On Monday morning Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour party, said Grassroots Labour group Momentum is hoping to get financial support from Britain’s largest trade union, Unite.
He said on BBC Radio 4’s Today “enough is enough, this has got to stop… I’m afraid there are some people who do not have our electoral interests at heart”.
Mr Watson said: “We have never seen the biggest union organising a political faction in the Labour Party with the tacit approval of the leadership.”
Mr Watson said he had a duty to “call out” what appeared to be a “secret plan” to take over the Labour Party and he urged Mr McCluskey to publicly state Unite would not fund Momentum under his leadership.
The Unite Union issued the following statement:
“As Unite has made it clear it is exclusively for our executive council to determine which organisations we affiliate to. There are no plans for Unite to affiliate to Momentum. For the record, Len McCluskey has never met Jon Lansman to discuss this or any other matter.
“It is extraordinary that the deputy leader of the Labour party should interfere in Unite’s democracy in this way, and it is very disappointing that he was allowed to make his unsupported claims without being challenged, and that the BBC ignored the Unite statement with which it had been provided well in advance.
“Mr Watson’s latest, and misguided, campaign is part of an unprecedented pattern of interference in the current Unite general secretary election by elected Labour politicians who should, frankly, be concentrating on their own responsibilities.
“Mr Watson is a Unite member with a right to a vote and a view. But he should remember that, first, he is deputy leader of the Labour party with the obligations that this senior post imposes, and second that Unite is not a subsidiary of any political organisation.”
Unite has complained to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the statement the union provided in good faith last night was only used in part and following representations from the union this morning. The union has also complained that Mr Watson was allowed to make his extraordinary claims about Unite and its general secretary without being subject to any demand for evidence.”
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