Unite boss Len McCluskey has warned Keir Starmer not to move Labour too far from the left as the union moved to cut affiliation money. The union, which is Labour’s biggest financial donor, was understood to be reducing affiliation by about 10% after a vote of its executive on Tuesday.
McCluskey, an ally of Starmer’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, warned Unite’s multi-million pound funding could be cut if the new leader undertakes too drastic a change of course.
But the cut to Labour’s funding is being used to support the grassroots left:
Len McCluskey’s statement on why Unite voted yday to reduce affiliation to @UKLabour. ‘We also want to use our political funding to support and nurture the newer voices in our movement… This move will support the collective voice from the shop floor to the grassroots’ https://t.co/0cUQDLgAau
— Unite Politics (@UnitePolitics) October 7, 2020
“I’m not sure what Labour stands for”
Ahead of the vote, McCluskey told BBC 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 stands for. But I don’t see at the moment any dramatic move to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. The Labour Party is our party.
He was particularly critical of Labour’s payout to whistleblowers over the party’s handling of antisemitism. McCluskey said:
it was an absolute mistake and wrong to pay out huge sums of money to individuals who were suing the Labour Party based on the Panorama programme, when Labour’s own legal people were saying that they would lose that case if it went to court.
So we shouldn’t have paid them anything.