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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Profile: Derek Simpson
Derek Simpson
Simpson: A 'lieutenant of the Left'
Derek Simpson, the surprise new leader of the UK's second largest union, is a Derby-based official for Amicus.

The 57-year-old is a former Communist who has been a Labour Party member for the past 10 years.

He describes himself as a "lieutenant of the Left" who would not be offering Downing Street "blind allegiance".

He says that while he is not a Blairite, he is not anti-Blair.

Mr Simpson launched the campaign to oust Amicus leader Sir Ken Jackson.

'Dirty tricks?'

Sir Ken, the union leader closest to Mr Blair, is 65 this year and insisted that he wanted to stay on until 2004 to oversee the union's merger of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union with Manufacturing, Science and Finance.

Mr Simpson was forced to resign his union official role to stand against him.

Sir Ken Jackson
Sir Ken is seen as a key Blair union ally
He argued that he was a victim of a dirty tricks campaign, by being denied time off to attend the union's conference, having emails blocked and being disciplined.

He has no plans to threaten to cut funding to the Labour Party but argues that the UK has the worst labour laws in Europe.

He says he wants to see legislation introduced to look after the interests of workers, jobs and pensions.

Reunited

Mr Simpson left school in Sheffield at the age of 15 and took up an apprenticeship in a local engineering firm.

He quickly became involved in union work, attending the engineering union's youth conference.

He became a shop steward, then a convenor before being appointed the union's Sheffield district secretary in 1981.

He has an Open University degree in computing and mathematics.

The father-of-three has recently reunited with his wife after the couple divorced more than 20 years ago.

He is a keen chess player, enjoys listening to all types of music and spends a lot of time "messing about" with computers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Hugh Pym
"The reverberations from the battle... have been felt across the union movement"
Derek Simpson, Amicus
"Throughout the campaign we've had marvellous support"

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

18 Jul 02 | Politics
04 Jul 02 | Education
02 Jul 02 | Politics
12 Mar 02 | Politics
02 Apr 01 | Business
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