A LABOUR candidate who boasted of being picked to fight a key Birmingham seat despite having no trade unions links was endorsed by a trade union, it has emerged.

Jess Phillips introduced Labour leader Ed Miliband when he delivered a crucial speech setting out plans to reform Labour’s connection with the unions on Tuesday.

In her speech, the Birmingham councillor appeared to say that she had been selected as the party’s candidate for Yardley despite having no union links.

But now it has emerged that Coun Phillips had the support of the Communication Workers Union, the CWU, before she was picked to contest the seat.

The union represents postal workers and is currently threatening strike action over the Government’s plans to privatise the Royal Mail.

In her speech introducing Mr Miliband, Coun Phillips said: “I stand here as the newly-selected Labour Party candidate for the Birmingham Yardley constituency.

She later said: “I cannot take too much credit for the position I find myself in.

“I, in fact, benefitted from being in the right place at the right time.

“The right place was the Labour Party, the right time was under Ed Miliband’s leadership because what I found, when I decided to get back involved, was a party crying out for people like me.

“Not because of my links with any union, company or political pressure group.

“In fact for the exact opposite reason, because I was none of these things, I am not sure they even cared about me being a member of the party. What I was, was a member of a community. A community who had done something brilliant, we had got organised.”

Labour Birmingham Yardley candidate Jess Phillips introduces Ed Milliband
Labour Birmingham Yardley candidate Jess Phillips introduces Ed Milliband
 

But, in leaflets distributed to party members while the selection process was taking place, Coun Phillips said: “I have been nominated by all the branches (Acocks Green, Stetchford and Yardley North, Sheldon, South Yardley) and also by the CWU.”

Coun Phillips yesterday said she had not, in fact, been nominated by the CWU because their endorsement missed a deadline.

“When they sent their nomination letter in, nominations had already closed,” she said.

“But what I said in my speech was academic to what happened in my selection process.

“I didn’t say I was not selected because of any links to a union, I said I got involved [in the party] without any links to unions.“

Selection campaign leaflets distributed by Jess Phillips
Selection campaign leaflets distributed by Jess Phillips
 

Her appearance ahead of Mr Miliband’s speech was part of a campaign to assert the party leader’s authority amid claims that trade union Unite had tried to install left-wing candidates in key seats.

The row contributed to the resignation of Black Country MP Tom Watson (Lab, West Bromwich East) from his Shadow Cabinet role as Labour’s campaigns co-ordinator.

What she said: "I stand here as the newly selected Labour Party candidate for the Birmingham Yardley constituency. I am incredibly proud to say that as a brummie whose family all hark from that area.

I only wish my nan who was a dinnerlady in the biggest school in Yardley was here to see this. I know her pride would be levelled with the truly brummie negativity that "I shouldn't get a bob on myself". There is no greater crime in Birmingham than "having a bob on yourself"

"I will heed these words and know that I cannot take too much credit for the position I find myself in.  I, in fact, benefitted from being in the right place at the right time.

"The right place was the Labour Party the right time was under Ed Miliband leadership because what I found when I decided to get back involved, was a party crying out for people like me. Not because of my links with any union, company or political pressure group. In fact for the exact opposite reason, because I was none of these things, I am not sure they even cared about me being a member of the Party.

"What I was, was a member of a community. A community who had done something brilliant, we had got organised. It has been documented enough, but briefly my story is that that I lead the 600 or so people on my street to rid our neighbourhood of anti-social behaviour and build back a community through campaigns, community activities,  and events.