Labour insists Jeremy Corbyn ally who called for end to union link has changed her mind

Posted On: 
7th March 2018

A senior Labour official who called for the party to break its historic links with the trade unions has changed her mind, a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour party was established by the trade union movement.
PA Images

Christine Shawcroft posted her remarks on Facebook "in the heat of the moment", according to the spokesman, and has since deleted them.

He added: "It doesn't represent her view."

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PoliticsHome revealed that Ms 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.

She added: "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, which were posted last night and still on Facebook this morning, sparked a furious backlash from trade union leaders and MPs.

Backbencher John Mann even said Ms Shawcroft should give up the NEC seat which she has held for more than a decade.

However, Mr Corbyn's spokesman tried to play down the row.

He said: "As I understand it, the comments made by the person you are talking about were a heat of the moment remark. She has said that herself, she has deleted the comment.

"There is almost no one in the entire Labour party who supports any kind of breaking of the link with the trade unions. Even to say it's a minority view would be exaggerating it, it's a completely marginal view that has no support whatever.

"I don't think it even represents her view, let alone the views of the vast majority of Labour party members."

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."