The chief political officer of Unite is of less significance now that Charlie Whelan has left and Labour is out of power. But it is worth recording who has just been picked for the job; former London political officer Adrian Weir. Unlike Whelan he will not report directly to Len McCluskey, the general secretary. Instead new chief of staff, Andy Murray (who also chairs the Stop the War Coalition) is increasingly seen as the power behind the throne at Britain’s biggest union.
Unite had been talking to Joe Irvin, former political secretary to Gordon Brown, about replacing Whelan, as I reported last autumn. But apparently Murray was not keen on this idea.
Irvin’s name is now cropping up again, this time has a contender to be the next general secretary of the Labour party itself. But this seems wide of the mark. Ray Collins, who has done more than two years in the post, has just entered the House of Lords and a successor will be picked by the summer. Support seems to be coalescing around Iain McNicol, the highly capable political secretary of the GMB. Potential challengers should be aware that the softly-spoken McNicol (not pictured) is a black belt in karate.
UPDATE: The name of Roy Kennedy, former director of finance for Labour – and now a peer – has also come up, albeit less convincingly.