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Tom Watson's Ill-founded Attempt to Divide Our Union Will Fall Flat on Its Face

20/07/2016 15:43 | Updated 20 July 2016
BEN STANSALL via Getty Images

Doubling down on divisiveness, Tom Watson has chosen to attack Unite and myself personally for our position on the unnecessary Labour leadership election which his manoeuvres, amongst others, have forced on the Party at a time of national crisis.

He alleges that we are betraying our members in the defence industry because of our support for Jeremy Corbyn. He must be aware that Unite's conference just last week made it clear that we would fight tooth-and-nail to support all our members employed in the industry, including those building the submarines which carry Trident missiles, and could back no policy which put their jobs at risk.

No union will fight harder for its members than Unite, something our defence workers are the first to recognise. Yet Tom is using this issue to try and stir up an opposition in our forthcoming Executive Council elections and to myself as general secretary.

He underestimates the unity, strength and determination of Unite - which was so evident at our Policy Conference last week - qualities which cannot be undone by anyone. If we support Jeremy Corbyn it is because this decent and progressive man has secured the overwhelming backing of our democratic structures, which Tom Watson was once proud to associate himself with.

Tom also invents a fictitious £250,000 which Unite is supposed to be donating to Jeremy Corbyn's campaign. Nothing like that sum has been agreed by the union, nor even requested. It is a made-up figure bearing no relationship to reality.

Yet Tom alleges that Unite members would be disturbed by such a phantom donation. He had no such scruples about verifying the members' views when this union gave him £70,000 for his deputy leadership election campaign last year. Nor when we donated £50,000 to fund his personal tour of key constituencies before the last General Election.

And only last year he sought half a million pounds of our members' money to launch an online news journal. We could not support that project, but it was not for want of Tom trying to float his ambitious plans on a sea of Unite money.

Indeed, Tom was more than keen on Unite members' money in the days before he fell for the charms of Max Mosley's support. His complaints now are hypocritical, as well as ill-founded, and his attempt to divide our union will fall flat on its face.

Len McCluskey is the general secretary of Unite the union

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