Unite of­fi­cials ac­cused by de­feated can­di­date

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

GER­ARD COYNE, who failed in his bid to oust Len McCluskey as gen­er­alsec­re­tary of Unite, has claimed he was the vic­tim of strong-arm tac­tics dur­ing the union’s lead­er­ship elec­tion.

Mr Coyne nar­rowly lost by 5,000 votes on a turn-out of only 12 per cent, a re­sult which he said “sends some very se­ri­ous mes­sages to Unite”.

Speak­ing after the re­sult last Fri­day, he claimed that “the union ma­chine con­sis­tently at­tempted to bully and in­tim­i­date me” dur­ing the cam­paign.

Last month, Mr Coyne gave an in­ter­view to the JC in which he called for Jews to re­join the union should he beat Mr McCluskey.

He also said three se­nior mem­bers of Unite, with close links to Mr McCluskey, had cho­sen to “de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble” when they backed two in­di­vid­u­als at the cen­tre of an an­ti­semitism en­quiry at Ox­ford Univer­sity’s Labour Club.

Mr Coyne in­sisted that un­der Mr McCluskey’s hardleft lead­er­ship the union had wrongly “sin­gled out” the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict when “for many of our mem­bers it is not some­thing

Ger­ard Coyne at the fore­front of their minds”. Fol­low­ing the in­ter­view, Mr Coyne was sub­jected to an­ti­semitic abuse on so­cial me­dia which po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing as a pos­si­ble hate crime.

The day be­fore the re­sult was an­nounced, Mr Coyne was sus­pended from his post as Unite’s West Mid­lands re­gional sec­re­tary pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He is fac­ing claims that he brought the union into dis­re­pute dur­ing the cam­paign.

He said: “Unite needs to change, and it needs to put its fo­cus back where it be­longs: on look­ing after the real in­ter­ests of the mem­bers of the union. He noted that turnout had fallen sharply, with the vast ma­jor­ity of the 1.42 mil­lion mem­bers of the UK’s largest union not both­er­ing to vote.

He said: “Many mem­bers have re­ported to me that they did not get their bal­lot paper at all, or, if they did, that it ar­rived lit­er­ally on the day polls closed and so was use­less.

“This was no vote of con­fi­dence, with fall­ing turnout and a halv­ing of Len McCluskey’s pre­vi­ous vote. It’s time for all those in­volved to re­flect on the mes­sage that the union’s mem­ber­ship are send­ing.”


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