The strong bond between Stephen Walker of Skwawkbox and Howard Beckett has meant that Walker and his colleagues at Socialist Telly have been vocal backers of him since the start of the Unite general election campaign.
Some of the slightly odder claims that have come out of the Beckett/Walker spin room the last few days is that Beckett was the ‘true winner’ due to him topping the Google trends out of all the candidates.
Now, it’s surprising that Beckett appears to endorse the political wisdom that Donald Trump and others have subscribed to that ‘any press is good press’ but we would question whether the following list will really have helped him to become the next general secretary:
- Birmingham Hotel Scandal
- Racist comments saying he wanted Priti Patel deported
- Vanity projects like Unite TV
- Selling his conveyancing firm to Thompsons for £2.6m
- Becketts business contacts holding union contracts
- Fined for initially withholding money from miners
- Investigated for breaking Trade Union law
- Luxury Property Empire
It would seem that it is these stories, with plenty more having been covered over the last few months, may have something to do with the rise in internet attention for Beckett, rather than any groundswell of support.
However, as the Twitter rows continue, the three left candidates’ camps continue to blame the others for not reaching a deal. This includes the bizarre negotiating tactic from Howard’s team at Skwawkbox, that they could simply pull names out of a hat in order to decide which left candidates should go forward.
This is one of the biggest unions in the country, faced with huge challenges as working people are having to fight fire and rehire and the new world of work following Covid-19. To trivialize the debate into a sixth-form political hustings is shocking. Members are crying out for leadership, not political games.
The behavior of Skwawkbox last night with an aggressive attack on Turner was a fairly typical, aggressive, Beckett play. It’s time to do away with the bully boy tactics and the backroom deals and instead get down to offering members a choice at this election for how Unite should be run in the next five years. Members deserve credible options from range of views within the union; and members need fewer of Beckett’s tantrums.