Unison has become the second big union to back the younger Miliband in the labour leadership contest, following the GMB’s decision to do so last week. Unions carry a third of the vote in the leadership contest, and with two of the biggest now supporting Ed, he is starting to be talked about as a very credible challenger to his brother David, who remains favourite.
Ed said: “To have received the backing of a union representing millions of frontline workers is a real boost for my campaign to lead our party.”
But the big one is still to declare. That is Unite, the combined mega-union which has among its members the BA cabin crew.
It has been assumed that since Charlie Whelan, a former Brown adviser and close friend of Ed Balls, is Unite’s political director, the union would back Balls. But as the Guardian’s Michael White points out, Unite is not particularly, erm, united – and at least one of its general secretaries, Derek Simpson, supports Ed Miliband. If Unite do swing behind Mili-E, his campaign will have all the momentum.
Miliband Jr might have been less enthused however to learn that he is also the favourite of two prominent commentators, both writing this morning about Labour’s chance of coming back to power quickly. Those two are the Telegraph’s Simon Heffer and Toby Young, neither of whom are known for their left-wing leanings.
But Heffer’s comments will have cheered many a Labour activist:
Aa leader of the Labour Party with more box office appeal than Gordon Brown could find himself prime minister within a year. And that is why this leadership contest, by which so many of us have quite understandably decided to be bored, is actually rather important.