Boost for Jeremy Corbyn as major civil service union throws weight behind Labour
Jeremy Corbyn received a boost today as the country’s biggest civil service union agreed to work full-tilt to elect a Labour government.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) - which represents rank-and-file officials and has long flirted with formalising ties between itself and Labour - voted to lend “national union support for a Corbyn-led Labour government” at its annual conference this week.
The move stops short of full affiliation with Labour, but it allows the union to use its political fund to explicitly support Mr Corbyn’s bid for Number 10.
PCS chief Mark Serwotka - who was barred from voting for Mr Corbyn in the 2015 leadership election amid claims he did not share the party’s “values” - said a Labour government “would be in the interests of our members”.
He added: “They would reverse job cuts in the civil service and related areas and start to build a socialist economy that would transform the lives of millions of people."
In 2016 Mr Corbyn backed a key PCS demand by committing Labour to scrapping the system of national pay bargaining used in the civil service for decades.
The Labour leader and his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, have long had close ties to the PCS leadership, with Mr McDonnell chairing the union’s parliamentary group.
The Shadow Chancellor also spoke at this year’s PCS conference - telling delegates that “when we go into government the trade union movement is coming into government with us”.
But the latest move by the union could prove controversial, given the longstanding convention of civil servants remaining politically neutral.
Mr Serwotka has previously warned that senior mandarins will "seek to do everything they can to prevent radical systemic change" offered by Mr Corbyn.