Unite union boss tells Keir Starmer she will turn off the cash taps unless his Labour party does her bidding
- The union – headed by Sharon Graham- guarantees them £1.5 million a year
- She warned there will be ‘no blank cheques’ as she urged the party to be ‘bolder’
One of the UK’s largest trade unions could slash their generous donations to the Labour Party unless their leadership backs more of its policy priorities.
Unite union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, warned Sir Keir Starmer there will be ‘no blank cheques’ as she urged the party to be ‘bolder’.
She told the BBC: ‘I want to see some movement if we are going to give what we usually give.
‘We would be better off with a Labour government but I am very, very disappointed with the lack of ambition.’
The union – which has 1.4 million members – is Labour’s biggest financial backer and guarantees the party almost £1.5 million a year.
Unite union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, warned Sir Keir Starmer there will be ‘no blank cheques’ as she urged the party to be ‘bolder’
During several meetings with the Labour leader, she said it would be cheaper to buy a steel industry that has lost much of its market value than to bail out its private owners
Ms Graham made the comments after members of her union, the UK’s second-largest, voted overwhelmingly against disaffiliating from the party earlier this week.
Ms Graham said she is ‘very, very disappointed’ by the ‘lack of ambition’ at the top of the party.
Apathy will be the winner at the ballot box next year if Labour does not become bolder, she added.
She said the opposition needs to set out a distinct alternative to the Tory Government as it tries to reassure voters it can manage the economy.
The union boss said ‘we need be as bold as the 1945 Labour government’ which created the NHS.
She added: ‘There wasn’t much money about then, I can tell you.’
Ms Graham told the BBC that strict fiscal rules have led to ‘inertia’ which has led the public to ask what the difference is between Labour and the Conservatives.
She also said Labour must ‘talk about what they can do to change Britain. People want something to vote for’.
READ MORE: Unite boss Sharon Graham boasts that strike-happy union will have ‘maximum leverage’ over Labour if Keir Starmer wins the next election as she sees off disaffiliation move
She added: ‘If Labour are saying what’s happening now is awful – and it is absolutely awful – they have to come out with solutions to that.’
She is pushing for the renationalisation of steel and energy companies to be near the top of the party’s priority list, according to the BBC.
Speaking at a union conference in Brighton she warned Sir Keir there will be ‘no blank cheques’ as she urged him to ‘deliver on jobs, pay and conditions’.
Ms Graham told the debate: ‘This is the moment of maximum leverage for the union where we can hold Labour to account. Now cannot be the time to walk away. We would be weakening our own arm.
‘It would be the worst time to leave the Labour Party when they are in touching distance of power. If we leave we wouldn’t influence that power.
‘Labour must be Labour and the union must push them into that position. We must make them take different choices. We will not make the same mistakes of the past. There will be no blank cheques for Labour until we see tangible results.’
During several meetings with the Labour leader, she said it would be cheaper to buy a steel industry that has lost much of its market value than to bail out its private owners, the broadcaster reported.
Ms Graham wants ‘hundreds of organisers’ to go to marginal seats and talk to voters about the case for taking key industries into public hands.
Unite-funded billboards will reinforce the message.
The aim is for voters to press local Labour parties and candidates to commit to backing nationalisation.
She told the BBC: ‘We will take our ideas to the people.
‘The real decision-makers are the voters. If they push those ideas, politicians tend to move when they speak to voters.
‘People will say they remember when energy companies were privatised and when they paid massive bills, and it was a Labour government that stopped all that.’
Since last summer, the militant union has been behind a weave of public sector pay strikes, including thousands of NHS ambulance staff.
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