BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Left-winger claims shock union victory
Sir Ken Jackson
Sir Ken is seen as a key Blair union ally
A left wing union official is claiming victory in the race to lead Britain's second biggest union.


I will only do what the members of our union want me to do

Derek Simpson
Derek Simpson said he expects to take over as joint general secretary of Amicus from Sir Ken Jackson after a fourth re-count on Thursday.

The result will be a blow to Tony Blair, who counts Sir Ken as his closest ally in the trade union movement.

It would also send shockwaves through the rest of the Labour movement, amid growing unrest in the unions.

Legal team

It is thought Sir Ken polled around 89,000 votes, compared with 88,200 for Mr Simpson, a Derby-based union official, in the first count.

Tony Blair
Mr Blair faces a showdown at the TUC conference
But after three recounts on Wednesday, the result was still not clear, even though Mr Simpson claims to have been ahead by 300 votes.

A further recount will be held on Thursday with the two candidates each appointing an independent scrutineer.

Mr Simpson told BBC News Online he believed he should have been declared the winner on Wednesday.

He said he has a legal team standing by in case he has to mount court action.

Super-union

Mr Simpson, a former member of the communist party who has been a Labour member for the past 10 years, has said he is not a "Blairite" but "not anti-Blair either".

He said he wanted parity with the eurozone on employment legislation.

And he planned to press the government for legislation to protect pension schemes.

He said: "I will only do what the members of our union want me to do - not what I want to do, like Sir Ken who came up with an idea and then tried to force it through the union's mechanism."

Sir Ken is the boss of the AEEU part of new super-union Amicus.

He reached the normal retirement age of 65 this year but wants 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.

Downing Street will be watching the outcome of the contest closely knowing that with this year's TUC conference fast approaching it may need all the friends it can muster in the 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.

Popularity

Even if Sir Ken wins, the result may be subject to a legal challenge because of a Guardian newspaper allegation of ballot rigging.

The success of Mr Simpson in forcing such a close contest is being seen by some as an example of an increased popularity of the left amid concern of government policies.

Under Sir Ken's leadership the AEEU has been seen as a major backer of the right of the Labour Party.

The union gave 2m to Labour in the run-up to the last general election.

Sir Ken has also been a vociferous supporter of UK entry into the single currency.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Union vote
Is New Labour losing union support?
See also:

04 Jul 02 | Education
02 Jul 02 | Politics
12 Mar 02 | Politics
02 Apr 01 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes