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UNION leaders vehemently rejected suggestions today that the Labour Party should end its long-standing links with trade unions.
Christine Shawcroft, who sits on Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), claimed “major trade unions are actively opposed” to party members and said it was “time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour Party.”
The suggestion was roundly criticised by union leaders, with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey calling for her to withdraw the comments while Unison general secretary Dave Prentis dismissed them as “wrong on every count.”
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Our movement is built on collectivism, our party came from the trade union movement.
“Anyone who thinks the unions don’t have a role in the party we built and have stood by through thick and thin should ask themselves if they’re in the right place.”
Ms Shawcroft supports Momentum founder Jon Lansman to succeed Iain McNicol as the party’s new general secretary.
Mr Lansman will be standing against Jennie Formby, Unite’s south-east regional secretary, in a vote on March 20.
Following a subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, Momentum official Ms Shawcroft said on Facebook that “nothing would induce me to support a candidate from a major trade union,” claiming “they stick it to the rank-and-file members time after time after time.”
She added on her own Facebook page: “Only someone from [Mr Lansman’s] tradition will support the rights of rank-and-file members in the [constituency Labour parties].”
Her posts have since been deleted.
Momentum appeared to push back against the comments, with a spokesperson saying: “The unions were central to the formation of the Labour Party and every day they represent millions of people fighting for better rights at work.
“We firmly support Labour’s trade union link and hope to see more unions affiliate in the future.”
Mr McCluskey said: “Christine Shawcroft is a member of the Labour Party. The clue is in the name. We are the party of labour, founded by the trade union movement.”
Mr Prentis stated: “Trade unions are an integral and historic part of the Labour Party. This is no time for this kind of divisive nonsense. We need to focus on getting Labour elected.”
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