EXCL Key Len McCluskey ally lands plum role on Labour's ruling body
A close ally of Len McCluskey has landed a place on Labour's ruling body, PoliticsHome can reveal.
Howard Beckett, who is assistant general secretary of Unite, has been appointed to the party's National Executive Committee (NEC).
The left-winger has replaced Jim Kennedy as one of the union's two NEC representatives.
Mr Beckett - who is also close to Karie Murphy, Jeremy Corbyn's chief of staff - is seen by many as Mr McCluskey's chosen successor when he eventually steps down as Unite general secretary.
Writing in the New Statesman in the wake of last year's European elections, when Labour came third, Mr Beckett mounted a strong defence of Mr Corbyn and the party's Brexit policy.
He said: "The Corbyn (and Labour) position of appealing to voters on both sides of this new artificial divide into “remainers” and “leavers” is the only way to general election success, and to create a public base strong enough to sustain a progressive Labour government in the teeth of the challenges it will surely meet.
"Today is clearly a moment for flinching cowards and sneering traitors. But tomorrow the imperative to preserve and build upon the coalition assembled by Jeremy Corbyn – and, yes, by his advisers – will still be the only future for a socialist project in Britain."
Mr Beckett's NEC appointment, which will have been done with Mr McCluskey's blessing, will be seen as an attempt to consolidate Mr Corbyn's influence even after he steps down as Labour leader.
One party source said: "Howard Beckett is a close personal friend of both Len McLuskey and Karie Murphy and will be there to do their bidding.
"This is clearly a move by Len McCluskey to raise the profile and secure the succession as Unite general secretary for Howard Beckett."
A Unite spokesperson said: "Unite’s assistant general secretary for politics, Howard Beckett, has taken up Jim Kennedy’s postition on the Labour Party NEC.
"The decision to appoint him as one of Unite’s NEC members was authorised by Unite’s executive council when it met last week."