The momentum just keeps building behind Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader. This afternoon, Unison has announced it is backing the veteran socialist’s candidacy, with General Secretary Dave Prentis saying:
‘Jeremy Corbyn’s message has resonated with public sector workers who have suffered years of pay freezes, redundancies with too many having to work more for less.’
Prentis points out that ‘today’s decision is a recommendation and our members are of course free to cast their vote as to who they think should lead the Labour Party’. And indeed the view of the union does not translate to all of its members who are affiliated supporters of the Labour party putting Corbyn first and Cooper second, as Unison has today recommended.
But what this does do, as well as lending further credibility to a candidate who only got on the ballot paper because some of his parliamentary colleagues were larking about, is show the other candidates that even if they do beat Corbyn and win the leadership, they’re going to have a tricky time working with Labour’s largest unions. Blairites I’ve spoken to this week have repeatedly emphasised their belief that the union bosses are now by and large no longer representing truly Labour values, and while neither Cooper nor Burnham would articulate such a belief, they may find that their leadership is troubled with accusations of the same from union bosses: when they try to do something tough on welfare or public spending, they will be accused of not being ‘true Labour’.