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Unite boss attack on MPs 'penned by Corbyn aide'

It was a hard-hitting exclusive in the New Statesman and, not surprisingly, it had a big impact.
"Exclusive: Len McCluskey accuses Labour MPs of 'smearing' Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism," screamed the headline.
"The Unite general secretary warns in the New Statesman that 'Corbyn-hater MPs' can 'expect to be held to account'."It made the front page of The Daily Telegraph, which splashed the story under a huge photo of Mr McCluskey against a bright red background. (Naturally, for his nickname is "Red Len".)But was Mr McCluskey really the author? Not according to a top trade union source with intimate knowledge of the Labour Party.The author, my source tells me, was Andrew Murray, Mr McCluskey's chief of staff and part-time consultant to Labour leader Mr Corbyn.This was my suspicion when I read the article last week. A conspiracy theory, I thought at the time, but a plausible one, nonetheless.I was suspicious for a number of reasons.First, his hit list of Labour MPs "such as Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle (my own MP), John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, Ian Austin and others", who he said must be held to account.A call, in all but name, to Labour activists to de-select them.It was a very precise list, it seemed to me, for a trade union leader who - one imagines - doesn't have time to keep up with the minutiae of the goings on at Westminster.And second, Mr McCluskey is, after all, a busy man, as I know from my chats with him when I have been fortunate enough to be granted an audience at the court of "King Len" in his Theobald's Road headquarters.By my reckoning, Unite is currently involved in campaigns on air quality in aeroplane cabins, bank branch closures, steel tariffs, the Sainsbury's-Asda takeover, a strike at Dial-a-Ride, deaths in agriculture, pay at Vauxhall, lorry drivers' hours, housing workers' pay in Warrington and St Helens, bus drivers' pay and conditions in Slough… and no doubt many more issues.
It was reported that following the huge coverage given to the New Statesman article, Mr McCluskey wrote a letter to Labour MPs clarifying what he meant. That reinforced my conspiracy theory!The real conspiracy theorists will no doubt find it sinister that Mr Murray, who is part of the Corbyn inner circle, was ghost writer for the New Statesman article, which attacked named Labour MPs.But he is Mr McCluskey's chief of staff, after all, and so I'm not really surprised. Or even shocked.What were the motives for the New Statesman article?I'm told by another impeccable and very senior source - who also confirms Mr Murray's authorship - that the aim of the McCluskey camp was to try divert attention from a legal hearing, which could decide the future direction of the Unite union.The defeated general secretary candidate Gerard Coyne, a moderate opposed to Mr Corbyn, has brought a claim alleging that Corbyn cheerleader Mr McCluskey broke the rules during his re-election campaign last year.Mr McCluskey and his allies were expecting a ruling from Jeffrey Burke QC, the retired high court judge holding the inquiry on behalf of the certification officer, on the day the New Statesman was published.It didn't come that day, however.But it is now expected either this Friday, the morning all the local election results are likely to dominate the news, or next Tuesday.
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And the speculation at the highest levels of Unite and the Labour Party is that the judge may be poised to order a re-run of the election, which is bad news for Mr McCluskey and Mr Corbyn.So, there was a conspiracy over the New Statesman article after all!
news.sky.com
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