In an important but hardly surprising move (I anticipated it six months ago), Unite election candidate Les Bayliss, the joint frontrunner with Len McCluskey, has today got a boost to his campaign: his rival, full-time officer Paul Reuter has this week agreed to withdraw his candidacy and support Bayliss.
Both Reuter and Bayliss sought the nomination of the Derek Simpson-backed Workers Uniting Group, but after Bayliss won it last year, Reuter refused to withdraw from the race. Now he has done that, and the advantage Len McCluskey has – of being the only candidate from his (T&G) side of the union, and the Amicus side vote being split several ways – has narrowed.
More follows shortly…
Update: Paul Reuter told me his reasons for standing down: “It would’ve been difficult for either Les or I to win if we both ran.
“In terms of our vision there’s not a lot between us, in terms of the type of the union and trade unionism that we want to create in future, in order to keep out the stupid left.*
“It’s my view and Les’ view that only one of us can run. I will be working with Les to secure his position.
So what does this mean? I don’t think it means anything radical has changed behind the scenes. There was talk of a Reuter-Bayliss alliance earlier this year, and it’s noticeable that Reuter was the only candidate who didn’t have any leaflets distributed when Unite’s policy conference (currently wrapping up in Manchester) opened at the weekend.
For Reuter it could well mean a promotion if Bayliss wins. Both he and Team Bayliss were keeping schtum about whether he will have any particular job – “No and I haven’t sought that” Reuter said, when I asked if he had been offered the post of deputy general secretary – but it’s clear they will be working closely from now on.
“What we have agreed is that I’ll be part of the team. If he’s successful there’ll be a role within that team,” Reuter told me.
*Both Reuter and Bayliss portray themselves as moderates, in contrast, their supporters would say, to the Socialist Workers Party-backed Jerry Hicks and the former Militant Labour supporter Len McCluskey.
P.S. Here’s the WUG statement in full:
Unite General Secretary Election – A Strategic Alliance
We are pleased to announce that following detailed discussions between Les Bayliss and Paul Reuter an agreement has been reached with the objective of ensuring both the broadest and widest support for the Workers’ Uniting Group Candidate for the Unite General Secretary Election.
It has been mutually and jointly agreed that in the interests of the Union going forward, and in developing and strengthening the Election leadership team, that Paul and his supporters will continue to support the aims and objectives of the Workers’ Uniting Group with an objective of building a strong, efficient and effective union with particular emphasis on Officer support and development. To this end, Paul has been asked by the Workers’ Uniting Group to develop strategies which will ensure that Officer Development is central to its mandate for change.
In this vein, the Workers’ Uniting Group will continue dialogue with all Unite members, activists, representatives, officers, organisers, and staff within the Union who wish to voluntary agree with its aims and objectives and can assist in the election of its candidate, Les Bayliss as the new General Secretary of Unite.
P.P.S. The other declared candidates are Simon Dubbins, Jerry Hicks and Gail Cartmail. Nominations still haven’t opened, let alone closed, so more could yet appear.