A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Unite/Amicus Result

As readers of my previous post will have guessed, I am disappointed that Kevin Coyne did not unseat Derek Simpson as Joint General Secretary of Unite in the result announced on Saturday. Whilst Derek is loyal to the PM and deserves credit for that, I would have preferred a Joint GS who had a more dynamic, open and inclusive leadership style and a sharper political definition (OK I'd really prefer Sir Ken Jackson still to be in post, but recognise that isn't an option - then again I'd like Ernie Bevin to still be running the TGWU). The full result is here: http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=9439

We shall have to see what happens when the first election for the GS of the whole of Unite takes place, and then you are into territory where frictions/dynamics between and within the TGWU and Amicus officer machines will cut across left-right considerations.

My take on the results:

  • Derek's ambiguous political positioning - talking left but, thank goodness, backing Brown politically and the party financially - meant that instead of being the clear left candidate as he was versus Jackson he seems to have lost hard left support to Hicks but picked up some moderate support to offset this.
  • Abysmal turnout - under 15% - indicates that a small number of voters will decide how Unite's huge slug of votes - 13% of the whole electoral college - gets cast in any future Labour leadership election.
  • People who are serious about becoming the first GS of the whole of Unite need to start building a national media profile - on the TV and in the tabloids, not just the Guardian and Tribune - now - you can't win an OMOV postal ballot just by being a union officer with a good reputation amongst activists.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like your candidate, Coyne, didn't get the support of many of the old Jackson supporters who went to Reuter. A split right? And no comment on the fact that Jerry Hicks came second - a very creditable 25% with no access to any part of the union machine.

11:07 pm, March 08, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Fair comments Pete. Reuter was not on my radar or that of any of my friends in the union so I'm not sure where his vote came from.

11:34 pm, March 08, 2009

Blogger colonel_hackney said...

The thing which stuck in mind is that out of over 1m eligible voters only sixty thousand voted for the winning candidate. I make this 5.4% or to put another way 95% did not vote for the winner.
Not being a member of a union and therefore one of the inner circle of democracy and brotherhood, I ask whether this is this sort of thing considered acceptable in union circles?
Admittedly it is 5.4% more votes than Brown got to be PM......

12:19 pm, March 09, 2009

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

My branch backed Coyne (probably because he is regional secretary)and I grudgently voted Simpson, can't say I was happy about it though.
I was surprised about Jerry getting in second place; maybe our union still has a left wing bias ;p

Turn out is certainly an issue, with only 15% bothering to vote. I asked union colleagues who they were planning to vote for and most of them could not be bothered to vote. In their own words, "they all change when they sit in that chair".

But to be fair I think this is endemic in the trade union movement as a whole. My missus is a local office rep for PCS and they recently had office elections; if 2 reps fancied the same job one would agree not to stand. I told her that was mad, but she assures me this sort of thing is common place. This is probabaly because union membership is quite low, and I think it is still declining. Many members (and non members) are little aware of what the union is doing for them with regards to pay and conditions in their work place; just try and work in a place which is not unionised!

I think if people could see what effect union have in their work place it would improve union politics as a whole.

1:24 pm, March 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, I notice that Ed Balls told MPs at a private meeting last week that the Government is not out to scapegoat social workers; but their managers have to take the blame. "Social workers do an incredibly difficult job each day, but when things go wrong in a systematic way there must be accountability," he said.

Do you think this should apply to politicians too?

5:08 am, March 10, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Populus poll: and it's an Obama bounce for Gordon! A _massive_ 2 percentage points:

Con: 42 (-)
Lab: 30 (+2)
Lib: 19 (+1)

One more push, Gordon - victory is within reach...

1:28 pm, March 10, 2009

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

A truly terrible result for Coyne. According to several usefully placed articles in certain newspapers (which also coincidentally ran stories about Simpson's salary during the campaign), he was DEFINITELY the most likely candidate to unseat Simpson.


In answer to Pete G, apparently Reuter's votes come from the old AEEU rightwing bloc around Jackson while Coyne's votes come from the old MSF rightwing bloc around the charming Roger Lyons.

3:13 pm, March 10, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

That's strange because I'm from an AEEU rather than MSF background and had a lot of contact from Coyne's team and none from Reuter's.

3:30 pm, March 10, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a good result for the "unknown" Reuter, who is now, no longer, unknown.

Coyne was well known; he had quite a busy campaign, a good website, made plenty of site visits and had media coverage according to his site.

To the best of my knowledge Reuter did not have any of that and his blog was the only one that didn't ask for donations, strange...

So was this just a plan to raise his profile ready for the next election?

He must have known that beating the machine would have been very difficult, and just for 12 months before another election...

After all, he now has a fan base of 28 thousand votes, he kept a clean campaign, he didn't knock Simpson, and his campaign message can still gather pace...

Hicks did well, but with nobody to knock next time his vote may decline, further more, the letter to each member may have increased his vote.

Let's see who is still around for the next (Amicus v T&G) election!

6:40 pm, March 10, 2009

Blogger Mark Still News said...

no union leader should be loyal to Brown. Brown and blair failed to reverse the anti trade Union laws from that were brought in from 79-97 and then some nasty ones after that.unions should stop giving money to labour willy nilly. Leaders should be loyal to their members not to Brown!

12:42 am, March 11, 2009

Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

"I would have preferred a Joint GS who had a more dynamic, open and inclusive leadership style"

Unfortunately, the hilariously low voter turnout suggests that not many people agree with you.

9:51 am, March 11, 2009


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