Friday, 4 June 2021

Margaret Hodge Is Gunning for Unite Leadership Hopeful Howard Beckett

Labour MP for Barking, Margaret Hodge, appears to be gunning for Unite leadership candidate Howard Beckett. She has asked the police to investigate the Unite union over accusations Beckett and others conspired to unseat Labour MPs Ian Austin and Tom Watson in 2018. Leaked emails show such a conversation took place, and that activists had wanted payment for their activities, but they do not confirm any money actually changed hands.

A reasonable person might argue those MPs deserved to be unseated, but it would be illegal to fund any such effort without Unite declaring where the funds were going. Fortunately, there appears to be no evidence that funds were misspent and Unite has insisted no payments were ever made.

Beckett said in a statement to the BBC:

"Margaret Hodge is making a political stunt.

"She's obviously doing it because of the fact that there is a Unite general secretary election. She opposes my candidature; she supports someone else in the race."

Hodge had the audacity to say of Unite's alleged activity that: "Whether it's legal or not, it is immoral."

Beckett described Hodge's accusations as "laughable" and "risible." 

I know whose side I'm on...

Howard Beckett does not strike me as the type of person who would act dishonestly and I suspect Hodge's behaviour is going to backfire if and when his name is cleared. I actually thought Hodge was supposed to be retiring as an MP, but maybe that was just wishful thinking, because here she is, doing the only thing she is good for: fighting the left.

She has a track record of fighting the left...

Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn a "fucking antisemite and racist" during his time as Labour leader and somehow she was not expelled from the party. Just imagine an MP from the Socialist Campaign Group speaking to Sir Keith Starmer in this manner. Imagine how many microseconds it would take David Evans to issue a suspension!

It appears to be one rule for the Labour right and another for the Labour left...

Margaret Hodge tweeted that people should not vote for Labour in 2019. Yet my friend James Foster was expelled from the party and banned from reapplying for five years for a lesser offence.

Just look at that Tweet. How is this anything other than a massive double standard?

Strangely, Margaret Hodge seems rather quiet about the Forde report which explores the possibility the Labour right diverted campaign funds away from left wing parliamentary candidates and towards right wing candidates without permission. If she is concerned about fair play, this is exactly the kind of thing I would expect her to be vocal about.

Hodge claims the Labour right were trying to win the last general election, yet she never missed an opportunity to go on TV and attack her own party leader. She has previously stated people are "deluded" if they think Labour should be a left wing party and she complained on Twitter about the influence of "trade union barons." Just wait until she discovers Labour was founded by trade unions to be a left wing party! She will probably shit a brick if she notices the words "democratic socialist" on her Labour membership card.

In all seriousness, MPs like Margaret Hodge should be nowhere near the Labour Party. Instead, they've taken it over. And now a brave few are fighting back. 

Howard Beckett is the man with the moral courage to lead the charge and he is currently surging ahead of other hopefuls in the race to gather nominations from local Unite branches, even winning nominations he was not supposed to win. Beckett is a man of the people and his message is resonating with disillusioned socialists who feel abandoned by Starmer's centre-right corporatism and lack of opposition. He has indicated that if Labour continues on its right wing path, Unite would consider pulling funding from the party under his leadership.

Here's my suggestion:

Now, I'm not sure if this is even possible, but I would be fully in favour of Unite standing candidates at the next general election and becoming a political party, or alternatively, backing fledgling parties like the Breakthrough Party and the Northern Independence Party, who both have brilliant people working for them. I, like so many, desperately want the kind of left wing alternative that Margaret Hodge and others are determined to deny us. That is why I back Howard Beckett for Unite general secretary.

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