The UK and Ireland’s biggest trade union has fired a warning shot across the bows of Keir Starmer’s hard turn to the right by slashing around £700,000 a year from its funding to the Labour Party, according to union sources, and cutting the number of Unite members affiliated to the party by ten percent – some 50,000. The union has also halted its donations to the party since just after Keir Starmer took over the Labour leadership.
A Unite source said the decision was because Labour’s leadership is ‘just not listening’. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey had warned two months ago that funding was to be reviewed, after Starmer’s decision to dole out around £600,000 to ‘whistleblowers’ in a case Labour’s lawyers said it was likely to win – and that the union’s support must not be ‘taken for granted’. The warning has not been heeded.
Unite is Labour’s biggest donor. Following an exodus of members appalled at the party’s direction under Starmer, Labour had already begun handing round the begging bowl to wealthy former donors. The prospect that further cuts will follow if Starmer continues his swing rightwards is a very real one, with McCluskey telling the BBC’s Newsnight:
I have no doubt if things start to move in different directions and ordinary working people start saying, ‘well, I’m not sure what Labour stand for’, then my activists will ask me, ‘why are we giving so much money’?
The money cut from Unite’s donations to Labour is expected to be rerouted to left-wing grassroots organisations.
With contests underway for the leadership of GMB and Unison, until now dominated by the right, Labour’s new centrist regime could be facing a serious crisis if the left succeeds in rallying behind good candidates.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.