There are two left-wing candidates and two right-wing candidates in the election for general secretary of Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union. One of the right-wingers – the one, in fact, who stands a chance of winning – is Les Bayliss.

Les BaylissEither of the left-wingers, Len McCluskey or Jerry Hicks, would clearly be a very different leader to the man who, apparently seeking to emulate Sir Ken Jackson, says “Public sector strikes will only deprive the vulnerable of services the Tories want to cut.”

Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday tabloid, currently embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal connected to former editor and current Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson, informs us:

‘A UNION chief last night urged militants to BACK OFF from a threatened wave of “suicide” strikes over public spending cuts.

Les Bayliss warned mass walkouts would only inflict misery on hard-hit families.

He appealed to the moderate majority to stand up to hardliners hell-bent on leading them over the cliff edge.’

The News of the World article also quotes Bayliss as saying the BA cabin crew strike (by Unite members) was a mistake.

It’s perhaps worth recalling sister paper The Sun’s attitude to Unite earlier this year.

It’s interesting that an assistant general secretary of the union deems it appropriate to talk to the Murdoch press.

Luna17 activist

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.​ He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).