Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Unrepresentative Unions

A timely poll from YouGov confirms that two thirds (66%) of Unite members think Jeremy Corbyn is doing badly as the current leader of the Labour Party.

The largest since bloc (40%) think he's doing very badly which just goes to show how out of touch union bosses like Len McCluskey are with the views of ordinary union members.


Worzel Gummidge (03/11/13)

I heard the Unite leader - Len McCluskey - on Newsnight Scotland the other night and he comes across to me more and more like Worzel Gummidge, the famous children's TV character, for his rambling style and inability to make much sense.

Gordon Brewer, the interviewer, asked Len what he would have done if it had turned out that someone employed by Unite - was moonlighting during their day job and doing work for the Conservative Party while Unite was paying their wages.

My brain hurt trying to understand Len's rambling answer which came across as an unbelievable, incoherent and pathetic excuse - summarised best by the fact that the Unite convener at Grangemouth (Stephen Deans) resigned from a job he loved on the eve of a disciplinary hearing - rather than face accusations that he had abused his time off arrangements.

According to Len, neither Unite or Stephen Deans had anything whatsoever to apologise for even though it seems clear that the union convener was spending much of his time working on Labour Party business - instead of representing the workforce at the giant Grangemouth plant - and anyone who suggested otherwise (including Labour elder statesman Jack Straw, for example) was pursuing an 'agenda'.  

Great TV I have to admit, but painful viewing for supporters of responsible trade unionism - where people behave with decency and integrity and are not, first and foremost, obsessed with tribal party politics.

Jimmy Reid springs to mind although it goes without saying that Len could never have laced Jimmy's boots.

Finger-Jabbers (13 February 2013)

I enjoyed this entry in the Atticus column which appeared in last week's Sunday Times - because a good insult at your opponent's expense is a great weapon in political debate.

Especially if there is a real kernel of truth in what is being - as well as a barbed sense of humour. 

And on this occasion I think Alan Johnson is spot on in his assessment of the Unite leader - Len McCluskey - as I've said so myself on the blog site.  

"Alan hits out at the union finger-jabbers"

"Guess who coined this magnificently colourful and venomous description of the typical British trade union leader: 

"Fat, white, finger-jabbing blokes on rostrums, shouting and screaming."

It's worthy of Lord Tebbit or Boris Johnson. So you might be surprised to learn it is the view of the former Labour cabinet minister Alan Johnson, who once led the Communication Workers Union.

Johnson reserves particular scorn for Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, who last year called for Blairites to be purged from the party. Speaking to Progress, a Labour magazine, the former post-man complains: "Some of our colleagues, Len might be among them, think that victory is a bourgeois concept. That the only goal for true socialists is glorious f****** defeat at every election."

This is not entirely fair comment. The unions go out of their way to win the occasional important election. Had the trade unions not intervened, the Blairite David Miliband would now be leader of the Labour party." 

Worzel Gummidge (6 January 2012)
Worzel Gummidge

Len McCluskey
I heard Unite's general secretary - Len McCluskey- on the TV last night talking about the pensions dispute.

I have to say Len comes across as just about the least impressive union leader I've ever heard - and I've met a few in my time.

Len bears an uncanny resemblance - in my opinion - to a famous character from children's TV - Worzel Gummidge - but the unfortunate thing is that he makes about as much sense as good ole Worzel too.

After his ritual condemnation of the government - Len seemed to suggest that the forthcoming Olympic Games in London - will be a target for the unions in their fight to defend final salary pension schemes - which of course only benefit the better off.

But I can't believe that's true - because trade unions sensible ones at least) never call strikes over the summer - because that's when most of their members are on holiday - either that or they're looking forward to or just got back from holiday.

The last thing they need or want is the prospect of even more hassle - and losing another day's pay - which union officials don't lose of course because they're working while their members are on strike.

So we'll wait and see what happens.

Unite is small beer - a small trade union in terms of the pensions dispute - maybe it's just a bit of sabre-rattling to help promote Len's image as the new general secretary.

Yet when I see him on the box I'm still reminded of my childhood - and my old friend Worzel Gummidge - except with shorter hair and without the hat.