Rows within union over McCluskey’s support for Jeremy Corbyn and decision to suspend leadership rival likely to continue.
Len McCluskey has been re-elected leader of the Unite union in a narrow victory that has been greeted with relief by supporters of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
The incumbent defeated his opponent, Gerard Coyne, after a bitter month-long campaign that culminated in Coyne’s suspension from his union role 24 hours before the vote declaration.
McCluskey won 59,067 votes (45.4%), Coyne won 53,544 (41.5%) and grassroots candidate Ian Allinson took 17,143 (13.1%), on a turnout of just over 12%, the union announced.
Coyne’s team was hoping for a high turnout of up to 20% of the membership, which they believed would have ensured a surprise victory. McCluskey’s vote dropped from 144,570 in 2013 when the turnout was nearly 15%.
The result was a boost for the Labour leader and the left of the Labour party.
McCluskey is a close ally of Corbyn and is expected to use Unite’s influence to push through rule changes that will ensure a leftwing candidate will be able to stand in any future Labour leadership election.
It is also a personal triumph for McCluskey, 66, a former worker from Liverpool’s docks who resigned in December and stood again in the hope of a renewed mandate so he could see through “the Corbyn project” to its conclusion.
The result has dismayed many MPs who believe that Unite under McCluskey holds too much influence over the party leader’s office.