GMB stops funding Labour campaigns in London after Islington Council dismissal

Sienna Rodgers

The party-affiliated GMB trade union has announced that it will not be offering any more financial support to future local Labour campaigns in London until Islington Council rethinks its dismissal of caretaker Gary Bolister.

The union is so unhappy about the situation that – unless resolved – the sacking may “have a wider and more significant impact” on “future funding” and on the relationship between GMB in London and Labour.

According to the GMB, 43-year-old Gary Bolister was sacked by the Labour-run council after he appeared in a Facebook live video against Islington road closures in November last year.

The trade union says an Islington councillor was inadvertently filmed in her home by accident and this was shown in the clip, before the video was stopped and Bolister offered to apologise.

Bolister said: “I’m absolutely gutted – I’ve spent half my life serving the council and this is how they’ve thanked me. I wasn’t even filming and I didn’t even know who the councillor was. I’ve said sorry over and over again.

“Losing my job has had a massive effect on my mental health and my family life. I feel like Islington Council has shown me no compassion or humanity.”

Stepping up pressure on the council, GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny today said: “Gary is utterly devastated by his sacking – working for Islington council, where he was born and raised, was his passion and his vocation.

“His callous sacking over an honest error is beginning to look like political victimisation. GMB will always back our members and if Islington Labour refuse to listen to reason we will hit them where it hurts – in the party coffers.

“It’s a shame that other Labour candidates have to suffer the consequences of Islington council’s actions, but that’s the way it is until this matter is resolved.”

GMB London Region political officer Vaughan West added: “GMB is affiliated to the Labour Party. In London Region we also contribute to support local campaigns, which during the elections in May 2021 alone, totalled over £50,000.

“Our regional committee decided that until there was a resolution in Islington, support for future local campaigns would have to stop. If the situation continues, it could begin to have a wider and more significant impact on future funding and the relationships between GMB London Region and the Labour Party.”

New GMB general secretary Gary Smith has already warned Labour that donations from the union to the party will be reviewed because “it is Keir Starmer’s problem to sort out the Labour Party, not ours”.

He told GMB Congress earlier this year: “I do give notice that our spending on politics, like everything else, will be subject to overall budget review. There will be no blank cheques to political parties or politicians.”

The Labour Party and Islington Council have been contacted for comment.

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