Liberal defector said to be “in lead” for Deputy Labour job

Liberal defector said to be “in lead” for Deputy Labour job

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    Is the Guardian right about Peter Hain’s chances?

The main story on the Guardian this morning is a report that the ex-Young Liberal President turned Labour minister, Peter Hain is now “in the lead” in the race to replace John Prescott as Labour’s Deputy leader and, guardian - hain.jpgpresumably, Deputy Prime Minister.

The career-minded Hain, who ditched the Liberals to join Labour in 1977, has, according to the report been “…assiduously courting the unions in the run up to the conference season. He is understood to have won promises of support from general secretaries of four of the five big Labour-affiliated unions, who hold a third of the vote in the electoral college for the leadership and deputy leadership”.

Other possible challengers are Jack Straw, Harriet Harman, and Alan Johnson, the former leader of the Communication Workers.

According to a source in the Hain camp in the paper the ex-Liberal has also “worked hard to win support of the GMB, Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union.” It’s suggested that Unison may back Johnson.

In the old days of Labour getting the backing of the leadership of a union was enough to get all the block vote on you side. These days things are different because all union members who pay the political levy with their union dues will be entitled to vote in a ballot.

    Support of a union’s leadership might carry some weight with the membership – but how much?

The electoral college for Labour elections is split three ways – MPs, party members, and the unions.

Quite what Hain’s move does to the forthcoming contest for the leadership is not clear. All the expert opinion suggests that Brown is a near-certainty. That might be the case but anything can happen in a mass ballot election and how will the media line-up?

At the time of writing the Betfair web-site is down and I am unable to bring you betting prices.

Mike Smithson

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