Tony Greenstein | 13 July 2023 | Post Views:

Sharon Graham May Have No Pride But We Call on Unite Delegates To Let Starmer Know What Members Think of This ‘Real’ Conservative

Sharon Graham’s election in August 2021 was greeted with relief by most of the left, especially as the scab candidate of the Scum, Gerard Coyne, came third.

Unfortunately Sharon Graham has proved a big disappointment. It was revealed last December that Jack Clarke, Graham’s husband had been appointed Head of Bargaining and Dispute Support in Graham’s office without the approval of the National Executive Committee.

Sharon Graham has refused to deny this story let alone intervene with West Midland’s region where 3 members made this decision to support a scab

This clearly smacked of nepotism, yet the response of Unite’s press office to Skwawkbox was to refuse to deny the report.

It was then revealed that complaints of bullying and threats of violence against other staff members by Clarke had been covered up

Unite has declined to deny reports that Unite’ general secretary’s Sharon Graham tried, before she became the union’s general secretary, to have evidence against her husband destroyed – or to answer questions as to whether the evidence was in fact destroyed after she took up the General Secretary position.

It was then revealed that Brendan Ogle of Unite Ireland region, had been victimised after he returned to work after treatment for cancer, because he didn’t support Graham in the election for General Secretary. The Irish Examiner reported that:

Brendan Ogle, who is the effective head of the Unite union in Ireland, claims he was urged to take a more junior role in the organisation that would necessitate a 100 mile daily commute. Following discussions with Unite, he continues to work in Dublin with the same title and pay he held prior to his illness.

…  he is being excluded from his organisational role in Right To Water, the group he set up through the union to campaign for a referendum on the public ownership of the water infrastructure….

 “He was told that was coming from head office in London. The only thing that has changed while he was out sick was the leadership in London where a new general secretary was elected,” ….

Mr Ogle has been a leading figure in the trade union movement for over 20 years since he was general secretary of the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association, where he organised a rail strike in 2000. He was also the head of the ESB group of unions prior to joining Unite.

Why is Unite inviting a ‘real Conservative’ to its conference?

The invitation to Starmer, who has refused to support workers in struggle – be they nurses, train drivers, teachers or post workers, is an insult to Unite members. Starmer is a neo-liberal who has torn up the 10 Pledges that he made at the time of his election. as Labour leader. As Jenny Chapman admitted he said what was need to get elected rather than what he believed in.

Pledge No. 5 that ‘Public services should be in public hands’ and to ‘end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.’ This has been discarded. Instead West Streeting has announced that private sector involvement in the NHS will increase.

The film Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie has been banned from Unite premises at the behest of Starmer and his supporters. On 5th July Sarah Carpenter, Regional Secretary of Unite SE wrote informing me that:

After careful consideration by senior union officials, the decision taken [to ban the film Corbyn the Big Lie] was grounded in our focus to prioritise resources to fight for members pay, terms and conditions and issues facing our local communities.

It was of course a lie. The decision had nothing to do with prioritising resources. Carpenter went on to inform me that under Rule 17.3 of the rule book our branch was forbidden from making a £250 donation to Platform  Films, who produced the film, despite them having made films for trade unions for years, including the T&G Story, a history of the T&GWU, which was the precursor of Unite.

Tony Benn wrote that:

By making these brilliant films over the years, Platform has filled a gap that is so obvious in the media – that it doesn’t cover labour and progressive causes properly.

And Bob Crowe likewise said that:

RMT is proud to be associated with a film company that unashamedly knows which side it is on, and is carrying the tradition of gutsy, agitprop, socialist film-making to a new generation in the 21st century.

But for the right-wing bureaucrats who have taken over Unite, none of this counts. As Sharon Graham cosies up to Keir Starmer the Corbyn era is wiped from memory and workers rights are abandoned.

Only this week Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC wrote an article for Tribune ‘Is Labour Backsliding on Workers’ Rights?’ They wrote:

Labour has quietly dropped key policies to guarantee basic rights and protections at work and strengthen trade unions – a U-turn that would harm millions of the country’s most exploited workers.

Starmer is a neo-liberal, a racist and a ‘Zionist without qualification’. But for the right-wing Graham, none of this is stopping her wooing Starmer despite his anti-trade union policies, his warmongering, racism and chauvinism and his hostility to basic civil liberties and the right to protest.

The invitation to Starmer is the final straw. Many on the left like the SWP and the Socialist Party made the mistake of backing Graham in the General Secretary elections. Her support for industrial action blinded them to her right-wing stance on everything else. e.g. Unite’s support for increased military expenditure at the TUC Conference.

The latest scandal is Graham’s refusal to deny the claim of Gerard Coyne that Unite backs him as the candidate for the parliamentary seat of West Bromwich East. Members who have written to Unite have not received any denial.

This is why we must demonstrate outside Unite’s conference tomorrow. We refuse to allow the union to be taken over by Starmer’s lackeys and a self-serving and nepotistic leadership.

Tony Greenstein

Posted in

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.