Nothing left but smear-and-burn

The predicted nominations landslide for Len McCluskey has now rolled in with only one surprise – even more land slid than was projected.

Behind six-to-one in branch nominations, and well over five-to-one in the number of members in the nominating branches (this matters, because those branches can now spend their funds in promoting their chosen candidate to their members), Coyne’s lavishly-funded, Tom Watson-supervised campaign looks dead in the water.

Take out the West Midlands, and the figures are even more distressing for the PLP puppet challenger.  Ten to one down in the biggest region, London/Eastern.  Not the slightest sign of the hoped-for Welsh mini-surge.  More than ten-to-one adrift in the South West, sometimes a region ready to back a challenger in the past, but not this time.

Add in the West Midlands and you come to this curious fact. The McCluskey campaign assert that their man has as many members in the branches backing him as the Regional Secretary, Coyne himself.  If true – extraordinary.

As Unite Observer has said before – humiliation awaits.  Others may vainly try to talk up their man’s chances, but there is nothing to suggest that anyone could overcome this sort of support deficit.

The predictable outcome, since Coyne’s backers are unlikely to let their candidate withdraw at this stage, will be a ramping up of the allegations and poisonous rhetoric from their campaign.  Already Coyne has been conducting his campaign with scant regard for decency – this will only get worse.

Certainly, Plan A – make this all about Len talking about politics – has failed.  Disobligingly, the incumbent has focussed on industrial issues, leaving Coyne himself to step forward as the rent-a-quote political pundit.

Plan B – ferry Coyne around the country having his picture taken, usually alone, outside famous national monuments – has received just the coverage one would expect.

So now it will be slash-and-burn, or rather smear-and-burn.  Unite Observer does find it curious that Coyne who, for all his shortcomings, has been a capable and outwardly loyal union official for many years, should now be so willing to trash Unite publicly.

There can be few officials and activists not incensed by his portrayal of the union as sleazy, ineffective and failing.  Desperation makes madness, one supposes.

This does raise the question as to how, if the extraordinary happened, Coyne would actually be able to function as General Secretary, in the absence of any support in the union’s lay and official hierarchies.  Presumably Tom Watson would have to hold his hand.  Maybe John Spellar would reclaim the HQ office he abandoned in a hurry when Derek Simpson ousted his mate Ken Jackson in the AEEU all those years ago.

But that prospect shouldn’t keep you awake at night.  The activists have made their views clear, and they will deliver the vote. Put it like this – Gerard Coyne is certainly not going to break Spellar’s impressive and unbroken run of labour movement election defeats this century.

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