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Mandatory reselection of Labour MPs a basic democratic demand, says union chief

Published 02/10/2016

Trade unionists at an anti-austerity demonstration outside the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham
Trade unionists at an anti-austerity demonstration outside the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham

A trade union leader has called for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs and demanded that unions critical of Jeremy Corbyn pipe down and concentrate their attacks on the Conservatives.

John McInally, vice president of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), also called for public sector workers to co-ordinate their strike action to take on the Government. He made the comments as he addressed thousands of trade unionists at an anti-austerity demonstration outside the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

His comments came amid a growing row over calls for mandatory reselection, with many moderate Labour MPs fearful they face being ousted by Mr Corbyn's supporters.

Speaking from the top of a fire truck, Mr McInally said: "Let's get this clear, it is not bullying and it is not intimidation to call for mandatory reselection of MPs. That is nothing more than a basic democratic demand.

"Being an MP is not a career for life, and those who say they want to represent the Labour movement should be accountable to the Labour movement.

"And just imagine if those MPs fought the Tories with the same determination that they are fighting Jeremy and John (McDonnell, the shadow chancellor)."

Mr Corbyn has faced some criticism from the GMB, which is one of Britain's largest trade unions. The union does not support his stance on scrapping the Trident nuclear deterrent, and it backed Owen Smith in the recent leadership contest.

Mr McInally hit out at union leaders who have been critical of the Labour Party leader. Speaking to a crowd that included many GMB members, he said: "And I'll say this to those union leaders who have attacked Jeremy Corbyn - exactly what policy did Jeremy put forward do your members not agree with?

"Is it the scrapping of zero-hour contracts? It is the £10 minimum wage? Is it the re-nationalisation of the health service and the transport and the railways?"

He criticised Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson, who Mr McInally said represents a faction of the party that wants unity only "on their terms". And he urged public sector workers and their trade unions to co-ordinate industrial action to take on the Government.

He said: "The truth is, the Tories are looking over their shoulders because they know there is change in the air, they know that things are changing.

"And we must, I think, fight not just on the political front but on the industrial front itself, and we say to the TUC let's implement the policy on co-ordinated action.

"Public sector workers are now in some cases in the ninth year of a pay freeze, and that's due to go on until 2020.

"What is the answer to that? The answer is to implement the TUC policy for co-ordinated action across the public sector.

"No more excuses, we shouldn't be fighting individually, let's fight collectively."

Mr McInally said unions should not be "picked off one by one", but they should work together during strike action.

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From Belfast Telegraph