Diary: Union merger that would be a disaster for the Labour Party

 

Britain's biggest union, Unite, was "reviewing its position" yesterday – as were other unions – as the dispute over public sector pensions edged towards a settlement.

Some unions are minded to accept the Government's latest offer, but not the leadership of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who have turned it down and have been shut out of negotiations.

In June, Unite's General Secretary Len McCluskey, made a ringing promise: "We are in full solidarity with the PCS to stand united so we can stop this Government's agenda in its tracks," he said.

So he will not want to accept a deal to settle on behalf of the 250,000 Unite members working in the public sector while the PCS fights on.

In right-wing union circles, it is rumoured that there is more to this than routine union solidarity. Mr McCluskey is 61 and will retire in a few years. There is no obvious successor from the left in Unite to take his place, while the right claim they are spoilt for choice of credible candidates.

But suppose, as is rumoured, Unite and the PCS are contemplating a merger. That would put the PCS's leader Mark Serwotka, who is 13 years younger than McCluskey, in pole position to take control of a new super union with a membership of almost 1.8 million.

For the Government, that would mean the prospect of a large, well-funded civil service union under militant leadership ready to do constant battle against cuts and redundancies.

But for the Labour Party it could be financial disaster. Unite's vast political fund is the source of almost a quarter of the party's total income. Mark Serwotka is not a Labour Party member but has been linked to saviour groups to the left of Labour, and might prefer to put Unite's money into fighting industrial battles rather than channelling it in Ed Miliband's direction.

Unite yesterday dismissed this as Westminster gossip. "We are not in merger talks," a spokesman said.

Commissioner's Twitter gaffe

All credit to the recently appointed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe for making a pioneering effort to reach out to the public via a question and answer session on Twitter.

I hate to quibble, but one of his answers probably did not mean what it said. The question was "What do you see as the major issues affecting policing today?" The Commissioner wrote: "Less money, pubic protest, Olympic preparations."

When you have a minute, Mr Commissioner, get out a dictionary and check the spelling of "public".

The Christmas tree cover-up at Browns'

Twitter also offered a glimpse yesterday of the home life of Gordon and Sarah Brown and their two young sons. "Catastrophe: xmas tree knocked over while I was out, and everyone tried to pretend it didn't happen *totally rumbled the cover up*" Sarah Brown tweeted to her 1.7 million followers late on Monday evening.

What? The former Prime Minister implicated in a cover-up? A subsequent tweet suggested that he may not have been involved. It revealed: "Tree incident set off when a football got kicked behind the tree and small person went to retrieve it *indoor football totally banned*".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate