The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has backed the Labour leadership bid of candidate and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy in a fresh boost for her campaign.
It had been thought by some that the NUM nomination could go to Rebecca Long-Bailey, often regarded as the most left-wing candidate in the election. She has strong trade union ties and the backing of former NUM president Ian Lavery.
But the union did endorse Yvette Cooper for the Labour leadership in 2015 and chose not to support any candidate in the 2016 contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.
The NUM has now chosen Nandy, who “Labour needs to rebuild the party and regain trust with the voters we’ve lost” according to its general secretary Chris Kitchen.
Commenting on the endorsement revealed by the Yorkshire Post on Tuesday evening, Nandy said: “I represent a former coalfield community. I’m really proud of that, and I am really proud to work alongside the NUM since I was first elected.
“Former coalfields and towns are crying out for real change. Some of these areas are part of the famous red wall that fell in the last election. I get it. If Labour wants to be part of making that change happen, we have to go back out into our communities and fight for it.”
Talking about the history of mining in her area, Nandy added: “When that way of life was destroyed by Thatcherism it left a massive gap that successive governments have failed to address. Whilst some efforts were made by the last Labour government, it failed to implement the long-term industrial strategy that is necessary.
“Permanent, stable jobs have been replaced by short-term work in the gig economy, from call centres to packing depots to takeaways – economically insecure and accompanied by the erosion of the rich social fabric built around mining communities.
“It is so important to me that we as a Labour movement prioritise the regeneration of coalfield communities right across the United Kingdom, from Barnsley to Bannockburn to Blaenau.”
After securing the required nominations from Labour MPs and MEPs to enter the second stage of the contest, Nandy will now seek the support of local parties and affiliate groups including trade unions.
To be on the ballot paper, each of the five leadership candidates must now secure nominations from 5% of local parties – a total of 33 – or three affiliates including two unions adding up to 5% of Labour’s affiliated membership.
Nandy is rumoured to be likely to gain the nomination of GMB – one of the largest affiliated unions. She would then only need an affiliate group of any size to be guaranteed a place on the ballot paper.