A message from the ether…

Got sent this by email…

I was one of the people who turned up at Unite's HQ on Monday, to hold a photocall with four skeletons and hand out a small number of leaflets to passers-by and anyone going into the building.

We were a small group and our aim was to spend no more than thirty minutes there – enough to get photographed or filmed and then be on our way. Simple enough, we thought.

The skeletons were chosen for fairly obvious reasons – everyone knows the phrase 'skeleton in the cupboard' and obviously there a few big issues in this campaign that Len McCluskey wants to keep well hidden – especially the fact that, 25 years after moving to London, Unite lent him £417,000 to buy a flat last February.

Like any photocall we'd let a lot of journalists know we were doing it and plainly one of them passed this on to Momentum who organised a counter-demo, turning up half an hour before we were due to be there and generally determined to do all they call to wreck our photocall.

I say it was Momentum because Jon Lansman was there, but obviously it could have been organised by someone else – certainly the demonstrators thought nothing of going in and out of Unite House – it was as though they had official blessing.

When we came round the corner with our skeletons – which were doubly realistic in being human sized and human weighted (and so slow to move), the protestors immediately swarmed us, started pushing us and generally doing their best to damage the skeletons.

They did manage to pull the legs off most and, as they have boasted on their blog, even stole one of the legs.

As the videos show they outnumbered us and they were quite aggressive, shoving us about, though thankfully there was no serious violence.

We went round the corner and most of them left – though a number left to go into Unite House. When it was a bit quieter we came back and did the photograph. That was it.

They have tried to make out that a few students in halloween masks were in someway threatening and implied we attacked them or whatever – in fact the whole thing showed just how intolerant Unite under Len McCluskey is of dissent. In any other election in any other body, opponents making points at your expense would be accepted as legitimate: it's how elections are fought.

In Unite it's treated as treachery.
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Well, that escalated quickly

I heard today that the internal battle in Unite has already got started, and it does not look like it is going to be very polite. A leaflet (pictured) has been circulated to Unite branch secretaries attacking Len for his lifestyle and behaviour – I haven’t seen it, but a friend has sent me a picture of one side of it – and you can see it is pretty harsh. It doesn’t seem to endorse any other candidate but I’m told it was postmarked from Glasgow.

It hasn’t been a great start for Len’s campaign: not least because he is facing at least one serious challenger from the left: and Len being forced to compete about who is most dedicated to the cause of Jeremy Corbyn is just about the best possible outcome for Gerard Coyne’s campaign.

Though Len will be pleased to have won the support of the Morning Star – even if not everyone will impressed by an endorsement from the newspaper that recently talked of the “liberation” of Aleppo.

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But the left was always strong in the four (and now with UCATT five) major unions that form Unite’s bedrock, so it would have been a monumental miscalculation for Len to think he could simply rely on the far left to roll over for his candidacy.

Yet Len seems to have made more than one miscalculation – because the overall impression is that he expected Gerard Coyne to be frightened off running when, in fact, Gerard was first out of the blocks when the election was called.