13 Days Remaining

Thursday 11th
posted by Will Stone in Britain

BRITAIN’S third-largest union has backed Owen Smith to become Labour Party leader after a ballot of members — but only 7 per cent voted.

GMB revealed yesterday that members who voted endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s rival by 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

However, only 43,635 of GMB’s 585,000 members in England and Wales voted, representing just 7.4 per cent of the union.

And just over 4 per cent — 25,969 — voted for Mr Smith.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “The Labour Party is at a crossroads.

“I’m under no illusions that we’re living through dangerous political times, the like of which I haven’t seen during my three decades in our movement.

“It’s time for us to face up to reality.”

He said GMB balloted members because “this kind of decision shouldn’t be taken from up on high,” arguing that the union is a “democratic organisation” serving members’ interests.

“I was determined that our members would have their say, and they’ve had it,” Mr Roache said.

The trade union leader vowed to “campaign alongside Owen” in support of his “bread-and-butter” pledges, citing the public-sector pay freeze, support for defence workers, investment in health and industry and building an industrial strategy.

“But we can only tackle them if we’re in government,” he said.

“That’s the end game and I hope whatever the final result, the Labour Party will unite when all this is over.”

GMB Scotland, which represents 55,000 members, took a decision not to ballot its members as Labour’s problems north of the border “cannot be attributed to one person alone.”

Mr Smith called GMB’s nomination “a great honour” and looked forward to working with the union in tackling inequality.