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Why Unite is endorsing Long Bailey and Burgon for Labour leader and deputy

We need a leadership that can win back our heartlands and will support workers in struggle, writes Unite’s LEN McCLUSKEY

REBECCA LONG BAILEY’S message to Unite’s Labour-affiliated members setting out why she is the leadership candidate to take the fight to the Tories and win back trust in the party is one I wholeheartedly endorse. 

Becky is the leader who can win back our heartlands while talking to the rest of the nation. 

She’s courageous, and she believes in the radical road Labour has been travelling in recent years. But she’ll do it her way.

Unite’s executive council voted overwhelmingly to support Becky for leader for all these reasons, and more. 

They know our members expect the leader of our party to understand not only their problems, but their ambitions for themselves and their families.

Our EC also backed Richard Burgon for deputy leader. He’s staunchly on the left and a friend of the labour movement and I urge members to do the same.

Long Bailey has been a Unite member for many years and has stood shoulder to shoulder with our members in defence of their jobs, rights, livelihoods and communities. 

I know that she will always support our members, including when they are on strike.

Of course, if workers take strike action then other members of the public may suffer, but the answer is not to question the legitimate actions of those who feel they have been dealt an injustice, but to demand employers reach an agreement with them.

For too long, Labour leaders supported the Establishment against unions. A radical Labour leader will always support workers in struggle, and Becky will be that leader.

And, crucially, she’s committed to repealing all the anti-union laws, not just the Trade Union Act.

For Unite members, Becky’s commitment to fighting for a green industrial revolution to invest in our manufacturing industries and ensure a fair and just transition to the highly skilled, sustainable energy and green jobs that are crucial to tackling the climate emergency is especially welcome. 

They expect a leader who is proud to stand up for their communities – this is about so much more than clean air. 

As we shift away from a fossil fuel economy, we have to ensure that no worker is left behind. A green industrial revolution, with trade unions at its heart, will not only reverse the impact of climate change but will reinvigorate our hollowed-out industrial heartlands and employment across the whole of Britain. Becky has pioneered just that revolution.

Our members also expect a leader to stand up for proper rights for British workers, for good, well-paid jobs, an end to zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and the exploitation of agency workers.

Someone who will do whatever it takes to defend the NHS from the Tories’ attacks and privatisation, who will reinvest in public services, sort out the housing crisis in this country for good, and tackle the scandal of social care. 

In Unite, we expect a leader who will put our trade union values of decency, equality and fairness at the heart of everything they do. 

Becky’s plans to help unions grow their membership will also mean that more and more working people will have the support they need at work and a strong voice to speak up for them. 

All the evidence shows that where there is a union in a workplace, workers are safer and better paid. Becky is the leadership candidate putting people first. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy is that he has changed Labour’s politics forever. He has brought about a radical shift that I do not think will ever go back. 

Whoever becomes Labour leader must understand that. 

The more we hear of Rebecca Long Bailey’s vision, the more we hear a message of aspiration, of a leader ambitious for the people of this country and determined to make their lives better. 

She won’t succumb to pressures from the right or the Establishment for that matter, or the Parliamentary Labour Party. With Becky as leader, Labour’s place as the party of working people is secure and we can start to win back those heartlands and start to give back hope.

Len McCluskey is general secretary of Unite the Union.

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