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by Matt Trinder
FOOD workers’ union BFAWU launched a consultation on whether to disaffiliate from the Labour Party today.
The union’s 20,000 members are being asked to contribute to virtual branch discussions ahead of an executive committee decision to be taken in May before the June annual conference.
BFAWU, which regularly donates to Labour, has been at the heart of grassroots campaigns for workers’ rights including the “McStrike” campaign for fair pay and conditions at McDonalds.
Following Unite’s decision last year to reduce its donations to the party, it is a sign of the growing disconnect between Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership and ordinary working people.
BFAWU president Ian Hodson told the Star: “The BFAWU values our members’ rights to free speech and to contribute, and this we feel is their right in any affiliated organisation, to be able to challenge anything they feel is inappropriate or to decide if the monies they pay is being used in their interest.
“They feel the Labour Party must stand up for working-class interests; the powerful and the wealthy already have their political voice: the Conservative Party. We feel strongly that BFAWU members are entitled to theirs.
“Our members have been expressing their disappointment over the failure to oppose this rotten Tory government [which has been] responsible for thousands of our fellow citizens losing their lives unnecessarily. Instead of opposing this rotten government, they have blindly supported them.”
Sir Keir has whipped Labour MPs in Parliament to vote either for the government’s policies to combat Covid-19 or to abstain, as he did last month when the tier system was introduced.
This has led to some, including former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, to vote against and instead call for a “zero-Covid” strategy to suppress the virus.
Mr Hodson said: “[Labour’s] opposition seems to have taken the form of supporting the government in Westminster and sniping on social media; we don’t feel this is what a serious opposition should be doing.
“Our members fear this is more a media strategy to appease the vile right-wing media. Our members deserve real political representation, [and] unlike Labour, we won’t be suspending anyone for having different views to our leadership.”
Labour members were banned from voicing solidarity with former leader Jeremy Corbyn and questioning investigations of anti-semitism in the party in November 2020 by general secretary David Evans, who cited concerns over local meetings becoming “unwelcoming” for Jewish members.
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