‘I AM absolutely 100% behind Jeremy Corbyn,’ BFAWU Bakers Union General Secretary Ronnie Draper told News Line yesterday, as the attempted coup by a group of right wing Labour MPs got underway.
While the Bakers Union, RMT, FBU, Aslef, PCS and GMB, all spoke out angrily against the coup attempt and in support of the Labour leader, the press offices of the two biggest unions, Unite and Unison, along with the TUC itself, refused to back Corbyn.
Issuing a statement entitled: ‘Stand By Corbyn’, the Bakers Union declared: ‘The BFAWU calls on Labour MPs to show loyalty to the elected leader of the Labour Party. At a time when we should be exploiting the division within the Tory Party, calls for internal votes of no confidence within our party are an indulgent distraction which only serve to let the Conservative government off the hook for the damage heaped upon our communities and the crisis that they have caused in pursuit of power.’
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘After a divisive referendum, and with the Tories on the ropes, working class people want the Labour Party to unite and address their concerns.
‘Instead, those attacking Jeremy risk plunging the party into civil war and handing a gift to the Tories. Jeremy has renewed the faith that many rank and file trade unionists have in the Labour Party which is vital in helping Labour assist in maintaining and increasing support amongst its base.’
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), responding to shadow cabinet resignations, said: ‘It is bizarre that some of the MPs making the loudest criticism of Jeremy Corbyn over the referendum completely failed to convince the electorate in their own constituencies.
‘Following the referendum, Labour should be setting out policies to defend jobs, public services and wages as an exit from the EU is negotiated. Instead, some Labour MPs are playing irresponsible and silly games from their Westminster bubble. They should respect the overwhelming democratic mandate which Jeremy Corbyn achieved only last September.’
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: ‘ASLEF was proud to have been the first trade union to nominate Jeremy Corbyn and we understood, along with hundreds of thousands others, that Labour Party members and others wanted a real alternative. Not a parliament that those on the doorstep could not tell the difference between the parties, but a Labour Party open to policies for business, growth, and all levels of a society that needs to be fairer and more inclusive.
‘Today we stand with many others supporting not only our original decision but proud that we were right and that Jeremy should be allowed to do the job we elected him to do until it is achieved.’
In a personal message to Corbyn, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘I believe you are the best person to lead the Labour Party through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult period and you have my full support.’
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘Jeremy has a strong mandate, and it’s hugely disappointing that this is not being respected.’ Throughout yesterday, when News Line asked the leaderships of the biggest unions if they would back Corbyn, they refused to answer.
The TUC spokesman said: ‘We are not affiliated to the Labour Party and we leave it to affiliates that are to comment on such questions.’ Unite’s press officer, when News Line asked him to express backing for Corbyn, repeatedly refused to do so.
Unison’s press officer also said ‘no comment’. When asked: ‘Do you back Jeremy Corbyn?’, she replied: ‘You’re being terribly unreasonable,’ and put the phone down.