23/07/2010 - Labour Leadership Contest: Establishment Unions Choose Their Horses

WITH THE contest to succeed Gordon Brown as the head of the Labour Party now in full swing, it is interesting to see who has been chosen by Labour’s paymasters, the establishment unions.  After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune as the old saying goes!

The Independent of 22nd July 2010 in a brief but informative article puts shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband at the head of the field in terms of trade union backing so far as he has secured the support of Unison and thus will be recommended by that union’s leadership to their half-a-million strong political levy payers, (who are therefore eligible to vote in the leadership election).  This follows, as rumour has it, the failure of some of the biggest unions to agree on a united front on who to support.  The GMB has also nominated Mr Miliband while the CWU has chosen shadow Education Secretary Ed Balls.

Unite, the biggest establishment union, and with some 950,000 members eligible to vote in the leadership contest, will make its decision on Monday.  Amongst the other contenders David Miliband has so far received the support of Usdaw and Community and Diane Abbot has been nominated by Aslef.  At this stage of the contest Andy Burnham has yet to receive the backing of any of the establishment unions.

So far it is shaping up to be an interesting contest and well worth the watching. What undertakings have been given by the candidates in order to receive union backing?  What have the unions asked for in return for their support?  It might be wise to keep in mind these words of Ezra Pound: “Unless you know who has lent what to whom, you know nothing whatever of politics…….”.