EXCL Labour row erupts as Jeremy Corbyn supporter calls for party to break from trade unions
A senior ally of Jeremy Corbyn has called for Labour to break its historic links with the trade union movement.
Veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft claimed "major trade unions are actively opposed" to the party's rank-and-file members.
Her salvo came as part of the increasingly-bitter battle to become Labour's new general secretary.
Ms Shawcroft, who is head of Labour's powerful disciplinary committee, is supporting Momentum boss Jon Lansman's bid to succeed Iain McNicol in the powerful role.
He defied pleas from Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aides not to run in order to leave the way clear for Unite official Jennie Formby to take the post.
Ms Shawcroft, who has been on Labour's ruling national executive committee for over a decade, launched her attack on Facebook in the wake of a fractious meeting yesterday of the disputes sub-committee she chairs.
Responding to one Labour member, she said: "Unfortunately, reviewing the disciplinary process is going to come too late for some of our comrades. This is why I am supporting Jon Lansman, or a woman in that tradition, for general secretary.
"Nothing would induce me to support a candidate from a major trade union, they stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time. It's also time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour party. The party belongs to us, the members."
In a post on her own Facebook page, she added: "I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today's NEC sub committee meetings, but after today I'm even more determined.
"Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs (constituency Labour parties). The major trade unions are actively opposed to us, a very cursory examination of trigger ballots in mayoral "selections" will tell you that. Look at their track records before you rush to support someone."
Her comments are highly significant because she is a key supporter of Mr Corbyn and a major figure on the left-wing of the party.
Momentum has also enjoyed support from trade unions such as the TSSA, Unite and CWU.
Labour's new general secretary will be chosen by the party's NEC on 20 March.
Jennie Formby has already been forced to condemn "anti-Semitic" attacks on Mr Lansman.
A Momentum spokesperson said: “We’re very proud of the strong links Momentum has to the trade union movement.
“From running digital campaigns in support of striking McDonalds workers to making viral videos highlighting Tory cuts to public services with the CWU and the TSSA - we believe Labour is strongest when trade unions and member organisations work together closely.
“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.”