Biggest union backs one member one vote to choose Welsh Labour leader

Efforts to get Welsh Labour to use the one member, one vote system to elect Carwyn Jones' successor as leader and First Minister have been boosted by a change of policy by the biggest affiliated trade union, Unite.

It's broken ranks with other unions that are defending the electoral college system, which currently reserves a third of the votes for union members. Unite Wales Secretary Andy Richards had been a supporter of the existing method of election.

Unite's General Secretary, Len McCluskey, is a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected under the one member, one vote system, which has also been adopted by Scottish Labour

The Welsh party executive, which rejected changing the rules last year, has asked the former cabinet minister Lord Murphy to report on whether there's a need to change. The executive will then make a recommendation to a special conference in September, which will decide the rules for choosing Carwyn Jones' successor.

Unite Wales will now call on Lord Murphy's review of Welsh Labour democracy to recommend the change.

Our decision to support OMOV [One Member, One Vote] is a result of considerable debate and consultation within Unite and reflects the decision by our Executive Council to support this method to elect all Labour leaders across the UK. There has been enormous debate about the electoral system Welsh Labour uses to elect its leaders. Unite Wales has listened carefully to that debate and come to the conclusion that the present system has to change. Our view is that OMOV is the fairest and clearest system available which best reflects the views of ordinary party members and affiliated trade union members. Supporting OMOV does not mean that Unite intends to step back from its involvement within the Welsh Labour Party. The trade unions founded the Labour Party and Unite intends to continue playing a very prominent role. These are troubling and difficult times with the spectre of Brexit, and the uncertainty it brings, casting a dark shadow over Wales and its future prosperity. Strong, effective leadership within our party is more important now than ever before. Our leaders need to know that they carry the full confidence of the party they lead. Unite will do everything it can to support the election of an experienced and progressive candidate to the upcoming position of Leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister for Wales. The Labour Party in Wales and the UK has changed enormously in recent years. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of UK Labour has re-energised our party and brought hundreds of thousands of new and enthusiastic members into our movement. When the internal arguments over processes and systems ends, our movement can concentrate on what really matters – the retention of a Labour Government in Wales and the election of a Labour Government at Westminster.

Unite Wales Deputy Secretary Gareth Jones