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UNITE assistant general secretary Steve Turner has won the backing of the union’s largest left-wing organisation in his bid to become general secretary.
The victory, by just three votes, is reportedly being contested by his main rival, Howard Beckett.
United Left (UL) held an online hustings over the weekend, and Mr Turner won 370 votes to win its support.
Mr Beckett, the union’s assistant general secretary for politics and legal, received 367 votes, on a turnout of more than 50 per cent.
According to the Labour List news site, Mr Beckett is understood to not have accepted the result as some members said they did not receive their ballots.
Mr Turner tweeted: “Result in and a huge thank you for your support … 38 years ago when I joined our union as a bus conductor I would never have thought I could one day have been your [UL] candidate for general secretary.
“The confidence you’ve put in me humbled me and I will never let you down! I want to thank [Mr Beckett] for a great campaign between comrades and look forward to bringing our left together as we move forward in the coming fight to keep our union left!”
Unite executive officer Sharon Graham is also understood to be standing in next year’s election, but she did not seek UL’s support.
General secretary Len McCluskey’s term is due to end in 2022. He has been re-elected twice since he was first made leader in 2011.
Two of the other largest Labour-affiliated unions are also set for changes of leadership, with Unison’s Dave Prentis retiring at the end of the year and GMB currently picking a replacement for Tim Roache, who resigned in April.
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