TRADE unions defied calls from plotting MPs to accept the Labour coup yesterday by rallying to support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Lucy Powell, who resigned as shadow education secretary on Sunday, deepened the rift between the party’s MPs and members as she ordered affiliated unions to butt out.
“I think certain trade union leaders should probably get on with their own jobs and leave the Labour Party to Labour Party members and the elected leadership,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.
But two of Labour’s biggest unions, the GMB and Unison, hit back by calling on MPs to respect the result of last year’s leadership election, in which Mr Corbyn won 60 per cent of votes.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It is not the Parliamentary Labour Party or trade unions who now elect the leader — it is party members and affiliate supporters, and that mandate should be respected.”
And GMB’s Tim Roache blasted the plotters, adding: “We need a united Labour Party with a strong, united leadership that is tackling the big issues we face post-Brexit vote.”
Aslef, which was the first union to endorse Mr Corbyn, was also unwavering, with leader Mick Whelan saying: “We stand with many others supporting not only our original decision but proud that we were right and that Jeremy should be allowed to do the job we elected him to do until it is achieved.”
Mr Corbyn also won support from those who did not support him for the leadership.
Ucatt, which endorsed Andy Burnham, issued a strongly worded statement labelling the coup “nothing short of disgraceful.”
Acting general secretary Bryan Rye warned: “By trying to create a needless leadership election these Labour MPs are effectively giving a free pass to the imposition of extreme right-wing policies.”
Sheffield TUC is urging members to write to the city’s five MPs to ask them not to participate in the “disgraceful and divisive coup attempt.”
Martin Mayer, chair of Sheffield TUC and a Unite representative on Labour’s national executive, said: “A divisive new leadership contest would risk bringing civil war into our party at a time when we need to unite and fight the Tories and engage with our working-class communities ravaged by austerity spending cuts on housing, welfare and jobs.”