Keir SERA, SERA: Starmer nets second affiliate endorsement

The nomination of Labour's environmental campaign puts the shadow Brexit secretary closer to the ballot – and narrows the path for his challengers.

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It’s a big week for small affiliates in the Labour leadership race. Keir Starmer has won the nomination of the Socialist Environment and Resources Association, one of the 21 socialist societies affiliated to the party – an endorsement that puts him within touching distance of the ballot. 

The Labour environmental campaign’s endorsement is first and foremost a coup for Starmer. Having already secured the support of Unison  the first trade union to endorse, and the largest of all the affiliates he is already clear of the 5 per cent affiliated membership threshold. SERA’s endorsement gives him the second of three affiliates required. Now all that remains is the nomination of a second union of any size, which he will secure easily. 

Other candidates should take note, too. Though there have been only three affiliate endorsements thus far, the pattern such as it exists cannot be said to indicate that the rest are genuinely up for grabs. SERA did not declare in 2015 or 2016, and the bulk of its members backed Ed Miliband in 2010, but has nonetheless gone for Starmer this time. The National Union of Mineworkers has gone for Nandy and, although some of its regional leaders prefer Starmer, the GMB is widely anticipated to follow. 

Beyond the assumption that Rebecca Long-Bailey will secure the nomination of at least one of Unite and the Communication Workers Union and the smaller unions most closely aligned with the Corbyn leadership ideologically such as Aslef and the BFAWU the extent to which Emily Thornberry and Jess Phillips have not featured in these conversations to date is striking. As Starmer and Nandy build up heads of steam, the incentive for the remaining affiliates to back anyone other than a likely winner diminishes.

Where does that leave the rest of the field? Facing the hard and expensive slog of securing the nominations of 33 constituency parties. It is no candidate’s first choice. But if the frontrunners continue to hoover up the nominations of even the smallest affiliates, it may be the only one. 

Patrick Maguire was political correspondent at the New Statesman.

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