25 Sep 2010

Low union turnout pushes Ed into first place

The Tories will go hard on Ed Miliband being the prisoner of the trade unions. He’ll be watched like a hawk after a result that delivered him victory only thanks to the trade union section.

There were gasps in the hall as the black block in the graph marking the trade union contribution to his victory seemed to get bigger in every round. I’ve just had a look at the turnout for the big three trade unions that backed him in the summer – the GMB, Unite and Unison. If you average the three together you get a collective turnout of 8.3 per cent in these three unions.

I spoke to Derek Simpson of Unite and he insisted the leadership hadn’t been leaning on its members, but with turnout that low they would’ve been mainly counting votes from the most highly politicised who tend to think like the union leaderships they elect. That low turnout probably did for David Miliband.

“You got your man,” I said to Derek. “The party got it’s man … it weren’t just us.” I said: “you don’t think you leant on your members? “Absolutely not, it’s a free secret ballot,” he said.

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