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26 January 2000

Unions go for ballots in mayor selection
The vast majority of unions who are entitled to participate in the selection of Labour's London mayoral candidate are balloting their members before making their choice, according to a survey in Labour Research magazine. Unions account for almost a third of the electoral college which will decide who will be the Labour Party candidate.

Out of 13 eligible unions with significant London memberships contacted by Labour Research, 10 have either held or are about to hold ballots. A further two unions (RMT and MSF) have been excluded over non-payment of affiliation fees.

Of the 10 unions running ballots, five have made or are making a recommendation to their voting members, four for Livingstone (T&G general union, GPMU print and paper union, the Fire Brigades Union and BFAWU baker' union) and one for Dobson (USDAW shopworkers' union). There are none for the third candidate, Glenda Jackson.

Just three unions are not conducting a membership ballot. The AEEU engineers' and electricians' union is holding a conference of its 150-200 London Labour Party management committee delegates who will then be balloted without recommendation. Building workers' union UCATT's vote is going to the former Greater London Council leader, Ken Livingstone, while that of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC), will be cast for Frank Dobson, the former health secretary and the Labour leadership's favoured candidate.

Most unions plan to cast their entire block vote for the candidate that comes first in their ballot. But USDAW and the GMB general union will split their vote between the three candidates in proportion to the share of votes received in the ballot.

Last month Ken Livingstone won a convincing victory in a ballot of London members of the T&G general union. He received 85.8% of the vote compared to just 7.3% for Glenda Jackson and 6.9% for Frank Dobson. Most of the other unions are due to send out ballot forms today (Wednesday) - at the same time as the Labour Party membership ballot.

Notes to editors

The survey is published in the February 2000 issue of Labour Research. The price of a single copy of the magazine is ?2.95 (?3.25 including postage).
The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 88 years ago. More than 2,000 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership are affiliated.
For further information contact Clare Ruhemann or Celia Dignan on 0171 928 3649.

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