Always Red

With a Foreword by
RICKY TOMLINSON

“Riveting . . . required reading.”

The Guardian

“Enjoyably bitchy.”

The Times

“This account of Corbynism . . . is one of the most politically astute to date.”

New Left Review

“An incisive political memoir with lessons for the whole left.”

The Morning Star

“A bombshell memoir.”

The Daily Mail
£9.45

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 334 pages
  • 16 pages of Black and White photographs
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682193396 ​
  • E-book ISBN 9781682193402
  • Publication September 2021

about the bookabout

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPAERBACK

Len McCluskey is the standout trade unionist of his era. Head of the giant Unite union for more than a decade, he is a unique and powerful figure on the political stage.

In this major autobiography, McCluskey throws back the curtains on life at the top of the Labour movement—with explosive revelations about his dealings with Keir Starmer, the behind-the-scenes battles of the Corbyn era, his secret Brexit negotiations with Theresa May’s government, the spectacular bust-up with his former friend Tom Watson, and his tortuous relationship with Ed Miliband.

McCluskey is no run-of-the-mill trade unionist. Fiercely political, unflinchingly left wing, he is a true workers’ leader. His politics were formed in Liverpool at a time of dock strikes, the Beatles, and the May 1968 revolution in Paris. An eyewitness to the Hillsborough tragedy, he recounts in harrowing detail searching for his son.

Witty and sharp, McCluskey delivers a powerful intervention, issuing a manifesto for the future of trade unionism and urging the left not to lose sight of class politics.

A central player in a tumultuous period of British political history, McCluskey’s account is an essential—and entertaining—record of our times.

About The Author / Editor

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union for more than a decade, is a trade unionist from Liverpool. Elected a shop steward on the Liverpool docks aged 19, he rose through the Transport and General Workers’ Union before playing an instrumental role in the creation of Unite. As its leader, he became a national political figure and a powerful influence in the Labour Party. He is a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club and the author of Why You Should Be A Trade Unionist.

Read An Excerpt

THE CHICKEN COUP

It was the weekend after Britain voted to leave the European Union. The government was in turmoil. The prime minister had announced his resignation. The Tories looked on the brink of a split. The country’s future was uncertain—no one had a clue what would happen next. Millions of people were anxious. Racist hate crimes were surging. But as I flicked between news programmes, all they were talking about was a coup against the leader of the Labour Party.

All day it went on as one shadow minister after another resigned live on TV. Late the previous night, on learning that his shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was plotting a coup against him, Jeremy Corbyn had called his great friend’s son and sacked him. That fired the starting gun on the coordinated resignations: first Heidi Alexander before 9 a.m., then Gloria De Piero at 11, Ian Murray at noon, Lilian Greenwood at 1, and so on. Twelve resigned through-out the day and eight more the next—most, not all, scurrilous individuals who should never have been in the shadow cabinet to begin with. The crescendo came when Angela Eagle brought herself to tears over her own resignation on air. What a pitiful display.

The sheer arrogance of these MPs—who owed their stature to being in the shadow cabinet, not the other way around—attempting to cancel the democratic choice of hundreds of thousands of Labour members by inflicting as much damage as possible on their own party left me aghast. It was a betrayal that should never be forgiven. With each one that went, part of me thought, “Fuck them. Good job they’ve gone. Replace them immediately.” And that’s exactly what happened. Corbyn refused to be bullied out, while some of the worst people in the Labour Party purged themselves from his shadow cabinet, leaving it a considerably better team. Watching those resignations, I didn’t have a moment’s doubt that I would be doing everything possible to defend Corbyn’s leadership.

***

The ‘chicken coup’ of Summer 2016 was one of the most extraordinary and shameful episodes in the history of the Labour Party. It confirmed the worst accusation levelled at the Parliamentary Labour Party and the bureaucracy in HQ: that they would rather destroy their party than allow the left to succeed. But it also brought out the best in the movement that had formed around Jeremy Corbyn, mobilising hundreds of thousands of people to take politics into their own hands and cut the MPs down to size. The role played by the trade unions was critical. This was the moment when, without Unite, Corbyn would have gone under.

in the media

Always Red

With a Foreword by
RICKY TOMLINSON

“Riveting . . . required reading.”

