BRITAIN'S largest manufacturing union, the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, has elected its first left-wing president since Mr Hugh Scanlon, now Lord Scanlon, retired in 1978.

Tyneside local official Davey Hall, 44, has broken the right-wing stranglehold which developed after the introduction of postal balloting in the early 1970s.

When the ballot result was declared yesterday, it confirmed that Mr Hall had romped home to succeed Mr Bill Jordan, who moved to a new post in Brussels a year ago.

Mr Hall's victory by 74,060 votes against right-wing candidate Jackie Crystal, also from Tyneside, makes him the union's youngest AEEU president and one of the youngest TUC general council members.

Mr Hall said he wanted to give the AEEU a modern image.

``I have the opportunity to take our union forward into the next millennium,'' he said. ``All the hard work, time, and effort I injected into a gruelling country-wide tour has been worthwhile. I was classified as the outsider but I have overtaken everyone to win.''

He used to work at Swan Hunter Shipbuilders on the River Tyne, where he became a shop steward before becoming Tyne district secretary of the union in 1988, taking in the Sunderland district in 1993.

Despite his left-wing support he has been an active member of the Labour Party for 20 years and is a supporter of Labour leader Tony Blair.

Mr Jimmy Airlie, the Scottish AEEU executive member who declined the left-wing nomination in favour of the younger man, described the result as ``great for the AEEU and great for the labour movement''.