Last Friday, Community’s National Executive Council met to discuss the current Labour Party leadership election. As you are probably aware Community is affiliated to the Labour Party. This means that Community is entitled to make a nomination in the leadership election. It is through our affiliation that our members are entitled to register to vote. Members of non-affiliated unions do not have this benefit.
Over the past few years, there have been several Labour Party leadership elections for UK leader as well as the Scottish and Welsh leaders. In these elections, it is the role of your NEC to consider the different candidates and make an appropriate nomination. As you will be aware, the NEC is the governing body of Community made up of lay officials and is democratically elected by all members of the union, this is the process we followed last year and is same process adopted by most other trade unions too.
In advance of Friday’s meeting, Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn were both invited to submit campaign literature and were also asked to answer a number of questions of industrial and political importance to Community members. Both candidates kindly submitted this information, allowing the NEC to make an informed decision.
After a period of debate and discussion, the NEC voted to nominate Owen Smith. It was believed that he was best placed to form an effective opposition and bring about the return of a Labour government.
The Labour Party and trade union movement has a long and proud history of making our country better. However, it is only by being in government that we are really able to make a difference to people’s lives. Sadly, at the moment, Labour is further away from government and we risk becoming a protest movement.
Owen Smith has a plan to transform our economy so that it works for everyone, not just those at the top. He understands the need for an active industrial strategy and for trade unions to be practical partners in the workplace.
I know that not every member of Community will agree with this decision, but I am confident that, as always, debate and disagreement within Community is always conducted in a comradely and healthy manner. Although this is now the position of the NEC and the union, individual Community members who have signed up for a free vote will of course be able to vote for whomever they prefer, just like everyone else.
Community has a proud tradition of punching above our weight politically. We know that by engaging with politics and politicians we are able to get a better deal for our members. There will be many challenges facing our members in the coming months and your union will continue to ensure your voice is heard at the highest level.