The Guardian

“Enjoyably bitchy.”

The Times

“This account of Corbynism . . . is one of the most politically astute to date.”

New Left Review

“An incisive political memoir with lessons for the whole left.”

The Morning Star

“A bombshell memoir.”

The Daily Mail
£9.45

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the bookabout

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPAERBACK

Len McCluskey is the standout trade unionist of his era. Head of the giant Unite union for more than a decade, he is a unique and powerful figure on the political stage.

In this major autobiography, McCluskey throws back the curtains on life at the top of the Labour movement—with explosive revelations about his dealings with Keir Starmer, the behind-the-scenes battles of the Corbyn era, his secret Brexit negotiations with Theresa May’s government, the spectacular bust-up with his former friend Tom Watson, and his tortuous relationship with Ed Miliband.

McCluskey is no run-of-the-mill trade unionist. Fiercely political, unflinchingly left wing, he is a true workers’ leader. His politics were formed in Liverpool at a time of dock strikes, the Beatles, and the May 1968 revolution in Paris. An eyewitness to the Hillsborough tragedy, he recounts in harrowing detail searching for his son.

Witty and sharp, McCluskey delivers a powerful intervention, issuing a manifesto for the future of trade unionism and urging the left not to lose sight of class politics.

A central player in a tumultuous period of British political history, McCluskey’s account is an essential—and entertaining—record of our times.

About The Author / Editor

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union for more than a decade, is a trade unionist from Liverpool. Elected a shop steward on the Liverpool docks aged 19, he rose through the Transport and General Workers’ Union before playing an instrumental role in the creation of Unite. As its leader, he became a national political figure and a powerful influence in the Labour Party. He is a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club and the author of Why You Should Be A Trade Unionist.

Read An Excerpt

THE CHICKEN COUP

It was the weekend after Britain voted to leave the European Union. The government was in turmoil. The prime minister had announced his resignation. The Tories looked on the brink of a split. The country’s future was uncertain—no one had a clue what would happen next. Millions of people were anxious. Racist hate crimes were surging. But as I flicked between news programmes, all they were talking about was a coup against the leader of the Labour Party.

All day it went on as one shadow minister after another resigned live on TV. Late the previous night, on learning that his shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was plotting a coup against him, Jeremy Corbyn had called his great friend’s son and sacked him. That fired the starting gun on the coordinated resignations: first Heidi Alexander before 9 a.m., then Gloria De Piero at 11, Ian Murray at noon, Lilian Greenwood at 1, and so on. Twelve resigned through-out the day and eight more the next—most, not all, scurrilous individuals who should never have been in the shadow cabinet to begin with. The crescendo came when Angela Eagle brought herself to tears over her own resignation on air. What a pitiful display.

The sheer arrogance of these MPs—who owed their stature to being in the shadow cabinet, not the other way around—attempting to cancel the democratic choice of hundreds of thousands of Labour members by inflicting as much damage as possible on their own party left me aghast. It was a betrayal that should never be forgiven. With each one that went, part of me thought, “Fuck them. Good job they’ve gone. Replace them immediately.” And that’s exactly what happened. Corbyn refused to be bullied out, while some of the worst people in the Labour Party purged themselves from his shadow cabinet, leaving it a considerably better team. Watching those resignations, I didn’t have a moment’s doubt that I would be doing everything possible to defend Corbyn’s leadership.

***

The ‘chicken coup’ of Summer 2016 was one of the most extraordinary and shameful episodes in the history of the Labour Party. It confirmed the worst accusation levelled at the Parliamentary Labour Party and the bureaucracy in HQ: that they would rather destroy their party than allow the left to succeed. But it also brought out the best in the movement that had formed around Jeremy Corbyn, mobilising hundreds of thousands of people to take politics into their own hands and cut the MPs down to size. The role played by the trade unions was critical. This was the moment when, without Unite, Corbyn would have gone under.

in the media