A senior trade union boss has warned Labour to stop being “overly managerial” and instead outline “bold and radical” policies to inspire working people at the next election.
Matt Wrack, who is general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and also TUC president said the party risked being “over-cautious” as it attempts to convince undecided voters that it should form the next government.
Speaking to HuffPost UK as Labour kicks off its annual conference in Liverpool, Wrack said: “People want to be inspired and see that by voting for something different they will actually get something different. And that’s what I think will be the challenge of the next few months.
“The game they’re playing is overly managerial. Labour can be, and should be, the party for working people. That means standing up for working people - including those taking industrial action.”
Tensions have emerged between Labour and some trade unions under Keir Starmer’s leadership, most notably over the party’s plans for the future of the North Sea and what some see as his failure to back striking workers.
But Wrack said: “It’s not necessary to go into an election with tensions between the Labour leadership and the trade unions.
“They could go in with the trade unions significantly supportive of the incoming government - as long as what is being offered is very clear, bold and radical.”
Wrack said there is a “danger of Labour being over-cautious” and added: “People want to see promise of radical change, and for that change to actually be delivered.
“People are cynical of politicians. “The Labour Party needs to show that it’s not simply full of career politicians and actually stands on the side of working people. I think that sort of vision will motivate and mobilise people.”
Wrack said he backed Labour’s plans to repeal Tory anti-trade union legislation during the first 100 days of a Labour government.
“But I don’t think it goes far enough,” he said. “We don’t want to see any backtracking in whatever form from an incoming Labour government.
“They’ve pledged to repeal anti-strike legislation within 100 days and they absolutely need to be seen to be sticking to that. That will clearly be a very positive achievement for a Labour government and the trade union movement.”
However, despite Wrack’s advice to Labour as the general election looms, he caveats that “anything other than what we’re facing now is going to be seen as a relief”.