A trade union is considering disaffiliating from Keir Starmer’s Labour

BFAWU logo and Keir Starmer
Steve Topple

A trade union is about to start debating its affiliation with the Labour Party. Why? Because it feels “further away from having a political voice” in the party “than ever”.

The BFAWU: everybody off?

On Saturday 9 January, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) tweeted:

The background to BFAWU’s announcement makes it clear where the problem lies.

“Cause for concern”

In November, its national president Ian Hodson wrote a blog piece titled Who Exactly Are Labour Representing? It announced the start of a consultation on the BFAWU’s affiliation with the party. In it, Hodson said:

The political direction of the Labour Party in recent months, along with the promotion of MPs who worked tirelessly to ensure that the Party lost both the 2017 and 2019 elections, has given members cause for concern. There is also a clear agenda to alienate any MP considered to be supportive of socialism and move them to the backbenches.

For example, Lisa Nandy MP was part of the so-called 2016 ‘coup’ against the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn. Starmer promoted her to shadow foreign secretary. And of course, he also kept the removal of the whip from Corbyn. This resulted in a swathe of motions from Constituency Labour Parties in support of the latter.

Hodson also highlighted other problems with Starmer’s leadership: from the party’s ‘backing all the way’ of the Tory government’s “disastrous” coronavirus response, its propping-up of landlords, not tenants, and the leaked report into what Hodson called the “deliberate sabotage” of Corbyn and Labour’s election bids. This is aside from the Labour Party’s current “purge” of dissenting CLPs.

No political voice?

Overall, Hodson said:

Sir Keir Starmer was supposedly elected as a unity candidate, yet his idea of ‘bringing people together’ seems to have amounted to nothing more than deliberate, vindictive and divisive attacks on those regarded as being on the ‘socialist’ side of the Party. Ironic, given the fact that Labour is supposed to be at heart, a socialist endeavour.

And he concluded that:

As a Union, we have been involved with representatives of the Labour Party across three centuries. Indeed, the first recorded meeting was with Keir Hardie in 1893, following a demonstration of journeymen bakers in London… However, despite the importance of Trade Unions and the inevitable current and post-Covid economic plight heading towards working people, today, we feel further away from having a political voice than ever.

So, on Tuesday 12 January, the consultation process looks set to begin.

Starmer: fomenting discontent

If the BFAWU’s membership does decide to disaffiliate, it won’t be the first union to voice its displeasure at Starmer. Unite the Union has already reduced the money it pays Labour. And in November 2020, the Mirror reported that the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Communication Workers Union (CWU) were thinking of doing similar. Both the FBU and CWU have previously disaffiliated or cut funding from the party under Tony Blair’s leadership.

The BFAWU regularly gives thousands of pounds to Labour. So a disaffiliation would be a financial loss for the party. But moreover, the union has been at the heart of notable, grassroots campaigns for workers’ rights, such as the “McStrike” campaign for fair pay and conditions at McDonalds. If it abandons Labour, it’s a sign of the growing disconnect between the party hierarchy and the real world for working class people.

Featured image via the BFAWU union – screengrab and Sky News – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Let’s hope UNITE and some more Left Wing UNIONS does the same, before the Neolabour Parasites take them also!
      We need a Democratic Socialist Party, minus the Parasite Neolabour TORY Party! Leave them to Squirm, Fester, Coup, Sabotage, Smear and Lie among themselves!

    2. AQs one of the first people to join, may I be the first to recommend the Socialist Labour Party, founded by Arthur Scargill when Blair dropped Clause 4? Contrary to what you may have read in the red-tops, we still exist and are still active.

      1. That would be a great Idea! “UK Labour” is a Brand, a Brand that the Thatcherite Neoliberals have been after for a long enough time. We are The Labour Movement, Democratic Socialist Two Polar opposite Parties, not the Left and the Right of the UK Labour Party. Without them we’ll have a Democratic Socialist Government sooner than the ELITE owned and controlled Politicians and MSM can say one single lie or smear! We would definitely win back the 2 Lauras, at least, even if not there are some great leaders already. We won’t have many MPs sitting to start, but boy will we cause a storm at the next GE no matter what we’re called, just as long as we remain alert to and act immediately to attempts of invasion and sabotage!

    3. I’d be happy to support and join a new socialist party, but only if it could obtain significant funding from a number of big unions. Without that I fear it would be doomed to fail, despite the huge number of supporters it would have the potential to attract amongst younger people (of which I’m not one sadly).
      The social democrats in the Labour Party have no interest in a coalition with the democratic socialists, they simply want to control and run the Party as the past 5 years have shown, propagating their neoliberal policies which never lead to real, long term, worthwhile change.
      The Labour Party no longer represents my views nor those of a large proportion of its members. Let’s starve it of funds and leave it to atrophy.

    4. It would be a good thing if unions did disaffiliate.
      Labour hasn’t supported unions since Blair ( with a short blip when Corbyn was leader).
      I think the left has to leave the labour party and stop wasting energy fighting the right, put that energy into a new party.
      Left to the right the labour party would just become another lib dem and no one wants them.
      It’s 4 years until the next election, pleny of time to push a different narrative.

      1. Chris Williamson is already building, a left leaning, new Socialist group, at ground level!
        People are telling him, its time to build a new Party and as you say, we have four years!
        With our sad media, it will be a hellish job, but, it would be amazing, to represent all those people, who have turned their backs on Starmer s Labour and build a real Socialist Party, strong enough to deal with the media and the Tories….bring it on!

    5. Apart from Corbyn Labour has not been Socialist for many years. This should have been settled 40 years ago when the gang of four created the SDP. But I fear that the battle is for the name of the Labour Party rather than politics. SDP had to join with the Liberals to avoid disappearing completely. They want the votes that the name Labour brings and so entryists again took it to the right, so far that you can’t get a fag paper between Labour and Tory Wets, a complaint often made in the Blair years.

      By the end of this term of government the Tories will have been in power for 14 years, overseen austerity, Brexit and COVID. No one expects they could win another term. All any Labour leader need do is be basically competent and not cock up. Starmer isn’t managing that. After alienating one side of the party he’s alienating the other side as well. ie Brexiteers and Remainers, left and right. Unless the electorate have a VERY short memory he could lose or cause a hung parliament at the next GE.

      Starmer is bad for the party, bad for politics and bad for the country..

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