UNITE the Union has slashed funding to the Labour Party by £700,000 in what is being seen as a shot across the bows for Keir Starmer’s as he steers the party to the right.
A Unite source said the decision was because Labour’s leadership is ‘just not listening’.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey had warned two months ago that funding was to be reviewed, after Starmer handed out £600,000 to fifth column ‘whistleblowers’ in a case Labour’s lawyers said the party was likely to win – and that the union’s support must not be ‘taken for granted’. The warning has not been heeded.
Unite is biggest donor but members affiliated to the party have halved, down by 50,000. This reflects the exodus of members appalled at the party’s direction under Starmer,
Labour had already begun handing round the begging bowl to wealthy former donors echoing Tony Blair’s funding style. The rich are waiting to see the price ticket on knighthoods and peerages.
The prospect that further cuts will follow if Starmer continues his swing rightwards is a very real one, with McCluskey telling the BBC’s 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 stand for’, then my activists will ask me, ‘why are we giving so much money’?
The money cut from Unite’s donations to Labour is expected to be rerouted to left-wing grassroots organisations.
With contests underway for the leadership of GMB and Unison, until now dominated by the right, Labour’s new centrist regime could be facing a serious crisis if the left succeeds in rallying behind good candidates.
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