Union leaders hit back at Jeremy Corbyn ally over call for Labour to end union link

Posted On: 
7th March 2018

Trade union leaders have hit back at a leading supporter of Jeremy Corbyn after she called for Labour to break its historic link with their movement.

Len McCluskey is a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.
PA Images

PolticsHome revealed that Christine Shawcroft, who is a member of Labour's national executive committee, had claimed that "major trade unions are actively opposed" to the party's rank-and-file members.

Her comments came amid the increasingly-bitter battle to become Labour's new general secretary. Ms Shawcroft is backing Momentum boss Jon Lansman over Unite's Jennie Formby.

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The veteran left-winger, who is a senior official in the Momentum campaign group, launched her attack on Facebook in the wake of a fractious meeting yesterday of the Labour party's disputes sub-committee, which she chairs.

Responding to one Labour member, Ms Shawcroft 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."

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.

Leaders of Unite, the GMB and Unison wasted little time in condemning Ms Shawcroft.

In an embarrassing slapdown, Mr Lansman himself took to Twitter to defend Labour ties with the unions - arguing they would "help deliver a Labour government with a transformative programme".

Labour MPs also made clear their anger at Ms Shawcroft's comments on Twitter.

Momentum also moved to distance itself from Ms Shawcroft, who remains a director of the group.

A spokesman said: "We’re very proud of the strong links Momentum has to the trade union movement. 

"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."

Former Jeremy Corbyn aide Simon Fletcher, who now works for Scottish Labour leader Richard Labour, accused Ms Shawcroft of doing the Right's work for them.