A CANDIDATE for the Welsh Labour leadership has cast doubt on a supposed “new rule” which he says barred his being endorsed by one of the country’s biggest unions.

Education and Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles believes he had broad support from the Unite the Union membership and was likely to win the union’s favour.

After the hustings, the union's political committee were told of a "new rule" that rendered him ineligible for the nomination, leaving economy minister Vaughan Gething as the only candidate.

In a statement issued today, January 26, Mr Miles said he was "standing up for the principle of fairness and equal treatment, as any good trade unionist would".

His campaign team say they have not received the details of the union's rule or been able to find a previous instance of its use, despite making requests to the union on grounds of fairness and common sense.

A spokesperson for Vaughan Gething's campaign said: "We're proud and honoured to welcome Unite's nomination for Vaughan Gething for Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales."

‘Fair question’

Mr Miles said: “I participated in the Unite the Union nomination hustings for the Welsh Labour Leadership on Tuesday, January 16. Both candidates for the leadership spoke and answered questions.

“During the discussion held after the hustings by the political committee to nominate their preferred candidate, I understand they were told for the first time that I was ineligible to be nominated by the union due to a new rule that no one was aware of, had not been published and which hadn’t been applied previously. The political committee was then prevented from voting to express a view on the candidates, in light of this new rule.

“This new rule was not declared when I was invited by Unite to attend and participate in the nomination hustings. Neither was it referred to during the hustings. After the hustings concluded, the leadership of Unite failed to mention it to me. To date, I have not seen any evidence the rule even exists for the purpose claimed.

“Members will rightly expect that rules to nominate a candidate for the next leader of our party and our government should be transparent and be applied fairly.

“A longstanding trade unionist has said to me: if this can happen to a candidate for Welsh Labour leader, and First Minister of Wales, how will lay members wishing to progress in the union be treated? This is a fair question.

“The support I’ve gained in this contest is based on hard work in the Senedd and with local government since I was first elected in 2016. There are those who may feel others are more entitled to support because they have been around longer. Everyone is entitled to their view. But the way to express their view is through the proper democratic process.

“I’m standing to lead an inclusive government in a nation where opportunities are open to everyone. I have an ambitious programme that includes defending and extending workers’ rights, and the urgent fight to protect high quality jobs - things that the majority of Unite members and officials stand for.

“I did not want to make a statement like this, but so many union members have made it clear publicly that they are deeply unhappy with the way the nomination has been made. I am standing up for the principle of fairness and equal treatment, as any good trade unionist would.”

The Unite website says: "Unite recognises that we are fortunate in Wales to have a Welsh Labour government and political leadership that takes a different approach to that of the Conservative government in London.

"There is a different way in Wales, a way that we are able to work together to invest in decent jobs through positive industrial policies. Unite is committed to ensuring that the policies of the Welsh Government are in the best interests of our members.

“We at Unite will work to ensure that our member’s issues that really matter to them are heard at every level of Government in Wales.”