The Communication Workers Union has announced the launch of a programme to train members to stand as Labour candidates at the next general election, saying it is “time to bring in a new era of working-class politicians”.
In a video unveiling the move, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said the ‘CWU Candidates’ scheme was designed to identify “talented” trade union members and prepare them for the world of politics.
“Whilst other candidate programmes have prioritised party politics, CWU candidates will be focused on improving links between trade unions and their local communities and building collectivism in our movement,” Ward said.
“If selected, you will access first-class training and hear from speakers across the labour movement, including Ian Lavery, Matthew Brown, Zarah Sultana and Laura Smith,” he added in a message to potential applicants.
“At the end of this programme, you will be ready to fight for working-class people in parliament whilst keeping CWU values at the heart of your politics. We know that change is built from the ground up.
“Now it’s time to shake up Westminster and put working-class communities at the forefront of politics. If you’re a CWU member and passionate about transforming your community, apply for CWU Candidates today.”
The CWU, which represents almost 200,000 UK communications workers, will pick 18 applicants. They must be aged over 18, have been a CWU member for at least 12 months and a continuous Labour member for the last 12 months.
The cohort will attend digital and in-person events to prepare them to run an election campaign and to encourage them to connect their communities with trade unions. They have also been promised “first-class” media training.
The CWU programme will run between March and June 2022, with events being held across the country. There is no fee for participating in the scheme, and the travel and board of the CWU candidates will be covered, the union has said.
The programme announcement follows the union’s decision in November, taken at a special conference, to suspend donations to Labour nationally, outside of nominal affiliation fees that ensure the union is formally linked to the party.
The conference vote – which saw the move approved by an overwhelming majority of 94% – means CWU funding for Labour, outside of the affiliation fees, now goes only to specific party candidates, potential candidates and campaigns.
Ward criticised the Labour leadership at the time for “failing to connect with working-class communities”. He said the donations cut would ensure that the left-wing union was “looking beyond the factional war being waged by an out-of-touch Westminster politics”.