David Lammy condemns Labour MPs who join rail workers on the picket line
What’s the point of Labour?
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, said he “categorically” does not support a walkout by BA check-in staff, dismissing their call for a 10 per cent pay increase.
Calling it “very sad when any union calls its members out”, Mr Lammy also said: “I don’t support strikes,” before adding: “I support the right to strike of course.”
Along the same lines, the Labour leader had ordered his top team to stay away from the picket lines in an attempt to avoid Tory efforts to pin the blame for rail strikes onto Mr Starmer’s party.
Those who defied his orders are expected to get a talking to from the chief whip and risk potential disciplinary action.
Lammy told BBC’s Sunday Morning: “I suspect the chief whip will be speaking to them next week and making it very clear that a serious party of Government does not join picket lines.
“It’s likely there will continue to be disputes over the coming weeks and months – we’re in a cost of living crisis and people will no doubt be concerned about rising inflation and where their salaries are as a result of that.
“A serious party of Government, in Government, is in the business of negotiation, sitting down with both those who are striking and management.
“Look I don’t think it’s helpful to stand on picket lines.”
Labour MP Diane Abbott MP Tweeted: “David Lammy says “a serious party of government does not join picket lines” So what was he doing on the @ucu picket lines in 2018?”
Asked if Mr Starmer has lost control of his own MPs, Mr Lammy said: ” Keir Starmer has not lost control of his own MPs.
“Parties that have lost control are parties that lose votes and I think that’s the Conservatives and the PM who has lost his back benches.”
He said Labour was not divided on the issue and insisted the Tories were trying to stoke a row when Labour is firmly on the side of workers.
Mr Lammy said it wouldn’t be “responsible” to support every strike and made it clear he opposed walkouts by BA staff at Heathrow Airport this summer.
The stance was criticised by John McDonnell, Labour’s former shadow chancellor, who said striking rail workers were right to seek “protection against the cost of living”.
The chair of Young Labour, Jess Barnard, attacked the party leadership for “sending out its senior politicians to attack 50 of its own MPs and thousands of workers on national television”.
Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary, also said: “Supporting bad bosses is a new low for Labour. It is now down to the trade unions to defend working people. We are their only voice.”
Earlier, the respected backbencher Jon Cruddas, an adviser to Tony Blair on unions, said Labour must back families facing a historic slump in their incomes.
“The rail strikes are arguably the canary down the coalmine. You cannot dodge this. Labour has to be supportive of those seeking to defend their living standards,” Mr Cruddas said.
Mr Lammy said the party’s chief whip would speak to frontbenchers who defied Keir Starmer by joining RMT picket lines – and hinted the order will be repeated for future strikes.
He acknowledged “further disputes” are likely – with teachers, NHS staff and legal aid solicitors all contemplating strike action – and warned the rebels: “I don’t think it’s helpful to stand on picket lines.”
It has become quite clear workers cannot really on the labour party to make their case and their only recourse of action is through their own leaders and membership along with the continued support of the public who are all in this #CostOfLivingCrisis created by the greed and profiteering of the oligarchy.