New GMB chief to review Labour links

Barrie Clement,Labour Editor
Monday 23 December 2013 02:29
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The man elected to succeed John Edmonds as the leader of one of Labour's biggest union affiliates is making a fundamental review of its links with the party.

Much to the concern of Downing Street, Kevin Curran, the moderate taking over from Mr Edmonds as general secretary of the GMB union, will launch a consultation exercise among the organisation's members over the future of financial donations to Labour.

In a ballot result expected today Mr Curran, the 48-year-old secretary of the union's northern region, has secured victory over Paul Kenny, 51, his opposite number in London and the South-east by a two to one margin. It is understood that Mr Curran's running mate – Debbie Coulter, 42, a GMB official in Yorkshire – has been elected deputy general secretary, the first woman to hold the post.

Labour's high command will be deeply concerned by the review when the Government is trying to force through unpopular reforms in the public services and as other affiliates are cutting back on donations.

But Mr Curran is unlikely to incur the wrath of ministers to the same extent as Mr Edmonds, the most articulate critic of the Government in the union movement. As part of a victory speech today it is thought Mr Curran will ally himself with the Prime Minister by calling for membership of the euro as soon as possible.

The new GMB leader is not expected to join the "awkward squad" of left-wing union leaders, such as Derek Simpson, of the skilled workers' union Amicus, and Bob Crow, of the RMT rail union.

As part of his successful election campaign Mr Curran pledged to curb the GMB's all-powerful regional "barons" whose autocratic management style has provoked more than 60 employment tribunal cases in six years.Mr Kenny conceded defeat, claiming Mr Curran's victory was based on anti-London propaganda.

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