Backing for Gordon Brown's leadership bid slumped yesterday as Britain's biggest unions warned him in blunt terms that he would have to change to win their support.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General, used the language of the shopfloor to warn the Chancellor that his union would not endorse a Blair Mark II. "There's no coronation for any bugger here," he told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, told Mr Brown that his union would need convincing that he would make a prime minister.
Mr Brown is anxious to win the backing of unions because their members wield a third of the votes in the electoral college which elects the Labour leader. News of the mounting disquiet about Mr Brown among unions comes after a week in which he was overshadowed by Tony Blair at the Labour assembly in Manchester and indications that John Reid, the Home Secretary, will stand against him.
Outside the hall the Chancellor's stock among union affiliates plunged to a new low. In a reference to a horror film Mr Woodley said: "The Blair Witch Project is over, it's a matter of time. We have got to make sure we don't have a Blair Witch Project II with the same policies, the same beliefs, the same lack of values."Reuse content