Sharon Graham wins Unite the Union’s General Secretary ballot. This vindicates her decision to stand. Many people on the left had accused Graham of being sectarian when she refused to stand down in favour of front runner Steve Turner.
Her victory saw right winger Gerald Coyne come third in what most people saw as a two-horse race. Keir Starmer tweeted congratulations. He said “I’m looking forward to working together to improve the lives of working people across the country.” In truth, that seems unlikely as most of his Shadow Cabinet, including Jess Phillips and Margaret Hodge, openly backed Coyne.
Graham had faced criticism from the left. She refused to stand down in favour of frontrunner Steve Turner. It was widely believed that standing two left candidates could split the vote and let right-winger Coyne slip through the middle.She did not have the support of the establishment. Most news outlets see her as “the first woman to lead Unite” (well done to them for noticing). The Daily Mail describe her as the “hard left candidate”.
In the event whilst the left vote split, it was so overwhelming that it simply denied the winner the overwhelming mandate which a single left candidate might have enjoyed. For Steve Turner supporters there will now be some soul searching as to how those nominations did not translate into votes. In congratulating Sharon Steve Turner was clear that he follows her aspiration to build Unite and campaign in the workplace.
Graham’s emphasis on workplace organisation will inevitably bring her into conflict with the Westminster focus of the Labour Party. In her six point pledges to fight for communities she remarks: “The focus on ‘leaders’, whilst understandable, is a rabbit hole from which we have struggled to emerge.”
The results in full:
Sharon Graham. 46,696 (37.7%]
Steve Turner – 41,833 (33.69%)
Gerard Coyne – 35,334 (28.46%)
Votes cast 124,147
Socialist of many years. Former Labour member. Currently presenter of The Socialist Hour.