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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Union 'unable' to endorse new boss
Tony Blair, left, Derek Simpson, and Ken Jackson, right
The succession of ex-communist Derek Simpson as joint general secretary of the UK's second largest union remains in doubt.

I have won the election fair and square

Derek Simpson
The unknown leftwinger Mr Simpson seized the lead role at the AEEU part of the Amicus super-union after four recounts from Sir Ken Jackson, a key union ally of Tony Blair.

Sir Ken, joint general secretary of Amicus and a staunch New Labour supporter, lost out to former communist Mr Simpson by 406 votes.

But during a meeting of the executive on Thursday afternoon, six members walked out, which meant the proceedings did not have enough people to continue.

The walk out was staged by Mr Simpson's supporters.

Government setback?

They were angry that Sir Ken had raised objections about the conduct of the election.

Mr Simpson was ahead after three recounts of the ballot on Wednesday and was declared the winner after a fourth count on Thursday morning.

He polled 89,521 votes to Sir Ken's 89,115.

Derek Simpson
The victor: Derek Simpson
There were 459 spoilt ballot papers - including 75 who voted for both candidates.

Mr Simpson urged the union's executive to accept the result.

"I have won the election fair and square against all the machine of the union that has been used against me to try and defeat me," Mr Simpson told BBC News 24.

He said he could understand the "frustration of Sir Ken Jackson, with all he has had at his disposal, failing to defeat what has been described as a relative unknown".

But he urged the union's executive "to recognise that the members of the union have made a democratic decision".

Labour MP Jim Knight urged Sir Ken to accept the outcome of the ballot.

And he said that Labour should try to foster the link between rank-and-file members of the Labour Party and union members.

"We were as a party formed by the trade union movement," he said.

"My concern is that the link is something we try to work at on a senior level but we need to do more to foster the link between ordinary rank-and-file members of the Labour Party and the membership of the unions."

The result represents another setback for the government in its increasingly fraught relations with the trade unions.

Return to militancy?

Mr Simpson has said that although he was not a Blairite that did not make him an automatic opponent of Blairites.

He said his members wanted to see a leadership that would represent their views at all levels.

John Edmonds
Mr Edmonds warned of disenchantment in the union movement
Ahead of the ballot result being announced the GMB's John Edmonds said that the Amicus vote was part of a swing away from New Labour occurring across the union movement.

"Ken's difficulties are not a blip - it is not a one-off," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Roger Lyons, joint general secretary from the MSF half of Amicus, said of Sir Ken's ousting: "His wish to stay after 65 has clearly not gone down very well."

TUC general secretary John Monks told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "It is totally exaggerated this idea that unions and governments are completely at each others throats."


Sir Ken reached the normal retirement age of 65 this year but wanted to stay in his post until the end of 2004 to oversee the merger between the AEEU, and the MSF.

The two unions linked up earlier this year to form Amicus, which has a million members, mainly in manufacturing.

With this year's TUC conference fast approaching Labour needs all the friends it can muster in the trade union movement.

The Labour leadership has an increasingly fractious relationship the unions and a showdown particularly over the government's penchant for using private money in the public sector is widely predicted.

Derek Simpson, Amicus
"I've won the election there's no doubt about that"
The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"The word 'chaos' is being used by union officials"
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Labour does not want to get involved in the detail of union disputes"

Public pay battles

Leadership battles

Labour and the unions


See also:

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