Smith won 60 per cent support in a ballot of members
Owen Smith has been backed by GMB members, in a major boost for his campaign.
In a ballot of the union’s members, Smith won 60 per cent of the 43,419 votes cast, beating Jeremy Corbyn by an unexpectedly large margin.
‘It’s a great honour to receive GMB’s nomination to be the next leader of the Labour Party after a consultation with its members,’ Smith said following the announcement. ‘At the heart of my campaign are commitments to strengthening our trade unions, ending exploitation and delivering greater equality.’
— GMB Union (@GMB_union) August 10, 2016
With over 600,000 members, GMB is one of the the country’s largest unions.
General Secretary Tim Roache commented on the decision:
“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.
“GMB balloted our members because this kind of decision shouldn’t be taken from up on high. We’re a democratic organisation here to serve our members’ interests. I was determined that our members would have their say. And they’ve had it.
“I’ll proudly campaign alongside Owen in the coming weeks and months to deliver on his pledges to end the public sector pay freeze, to support defence workers, to invest in health and industry, and to build an industrial strategy – these are bread and butter issues for the people I represent.
“But we can only tackle them if we’re in government. That’s the end game and I hope whatever the final result, the Labour Party will unite when all this is over. GMB members cannot afford for Labour to be talking to itself in a bubble for the next five years while the Tories run riot through our rights at work, our public services and our communities.”
The announcement will boost the morale of the Smith campaign, which hadn’t expected to recieve any nominations from the big unions.
However, it has also been confirmed that Unite, which represents 1.4 million members, is officially backing Jeremy Corbyn.
Its decision was based on support for multiple pro-Corbyn motions at Unite conference, rather than a formal consultative ballot.
So far, Corbyn has won the support of seven affiliated unions (Unite, Aslef, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, UCATT, TSSA) while Smith has been endorsed by four (GMB, Community, USDAW, The Musicians’ Union).
Trident workers are represented by GMB, and Corbyn’s opposition to renewing the missile system may have been a factor in the union’s decision, although its Scottish wing didn’t take part in the ballot.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.