21/04/2017 16:03 BST | Updated 21/04/2017 16:28 BST

Len McCluskey Claims Victory In Unite Union General Secretary Election

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Len McCluskey has claimed victory in his fight to be re-elected general secretary of the Unite union.

The close ally of Jeremy Corbyn had been challenged by rival Gerard Coyne, who was seen as the anti-Corbyn candidate, for the job of running the UK’s biggest trade union.

McCluskey won 59,067 votes, Coyne won 53,544 votes and the other contender, Ian Allinson, won 17,143 votes.  Unite said turnout was just over 12.2%.

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Gerard Coyne lost his bid to replace Len McCluskey as leader of Unite

Unite, which is the Labour’s biggest financial backer, has considerable influence within the party.

The election was a bitter one. McCluskey said Coyne’s campaign was being run by a “cabal” of Labour MPs on the right of the party who were using the contest to fight “a proxy war against Corbyn”.

Coyne has said McCluskey has an “obsession with Westminster power games” and pledged to spend less time involved in internal Labour politics.

The race took a surprise twist yesterday, when Coyne was suspended from his job as a regional officer with the union.

McCluskey has also been involved in a war of words with Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

The union leader accused Watson of “skulduggery, smears and secret plots” and of “abusing the internal democracy of Unite”.

Unite acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “I congratulate Len McCluskey on his victory and would urge the entire union to pull together in the interests of our members, and not least to work for a Labour victory in the General Election.

“The turnout in this important election can give no cause for satisfaction and, while the tone of the campaign will not have helped, the underlying reason remains the archaic and expensive balloting system imposed on trade unions by law. The sooner we can move to secure and secret workplace and online voting the better for union democracy.”