As Britain’s largest union Unite should have considerable influence over the leadership contest; unions make up a third of the total voting. Although unions don’t have single bloc votes they can tell members who they favour.
Officials at Unite are motivated by a desire to block David Miliband, who they see as the most Blairite of the five candidates for the leadership. This is despite Mili-D’s newly leftish policies such as a “mansion tax” on £2m-plus homes and a campaign against the VAT rise. (And despite him having won backing from two unions already, Community and Usdaw).
As a result there is an active “back Ed to stop Dave” campaign going on which could have a crucial impact on the final outcome. That is; either Ed Miliband or Ed Balls. Other unions including the GMB and Unison are having similar discussions.
I’ve been told that Unite will definitely come out for one of these two – depending on which has the greater momentum by the end of next month. At present Mr Miliband has the support of many more MPs than Mr Balls, although the latter may be gaining a bit of momentum.
Union types are so far impressed by neither Andy Burnham nor Diane Abbott.