Unite the Union has joined with Momentum to demand Labour Party MPs vote against the third reading of a bill that licenses MI5 and police informants and other state agencies to break the law.
With a Hillsborough families and survivors group they have demanded Labour drop plans to abstain at Thursday’s vote and to fully oppose the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill.
They argue the bill is a “grave threat” to civil liberties and trade union rights.
This escalates what has been the most significant revolt by the party’s left against Starmer, and looks set to prompt a third rebellion in three weeks.
Jeremy Corbyn and 19 other Socialist Campaign Group MPs last week broke the party’s whip instruction to abstain and instead voted against the second reading of the bill, which state agents to break the law.
Starmer told Labour MPs on Tuesday night’s meeting of the parliamentary Labour party that he would not seek to vote down the bill if the party’s amendments fail to pass on Thursday.
He and Nick Thomas-Symonds, the party’s home affairs spokesman, believe there has to be a change because the legal position had been made increasingly uncertain after a legal challenges.
The letter is signed by Len McCluskey of Unite; Momentum’s two vice-chairs Andrew Scattergood and Gaya Sriskanthan; Dave Ward of the CWU, Matt Wrack of the FBU and Dave Webb of CND among others.
In the letter it states: “One of the key concerns for us about the bill is that the scope of the criminality which can be licensed is not limited: serious crimes ranging from murder to child abuse are not ruled out.”
The Home Office says murder and torture are in effect ruled out because the bill will be compliant with the European convention on human rights.
But trade unions led by Unite argue that the bill could authorise spying on their activities by agents or police.
The signatories criticise Labour for abstaining, adding “the rationale behind that decision was not satisfactorily explained”.
Some on the party’s leftwing believe the decision was designed to draw a dividing line between Starmer and Corybn.
Click here for a secure way to sign up, you will be supporting independent news. Click the button below.
Disagree with this article? why not write in and you can have your say? email us