Len McCluskey backtracks on Unite/Labour comments

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THE leader of Britain’s biggest trade union has made it clear he does not support any plans to disaffiliate from Labour in the wake of the general election defeat.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said now was an “exciting opportunity” for the party to “rise from the ashes”.

Britain's General Secretary of Unite the Union Len McCluskey. Picture: Getty

Britain's General Secretary of Unite the Union Len McCluskey. Picture: Getty

His statment today follows comments at the weekend where he said that Unite’s party affiliation could be reconsidered unless Labour can show itself to be the “voice of ordinary working people, that they are the voice of organised labour”.

He warned that it could start providing support to the SNP and accused the party of losing touch with its working class roots as he hit back at departing Labour leader Jim Murphy’s savage attack on his “destructive” influence.

Debates about the historic link between the unions and Labour have been raging since former party leader Ed Miliband steered through reforms last year.

Union conferences in the coming months are sure to discuss the relationship and there are likely to be the usual calls for a re-think of the link.

But those calls are rarely debated and there is no chance that the biggest unions are about to break their links to Labour.

Mr McCluskey said today: “We have no plans to disaffiliate from Labour. The party has never been more united.”

He added that everyone now agreed it was time to debate Labour’s future but he believed there was an “exciting opportunity” for Labour to “rise like a phoenix”.

Candidates for the Labour leadership are expected to take part in hustings at union-organised events.

One is expected to be held at the QEII Centre in Westminster.

Only after this will unions such as Unite take any view on whether to back any candidate.