It's a wise man who knows his own unpopularity. When that old Machiavelli of the Right, Eric Hammond, was masterminding the recent merger of his electricians union, the EETPU, with the engineers' union, the AEU, he came face-to-face once again with his old adversaries, the Trots. Waving red flags and chanting the Internationale, those engineers of the AEU Left swore that they would have nothing to do with scab electricians (expelled from the TUC in 1988). For several sticky weeks, the hoped-for amalgamation - vital to avoid the plunging membership figures and consequent debt - hung in the balance. Then Hammond played his trump card. If the merger went through, he growled, he would retire as planned; if it didn't he wouldn't. Recalling Hammond's description by a previous EETPU boss, Frank Chapple ("If you think I'm right wing, wait till you meet Eric"), his members paled and swallowed hard. The eventual vote, a secret ballots up and down the country, was six-to-one in favour of Hammond's merger. Messrs Kinnock, Ashdown and Major should take note.
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