Starmer: Labor must move from being a ‘protest party’ to an election winner

Keir Starmer has said Labor must move from being a “protest party” to one that can win an election to help workers.

The party leader said he supports the right to strike, pointing to his pro bono work as a lawyer representing striking miners rather than “just sentiment and a photo shoot”.

Britain’s rail services were severely disrupted on Saturday by the most widespread strike by train drivers since the railway was privatized in 1996. Members of the Aslef union stopped work for 24 hours at seven train operators.

It comes as Starmer tries to defuse a row with unions and the left of his party over his decision to sack Sam Tarry as transport minister after he gave interviews broadcast from a picket line.

Starmer, who previously banned leaders from joining strikers on picket lines, said he fired Tarry after he booked himself into media programs without permission and made “football” politics. challenging the “collective responsibility” of the party.

In an article in the Sunday Mirror, Starmer emphasized his immediate focus on getting his party into power, with a Labor government capable of delivering change to unions and workers.

He wrote: “I completely understand why people go on strike to secure better pay and better conditions. I support their right to do so.

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“When I was a lawyer, I represented striking miners for free. Not just sentiment and a photo shoot. I backed my words with action.

“I am now leading a Labor Party that wants to change lives and give Britain the fresh start it needs. That means moving from a party of protest to a party that can win power – then hand that power to working people. I don’t apologize for that.”

In an interview with the Observer, Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, said that Labor was becoming “irrelevant to workers” and that it was now difficult to justify handing over millions to the party in funding.

Graham said he felt the party leadership was effectively “sticking two fingers” at workers with its response to the strike and its abandonment of promises to renationalise public services.

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