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.

The truth about Len’s luxury London pad

Some of Len McCluskey’s closest supporters are putting it about that his London apartment – for which he was given over £400,000 of members’ money to buy – is part of a “shared ownership” deal with the union.

It is just not true – as these records from the land registry (a publicly available record) show.

titleabs

Len McCluskey owns the “title absolute” of the leasehold property – in other words no-one else owns the leasehold property. There is no sharing of ownership here at all.

There is a charge on the property which, as the records show, places a restriction on Len McCluskey’s disposal of the property: the union say this charge means that McCluskey must share the equity gains he makes on the property on it being sold. That is not shared ownership.

(The records also show that Len McCluskey has borrowed no money from a bank or building society to make this purchase.)

As ownership is not shared, Unite get no rental income from the over £400,000 of members’ money they have given McCluskey for this property. There is nothing to suggest he pays interest on it either – though we cannot be sure of that, though it is worth noting that in the past McCluskey has been give loans from the union where interest was charged – but below base rate. Charging below base rate today means charging nothing.

As McCluskey has no standard mortgage on this property, it looks as though he is living rent and interest free in one of London’s most desirable locations – all thanks to the generosity of Unite’s members.

Generosity, we also know, that was extended without the prior assent of the elected Executive Council.