Top unions back Leonard for Labour leader

Sunday Herald - - POLITICS - BY ANDREW WHI­TAKER

SCOT­TISH Labour lead­er­ship con­tender Richard Leonard is set to win the sup­port of the UK’s largest union Unite. Unite Scot­land’s rul­ing na­tional ex­ec­u­tive is meet­ing on Wed­nes­day to de­cide whether to en­dorse Leonard or Anas Sar­war in the con­test. How­ever, Unite sources told the Sun­day Her­ald that the union will back Leonard, a lead­ing ally of Jeremy Cor­byn.

United Left, a group of ac­tivists in the union, has al­ready voted unan­i­mously to sup­port Leonard. The move came af­ter the leader of the UK’s big­gest civil ser­vice trade union also backed Leonard. Mark Ser­wotka, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Pub­lic and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices union, voiced his sup­port in a ma­jor boost for the Cen­tral Scot­land MSP. In an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Her­ald, Ser­wotka said Leonard was stand­ing on a “very pro­gres­sive” and “in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar plat­form”. He said he would be ad­vis­ing PCS mem­bers to back Leonard rather than Glas­gow MSP Sar­war, who is seen as be­ing on Labour’s right wing.

The PCS is not af­fil­i­ated to Labour, al­though Ser­wotka is a party mem­ber along with many oth­ers in the union. In his 17 years as PCS leader he said that he had op­posed many Labour lead­ers, but sup­ported Cor­byn’s and Leonard’s agen­das. Ser­wotka said: “I re­joined Labour af­ter 25 years to sup­port Jeremy Cor­byn and I was very clear in the past that my loy­alty is not to a Labour Party that at­tacks work­ers. I’m very clear Richard Leonard is the cor­rect choice.”

Leonard wel­comed the union leader’s en­dorse­ment, say­ing: “Scot­tish Labour needs to re­forge the al­liance be­tween the party and the trade union move­ment and so I am proud to have the sup­port of trade union­ists like Mark Ser­wotka who, day in and day out, stand up for work­ing peo­ple.”

Launch­ing his lead­er­ship cam­paign in Glas­gow yes­ter­day, Leonard promised to pur­sue rad­i­cal poli­cies in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of tough rent con­trols and a work­ers’ right-to-buy should he be elected. The MSP also vowed to take for­ward an in­dus­trial strat­egy which con­sid­ers pub­lic own­er­ship in the rail­ways, Royal Mail, re­new­able en­ergy, and oil and gas. He also ruled out any prospect of a coali­tion with the SNP.

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