Unite officials accused by defeated candidate
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.”