If Labour won’t stand up for working people, unions will | Owen Jones

If Labour won’t stand up for working people, unions will | Owen Jones

Labour’s decision to adopt a hostile posture to a newly assertive trade union movement could prove a costly error

Labour is losing its sense of purpose just as the trade unions that gave birth to the party have rediscovered theirs. This may seem churlish given that the party won a byelection just last week, but the polling tells us that this is a story of Tory self-immolation, of voters repelled by illicit pandemic-era parties and a failure to address falling living standards rather than a vote for Labour’s vision for the country – the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t have one.

The opposition’s identity crisis was underlined by the performance of the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, at the weekend during his broadcast round. His declaration that “a serious party of government does not go on a picket line” was provocative enough: given that he has himself proudly done so in the past speaks to a politician who says only what he believes is politically opportune at any given moment. He also wrongly claimed that British Airways workers were seeking a pay rise, rather than a reversal of a 10% pay cut– leading to understandable fury from Unite, the union that represents them.

Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

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