Jeremy Corbyn has taken another major step forward in his campaign to become Labour leader after the Communications Workers Union announced that it is to endorse him to act as the antidote to the Blairite “virus” in the party.
In a sign that the veteran leftwinger is building up huge momentum in his campaign, the CWU general secretary, Dave Ward, announced that he is to follow in the steps of the Unison and Unite unions to endorse Corbyn.
“There is a virus within the Labour party – Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote,” Ward said. He added that Corbyn offered the chance to fight back against Blairites such as Peter Mandelson.
In a statement and a video message posted on Twitter, Ward said the CWU had decided to back Corbyn because it rejected the idea that Labour should occupy the political centre ground.
Ward said: “I am delighted to announce that the CWU will be backing Jeremy Corbyn MP to be the next leader of the Labour party. There are no quick fixes for the Labour party, but there are some easy decisions and choosing Jeremy as its leader should be one of them.
“We think that it is time for a change for Labour. The grip of the Blairites and individuals like Peter Mandelson must now be loosened once and for all. There is a virus within the Labour party, and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote.
“We reject the notion that Labour needs to move to the centre ground of British politics. The centre ground has moved significantly to the right in recent years. We do not see arguing for fairer wealth distribution, decent jobs with good pay, terms and conditions and a substantial increase in affordable housing for the next generation as a leftwing agenda.
“Jeremy agrees with the vast amount of CWU policy, ranging from opposing the selling off of Royal Mail, to offering a real alternative to austerity, and repealing anti-trade union laws.”
The decision of Britain’s fifth biggest trade union to follow the two largest – Unite and Unison – in supporting Corbyn is fuelling a growing sense in the Labour party that the MP for Islington North is building a momentum that may be unstoppable. On the eve of the close of nominations by constituency Labour parties (CLPs), the New Statesman has reported that Corbyn is leading the field. It says he has so far secured 133 CLP nominations, followed by 106 for Andy Burnham, 100 for Yvette Cooper and 15 for Liz Kendall.
The CLP nominations carry no formal weight but they can give a strong indication of how the Labour membership will vote. In 2010 David Miliband won the highest number of CLP nominations and won the membership section of the electoral college. His brother, Ed, overtook him after winning strong union support in the trade union and affiliated societies section of the electoral college. Under the new rules, party members, registered supporters and registered trade unions all have one vote.
The CWU has 200,000 members, making it Britain’s fifth biggest union behind Unite, Unison, the GMB – which is not backing any candidate – and Usdaw, which is backing Burnham. But the CWU is the fourth largest union in terms of the number of members eligible to vote in a Labour leadership contest. A CWU source said its members tended to follow the advice of the leadership.
This article was written by Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th July 2015 13.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010