UK Labour Party’s Biggest Funder to Slash Donations in Favour of Union Campaigns

UK labour party  - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham took over from Len McCluskey in August, vowing to “completely refocus” the union, and promising she would be “a general secretary for the workers, for my members”.
The UK Labour Party is facing a significant cut to its funding, as Unite the Union has announced it will slash political donations to the party.
According to Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, interviewed by The Guardian, the money will be funneled into union campaigns.

“… There’s a lot of other money that we use from our political fund where, actually, I’m not sure we’re getting the best value for it,” said Graham.

She acknowledged that Britain’s biggest private sector union and Labour’s biggest contributor would still pay £1 million ($1.3 mln) in affiliation fees, adding:
“The fact that I am being quite robust is because Labour needs to talk about workers, needs to defend workers and needs to defend communities.”
Graham, who took over Len McCluskey in August and was being interviewed after her first 100 days at the post, also weighed in on the shake-up that Labour Party leader Keir Starmer carried out on Monday.
Prime Minister's Questions session in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.11.2021
Ins and Outs of Labour Leader Starmer's Front Bench Shake-Up
While few posts had been left untouched, she dismissed the reshuffle as “white noise” and said it was “not a good signal” for the party to sendby not having a shadow secretary of state for employment rights and protections.
McCluskey, the previous leader of Unite, and a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, had already cut donations to to Labour since Keir Starmer took over in spring 2020. According to Graham, Unite’s money would be invested in campaigns that would now “set the pace” for Labour to follow. She did not clarify to what extent the funding would be cut.
Sharon Graham - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
Sharon Graham
Sharon Graham touted the Scottish government’s proposal for a national care service to reform social care as the kind of cause that Unite would campaign for.
“If we can get in a national care service in Scotland, if we can drive that through, then let’s put the resource in Scotland, let’s get some campaigning going on there properly,” she said.
Graham voiced her support for devolution, saying Westminster was not a “font of everything” and “pace-setting [policies]” could be effective in influencing UK-wide policy.
Graham, who had not attended the Labour Party conference in Brighton in September, claimed her priority was focusing on current industrial disputes. She said that she had met Keir Starmer, but lamented Westminster’s obsession with issues such as whether there was “tax [cut] on champagne” during the budget.
According to Unite’s general secretary, this showed how out of touch politicians could be with reality.
“I don’t know what world they’re living in, but [they] don’t live in the one in I’m living in, because [in] the one I’m inhabiting, people are frightened. They feel that they don’t know what’s happening next. They are angry. They are in pain. And the idea that the politicians can’t get their act together and start talking about what to do about it I find outrageous,” she said.
When Graham had taken on the new role, she vowed to “completely refocus” the union. “I will be a general secretary for the workers, for my members,” she had said.
A Labour source was cited as saying:
“Relationships with the unions are good.. Unions have always funded campaigns and causes for their memberships.”
Graham criticized London’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan over the weekend for denouncing a tube strike that had caused “widespread disruption for millions of Londoners.” Train drivers had been protesting aspects of the re-launch of the Night Tube, set to resume a 24-hour service on the Victoria and Central lines, cancelled earlier because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Graham tweeted that workers were “turning away” when a “Labour mayor attacks workers.”
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