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Labour’s 2024 Manifesto Gets Mixed Reception as Unite Withholds Endorsement



General Election 2024: Major UK Union Withholds Support for Labour's Manifesto

Scheduled for release next Thursday, sources at Sky News reveal that Unite has refrained from backing the proposed policies.

Political journalist

Friday, June 7, 2024, 7:

At a pivotal gathering before the general election, one of the UK’s largest unions did not back the Labour Party’s manifesto.

Prominent members of the Labour Party, such as leader Sir Keir Starmer, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, the National Executive Committee, and union leaders, gathered on Friday to decide on its approval.

The report is scheduled for public release next Thursday.

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Sky News has learned that Unite did not approve the proposals.

Critics pointed to issues with Sir Keir's strategy for the discontinuation and replacement of employees, along with his proposal to stop issuing new licenses for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, which was labeled as a "ban without a plan."

The platform includes acknowledging Palestine as a state, and there are no intentions to increase taxes beyond the previously declared measures on private schools, non-domiciled residents, and a one-time tax on major energy companies.

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Unions received these initiatives positively, including the plan for industrial strategy and the provision for early retirement of ambulance personnel.

The document is reportedly concise and straightforward, without any unexpected details or significant expenditure proposals.

The manifesto received overwhelming approval through applause, indicating that the majority in attendance supported it. This also implies that Unite chose not to force a voting process and refrained from opposing the proposals.

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The Westminster Accounts initiative by Sky News reveals that the union has contributed nearly £12 million to the Labour Party and its members of parliament since the previous election.

Unite, formally known as Unite the Union, is led by General Secretary Sharon Graham.

Ms. Graham has frequently voiced her criticism of Sir Keir, labeling him as "overly cautious" and charging him with "stumbling towards Number 10."

Labour Party's manifesto approved, yet it faces criticism

Political correspondent

Following a four-hour meeting at a central London location, the leadership of the Labour Party approved the election manifesto, according to an announcement from the party.

Sky News has discovered that Unite, the Labour Party's largest financial supporter, which has contributed £11 million to the party since 2019, actually does not support the document.

The contents remain under wraps until next week. From what I gather, it is concise, similar to the 107-page document from 2019, and straightforward without any unexpected financial disclosures.

Economic stability and national security are priorities, and the party has committed to not increasing taxes except for the previously announced measures on private school fees, stricter enforcement against tax evasion, and an increased windfall tax.

However, Unite, representing 1.25 million members, is reportedly at odds with how the promises regarding workers' rights are phrased, a matter that has long been a point of contention between the union and the party's leadership.

Sharon Graham, the general secretary, criticized the most recent version of the New Deal to Make Work Pay, saying it was "full of more holes than Swiss cheese" upon its release last month.

Today, while union leaders refrained from speaking on camera, they expressed concerns about the phrasing related to the prohibition of new oil and gas licenses. The union argued that this would lead to significant job losses, advocating instead for language that emphasized a fair shift towards renewable energy. They also objected to the suggested ban on dismissing employees only to rehire them under less favorable terms.

The manifesto received unanimous approval through acclamation, as members of the Labour shadow cabinet, union representatives, and officials demonstrated their support by applauding.

Numerous attendees of the meeting characterized the ambiance as "positive," a notable improvement from the contentious Clause V meetings during Jeremy Corbyn's tenure. Furthermore, it's acknowledged that the unions have expressed satisfaction with the proposals concerning collective bargaining and the reduction of the retirement age for ambulance workers.

The event is scheduled for next Thursday, and it's time for the unions to decide their subsequent actions and whether they will voice their objections on the launch day. While this might appear antagonistic towards Sir Keir, challenging the unions might also underscore the transformation within the Labour Party.

Ms. Graham was scheduled to address the media following the meeting, but she ultimately called it off.

Unite stands as one of the largest labor unions in the United in Kingdom, boasting a representation of over 1.2 million members across various sectors, including employees in the North Sea's oil and gas sector.

Certain factions within the Labour Party expressed dissatisfaction with the manifesto's details.

Momentum, an activist group from the Corbyn period, expressed significant dissatisfaction over the absence of proposals for universally free school meals and the elimination of the two-child limit on benefits.

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A spokesperson for the Labour Party stated: "The gathering today has given its approval to the Labour's platform."

"On July 4, the citizens of Britain will be presented with an opportunity to vote for a new direction – to end the turmoil, turn over a new leaf, and begin the process of reconstructing our nation."

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