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CORBYNISM has “changed British politics forever” and Unite’s role in the movement is one of his proudest achievements, Len McCluskey told a packed launch for his autobiography Always Red on Wednesday night.
The former Unite general secretary’s book traces his life from growing up in Liverpool and becoming a shop steward when workers’ industrial power in this country was at its height in the 1970s to becoming general secretary and helping shift Labour to the left from 2010, culminating in the “extraordinary journey” of the Jeremy Corbyn movement’s challenge to British capitalism.
Mr McCluskey recalled how disappointment at then Labour leader Ed Miliband’s opportunistic attack on Unite – rooted in baseless allegations of wrongdoing concerning the selection of a Labour candidate for Falkirk in 2013 – turned to realisation that reform of Labour’s relationship with the unions would be an opportunity for change that nobody expected. The one-member one-vote leadership election process then introduced resulted in Mr Corbyn winning the Labour leadership in 2015.
He praised Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell for “challenging the economic orthodoxy around the globe.” He said that despite efforts by their successors to suppress that awakening they would prove unable to do so, adding that the left must prevent the “Brexit election of 2019” from being used to wipe out the memory of how close Britain came to electing a socialist prime minister in 2017.
Mr Corbyn praised the Unite leader for ensuring that the union had become “an industrial force, but also a force in the community mobilising people on issues of social justice.”
He thanked Unite for its support at key moments when his leadership was threatened by internal sabotage, such as the “chicken coup” of 2016.
Always Red is published by OR Books: www.orbooks.com/catalog/always-red/
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