McLuskey: Union boss with a penchant for politics

McCluskey: disaffiliation threat. Picture: Getty
McCluskey: disaffiliation threat. Picture: Getty
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HIS comments over Jim Murphy’s leadership are not the first time Len McLuskey has dabbled in party politics.

Two years ago, the Unite boss became embroiled in the allegations of vote-rigging over the selection of a Labour candidate in Falkirk following the departure of Eric Joyce, when he claimed that Unite was being subjected to a “behind-the-scenes smear campaign” by the party.

In 2013, Unite came under attack over claims that it had tried to flood the Falkirk branch of the Labour Party with new Unite members – many of them workers from nearby Grangemouth – in support of the union’s preferred candidate.

A former Liverpool docker, McLuskey became a union member at the age of 18, graduating to shop steward a year later and climbing his way up the union ladder over subsequent decades.

He defines himself as being on the left of the union – a pos­ition which is at odds with the politics of Murphy – a man who has, in the past, been 
described as “Blairite”.

McLuskey last week claimed that Murphy’s leadership of Scottish Labour had made the Tory victory a certainty and called on him to “leave the scene”. He said he believed that it allowed Conservatives to play “the anti-Scottish card” in the closing stages, and provoke a backlash among English voters.

Muphy’s speech yesterday made it quite clear what he thought of McLuskey, when he talked about the “destructive behaviour of one, high-profile, trade unionist”.

“The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey,” he said.

In March, McCluskey threatened to disaffiliate Unite from Labour and launch a new workers’ party if Labour lost the General Election.