BBC Newsnight wore their knuckle dusters last night to get Howard Beckett, the leading left-wing candidate for General Secretary of the UNITE union. We were told that “Keir Starmer has had an epic battle to bring different factions of the Labour Party together” and "launch a new era with a leader pledged to restore unity.”
Newsnight went on to tell their viewers that, “We’ve seen emails sent to one of the top candidates to take over the UNITE union showing the depth of planning to challenge established Labour figures.”
Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Howard Beckett put up a strong defence in the face of this assault, but the programme's sympathies for them were little more than allowing air time for BBC 'balance'.
First up on camera was Tom ‘let’s bomb Syria’ Watson whose contribution to unity was summed up in this comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership: “The Stalinist cabal has a lot of responsibility for creating internal political tensions.” Newsnight billed him as former deputy leader of the Labour Party, but failed to mention that he is now an adviser to Paddy Power, Betfair and SkyBet on a salary in the region of £100,000. He told Newsnight that, “While UNITE carries on with its internal politics and plays these hard left games, that plays very badly with mainstream voters on the doorstep … I have no doubt that Keir Starmer can face these people down.”
Next up was Margaret Hodge whose contribution to party unity can be found in her comment to Jeremy Corbyn, “You are a fucking antisemite and racist.” She told Newsnight that, “It is outrageous that at a time when all our focus should have been on defeating the Conservative government, UNITE was having discussions on how to undermine sitting MPs and get rid of the Labour Party General Secretary, (Iain McNicol).”
After their efforts at “unity” which ensured the return of a Tory government, they have all been well rewarded. Watson with his lucrative betting job, McNicol with his ‘elevation’ to the House of Lords and Margaret Beckett as new Chair of the Labour Party NEC.