Trade Union Boss Criticises Unite General Secretary Over Keir Starmer Attack

Usdaw's Paddy Lillis said Sharon Graham should train her fire on the government instead of the Labour leader.
Keir Starmer with Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis.
Keir Starmer with Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis.
Pete Byrne - PA Images via Getty Images

A trade union boss has hit out at the general secretary of Unite over her criticism of Keir Starmer.

Paddy Lillis, the general secretary of Usdaw, said Sharon Graham should train her fire on the Tory government rather than the Labour leader.

Graham has been an outspoken critic of Starmer, and yesterday told him to “get a spine” and “stick up for workers”.

She also previously criticised the Labour leader’s decision to sack Sam Tarry from the party’s frontbench after he appeared on a picket line.

But Lillis told Radio Four’s World At One programme that a “degree of silence” was needed from his fellow trade union boss.

Asked what he thought of her criticisms of Starmer, he said: “I don’t think it is fair, I think it’s actually unfair.

“I think Keir Starmer has demonstrated time and time again that he’s on the side of workers. He understands the industrial action that’s taking place at the minute.

“We have seen over 12/13 years now of wage stagnation across the economy from the 2008/2009 financial tsunami and we’ve seen employers squeeze employees and squeeze wages down. We need to be, as a trade union and Labour movement, putting the blame squarely where it belongs, and that’s with this Tory government, who have been missing in action.”

Lillis added: “Anyone that’s doing the Labour Party down isn’t doing us a favour.

“If you look over history, we’ve had six Labour prime ministers in our history and each time we turn on each other.

“This is a shadow cabinet that’s worked with the trade union leaders to come up with an employment rights green paper, looking at what they will introduce in power. So to turn round and say Keir Starmer’s not supportive of workers is not true.

“I think there’s a degree of silence needed sometimes and let the Labour leadership get on with taking the fight to the Tories and holding them to account for what’s wrong in this country.”

HuffPost UK revealed how Starmer has put Labour on a war footing in case the new prime minister - who will be announced in a week’s time - calls a snap election.

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