As one of the wealthiest and most powerful trade unions in the land, Unite has been the Labour Party’s most generous benefactor.
The union under Len McCluskey donated millions to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, who was a close ally of ‘Red Len’.
Unite has also lavished £98.6 million on a troubled hotel and conference project in Birmingham which is now the subject of a QC-led inquiry.
Now it emerges that the union claimed an astonishing £660,000 in taxpayer-funded furlough cash for its hotel staff during the lockdown.
The union claimed £145,206 furlough for staff at the Birmingham hotel and a further £519,125 for workers at its hotel in Eastbourne.
As one of the wealthiest and most powerful trade unions in the land, Unite has been the Labour Party’s most generous benefactor. A file photo is used above (stock image)
The accounts said: ‘During the period, the Union’s hotels in Birmingham and Eastbourne furloughed 94 staff on average for nine months under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.’
During the same period McCluskey, who stood down as general secretary last year, was paid £101,568, including a ‘car benefit’ of £5,900 and £4,852 in pension contributions. The accounts also said: ‘Key management personnel compensation of £5.1 million was paid in the year comprising salary, benefits in kind, and employer pension contributions.’
Unite, whose income from members and investments was just under £172 million, spent just over £167 million, leaving a surplus of £4.6 million for 2020.
So why did they need the taxpayer to fund their hotel staff?
I spy Craig’s secret agent gong
In a rare interview Sir David Omand, former head of the UK intelligence agency GCHQ, confessed an admiration for the James Bond films. ‘I hugely enjoy them but they have nothing whatever to do with the gathering of secret intelligence,’ he told Nick Ferrari on LBC radio.
‘The ideal intelligence officer, is the person, he or she, who walks into the room and you don’t even notice them. If Daniel Craig walks into a room heads will turn.’
Asked if it was right that Craig is in the Order of St Michael and St George — an honour usually only accorded spies and diplomats and which James Bond has in the Ian Fleming books — Omand replied: ‘Oh yes, it’s one of those little British quirks, it’s a little bit of eccentricity.
Tributes have been pouring in for the deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, who is leaving in March to take up a job at Nottingham University. Trade minister Penny Mordaunt says: ‘Whatever you apply yourself to next, I know you’ll tear the pants out of it.’
Sound advice from dry-as-dust Tory MP John Redwood for supporters of Chancellor Rishi Sunak: ‘Those who brief that Mr Sunak should be the next PM should tell him that imposing an avalanche of unpopular and unwise tax rises will undermine that ambition.’
In the 2016 Tory party leadership contest, the then-Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the final round, enabling a coronation of Theresa May.
Is she going to run again?
A Brexiteer who was sacked by Boris in his last reshuffle, she was spotted in The Old Custom House, a pub beside the harbour in Padstow, Cornwall, audibly opining on her leadership credentials.
She was remarking that she is ‘one of only three Dames in the parliamentary party’ and that she had been advised to sit tight and ‘behave herself’ while the PM’s problems continue to pile up.
Who you gonna call? Gove-busters!
Is the moment last week when Housing and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove became trapped in a lift in the BBC about to become comedy gold?
Jon Culshaw, a star of Radio 4’s Dead Ringers, is on the case. ‘It’s the perfect gift for a playwright. As an ideal 30-minute one act play. This will surely be written and be an ideal start to a theatrical evening.’
Who will play Gove? It has to be Rick Moranis, who starred in Ghostbusters.
If you pardon the pun, he’s a real dead ringer for Gove.