Sunday, November 21, 2010

Unite election results

As I understand it, the results for the Unite general secretary election were as follows:

Len McCluskey - 101,000
Jerry Hicks - 52,000
Les Bayliss - 46,000
Gail Cartmail - 39,000

This is, on the whole, a quite satisfactory result. I think it was understood from the nominations that McCluskey would succeed by a wide margin, and he does represent of the union bureaucracy that wants to resist the cuts, so this is a good outcome in Britain's biggest trade union - albeit with what looks like a low turnout. Better still is the fact that the socialist Jerry Hicks, wholly based in the rank and file, came a good second and beat the right-winger Les Bayliss. That's a good sized minority vote for the most uncompromising militancy. It's far better than I expected Jerry Hicks to do - not because I underestimate his qualities, but because of the difficulties any candidate outside the union bureaucracy would have in building a campaign. To defeat Les Bayliss, who does come from the bureaucracy, and was supported by former Amicus leader Derek Simpson, is not bad at all. If I had to guess, I'd say Bayliss' 46,000 votes came from some of the more conservative layers of craft workers from the old AEEU, one of the components that made up Amicus, now itself one half of Unite. Bear in mind that the AEEU once had the old reactionary Sir Ken Jackson - Tony Blair's "favourite union leader" - as its general secretary. Still, there's a clear majority here for a left-wing agenda of resistance to the cuts, which is a good omen.