Labour frontbencher Sam Tarry has been sacked as shadow transport minister after defying Keir Starmer’s order to avoid rail strike picket strains.
The Ilford South MP confirmed his assist for the RMT union’s walkout over pay and redundancies by becoming a member of strikers at London’s Euston station only a day after the Labour chief warned his frontbench not to take action.
On Wednesday, Sir Keir instructed his senior MPs: “The Labour party in opposition needs to be the Labour party in power. And a government doesn’t go on picket lines, a government tries to resolve disputes.”
But Mr Tarry, a former officer of the TSSA transport commerce union who helped run Jeremy Corbyn’s management marketing campaign, flouted his chief’s orders by conducting a TV interview from a picket line as strikes acquired beneath approach this morning.
“I’m here supporting these striking workers because it’s important we get a pay deal and get to resolve as soon as possible so the travelling public can get back to work,” Mr Tarry mentioned.
“The reality is this is about a failing government, this is about dispute happening all across the country. We’ve got potentially doctors, nurses and communication workers.”
Asked if he feared the sack, the shadow minister replied: “I’ve no idea what Keir will decide to do but I know this – if Keir was in government right now, this dispute wouldn’t be happening.”
His determination put Starmer beneath vital stress, after the Labour chief didn’t self-discipline frontbenchers who joined pickets on a earlier dispute. Transport secretary Grant Shapps described his motion as “direct defiance”of the Labour management, including: “If Labour frontbenchers are going to join them on the picket line, people will come to their own conclusions.”
Announcing his dismissal a number of hours later, a Labour Party spokesperson mentioned: “The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.
“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.”