Jeremy Miles condemns stitch-up that deprived him of union nomination
Welsh Labour leadership contender Jeremy Miles has condemned the stitch-up that deprived him of the nomination of Wales’ second largest trade union.
Nation.Cymru revealed how Unite had declared Mr Miles, the Education Minister, ineligible for the union’s endorsement because of a recently introduced rule that Labour politicians who had not acted as lay officials of a union could not receive the union’s support.
Mr Miles was disqualified and the union’s nomination was given to his rival, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething.
Mr Miles has now issued a statement saying: “I participated in the Unite the Union nomination hustings for the Welsh Labour Leadership on January 17. Both candidates for the leadership spoke and answered questions.
“During the discussion held after the hustings by the political committee to nominate their preferred candidate, I understand they were told for the first time that I was ineligible to be nominated by the union due to a new rule that no one was aware of, had not been published and which hadn’t been applied previously. The political committee was then prevented from voting to express a view on the candidates, in light of this new rule.
“This new rule was not declared when I was invited by Unite to attend and participate in the nomination hustings. Neither was it referred to during the hustings. After the hustings concluded, the leadership of Unite failed to mention it to me. To date, I have not seen any evidence the rule even exists for the purpose claimed.
“Members will rightly expect that rules to nominate a candidate for the next leader of our party and our government should be transparent and be applied fairly.
“A longstanding trade unionist has said to me: ‘if this can happen to a candidate for Welsh Labour leader, and First Minister of Wales, how will lay members wishing to progress in the union be treated?’ This is a fair question.
“The support I’ve gained in this contest is based on hard work in the Senedd and with local government since I was first elected in 2016. There are those who may feel others are more entitled to support because they have been around longer. Everyone is entitled to their view. But the way to express their view is through the proper democratic process.
“I’m standing to lead an inclusive government in a nation where opportunities are open to everyone. I have an ambitious programme that includes defending and extending workers’ rights, and the urgent fight to protect high quality jobs – things that the majority of Unite members and officials stand for.
“I did not want to make a statement like this, but so many union members have made it clear publicly that they are deeply unhappy with the way the nomination has been made. I am standing up for the principle of fairness and equal treatment, as any good trade unionist would.
A source close to Mr Miles said: “Jeremy was invited by Unite to the hustings to contest for the Unite nomination. Jeremy had broad support, and was likely to win the nomination.
“Before the political committee could vote they were told of a ‘new rule’ that meant that Jeremy was ineligible to be a candidate. Only one candidate was therefore allowed to go forward for nomination.
“This new rule still hasn’t been shared with us by Unite.
“It hasn’t been published. It hasn’t been applied before. There is no evidence that the drafting of such a rule even covers Labour party leadership elections. Jeremy was not informed before, during or after about any alleged issues with his eligibility.
“Requests to Unite for fairness and common sense have been rebuffed.
“The campaign’s letter to General Secretary Sharon Graham hasn’t been answered. A senior official of Unite has told Jeremy they stand by their decision. Retrospectively changing the rules after a process has begun would be unacceptable to trade unionists representing their members in the workplace.
“We thank the whistleblowers at all levels in Unite who have made sure this stitch-up was not kept secret.”
A Unite spokesperson said: “During the Unite Wales Labour Party Liaison Committee meeting, the nominee in question was interviewed and his suitability considered.
“However, Unite’s Rules Conference last year decided that Unite ‘will only formally endorse candidates who have held elected lay office as representatives of workers’. Under this rule he was ineligible for nomination.
“Unite is satisfied that the nomination process was carried out correctly.”
The Welsh Labour leadership contest will be decided by a “one member, one vote” ballot. Unite members who are also members of the Labour Party will be able to vote for their candidate of choice.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.