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British Labour Party isn’t a neutral arbiter in struggles July 28, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Or at least it shouldn’t be . . . and the latest news, as noted in comments, that Keir Starmer has sacked shadow transport minister Sam Tarry is as predictable as it is absurd. The rationale behind the sacking is worse.

Keir Starmer has told shadow ministers not to join picket lines, stressing that Labour is a party seeking to govern that should aim to solve disputes. Several shadow ministers who joined picket lines during the last strike did not lose their jobs, despite the warning.

The fact Tarry was a Corbyn supporter may have had something to do with that last. But the idea that Labour is some sort of neutral entity ‘solving’ disputes is absurd.  Labour is linked to the unions in ways that make any such neutrality simply unfeasible, and to pretend that it exists is pointless. This doesn’t mean Labour and unions act in lockstep, but it does mean that properly constituted strikes and industrial actions where Labour representatives are in attendance on picket lines should not see the dismissal of same. 

The stance raises impossible contradictions. 

Senior shadow ministers have privately expressed doubt that Labour’s position on strikes is sustainable, after Keir Starmer sacked the frontbencher Sam Tarry for doing broadcast interviews from a rail strike picket line…Frontbenchers told the Guardian they could be put in untenable positions with multiple industrial actions planned by unions in the coming months – including by rail workers, postal workers, NHS staff and teachers. “There are a lot of people saying, I don’t know if I can stay on the frontbench,” one senior source said.


“There will be other frontbenchers who will want to support striking workers in their constituencies,” they said. Another Labour source said: “Postal strikes will be a nightmare because it’s potentially hundreds of people in your constituencies. This would be supporting very moderate unions affiliated to the party. And MPs depend on support from unions.”

The party argues:

A Labour party spokesperson said: “The Labour party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.

“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

“As a government in waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench.”

But this is a legal industrial action, the very definition of working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work. If not now when? 

Then there’s this small detail. 

Tarry, who is in a relationship with the Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said in a statement he did not regret his actions. “As a Labour politician, I am proud to stand with these striking rail workers on the picket line in the face of relentless attacks by this Tory government,” he said.

This just smacks of the worst sort of blinkered Labour right opportunism. 

More here.


1. Wes Ferry - July 28, 2022

I read that the aristocrat *Sir* Keir Starmer only joined the Labour Party in 2015. How many socialist activists of longstanding has he censured or purged?

Liked by 1 person

Wes Ferry - July 28, 2022

Seems Starmer has been Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015, but general point stands, as evidenced by his public dressing down in Liverpool.

Liked by 1 person

2. sonofstan - July 28, 2022

Starmer has made five ‘pledges’ (we know the value of his pledges) on growth: the second is ‘we will be distinctively British’. What does that even mean?

Liked by 1 person

NFB - July 28, 2022

It strikes me as a clumsy attempt to appeal to Brexiteers without just saying so. He might as well have said “We will be distinctively not European”.

Liked by 2 people

benmadigan - July 28, 2022

About 50% in both NI and in Scotland have no desire whatsoever to be British, whether distinctively or not

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - July 28, 2022

Four pledges are for the birds though…
I think I get the investment and productivity one!


3. roddy - July 28, 2022

Just what does being “distinctively British” involve. Rallying legend Paddy Hopkirk died this week.He was once asked was he Irish or British.He replied “It depends on how well I’m doing at the time”!

Liked by 2 people

4. Phil - July 28, 2022

Funny how an anodyne phrase like “distinctively British” takes on different overtones if you travel a couple of hundred miles. I think Starmer probably just didn’t think of that angle, though.

There was an addendum to the Tarry sacking – supposedly Tarry’s specific breach of collective responsibility was saying that rail workers should get an above-inflation pay rise, rather than just saying that there should be a negotiated settlement. Which, when you look at it, is just as confrontational towards the Left and sets the Shadow Cabinet up for just as many problems in the months ahead – so it was a completely pointless intervention, except that it caused a bit of confusion and got a few people going “ah but” and “do you see” to each other instead of talking about the actual issue. Starmer’s news management is the worst, and I mean that in ethical rather than efficiency terms.

Liked by 1 person

5. Phil - July 28, 2022

Just after writing that comment I saw this excellent point from (another) Phil:

If you are banning shadow ministers and bag carriers from attending picket lines, but not issuing edicts against them joining lobbies, protests, demonstrations, or occasionally taking part in stunts, you’re singling out strikes as a special case. This is not about discipline per se but the enforcement of discipline against showing solidarity. It is an expressly anti-working class move.

Liked by 4 people

6. sobriquet90 - July 28, 2022

At this stage, he just simply has to be MI5, doesn’t he?

Liked by 1 person

banjoagbeanjoe - July 28, 2022

He could be but the sad thing is he probably isn’t or doesn’t need to be. He’s the British Labour Party mainstream.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - July 29, 2022

Since after WW1, the Labour Party has been an intrinsic part of the British state, even at its most radical.
Starmer isn’t an agent, they don’t need agents at the top of the LP anymore than they need them at the top of the Tories.
Maybe this will finally help the radical left in England to shed their illusions about the Labour Party, the “British road to socialism” etc.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2022

It’s like we were recently saying, there’s nothing to be lost by acknowledging an LP government is going to be better than a Tory one but an LP government is not radical left and never will be. Corbyn’s programme was Jim Callaghan’s programme. No shame in that, it represented a good shift more leftwards but it wasn’t and couldn’t – given the nature of the BLP as centre-left party in its totality, be transformational in the way most of us would wish for.


Michael Carley - July 28, 2022

In the past MI5 plants were very efficient administrators, which helped them rise to the top of the organisation they were spying on.


7. Wes Ferry - July 28, 2022


Wes Ferry - July 28, 2022

“I have made the decision not only to resign from the Labour Party but now also support the proposal for ASLEF to disaffiliate from the party.”


8. banjoagbeanjoe - July 28, 2022

Look I know we are foreigners, thank God and the martyrs, but let’s do a list of things that pop into our heads when we hear the phrase “distinctively British”. I’ll start:
Bangers and mash
Stiff upper lip


Fergal - July 28, 2022

Great rock bands (What about US ones?)
Great comedies
Obsession with rules/health ‘n safety (is this distinctively British)
Moaning about everything and doing nothing about it (Sounds Irish to me too!)

Liked by 1 person

Wes Ferry - July 28, 2022

Warm beer.
Demanding to know why people in other countries don’t all speak English.
Expecting to win the World Cup just for turning up.


9. irishfabian+ - July 28, 2022

Jeremy Corbyn favourite to succeed him was Rebecca Long Bailey a Catholic woman. As Tribune and late Dawn Foster showed there was a sectarian anti Catholic campaign against her.


10. tomasoflatharta - July 29, 2022

“Up to 70 Labour MPs could join union picket lines on Friday as Keir Starmer faces a renewed battle to maintain party unity over support for striking workers.
One shadow minister was believed to be considering joining a Communication Workers Union (CWU) picket line as thousands of BT staff began two days of strikes over pay, which would set up a fresh potential conflict with the Labour leader’s office.” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jul/28/labour-mps-may-join-pickets-starmer-faces-test-party-unity

Liked by 1 person

11. Wes Ferry - July 29, 2022


WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2022

A question to be asked regularly


Tomboktu - July 30, 2022



12. Wes Ferry - July 30, 2022

Audrey White, who confronted Keir Starmer in Liverpool, has been expelled from the British Labour Party.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2022

What on earth were the grounds? Ridiculous.


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