‘There is no step, thought, action, or lack of action under the heavens,’ wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, ‘which could not be punished by the heavy hand of Article 58’.
Unite the Union’s rules appear to operate on much the same basis as the Soviet provision against ‘counter-revolutionary action’. Gerard Coyne, Unite’s West Midlands secretary, has been sacked after what he claims was a ‘kangaroo court’.
So far, so internal union politics. But Coyne is not just some provincial functionary. He was most recently a contender for General Secretary of Unite, losing to incumbent Len McCluskey by around 5,500 votes. It was a process — calling it an election would be something of a stretch — in which Coyne was suspended while the votes were still being counted. As I wrote at the time, Coyne was a threat to the far-Left establishment that runs Unite and in turn the Labour Party. Hardly a Blairite, he was nonetheless more motivated by improving pay and conditions for union members than in heading up the Corbynista politburo.
Coyne’s status as an enemy of the proletariat has been confirmed and he has been removed from a post he held for 16 years.