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Union voting discrepancy explained as Gething thought to be heading for victory

15 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Jeremy Miles MS and Vaughan Gething MS

Wales’ biggest trade union has explained why most of its members in the country haven’t received a vote in the Welsh Labour leadership election.

The explanation came as Vaughan Gething appeared to be heading for victory, with the result due to be announced on the morning of March 16.

Nation.Cymru has been contacted by a number of members of Unison expressing concern that they didn’t receive an email providing them with the link they needed to cast an online vote for Vaughan Gething or Jeremy Miles.

The votes of union affiliates are likely to be crucial in determining who wins the contest. Members of the Labour Party and those who belong to organisations – mainly trade unions – that are affiliated to the party vote on an equal basis. In fact, affiliated voters greatly outnumber ordinary party members. While Welsh Labour is thought to have around 16,000 members, more than 100,000 members of affiliated organisations – mainly unions – can also vote.

Distorted

At the last Welsh Labour leadership election in 2018, when Mark Drakeford defeated Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, the turnout was 53.1% among party members (13,275 votes cast) and just 5.6% among affiliated members (8,400 votes cast). The figures are distorted somewhat, because many Labour Party members are also members of affiliated unions, and are not supposed to vote more than once.

In the current contest, one Unison member, Robin Campbell, posted a comment beneath a story on Nation.Cymru’s website that said: “The article says that 100,000 can participate in this vote. I am a lifelong member of Unison and have had nothing telling me I can vote.

“I phoned Unison and spoke to the receptionist, but no one got back to me. I’m not sure but I think that the union is voting in ‘block’ on behalf of its members. Perhaps someone who is a member, or a member of another union, can enlighten me.”

Eligible

Steve Belcher, Unison’s Labour Link officer for Wales, said: “The explanation is quite simple. Although Unison has around 140,000 members in Wales, only about 55,000 are eligible to vote. That’s because we have two political funds – one where members pay a portion of their membership fee to the Labour Party, and one which is for general campaigns in which we sometimes work with other parties. Only those who pay part of their fee to Labour have been eligible to vote in the leadership election.”

At the start of the leadership contest, Mr Gething succeeded in getting nominations from all of the so-called Big Six unions – Unison, Unite, GMB, Community, CWU and USDAW. None of these unions consulted their full membership in Wales before deciding which of the two candidates to nominate. The decision of Unite to nominate Mr Gething was particularly controversial.

When it appeared that Unite’s Welsh political committee was about to support Mr Miles, the union’s “regional secretary” for Wales, Peter Hughes, intervened and said Mr Miles was ineligible for the nomination because he had not been a union shop steward, representing workers in a workplace. The nomination was therefore given to Mr Gething. Mr Miles argued that a recently introduced rule did not apply to him, but Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham did not respond and the decision to back Mr Gething was allowed to stand.

Having the big unions’ nominations was a big fillip to Mr Gething’s campaign, because they promoted his candidacy to their members while Mr Miles was unable to reach them.

He was also helped by the fact that damaging revelations that he accepted donations totalling £200k from a convicted criminal did not emerge until days after voting opened.

Experience shows that most people who participate in a postal or online ballot do so very quickly after receiving their voting paper or web link.

Multiple sources have told us that these advantages are expected to secure Mr Gething’s victory.


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Rob jones
Rob jones
26 days ago

Welsh labour corrupt and inefficient

Will Jones
Will Jones
26 days ago
Reply to  Rob jones

Well i never!

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
26 days ago

Mae’n bosib sawru drewdod yr etholiad hwn o bell… ~ It’s possible to smell the stench of this election from afar…

James
James
26 days ago

If Gethin wins hopefully it’ll push the labour who believe in Wales towards Plaid.

Rob
Rob
26 days ago
Reply to  James

Fingers crossed

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  James

As much as I think and hope you are right James, I also fear it could also push people towards Reform UK. It will be a very fragmented Senedd after the next election, and that won’t just be down to the new electoral system.

Last edited 25 days ago by Rob
David
David
26 days ago

If V Gething wins he will be FM (FRAUD MINISTER).

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
26 days ago

The Welsh know when they have been stitched up, and they won’t put up with it. Gething faces the same fate as Alun Michael when Tony Blair tried to parachute him in as FM.

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
26 days ago

I appreciate that it would create administrative difficulties if the leader of Labour in Wales is not the first minister. However, if Gething wins the election but the majority of MSs were to prefer Miles as FM, am I right in assuming there’s nothing to stop them voting for him if he were to accept nomination?

Frank
Frank
26 days ago

This should have been a decision made by the people of Cymru not a fixed inside job. Politics has become so corrupt. Being run by the Mafia would be a better world.

Last edited 26 days ago by Frank
David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  Frank

The Mafia is the monarchy!

Why vote
Why vote
26 days ago

What a mess this is, farcical, can’t even organise the election of a leader for their own party, and they will continue to run and destroy the country, Santa would do a better job than either of these ” candidates “.

A Evans
A Evans
25 days ago

The Labour Senedd is the most corrupt body of people ever to stain the word democracy!

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
25 days ago

Putin elected Russian leader. Gething elected Welsh leader. Which of them has the more convincing democratic mandate?

Glwyo
Glwyo
24 days ago

Trick question, the answer is Liz Truss.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
21 days ago
Reply to  Glwyo

That’s a laugh !

Lukashenko elected as leader in Belarus by a rigged electoral process….
… Wait a minute, it’s the same FPTP electoral system used by the Conservatives in the UK.

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