Starmer urged to cut Labour’s links to trade unions that support the PSC

The pro-Palestinian organisation has been a important force behind the anti-Israel protests


T8FN4B National Demonstration for Palestine, Unite the Union banner and flags in support of Palestine, London, UK 11/05/2019

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is being urged to end his party’s affiliation to trade unions that support the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the main organisers of ongoing protests that have seen calls for an "intifada from London to Gaza". 

A letter to Starmer organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism and signed by its Chief Executive Gideon Falter, JK Rowling’s literary agent Neil Blair, film producer Lisa Bryer, Countdown presenter Rachel Riley and actor Tracy-Ann Oberman, asks him to “demonstrate leadership” by requiring Labour-affiliated unions to withdraw support from the PSC.

“If they refuse,” the letter goes on, “we ask that you make clear they should no longer be affiliated to Labour.” 

At present, seven of the 13 directors of the limited company that runs the PSC are serving or retired union officials, including two from Unite. The union is affiliated to the Labour Party, although since Starmer became leader in 2019 it has cut its funding to the party and threatened to withdraw it altogether.

Other unions that are affiliated to Labour are listed on the PSC website as also being affiliated with the pro-Palestinian group, including the train drivers’ union Aslef, the Fire Brigades Union, Unison and the GMB. 

The letter says the signatories “appreciate your swift condemnation of the vile attacks in Israel and for standing with both Israel and British Jews in solidarity during this wounding time,” while “the advice sent on your instruction by General Secretary David Evans to Labour members not to join protests was also welcome”. 

But, it goes on, “the continuing relationship between those unions that are officially affiliated to Labour and those same unions officially backing the organisers of Saturday’s marches undermines your response to the terrorist attacks on Israel. 

“It has been in front of the banners of the PSC that Hamas’s attack has been described as ‘beautiful’, that the annihilation of Israel ‘from the river to the sea’ has been called for. It is during their marches that violence has broken out and communities left to feel unsafe. 

“The support for the PSC from the same unions that support Labour helps make this possible, it conveys legitimacy and bolsters fundraising. It is also noteworthy, sadly, that many of those unions have also either remained silent or offered equivocal statements on the attack on civilians – including the butchering of babies.”

The JC has approached Starmer’s office for comment.

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