Len McCluskey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Len McCluskey
Len McCluskey, 2016 Labour Party Conference 2.jpg
McCluskey speaking at 2016 Labour Party Conference
General Secretary of Unite the Union
Assumed office
1 January 2011
Preceded by Derek Simpson
Tony Woodley
Personal details
Born Leonard David McCluskey
(1950-07-23) 23 July 1950 (age 66)
Liverpool, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Ann (1971-1994)
Domestic partner Jennie Formby
Paula Lace

Leonard David "Len" McCluskey (born 23 July 1950) is a British trade unionist who is General Secretary of Unite the Union. He previously spent some years working on the Liverpool Docks prior to becoming a full-time union official.

Early life[edit]

McCluskey was born in Liverpool and went to the Cardinal Godfrey School in Everton.[1][2] After leaving school as a teenager, he went to work for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and remained there for the next 11 years.[1]

Trade unionist[edit]

McCluskey first became a trade unionist in 1968, while working on the docks.[3][4] He became a shop steward a year later, aged 19, and joined the Labour Party in 1970.[1] He became an officer of the TGWU in Merseyside in 1979 and was its campaign organiser throughout the 1980s,[3][5] during which he supported Militant tendency, but was not a member of it.[1]

McCluskey was elected as the National Secretary of the TGWU General Workers Group in 1990, and moved to London to work in the union's national headquarters.[1][3] In 2004 he became the TGWU's national organiser for the service industries.[3]


In 2007, he was appointed as the Assistant General Secretary for Industrial Strategy of the newly merged Unite the Union.[3] He defines himself as being on the left of the union, and has been given the label of "Red Len" in the British press because of his involvement in Unite's dispute with British Airways.[5]

In 2010, McCluskey stood for in a one term election as General Secretary of Unite to replace joint-General Secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, who had both announced their retirement. He said he would serve one term: "I will be able to take some of the difficult decisions that need to be taken without worrying about re-election."[5] On 21 November 2010, it was announced that McCluskey had won the election.[3] He was elected with the following results:

Len McCluskey: 101,000 votes
Jerry Hicks: 52,000 votes
Les Bayliss: 46,000 votes
Gail Cartmail: 39,000 votes
Turnout: 16%[3]

Derek Simpson retired a few weeks later, in December 2010, and Tony Woodley followed shortly after that, leaving McCluskey to take office as the General Secretary on 1 January 2011.[5] In 2013, McCluskey announced that he would be running for re-election as General Secretary.[6] He was re-elected in 2013 with the following results:

Len McCluskey: 144,570 votes
Jerry Hicks: 79,819 votes
Total number of valid votes cast: 224,389
Turnout: 15.2%

In 2013, McCluskey co-signed a letter which was published in The Guardian newspaper to announce his support for the People's Assembly movement.[7] He also gave a speech at the closing plenary of the People's Assembly Conference, held at Westminster Central Hall on 22 June 2013.

In December 2016 McCluskey resigned as General Secretary and stood again in the resulting leadership election.[8] He was re-elected in April 2017.[9]

Falkirk Labour investigation[edit]

In July 2013, McCluskey accused Labour of "picking the wrong fight" over the selection of a prospective candidate in the Falkirk constituency. He described Labour party headquarters' handling of the matter as "nothing short of disgraceful".[10]

In November 2013, McCluskey denied fresh claims that his Unite Union had tried to prevent a Labour Party investigation into alleged vote rigging in Falkirk.[11]

Threat to split from Labour[edit]

In March 2015, McCluskey threatened to disaffiliate Unite from Labour and launch a new workers' party if Labour lost the 2015 general election.[12]

Personal life[edit]

McCluskey was married to Ann for 25 years, and the couple have an adult son.[13][14] After moving to London as part of the T&GWU national operation in 1991 whilst still married, his partner Jennie Formby (née Sandle), gave birth to a child at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton.[1][3][13] McCluskey lives with his partner Paula Lace. In 2013, Jennie Formby was appointed Unite's political director on £75,000, replacing Steve (Stephen) Hart, who was the son of Judith Hart, Baroness Hart of South Lanark.[13]

In 1994, McCluskey made headlines after it was reported that he had received financial assistance of £90,000 to buy a house with Formby in NW10, London. In January 2016 McCluskey was then given further assistance of £417,000 from the union to buy an apartment in Borough, London.[15][14] The Union stated it was a shared equity arrangement made with officials required to move to London, with the property being sold after the official left the post:

"The property was purchased under a shared equity arrangement designed to assist senior union officials required to move to London from elsewhere for their work ... Identical or similar arrangements have been used to assist previous general secretaries of the union over decades, and indeed other officials from time to time. The arrangements are commonplace across unions, they avoid the issue of expenses (such as with MPs) and provide good investment return for the union concerned.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hernon, Ian (18 December 2009). "Ian Hernon speaks to union leader and ex-Liverpool docker Len McCluskey". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Len McCluskey voted new leader of trade union Unite". Liverpool Echo. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Len McCluskey chosen as new Unite leader". BBC News. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Waddington, Marc (25 October 2010). "City trade union stalwart Len McCluskey in running for top Unite job". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d Mann, Emily (13 September 2010). "Len McCluskey: Burning desire". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "Re-elect Len McCluskey - Unite 4 Len - Len McCluskey for Unite General Secretary". Unite 4 Len. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  7. ^ People's Assembly opening letter http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/feb/05/people-assembly-against-austerity 5 February 2013, The Guardian Newspaper.
  8. ^ Syal, Rajeev (2016-12-06). "Len McCluskey resigns as head of Unite but will run again for leadership". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-17. 
  9. ^ "Unite announces general secretary election result". Unite the Union. 21 April 2017. 
  10. ^ "BBC News - Unite chief says Labour 'picking wrong fight' over Falkirk". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  11. ^ "Len McCluskey denies thwarting Falkirk Labour probe". BBC News. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  12. ^ McSmith, Andy (1 April 2014). "Unite union boss Len McCluskey threatens to launch party to rival Labour". The Independent. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Simon Walters and Glen Owen (21 July 2013). "Mother of union boss love child fixes MPs for Labour". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Andrew Gilligan (20 March 2010). "British Airways strike: The rise of 'Red' Len McCluskey". Daily telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  15. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/08/unite-union-gave-len-mccluskey-400000-loan-to-buy-london-flat
  16. ^ May, Josh (9 September 2016). "Unite contributes £417,000 to Len McCluskey London flat". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Peter Evans
Secretary of the General Workers Trade Group of the Transport and General Workers' Union
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Derek Simpson
Tony Woodley
General Secretary of Unite