By deciding to change the date for the General Secretary election Unite are throwing away a 'Golden opportunity'

Press release: Press release: Press release: Immediate: 05/12/2012

Unite are throwing away a ‘golden opportunity’ by deciding to hold the election for General Secretary in 2013 instead of 2015 the year of the UK General election.
The decision made by Unite’s National Executive Committee [NEC] 4th December, by 49 votes to 19, to call an election for the General Secretary a full 3 years early, on a recommendation from the union’s leadership, is unprecedented and is something that may come back to haunt them.

Another twist in the aim to rush through the election at break neck speed, is the likelihood of there being very few candidates, perhaps as few as one? And perhaps that’s part of the plan?  

The ‘snap election’ could mean branch and workplace nominations as early as January and February with a postal ballot of over one million members in March 2013. This would give precious little time for anyone other than, shall we say, the existing General Secretary to organise a campaign. Indeed the dragging forward of the date may debar a senior official who would have been eligible by 2015 from standing because of the 10 year continuous membership requirement. Hence perhaps one of the unsaid reasons the election is 3 years early rather than say 1 or 2.

A consequence of the decision, be it by design or ill judgement, is to deny members a decent campaigning time for discussion and debate and therefore less democracy because of the very short election period. Also had it been held in 2015 members would have a more valid time frame upon which to make a judgement on McCluskey’s leadership.

Whatever the official reasons, one being stated is “to avoid any ‘clash’ with the UK general election” [full NEC statement on]. Jerry Hicks said “Remarkably it’s this ‘clash’ of dates that is being proffered by Unite’s leadership as something to ‘avoid’, but I say that in one misjudged moment we are throwing away the greatest bargaining chip imaginable”. The timing represented the best possible chance to reverse the ‘one way’ relationship with New Labour and instead to negotiate proper ‘quid pro quo’ agreement in exchange for our cash, time and resources. Members have seen £6 million of our money in the last 2 years thrown at the Labour party with little or no return”.

The Con-Dem Government Chancellor George Osborne’s policies of cuts and austerity has spectacularly failed and so has McCluskey’s plan to reclaim the Labour Party.
McCluskey pledged recently [Sept 30th 2012] to “kick the New Labour cuckoos out of our nest”. Yet weeks after this ‘fine talk’, far from Cuckoos being kicked out, Unite’s ‘chickens had come home to roost’ when in the Rotherham byelection, a Labour safe seat, the candidate chosen was not a trade union activist, let alone the choice of Unite which was a very well known local Senior workplace rep who wasn’t even short listed. McCluskey and Osborne are 2 years into their cleverly worked out strategies - both plans lay in ruins but both proponents trumpet the mantra ‘more of the same’.

Jerry Hicks also argues: Whatever Unite have done for the good over the last 2 years has now been tainted by this pursuit of extension of office. It is without proper reason and will be costly. It comes at a time when the union should be concentrating all its resources on fighting the cuts to services, pensions, jobs and attacks on members and their families livelihoods.


Notes to editor: Jerry Hicks was runner up to McCluskey in 2010 securing 52,527 votes he can be contacted by mobile 07817827912 or email 

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