Analysis Breaking

Unite’s Beckett publicly throws down gauntlet to Starmer: it’s time to step up

Union’s assistant general secretary publishes video call on Labour leader: step up and protect working people from Tory-induced jobs catastrophe

Senior union official Howard Beckett has taken the remarkable step of issuing a video in which he directly addresses Labour leader Keir Starmer – and tells Starmer to pull his socks up and do his job.

Beckett, fresh from facing down the Labour establishment to save the jobs of furloughed Labour employees who had been sacked by letter from 31 July, warns Starmer of a ‘Tory tsunami of job losses’ that the wind-down and ending of the furlough scheme from August to October will create. He then tells him him to ‘step up’, providing clear steps for Starmer to take, as well as challenging the Labour leader to come up with his own alternatives:

Beckett knows what he is talking about – the furlough scheme owes its existence to work by unions and the then Corbyn-led Labour Party that Beckett spearheaded to force Chancellor Rishi Sunak to change his plan to simply bail out big businesses and instead channel essential funds to working people about to lose their jobs through the lock-down.

Starmer’s job as Labour leader is to stand up for working-class people. His current non-opposition to the Tories’ chaos and wilful neglect – he is called ‘Silent Knight’ by his detractors – will not get that job done.

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  1. It shows the current state of the Labour party when a Trade Unionist has to ask the leader to support workers facing massive job losses.

  2. Under Labour Party Rules, Chapter 1, Clause II, point 6 Affiliation fees, affiliated Trade Unions pay to the Party £3 per member per year; in the case of Unite over £3 million split over four payments.
    What would Unite do if Starmer doesn’t step up? Would Unite consider disaffiliation from the Labour Party? Would Unite consider supporting the Socialist Campaign Group MPs to leave the Labour Party and form another political party with Unite’s support? If Unite leaves other Trade Unions could follow for example the RMT, could perhaps affiliate to the new party and other Trade Unions, like CWU, FBU or the Bakers Union could follow. I believe over 100K labour members would immediately affiliate to the new Party, making the Party financially viable and also providing proper representation in Parliament. Right now when it comes to defend workers rights the SNP is doing by far a better job.
    Starmer would only step up if he believes that their is a real threat of major Trade Unions disaffiliating from the Labour Party to support a new Party.
    In the meantime well done Howard, keep up the pressure and be prepare for Unite to disaffiliate if Starmer doesn’t step up, solidarity.

    1. IF (a HUGE IF) UNITE disaffiliated from the Labour Party and funded a new radical Left Party, along with the other Left-led unions, the CWU. FBU, and Bakers Union, it would fundamentally change UK politics permanently, especially if all the current Campaign Group of MPs left Labour to join it. and as Maria Vazquez says, it would have a likely immediate membership , from Labour, and beyond, in the 100’s of thousands within weeks, It wouldn’t need to be ever so radical – just standing for our 2017 Manifesto policies would do it ! But would the majority of ‘Corbynistas ‘ be prepared to abandon their uncritical Liberal love for the EU, or their naive , completely non-socialist, Liberal love of unlimited Freedom of Movement ? Without that shift in politics a new Left Party would never break through to the millions of lost Labour working class voters in our old Labour Heartlands.

      There is also the historical record of both even the ‘Left’ Labour bureaucracy, and the Labour PLP Left – with no evidence at all that either would EVER leave the Labour Party, no matter what. They all stayed onboard during the long neoliberal privatising years of Blair and Brown, with nothing more than pathetic oppositional rhetoric ! Why would they change their lifelong practices just because we are back to Labour as a neo-Blairite Party of neoliberal capitalism ? I think comrade Beckett is just spouting empty rhetoric I’m afraid – to gain credibility with the more Left wing elements in the tiny participating voting base of the current UNITE union leadership – as Len McCluskey nears retirement – and Beckett hopes to take over on a Left-supported ticket – an important voter base when so few UNITE members actually vote in Union elections. .

      1. There’s no doubt that the Labour party are in real trouble and its terminal.WE need re..housing and the unions could take advantage with a few Socialist MPs to form a new party that truly represents working-class aspirations The numbers add up and the membership base are ready and willing.We are heading for an economic meltdown with public school establishment clowns leading us over a cliff.Time for change more than ever before its too late.

      2. jpenney, sadly I have to agree with you. For any Party from the left to retake the ground lost in the red wall it will have to abandone the mantra of freedom of movement, that as you say has little to do with socialism and lots to do with neo-liberalism.
        People from the Global South risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea because capitalist corporations are destroying their natural environments, resulting in famines. Because the arm industry is too eager to sell arms to tin pot dictator and instigate wars in the search for profits we create the displacement of entire communities. Without capitalist intervention, we wouldn’t have a refuge crisis, most people would be happy staying in their communities. It isn’t like the West is the land of milk and honey.
        What both left and right in the Labour Party are doing is justifying the stealing of human resources from countries that dedicate a higher proportion of their GDP educating its people. Under the freedom of movement mantra we steal, their doctors, nurses, engineers etc.
        It is cheaper for the UK to import well trained immigrants than to spend money training their own working class, abandoned in the forgotten areas. While at the same time, by stealing the human resources of poorer countries, it is more difficult for them to develop their own industries and infrastructure to compete with the capitalist West. That the left of the Labour Party goes along with this mantra of freedom of movement, I cannot understand. It is sort of collective brain washing.
        Of course we use unqualified foreign labour to keep wages down, so that London middle class Labour Party members can afford cleaners and nannies.
        For the record, I am a EU immigrant and have I had a vote, I would have voted to remain in the EU at the Referendum, if anything because I fear the uncertainty of a Tory Brexit. However, I have never supported the pointless campaign exercise in favour of a “Peoples Vote”. The people had already voted and the result was loud and clear and we should have stayed firm on the promises of the 2017 manifesto and develop a Labour Brexit as an alternative to a Tory Brexit and go to the General Election of 2019 with a clear Labour Brexit policy. I don’t believe Labour would have won a majority, but I believe that we will have increase our vote from 2017 enough to form a coalition government.

      3. I’m proud to call myself a Corbynista.
        Maybe it’s time we stop abusing each other over fucking Brexit and concentrate on the new socialist party, since we seem to be in agreement that it’s a worthwhile project – even an essential one?

  3. Yes, the party is over. When the SNP are the opposition then even the most optimistic Socialists must realise that. There is a groundswell in the party of sufficient number to begin the necessary discussions needed to have regional conferences to write a charter for the advancement of socialist principles. We can no longer fool ourselves that opponents will hesitate to use every weapon at their disposal to tame or destroy such a movement. No more PC or identarianism, tapeworms or fiefdoms to act as voices of the people. I dunno, but we need to do something soon. Best wishes to all.

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