UNITE leader Len McCluskey demanded yesterday an end to a “shameful” campaign of “smears and lies” from Blairites hell-bent on discrediting the left.
Mr McCluskey, who is fighting for re-election as the union’s general secretary against right-winger Gerald Coyne, a long-time ally of deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, denied that he or any of his staff met Momentum founder Jon Lansman to discuss affiliation or funding.
He confirmed that Unite’s elected executive was the only body that could decide affiliation to any group. Mr McCluskey’s comments come after claims were made by
Mr Watson last week that a McCluskey-led Unite was plotting to “take over” Labour and “destroy” it as an electoral force.
Supporters of Mr McCluskey and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have accused Mr Watson of trying to influence the Unite leadership vote in favour of Mr Coyne, who has previously called in the pages of Murdoch hate rag the Sun for the union to distance itself from politics and drop its support for Mr Corbyn’s leadership altogether.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics show, Mr McCluskey said there had been a “shameful campaign of lies, innuendo and smears” which “strains the relationship between unions and the Labour Party.”
He said: “My members don’t vote to affiliate to the Labour Party so they can be abused by certain Labour leaders.”