A union leadership contender demanding a wealth tax to pay for the pandemic has his own property empire, it can be revealed today.
Unite, Britain’s most powerful union, is expected to fire the starting gun on the race to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary within days.
His closest lieutenant Howard Beckett, who is assistant general secretary, has announced he will stand to replace ‘Red Len’.
The hard-Left candidate is a vociferous proponent of imposing a wealth tax and railed against the stamp duty cut for benefiting people buying second homes.
Howard Beckett, a contender for the Unite union leadership who is demanding a wealth tax to pay for the pandemic has his own property empire, the Mail has learnt
Beckett, who is assistant general secretary, has announced he will stand to replace Len McCluskey who has been in charge of Unite for 11 years
But the Daily Mail has learnt Mr Beckett owns at least three properties, including a flat in Bloomsbury, central London, bought for £640,000 without a mortgage six years ago.
The apartment is situated in a Grade II-listed Art Deco building, a short walk from Unite’s headquarters in the capital.
Mr Beckett bought his £573,000 home on the Wirral 19 years ago, and he also has joint ownership of a nearby office building – valued at £900,000 in 2002 – with his former business partner.
He was a partner in a solicitors in Merseyside until May 2011, when he was made director of legal services at Unite.
Three months later, Bemrose, Beckett and Hagan Solicitors was bought for £2.69million by Thompsons, which provides legal services for Unite members.
The Daily Mail has learnt Mr Beckett owns at least three properties, including a flat in Bloomsbury, central London, bought for £640,000 without a mortgage six years ago
Mr Beckett bought his £573,000 home on the Wirral 19 years ago
On its website, Thompsons describes its ‘long and successful relationship’ with Unite. A spokesman for the firm said the 2011 acquisition ‘was a commercial transaction, with the purchase price set following an independent valuation of the business by a leading national firm of accountants’.
Mr Beckett last night refused to disclose how much he received from the sale. Unite has been the Labour Party’s biggest financial donor and Mr McCluskey was one of the strongest allies of former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The general secretary has been heavily critical of Mr Corbyn’s successor Sir Keir Starmer, who he has warned risks being ‘dumped into the dustbin of history’ because Labour voters do not know what he stands for.
Unite is due to hold a meeting next week to decide on the timetable for the election. Mr McCluskey is retiring after leading the union for 11 years.
He also has joint ownership of a nearby office building – valued at £900,000 in 2002 – with his former business partner
Mr Beckett, who has a seat on Labour’s ruling national executive committee, also has been a strident critic of Sir Keir.
In a tweet last year, he wrote: ‘Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer, I have a message for you both. We won’t stand idly by while you dump the pandemic fallout on the working class. We will fight back.’
Mr Beckett has repeatedly sought to put pressure on Sir Keir to back a wealth tax and has said that his failure to do so means he is ‘moving Labour to the right of the oligarch class’. ‘A wealth tax must pay for this crisis,’ he posted on Twitter this year.
Mr Beckett also criticised the temporary stamp duty cut announced last July for not excluding second-home buyers. ‘I am angry beyond words. How dare they abandon workers and renters while handing tax cuts to the very richest,’ he tweeted.
In 2016 he defended Mr McCluskey after it emerged that Unite had contributed more than £400,000 towards the purchase of a £700,000 central London flat for the general secretary.
In recent days, Mr McCluskey has faced pressure to agree to an inquiry into how the cost of a hotel and conference centre being built for Unite soared from £7million to £98million.
Mr Beckett and Unite both declined to comment last night.