Unite right to withhold MP cash says Ian Lavery

Union leaders are right to axe funds for Labour MPs who will not back them, a North East MP has said.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, chair of the trade union group of Labour MPs, has said party leader Ed Miliband needs to realise the importance of having unions put the views of ordinary people into the party.

Labour’s left-wing powerbase in the North East has increasingly sided with the unions since Mr Miliband announced last year his intention to reform links with the party paymasters.

Now Wansbeck MP Mr Lavery has said Unite is right to stop paying out to MPs who will not back it.

Unite is paying out £3,000 a time to Labour MPs who backed the unions when party leader Mr Miliband proposed axing historic links.

That includes £3,000 for Easington’s Grahame Morris, who penned an article warning that “Miliband’s plans for the party’s affiliated trade union members are fraught with danger.”

They also handed funds to Blaydon MP Dave Anderson. The former union chairman said in the run-up to Mr Miliband’s union showdown that the party was busying itself with “navel-gazing” and had ended up “facing a period of review and a costly, time-consuming conference” instead of campaigning for votes.

Another £3,000 went to Gateshead MP Ian Mearns.

The MP was among those who refused to follow Labour party orders when he spoke out against the party’s plans to back the Tory cap on welfare payments.

Mr Lavery  –  “In recent times some members of parliament have sought to distance themselves from the trade unions and their members.

“They are very much entitled to do so. However, the unions are quite entitled to react by withdrawing constituency finance.

“I think it is basic, why would a union wish to expend its members’ money supporting MPs who don’t support them. It would be quite a ludicrous situation.”

Mr Lavery was building on his speech at Unite’s annual conference in Liverpool, where he said: “A lot of these MPs believe it was the Labour Party that introduced the trade unions rather than the fact that it was ordinary working people in trade unions that formed the Labour Party.

“At the beginning of the 1900s there were huge problems with the health service — we didn’t have the NHS. There were huge problems with wages, terms and conditions, with poverty, with child poverty.

“That’s why the Labour Party was formed — to give a voice to ordinary people in Parliament. That’s what the party leader should remember.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  08 July 2014


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