‘Following the Labour leadership hustings held today by the party’s biggest affiliate, Unite, the union has declared that it is backing Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader. Unite is also backing Richard Burgon as deputy leader.’
This is MASSIVE!!! Britain’s most influential trade union UNITE has decided to throw it’s weight behind Rebecca Long-Bailey as its preferred candidate to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. In addition, they have opted to support her hard left colleague Richard Burgon as deputy. With 1.27 million members, this could be a very significant moment. Or could it?
Of the 1.27 million members, how many of them participated in the decision to support Long-Bailey and Burgon? That would be virtually none of them, except the union barons like Len McCluskey and his executive committee which is not exactly noted for opposing him on anything at all. Okay, you say. The members didn’t actually get a say in the recommendation, they’ll all agree, right? Well, actually no.
There was a recent poll of UNITE members and it turned out that as few as 35% of them intended to vote Labour. Of the 35%, it’s safe to assume that not all of them would be supporters of the hard left. Now, what of the remaining 65%? It would not require the genius of a rocket scientist to work out that many, if not most, of them will have voted Conservative. Put all this together and UNITE’s nomination of two candidates of the hard left, carrying the torch for continuity Corbyn, makes no sense at all. It is a political nomination in the purest sense of the word by a small elite group of power-brokers. There is no element of democracy behind this decision.
In reality, this is not MASSIVE. Its not even reasonably big. UNITE’s support is only significant if you don’t look beyond the headline. A handful of people have decided to suggest 1.27 million members are all in support of Long-Bailey and Burgon. A few Labour supporters in the union will want them to win, as will every Tory supporter in the union, safe in the knowledge that Long-Bailey and Burgon’s victory will be a bigger victory for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why a trade union, with a large number of low paid members, would want to support the least electable candidates on the ballot paper who would have the least chance of giving them a Labour government, which would most benefit low paid members.
UNITE’s decision is yet another reason why those of us who want a mainstream Labour government must work harder still to make it happen. We are in the last chance saloon now. If Long-Bailey becomes Labour leader, with or without Burgon as deputy, Labour is finished. If we lose this battle, we must at the very least show we did our best to save Labour.