The Labour-affiliated Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has decided to nominate left-wing candidates Rebecca Long-Bailey and Richard Burgon for the leadership and deputy leadership posts.
The move means both leadership hopefuls have now made it to the final ballot paper, as the FBU nominations follow the formal endorsements of Unite the Union and the bakers’ union BFAWU.
Each leadership candidate must gain the nominations of either 33 local parties or three affiliated organisations, including two unions, amounting to 5% of Labour’s affiliated membership.
The FBU wrote to all contenders before its executive council meeting, with each being asked for their views on the fire and rescue service, the Grenfell inquiry, repealing anti-trade union laws, ending the blockade of Gaza, and internal party democracy.
Announcing the decision, general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Our executive council has resoundingly voted to endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey as the leader Labour needs to take on this viciously right-wing, anti-worker Tory government.
“The fire and rescue service has been decimated by a decade of austerity, but restrictive anti-union laws have seriously impeded our ability to fight back. We need a Labour leader that will rebuild our fire service and put empowering workers at the heart of their agenda.
“I was locked in Labour’s longest-ever composite meeting with Rebecca – and her vision for a green industrial revolution was clear. Climate change is an industrial issue for firefighters – and we’re proud to have worked with Rebecca to secure Labour’s 2030 target for net-zero carbon emissions.
“There can be no going back to the so-called centrism of New Labour – we never again want to see our party turn its back on workers, public ownership, and its own members.
“We will be actively campaigning for Rebecca. Only she has what it takes to transform the country, win back Labour’s heartlands, and put power back in the hands of working-class people.”
The FBU had been expected to back either Angela Rayner, who spoke at their annual conference, or Richard Burgon. The union opted for Burgon partly on the basis that Rayner has already exceeded the threshold for this stage of the contest.
On the decision to back Burgon, Wrack added: “After much discussion and deliberation, the FBU’s executive council has decided to nominate Richard Burgon to be the next deputy leader of the Labour Party.
“Richard is a socialist and a longstanding ally of the FBU. We recognise that he is not the only candidate on the ballot that fits these criteria; Angela Rayner has also been a long-time ally and friend of our union.
“We carefully considered the policy positions of each candidate and their alignment with the FBU’s interests, as well as a range of factors including, crucially, which candidates have already qualified for the ballot of Labour members.
“Labour members and supporters should have a choice from the widest possible range of candidates – and we’re glad that Richard will join Angela on the ballot.”