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Jeremy Corbyn wins backing of two more unions in Labour leadership race

Published 30/07/2015

Harriet Harman said supporters of other parties had no right to vote in the Labour leadership election
Harriet Harman said supporters of other parties had no right to vote in the Labour leadership election

Jeremy Corbyn has been given a fresh boost in his bid to become Labour leader after receiving the backing of two more trade unions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) announced support for the London MP.

He received the backing of Unison on Wednesday and is also being nominated by the country's biggest union, Unite.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: "There are no quick fixes for the Labour party, but there are some easy decisions and choosing Jeremy as its leader should be one of them.

"We think that it is time for a change for Labour. The grip of the Blairites and individuals like Peter Mandelson must now be loosened once and for all. There is a virus within the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote."

Mr Ward rejected the need for Labour to move to the centre ground of British politics, adding this had moved "significantly" to the right in recent years.

In the deputy leadership election, the CWU will be recommending that members vote for Angela Eagle as first preference and Caroline Flint as their second preference.

The TSSA is urging support for Angela Eagle as deputy leader.

The union will also be asking its members to give their second preference votes to Andy Burnham for leader and Tom Watson for deputy.

Mr Corbyn said he was "honoured" to secure the support of the CWU and TSSA.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said the party is listening in to the phone calls of activists signing up to vote in the leadership race, to weed out hard-left groups, Green supporters and Tories amid warnings that they are trying to skew the contest in Mr Corbyn's favour.

The party has experienced an influx of up to 140,000 activists and supporters since May 8.

The number of full Labour members is expected to be 66,000 higher by the cut-off point for signing up of August 12, with a further 22,000 people likely to take advantage of new rules introduced by Ed Miliband that allow them to pay £3 to become "registered supporters".

Only around 30 applications for that category are believed to have been rejected, most from Tories. Some 55,000 extra "affiliate" members are also being signed up by unions.

Mr Corbyn started out as a rank outsider but has since won large numbers of endorsements from constituency parties. Private polling is said to put him more than 20 points ahead in the race.

Contenders Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have all warned members that they risk consigning the party to years in opposition if Mr Corbyn wins.

But Labour deputy leader hopeful Mr Watson said MPs had a duty to work for the new leader.

He told the Huffington Post: "I think as MPs what we first of all have to recognise (is) that our members have chosen the leader. It's our job to make that work."

Meanwhile, former MP George Galloway indicated he would rejoin Labour if Mr Corbyn became leader.

Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 and later represented the Respect Party in Parliament, losing his seat in Bradford West in May.

Pressed if he would go back to Labour should Mr Corbyn win and ask him to return, Mr Galloway told LBC Radio: " Definitely. Pretty damn quick, and I think that hundreds of thousands of people would."

Ms Kendall, who is viewed as the Blairite candidate, agreed with the suggestion that Mr Ward's description of there being a "virus" within the party was offensive.

She told BBC Two's Newsnight: "It is and I think he also said that the party needed an antidote to the Blairites.

"Actually what we need is an antidote to the Tories. As a party we need to elect a leader that's going to be able to defeat the Tories and offer a credible alternative to the country."

Ms Kendall said she did not believe the party would split should Mr Corbyn become leader.

Asked if Mr Corbyn could ever secure victory for Labour at a general election, Ms Kendall replied: "I don't believe he could, but we have six weeks to go and that's the case I'll be making - I don't think his politics are the right politics for the party or for the country."

Labour MP Diane Abbott, a supporter of Mr Corbyn, told the same programme it was "perhaps a bit strong" to call Blairism a virus.

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