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Trade unions will be ‘front line’ of resistance to racism and sexism under Johnson, says McCluskey

TRADE unions will be the “front line” of resistance to any bid by the Boris Johnson government to exploit Brexit divisions to whip up racism, sexism or homophobia, Len McCluskey said today.

“An attack on one is an attack on all,” the Unite leader said. “We’ve seen the dog-whistle approach of Boris Johnson. Will he continue to generate that or was it a sort of cynical populism, a very dangerous ploy of speaking to people’s fears and magnifying them that has to be challenged?

“And it’ll be trade unions at the forefront of that, certainly Unite. We’re essential to the campaigning of the People’s Assembly, our Unite Community members have been at the forefront of community struggles against discrimination and we’re heavily involved in charities like Show Racism the Red Card — by which I mean we don’t just make donations, we actively engage, go to football grounds, speak to crowds of young people.”

Interviewed by the Morning Star on his new book Why You Should Be a Trade Unionist, Mr McCluskey rejected the idea that there was any contradiction between fighting to empower the working class and combatting racist and sexist oppression, and dismissed accusations from journalist Paul Mason that his union had wielded its influence against Labour members as the party’s approach to the general election took place.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I think Paul has been injected with Brexititis, he seems to have lost all his compasses in his culture or identity war versus class war approach.

“The right wing of the Labour Party have always sought, if they couldn’t use the trade unions — because I remember the time when trade unions had a block vote of 90 per cent at Labour Party conferences, and it was consistently used to block any radicalism coming from the constituencies — to block the input of left-wing or radical trade-union views. These are the individuals who would like to turn us into an American-style political system, where you have the Republicans and Democrats. But Labour can only exist if it exists as the arm of organised labour.”

The full Morning Star interview with Len McCluskey will be published in our culture section.

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