Steve Turner wins the left's backing to succeed Len McCluskey as Unite boss in knife-edge vote
Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner (Credit: PA)
Steve Turner has won the backing of Unite's largest leftwing group in the race to succeed Len McCluskey as the union's next general secretary.
The former bus conductor snatched a knife-edge victory on Saturday, after the United Left group held an online hustings opening only to members.
LabourList reported the ballot was "remarkably close", with Turner winning 370 votes to 367 on a turnout of more than 65%.
United Left told the website there was more than 50% attendance, and described the contest outcome as “stringently reinforced and verified”.
Mr McCluskey, a key ally of ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is expected to step down next year, two years before his current term as General Secretary ends.
Tweeting after the result, Mr Turner, the current Assistant General Secretary, thanked members and said: "38 years ago when I joined our union as a bus conductor I would never have thought I could one day have been your candidate for general secretary.
"The confidence you’ve put in me humbled me and I will never let you down!"
He thanked his rival Howard Beckett, who ran a campaign on a platform critical of Mr Corbyn's successor, Sir Keir Starmer, "for a great campaign between comrades".
Mr Turner added that he looked forward to "bringing our left together as we move forward in the coming fight to keep our union left".
When the candidate hustings was announced earlier this month, a Unite spokesman said: “Len McCluskey’s term as Unite general secretary ends in April 2022.
"There are therefore no present plans for an election for his successor.
“Unofficial groups within the union and potential candidates are free to plan for the eventual election as they please, but for the union as a whole the priority, of course, remains protecting members’ jobs, safety and living standards through this dreadful pandemic.”