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Aslef boss Kevin Lindsay resigns from Labour over picket line sacking

·2-min read

A Scottish senior trade unionist has resigned from the Labour Party after a shadow transport minister was sacked after joining a rail workers’ picket line.

Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s Scotland organiser, has also called for the train drivers union to cut ties with the party over Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to drop Sam Tarry from his frontbench.

Mr Lindsay said the move was “just a step too far”.

Mr Tarry, the Labour MP for Ilford South, was removed from Sir Keir’s shadow frontbench after defying the party leader’s ban on joining picket lines in support of striking rail workers on Wednesday.

He gave a round of media interviews from the picket line, which the Labour Party said was a “breach of collective responsibility”.

Sir Keir said on Thursday that Mr Tarry was sacked “because he booked himself onto media programmes without permission, and then made up policy on the hoof”.

In a letter to the party, Mr Lindsay said Labour is “moving to the right and is becoming unrecognisable” from that which he joined.

He praised Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who has been spotted on RMT picket lines, but said: “The Labour Party was and is meant to be the political wing of the trade union movement but now it’s more interested in trying woo Tory voters in the shires of England than representing working people.”

Rail strikes
Rail workers took industrial action across the UK on Wednesday (Katharine Hay/PA)

The union boss said that while he respects Sir Keir was elected as leader of the party, he “truly believes” the leader’s policies are “making it impossible for the Labour Party to return to power”.

“He should be removed from his position immediately,” he said.

“There needs to be a change in leadership and political direction, but I sadly can’t see this happening and we will end up with PM Truss for several years.

“Therefore, I have made the decision not only to resign from the Labour Party, but now also support the proposal for Aslef to disaffiliate from the party.”

In a statement, the Labour Party said it will “always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work”.

A Labour spokesperson said: “This isn’t about appearing on a picket line.

“Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

“As a government-in-waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench.”

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