Aslef boss quits party

Starmer in a storm after Tarry sacking

Sir Keir Starmer iin Edinburgh
Sir Keir Starmer has been criticised by Labour activists (pic: Terry Murden)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a storm of criticism from within his own party and trade unionists after he sacked frontbencher Sam Tarry for defying a ban on joining picketing rail workers.

Mr Tarry was dismissed as shadow transport minister following media appearances supporting the RMT union’s action.

Kevin Lindsay, Scotland organiser of train drivers’ union Aslef, later resigned from the party in protest and called for the union itself to cut ties with the party.

Mr Lindsay said the move was “just a step too far”.

In a statement, the party said it took seriously “any breach of collective responsibility”, but denied it was about Mr Tarry joining a picket line at Euston station in London.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.

“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line.”

“Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility.

Demonstration in Glasgow

“That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

But the decision has angered Labour activists who say it has set back the party’s attempts to win back working class voters who switched to the Tories in 2019.

Former Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott tweeted a photo of himself addressing striking miners when he was shadow transport secretary in 1984.

GMB general secretary Gary Smith said it was a “huge own goal” for Labour to “turn a Tory Transport crisis into a Labour story”.

Sharon Graham, leader of Unite the Union, which has more than a million members, said Labour was “becoming more and more irrelevant to ordinary working people”

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The TSSA Transport Union, of which Mr Tarry is a former member, said Labour was “deluded” if it thought it could win the next election “while pushing away 7 million trade union members”.

Sir Keir will today meet community leaders and attend the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but this will be overshadowed by his sacking of Mr Tarry who is also the boyfriend of Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.

However, Sir Keir confirmed that members of his frontbench should not join striking workers.

Train services were disrupted throughout Wednesday after 40,000 rail workers walked out in protest at pay, pensions, and working conditions.

Negotiations between the RMT union – which is not affiliated to Labour – the TSSA and Network Rail have failed to find a solution to the dispute.

Unions have warned that disruption will continue throughout the summer and even for the rest of the year.

Train drivers at nine rail companies will strike on 13 August, the union Aslef has said.

Aslef members at seven companies were already set to walk out on 30 July and drivers at two more firms have now voted for industrial action, the union said.

It said strikes were a “last resort” but the rising cost of living meant workers had faced a real terms pay cut.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said Aslef’s announcement showed a “cynical approach to talks, a total disregard for passengers and is putting everyone’s summer plans at risk”.

“This action will bring the total number of strike days on the railway to ten, disrupting plans in June, July and August,” it said in a statement.



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