Angela Rayner puts boot into Labour’s critics


Angela Rayner puts boot into Labour's critics

Angela Rayner wasn’t wearing her trademark chunky boots when she addressed the TUC conference in Liverpool

But she put the boot into Labour’s trade union critics in a powerful speech, ending with a call for the unions to “come together, stand together and campaign side by side”.

No stilettos, either, just a pair of smart business shoes and a dress in a sober dark green colour. Preparing for government?

And her message was, if you want a Labour government, stop the carping and moaning, as she declared: “This country can’t survive another five years of Tory rule.”

Politics Hub: Rayner promises to revoke strike laws in TUC speech

Her targets? Principally Unite’s Sharon Graham, who this week denounced Sir Keir Starmer’s policies as a “1990s tribute act”, and Mark Serworka of the PCS, who accused the Labour leader of breaking promises – suggesting he was untrustworthy.

The call for unity was all the more powerful coming from the Labour deputy, who told the unions she may have been born in Stockport, but she was “raised in the trade union movement”.

It wasn’t a message that would have the same resonance had it been delivered to the unions by Sir Keir, seen by critics as a slick north London lawyer whose claims of his own working-class roots are not always convincing.

When she was introduced before she delivered her speech, authentic Angy was hailed by TUC president Maria Exall as “one of us” and “Labour’s finest” – not the sort of introduction Sir Keir would have been greeted with.

The evening before her conference speech, the self-deprecating deputy leader had confessed that she was “no angel”, but vowed to “get things done”.

And she echoed that latter statement in her speech, promising to enact Labour’s New Deal for Working People – that is, in an Employment Rights Bill ” in the first 100 days of a Labour government.

“That’s a cast-iron commitment,” she said.

Angela Rayner puts boot into Labour's critics

That was followed by a blizzard of pledges: banning zero-hours contracts, ending fire-and-rehire, family-friendly working, strengthening sick pay, ending the gender pay gap, tackling sexual harassment at work and more.

It was exactly what the unions wanted to hear and prompted Sir Keir, whose speech at the TUC’s gala dinner the previous evening was described to Sky News as “bland” by one union general secretary, to tweet that her speech was “brilliant”.

The Tory chairman, Greg Hands, however, claimed: “The mask has slipped. Despite Keir Starmer’s short-term promise to be pro-business, his deputy leader is committing to Labour’s paymasters that they will have more control over Britain’s economy.”

That’s not entirely fair. She said in her speech that Labour will “work hand in hand with trade unions as we will work with business”.

Sharon Graham remains unrepentant about her criticism, however. She told Sky News after Rayner’s speech that Labour needs to be bolder.

“There can be no back-tracking on the agreed workers’ rights,” she said.

That’s harsh and a little unfair. There was no back-tracking in Ms Rayner’s speech. A cast-iron commitment couldn’t be clearer.

She is, after all, as the TUC president kindly pointed out, “one of us”.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.