The Right has been doing a massive amount of speculation on the Labour leadership race (sure, the Left would do the same if National ever let its members choose it’s leader, but you wouldn’t expect to be treated as neutral observers). The Right’s latest theory is that the unions will use their votes to choose the leader.
Even Vernon Small fell for this line saying the EPMU is ‘leaning’ to Robertson. But it ignores a rather important fact. The unions are not unitary bodies in this election that can ‘lean’ one way or another. The unions’ votes will be decided by delegates and individual members.
Most of the unions, including the largest the EPMU, are dividing their vote among their delegates, who are elected and responsible to the members. The second-largest, the SFWU, is dividing up its vote to let each individual member votes. Elected national executives may endorse a candidate, but it’s not known that they will, and members won’t be bound by it. (for all the specifics, you can read the rules here)
Labour’s new leader selection process a reaction against entrenched hierarchies and is about empowering ordinary members. No-one is in a position to promise the union members’ votes, or any other votes, to any contender.