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RMT boss Mick Lynch denounces Labour ‘purge’ of left-wing candidates

06 Jul 2023 4 minute read
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT). Photo Kirsty O’Connor PA Images

Transport union chief Mick Lynch has accused Labour of conducting a “purge” of the left following controversy over the party’s candidate selection processes.

Mr Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union, also said he does not have confidence in Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as he urged him to include left-wing policies in the party’s election manifesto.

The criticism comes after former shadow chancellor John McDonnell argued this week that the Labour leadership was allowing a “right-wing faction” to become “drunk with power” and attempt to “destroy” the left of the party.

Sir Keir’s outfit has been accused of keeping a tight grip on selection races ahead of a likely general election next year, with Labour riding high in the polls compared with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives.

Former party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been blocked from standing for Labour in his long-held Islington North seat as a result of a row over his response to a withering equalities watchdog report into the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints during his tenure.

Mr Lynch, asked on ITV’s Peston programme about Mr McDonnell’s comments, said he agreed with the verdict of Mr Corbyn’s former right-hand man.

The union chief said: “The left is being purged and we need a balance.

“We’ve got people in the centre, people in the traditional right have got their place and the people on the left should be able to put their ideas forward.

“Many of the ideas that John McDonnell put forward during the last couple of election campaigns have come to fruition, such as broadband being something that everybody in the country needs — people need digital access.”

Middle England

He continued: “That we can control the power of the utilities companies and that our water companies are completely corrupt, as we’ve found out in the last couple of days, and that public ownership is good in and of itself.

“Those kinds of ideas have come back. Keir Starmer needs to be putting some of those ideas forward in terms of housing, funding our NHS and turning this country around so that people can believe in him, rather than triangulate around what he thinks Middle England thinks.

“He needs to deliver for working people — that’s his job, and he needs to show that he is going to get on with it.”

Pressed on whether he backed Sir Keir, who is due to give a speech outlining Labour’s education reforms on Thursday, Mr Lynch said: “I don’t have confidence in him.”

He went on to vow that his RMT union, which is not affiliated to the Labour Party, would “prod and pressure” Sir Keir to deliver for working people “rather than delivering the agenda of the Daily Mail or the Telegraph, or being a bland version of the Tory Party”.

The firebrand campaigner was one of a number of trade union chiefs to write to Labour last month accusing the party of a “monumental own goal” by blocking a left-leaning Labour mayor from running for another role in the North East.

Jamie Driscoll, the serving North of Tyne mayor who has been described as the “last Corbynista in power”, was barred from the long list of contestants in the expanded North East authority.

Labour, when responding to Mr McDonnell’s criticisms, said its selection process was ensuring “high standards for those who are going to represent the Labour Party at election time”.

A spokesman said: “This is a changed Labour Party back in the service of working people so we can build a better Britain.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

‘Character’…”the mental and moral qualities distinctive of an individual”…

Sunak, Fat Shanks, May, Hunt, Truss, Gove, Cameron, Osborne, Braverman, Barclay, Rees-Mogg and Starmer on one side of the scales…

Compared to Mick Lynch on the other side of the scales ?

I know who I would vote for…

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