Miliband attacks unions! – after McCluskey warns of ‘dustbin of history’

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There were a number of lobbies of parliament on Wednesday demanding the end to attacks on the NHS and the Welfare State. Workers are demanding that the trade unions take action to rid the country of the coalition government. Photo credit: Beta Luciano
There were a number of lobbies of parliament on Wednesday demanding the end to attacks on the NHS and the Welfare State. Workers are demanding that the trade unions take action to rid the country of the coalition government. Photo credit: Beta Luciano

UNITE general secretary Len McCluskey has been denounced as ‘reprehensible’ and ‘divisive’ by Labour leader Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet.

McCluskey’s crime was to warn Labour leader Miliband that he would be ‘cast into the dustbin of history’ if he was ‘seduced’ to the right by Blairite members of his team.

In a New Statesman interview, the Unite leader said if Miliband ‘is brave enough to go for something radical, he’ll be the next prime minister.

‘If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.’

Blairite ex-ministers such as Mandelson and Blunkett have been openly saying that Miliband must support the Tory efforts to resolve the crisis.

McCluskey, whose union helped secure the Labour leadership for Miliband, singled out shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy and shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne for criticism.

McCluskey added: ‘Liam Byrne certainly doesn’t reflect the views of my members and of our union’s policy. I think some of the terminology that he uses is regrettable and I think it will damage Labour.’

In a call for shadow cabinet changes, McCluskey added: ‘Ed’s got to figure out what his team will be.’

The Unite leader also said he feared that Labour would lose the next election if it adopted an ‘austerity-lite’ programme and supported cuts in public spending after 2015.

Unite has poured over £12m into Labour’s coffers in recent years.

In a signal that Unite’s continued financial support should not be taken for granted, McCluskey said that the unions ‘would have to sit down and consider their situation’ if Labour fails to emerge as ‘the authentic voice of ordinary working people’.

He said if Miliband is ‘daft enough to get sucked into the old Blairite “neoliberalism wasn’t too bad and we just need to tinker with it a little bit”…then not only will he fail but I fear for the future of the Labour Party.’

A spokesman for Miliband said yesterday: ‘Len McCluskey does not speak for the Labour Party. This attempt to divide the Labour Party is reprehensible.

‘It is the kind of politics that lost Labour many elections in the 1980s. It won’t work. It is wrong. It is disloyal to the party he claims to represent.’

Miliband’s response shows he stands with the Blairites against the working class.