Len McCluskey rumoured to be stepping down from Unite, with Howard Beckett in the frame to replace him

Len McCluskey rumoured to be stepping down from Unite, with Howard Beckett in the frame to replace him

- in Unite
Len McCluskey

Britain’s second-largest union, Unite, have been forced to deny rumours that Len McCluskey is set to step down as General Secretary.

Speculation has risen in recent days that Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, is preparing to stand down from his role.

Len McCluskey, 69, was first elected as Unite’s general secretary in 2010, and was subsequently re-elected to the post in 2013 and 2017.

His reign as general secretary has been dogged in recent years due to his close ties to Jeremy Corbyn’s failed Labour leadership, with McCluskey repeatedly rounding on critics of Jeremy Corbyn despite the party’s disappointing performance in last year’s election.

As the Labour party’s largest affiliate and major donor, Unite holds a lot of influence over the party and has donated more than £200,000 to help Rebecca Long-Bailey’s bid to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Despite the denials of Unite representatives, a source quoted by The Mirror said different factions within the union are beginning to look for successors to Mr McCluskey:

“One of the main left factions is now moving to select a candidate.

“There’s a big policy conference taking place in the summer with twice as many delegates as normal.

“Based on things he’s said to people inside the union it does seem all the kinds of manoeuvres are being made to find a successor, despite what he’s said publicly.”

Who is in the frame to replace Len McCluskey?

While it’s still too early for anyone in Unite to announce their intention to run for election, there has been some speculation as to who might be the next general secretary.

Howard Beckett, currently one of Unite’s assistant general secretaries, is highly regarded among members and is thought to be a potential front-runner should McCluskey step down later this year. A close ally of McCluskey, Beckett was recently appointed to the Labour party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), replacing Jim Kennedy as one of the union’s two NEC representatives.

Another of Unite’s assistant general secretaries, Steve Turner, is also seen as a strong candidate, while Unite executive officer Sharon Graham has been rumoured to fancy a tilt at becoming the union’s first female leader.

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