The Labour right wing are resorting to desperate smear tactics in order to stop Howard Beckett’s strong campaign for Unite general secretary. Left activists must organise to defend Beckett, fight these attacks, and boot out the saboteurs.

The Labour right wing are resorting to desperate smear tactics in order to stop Howard Beckett’s strong campaign for Unite general secretary. Left activists must organise to defend Beckett, fight these attacks, and boot out the saboteurs.

As the Unite general secretary election heats up, left-winger Howard Beckett is clearly starting to cause concern for the right wing of the labour movement.

Beckett’s campaign has gone from strength to strength. On the basis of his bold, fighting stance, the left-wing candidate has smashed through the threshold required to make it onto the ballot.

Recently, on 3 June, the Unite assistant general secretary announced that he had received his 300th official endorsement. No doubt the final figure will be far higher, with the nomination period closing today.

The Labour right wing is terrified of the prospect of a Beckett victory. As Unite’s representative on the Labour NEC, Beckett has militantly opposed Starmer’s rightward turn, and has stood up in defence of Jeremy Corbyn and grassroots members.

If he were to become general secretary of Unite, a union that holds significant political weight inside the Labour Party, then Beckett could become an important figurehead for a left-wing fightback.

The Labour right wing are therefore resorting to desperate smears to try and stop him. Already, the Labour bureaucracy has suspended Beckett from the party over trumped up charges. Unite members, Labour activists, and the whole of the Left must oppose these attacks head on. 

Leaks and smears

Appearing on BBC Newsnight on Thursday 3 June, Blairite MP Siobhan McDonagh accused Howard Beckett and Unite of allegedly trying to hide political funding. The basis for this accusation is tenuous, to say the least. 

Leaked emails from a few years ago allegedly reveal that Beckett, along with others, discussed a potential payment for political work done by a local campaigner, Steve Price. Payment to this activist was never actually made, however, as Beckett himself has confirmed. 

This campaigner was working with left activists to try and deselect right-wing MPs in the West Midlands. This included then-deputy leader Tom Watson and John Spellar MP. 

Recently, Spellar has disgracefully been implicated in aiding in the blacklisting of union members during his time with EEPTU, the notoriously right-wing electrician’s union. Watson’s own record as Witchfinder General and saboteur-in-chief during his time as deputy leader, meanwhile, speaks for itself.

These right-wing gangsters throughout the party have done untold damage to the prospects of a socialist Labour government. Of course they should be deselected!

Fighting back

Margaret Hodge Image Chris BolandAll of the usual right-wing faces have all crawled out of the woodwork to viciously slander Beckett. Speaking to the BBC, Tom Watson feigned shock at the leaked emails, asserting that even Corbyn himself would be outraged.

Arch-Blairite Margaret Hodge MP, meanwhile, also backed this latest craven attack on Beckett, apparently reporting the Unite general secretary candidate to the police.

But Beckett fought back in his recent Newsnight appearance, going on the offensive and correcting stating that: 

“Margaret Hodge is making a political stunt. She's obviously doing it because of the fact that there is a Unite general secretary election. She opposes my candidature, she supports someone else in the race.”

Right-wing hypocrisy

The right is clearly scared by Beckett’s growing support. And his campaign continues to gather momentum, thanks to his bold call to end ‘fire and rehire’ and fight for precarious workers, alongside his sharp criticisms of Labour leader Keir Starmer.

That is why the Labour right wing are now resorting to these smears and stunts.

As Beckett said on Newsnight, what is really shocking is the sheer hypocrisy of these ladies and gentlemen. As the leaked Labour report from last year shows, it was the right wing of the party that worked around the clock to sabotage the Corbyn leadership and prevent a socialist Labour government.

The very same Blairites relentlessly slung mud at Jeremy Corbyn. Backed by the whole establishment and its media, they went to great lengths to assassinate Corbyn’s character and wage a witch-hunt against the left.

The ruling class and its Blairite agents in the labour movement will resort to every trick in the book to stop the Left. They have the press, the police, and the courts at their disposal, and will move heaven and earth to stop anyone that threatens their power.

Beckett in! Starmer out!

Beckett vs StarmerWhether it be Corbyn or Beckett, the lesson is clear: the labour movement must stand united and oppose these attacks head-on.

We call on all grassroots activists in the Labour Party and trade unions to fight against these latest shameless slanders. From Margaret Hodge to ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer himself: all these right-wingers are Tory infiltrators within our movement. We must organise to drive them out.

  • Solidarity with Howard Beckett!
  • Fight the right-wing attacks!
  • Beckett in! Starmer Out!

Photo of Margaret Hodge by Chris Boland /