A RIGHTWINGER challenging Len McCluskey for the leadership of Labour’s largest affiliate suggested yesterday that the union should stop “dabbling in politics.”
Unite’s Midlands regional secretary Gerard Coyne said the current general secretary Mr McCluskey (pictured) was “not actually focusing on the concerns of our membership.”
At a launch for his leadership campaign, he said: “The reality here is there’s been much criticism about the fact that the general secretary and the union more generally has just been dabbling in politics all the time.
“I’m not going to fall into the trap of trying to determine who the leader of the Labour Party is.
“I am saying that actually my focus is on the members. It’s not a political organisation, it’s a trade union.”
Some figures on the Labour Party right wing believe that a change of leadership in Unite will be vital to ousting Jeremy Corbyn in favour of a “moderate” party leader.
Yesterday Luke Akehurst, the secretary of right faction Labour First, pledged his support for Mr Coyne.
Mr McCluskey has been one of Mr Corbyn’s strongest allies in the trade unions, notably rallying round the leader when MPs attempted to remove him this summer.
Unite will hold an early leadership election after Mr McCluskey resigned to bring the vote forward a year.
The union says the decision will save it money by allowing it to hold the election at the same time as ballots are distributed for the union executive.
Mr McCluskey said: “I intend to be a candidate in the upcoming general secretary election and to submit my record to the vote of Unite members.”
His resignation will take effect from the end of April, and Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail will become acting leader for the election period.
Mr Coyne’s brother Kevin Coyne came third in the election for the leadership of Unite’s Amicus section in 2009 — before the union had completed its merger into one unitary entity.