In Brief

Unite cuts Labour funding amid frustration with ‘centrist’ Keir Starmer

Party’s biggest donor warns leader not to move too far from the left

Unite has voted to reduce its funding to Labour as the union’s boss Len McCluskey warns Keir Starmer that moving Labour too far from the left may result in a further withdrawal of support.

At a meeting last night, the Unite executive agreed to cut its affiliation money to the Labour Party by about 10%, amid “anger in the union about Labour’s direction” under Starmer, the BBC reports.

And McCluskey, a close ally of former Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn, has hinted that “there could be further cuts in Unite’s donations should Sir Keir continue to tack to the centre”, says The Times.

The union chief told BBC Newsnight yesterday that “I have no doubt if things start to move in different directions and ordinary working people start saying, ‘well, I’m not sure what Labour stands for’, then my activists will ask me, ‘why are we giving so much money’?” 

Unite is Labour’s biggest donor, handing the party and its MPs more than £20m since 2016. But fault lines have opened amid claims that Starmer is drifting “too far from the left-wing course” set by Corbyn, says the Daily Mirror

McCluskey had previously threatened to cut Unite funding to Labour in protest against Starmer’s decision to pay damages to whistleblowers in the row over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism under Corbyn. Prior to last night’s executive meeting, the union chief said that “funding arrangements is undoubtedly an issue that may come up”.

He later told Newsnight that his executive was angry “because they thought it was an absolute mistake and wrong to pay out huge sums of money” in damages to the former staff members “when Labour’s own legal people were saying that they would lose that case if it went to court”.

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