Exclusive: Community union nominates Owen Smith in leadership battle

Owen Smith

Community has endorsed Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest, being the first affiliated union to back the challenger in this summer’s contest, LabourList can exclusively reveal.

The union, which launched major campaigns for its members affected by the steel crisis earlier this year, decided to nominate the Welsh MP after a meeting of its national executive committee earlier today.

Roy Rickhuss, the union’s general secretary, writes in a piece for LabourList that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is a “significant barrier” to electoral success, adding that Smith struck a was both radical and pragmatic.

“Corbyn’s leadership now presents a significant barrier to a future Labour government.

“He very plainly cannot lead a party and his continued presence as Labour leader makes our ability to build an election winning, social movement, the likes of which was saw in the late 90s and early 00s, harder not easier.

“Owen Smith offers an agenda that is as radical as it is pragmatic. In a short space of time he has laid out detailed plans to make workplaces fairer and more prosperous. He has shown a real understanding of what an active industrial strategy should look like.

“Owen clearly has incredible ambition in his plan for Britain while recognising the fundamental need for Labour to be trusted with the nation’s finances.”

The two candidates went head to head in the first leadership hustings yesterday evening, which saw both commit to anti-austerity positions, but Corbyn attract more audience support.

The endorsement comes shortly after the CWU backed Corbyn in the contest, saying the incumbent leader was “a leader for the millions, not the millionaires”. Other affiliated unions GMB and Unison are in the process of consulting their members before announcing their nominations.

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