A row has broken out in the Thanet Labour Party ranks about the group’s parliamentary candidate nominations for the South of the constituency.
This morning (March 12) former Thanet Trade Union Council President and GMB (General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union) member Stuart McCann resigned all his roles in protest at a regional level nomination for South Thanet candidate Karen Constantine.
In a statement Mr McCann, who remains a member of the Labour Party, said: “I am sad to say that as of today I have resigned from all my GMB posts and will also be resigning my membership of said union (Thanet TUC) over what I believe to be corruption at regional level in the nominations from GMB branches for PPC candidate Karen Constantine.
“My branch is listed as a nominating branch, however I can confirm that W09 Asda Dartford branch has not met to nominate Karen, in fact my branch secretary informs me he hasn’t even heard of her never mind nominating her.”
The resignations centre on the contest for South Thanet’s parliamentary candidate for Labour. The candidate voted in will fight to take the constituency seat from Tory Craig Mackinlay in the scheduled May, 2022, General Election.
Hustings are currently underway and there are six candidates, including Cllr Constantine. The others are Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Raushan Ara, Helen Elizabeth Whitehead, Simon Warley and Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb.
The argument is that Cllr Constantine has already been ‘given’ the role as PPC due to regional GMB backing.
Cllr Constantine announced the backing on social media saying UNISON South East Labour Link Committee had voted to nominate her as well as five GMB branches.
Frank Macklin, GMB Regional Organiser, responded to the accusation by Mr McCann, in a social media post. He said: “As the officer responsible for Stuart and his workplace, I was made aware of Stuart’s issues via social media. At no time has Stuart contacted me personally about his issues surrounding the endorsement of Branches for parliamentary candidates
“If Stuart had contacted me I would have given him the same advice that I have now had to do on social media.
I have advised Stuart to raise this matter with the region and if he is unhappy with the response he receives he can then invoke the complaints procedure under the GMB rulebook
“Unfortunately Stuart has chosen not to do this but instead he has chosen to air his grievance on this forum, which is a shame. I have known Stuart for a number of years and I am truly sorry that as a longstanding trade unionist he does not trust his union enough to at least give them the chance to investigate his grievance properly.”
Mr Macklin added that: “Trade union democracy and procedures should be explored to find an amicable resolution.”
A GMB Southern Region spokesman added: “The GMB Southern region can confirm that Karen Constantine has been nominated by the GMB in the Labour Party selection process for Parliamentary candidate in South Thanet.
“Following our internal procedures this nomination has been endorsed by our regional committee. This nomination was submitted to the Labour Party in accordance with the Labour Party selection timetable.
“GMB has very recently become aware of comments made by an ex GMB member regarding this process. The regional political officer has asked for the substance of the complaints (if any) to be clarified to us in writing.”
The national Trades Union Congress (TUC) declined to comment.
Thanet TUC is hosting the hustings for candidates at the Red Arrows Club, Newington Road, on March 21 at 7pm.
TTUC President Jon Flaig said: “This is not a matter for Thanet Trades Union Council. We are friends with both Stuart McCann and the GMB and hope they can resolve this matter.”
Cllr Constantine has been asked for comment.