BFAWU prepares to debate disaffiliation from Labour if party expels president

Elliot Chappell

The left-wing Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) has set a timeline for the recall of its conference to debate disaffiliating from the Labour Party if disciplinary action is taken by the party against its national president.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the union described the recent decision by Labour’s national executive committee to proscribe four groups as a “divisive and a purely factional attack” that would “do nothing to unite the party”.

The party’s ruling body proscribed Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist in a meeting last month. Supporters of these organisations can be auto-excluded from the party, with cases not going through the usual full disciplinary process.

National president Ian Hodson has been listed  as a sponsor of Labour Against the Witchhunt in the past. In a new statement, his union said: “We have decided to make this statement following recent media speculation in relation to the expulsion of our national president.

“Our executive have met to discuss the potential of this event occurring, and reaffirmed its position that our national president has only ever conducted himself in line with the policies and the decisions taken by this trade union.

“The executive expressed dismay and anger at the idea the Labour Party should consider expelling the office of our nominated political lead in our organisation, and agreed that a firm response was required should the party take such actions.”

The trade union revealed that its executive has unanimously agreed a timeline, to coincide with Labour leader Keir Starmer’s speech to Labour Party conference next month, for the recall of its conference to debate disaffiliation.

It warned that, if Hodson is expelled, communication would be initiated and would be formally issuing notification of “our intention in preparedness to recall conference to debate the disaffiliation from the Labour Party” from August 25th.

The BFAWU said: “The feeling is, should the decision to debate disaffiliation go ahead, it would result in a break with the Labour Party for the first time since we helped fund its creation in 1902. But we will not accept bullying from any bosses or a party that seems to be choosing to prefer to be on the bosses side.”

The statement from BFAWU this week followed one from the national president in November last year, in which he announced the launch of a membership consultation on whether the trade union should remain affiliated to the party.

The consultation returned a majority in favour of disaffiliating from the Labour Party, with 53% of its surveyed members voting for the move. But the union leadership did not recommend disaffiliation as a result.

Hodson tweeted this morning: “Truly humbled thank you for all the messages of support and solidarity. Our communities need a strong united political voice that represents their needs and aspirations. It’s time for the internal wars in the @UKLabour to end and that takes leadership. Not expulsions.”

BFAWU currently has a seat on Labour’s ruling body, the national executive committee, which is taken up by Pauline McCarthy. The union won a seat for the first time ever on the body after a vote in 2015.

Members of the NEC’s 13-strong trade union section are nominated by affiliated trade unions and elected by their delegations at the UK Labour conference. Of the 12 unions affiliated to the party, nine are represented on the NEC.

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