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Did trade unions break the rules to get Ed Miliband elected?

By Tim Montgomerie

I'm grateful to the Observer for highlighting this envelope that the GMB used to send its members ballot papers for the Labour leadership election:

Ed-Miliband-GMB-mail-out-006Labour rules forbid the inclusion of a candidate's literature being put inside an envelope containing ballot papers.

What the GMB appears to have done is send their members the ballot papers inside one envelope but that one envelope was despatched in a second envelope that included a magazine with Ed Miliband on the cover and also a letter from the GMB endorsing the union-friendly Miliband.

But there is concern at senior levels in the Labour party over whether the literature fell within the principles set out by the party.

Professor Mark Wickham-Jones of Bristol University told The Observer:

"The GMB appear to have broken the spirit of the rules guiding the conduct of the Labour party leadership election by sending out a strong recommendation for Ed Miliband together with the ballot paper for political levy payers... It may well suggest that the margin of his victory depended on votes cast in dubious circumstances. It will be particularly uncomfortable for a candidate already seen as being close to the trade unions."

Tory Chairman Sayeeda Warsi issued a warning yesterday evening. "The fact that Ed Miliband owes his position to the votes of the unions does not bode well," she said. "At the moment this looks like a great leap backwards for the Labour Party."

Ed Miliband won overwhelmingly in the union section as the graphic below records: