliband, including funding – and my word there will be a lot of that. While Ed Balls, Labour’s ‘would be’ next Chancellor of the Exchequer, promises what? Workers rights? Repeal of anti union laws? No, he promises tax breaks for businesses.

What an about turn considering McCluskey recently caught the headlines when he said “Unite may break with Labour, threatening to launch a ‘new party’, adding that Ed Miliband is drinking in the last chance saloon.”

When was this announced? At a press conference on April 1st or April Fools Day as it’s also known.

So did Len McCluskey mean it? Not a bit! Unite under his leadership are completely and utterly wedded to Labour. Anyone who hopes, believes or argues otherwise should be in no doubt now.

So when McCluskey wrote in his 2010 election address that there would be ‘No blank cheque for Labour’. Did he mean it? Not a bit! Unite doubled its donations to Labour in the first quarter of this year.

I predict up to £10m of members’ money will be stuffed into the coffers of Labour between now and the General Election May 2015. So Ed Miliband is drinking in the last chance saloon eh? Well that’s one hell of a bar bill.

I say Unite should keep our money in clenched fist and demand that Labour repeal the anti union laws, reverse the privatisations of the past, end austerity by making the bankers pay for their mistakes. Labour makes no such promise, nor Unite make any such demand. Instead it offers cash galore, up front and unconditional.

I loathe the coalition, I detest the Tories, I despise the Lib Dems, but I have little faith in Labour and  Len McCluskey reminds me of a hamster on a wheel, forever running but getting nowhere.

He has learnt nothing from Labour’s record when last in office. While Unite handed over £10ms of members money to Labour during their 3 terms, Labour refused to repeal anti union legislation that criminalizes workers who take solidarity action in support of others, carried on privatising, and prosecuted an illegal war.

But just imagine how effective the public sector strike on July 12th would be if every other worker had the right to decide to support their fellow workers by taking our own action against the coalition government.

It amazes me how some sections of the political left, the labour movement and the media are so easily or readily taken in and question little or nothing. Well done then to the delegates of the independent PCS union currently being urged by their leadership to accept a takeover by Unite, who rejected these overtures at their conference.

I find it remarkable that in a union as big as Unite with hundreds of appointed officials, scores of senior appointed officials, not one ever speaks out, airing caution, let alone any criticism. It may have something to do with the fact that they are all appointed by the union, it would be easier to, if they were elected to office by the members.

I was Len McCluskey’s only rival in last year’s election for Unite General Secretary, surprising everybody by polling nearly 40% of the vote. Then it emerged that 158,000 ballot papers had been sent to members no longer paying fees. Notwithstanding that, during the election some senior appointed national officials who are paid out of members’ pockets failed to remain neutral. They openly supported Mr McCluskey, some even slurring my character.

After getting no where with the union I lodged a complaint with the Certification Officer [CO] the independent trade union watchdog, which after a very long process, granted me a full hearing to be held in London on 1st and 2nd of October.

And it may result in the election having to be re-run. So perhaps Labour will have to work harder for our members’ money after all?

Jerry Hicks, 30th June 2014

Jerry Hicks is considered by many as the only alternative voice in Unite and can be contacted on: 07817827912 or email:

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