Sunday shows: Lammy rules out Labour “striking deals” with Lib Dems or SNP

Sunday Morning

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy rejected the suggestion that Labour would enter into an electoral pact or agree a deal with either the Lib Dems or the SNP, and told viewers that he does not support members of Labour-affiliated unions Unite and GMB members striking over a dispute with British Airways.

  • On the by-election victory for Labour in Wakefield on Thursday: “12.7% swing from the Conservatives to Labour. If that was replicated across the country, we would be forming the next government with a comfortable majority.”
  • On the Labour Party: “Labour is both the party of change and the party that is persuading Conservatives to vote Labour. We cannot form a government if there aren’t people in the country who would vote Conservative but are choosing to vote Labour.”
  • On Tiverton and Honiton, where Labour lost its deposit: “There would have been Labour voters there that made the decision that they would lend their vote to the Liberal Democrats because they wanted to see the back of Boris Johnson.”
  • He added: “Right across the country, north and south, people are switching away from the Conservatives… Tiverton is a seat that Labour has never held. It didn’t hold it in this century, it didn’t hold it in the last century. That’s not a seat that we would expect to win. The Tories lost it.”
  • Asked whether Wakefield shows Labour is “on track” to form the next government: “Two and a half years ago, people were writing the Labour Party off… In a very short period of time, Keir Starmer has turned this Labour Party around.”
  • Asked what will happen to Labour MPs who joined RMT picket lines: “I suspect the chief whip will be speaking to them next week and making it very clear that a serious party of government does not join picket lines.”
  • Asked whether the Labour leader has “lost control” of his MPs: “Keir Starmer has not lost control of his own MPs. We’ve just seen that parties that have lost control are parties that lose votes – and I think that’s the Conservatives and the Prime Minister who has lost his backbenchers.”
  • “The name is Labour and it’s Labour for a reason. It’s Labour because we historically want to associate ourselves with working people wherever they are across the country. And let’s take these rail strikes – working people find it very hard when they can’t get to work… But equally there are working people who work on the railways who are seeing their pay diminished… The way to deal with that is through negotiations.”
  • On the government: “They’re delighted to have a battle with the unions and hark back to the 1970s. They’re not actually getting on with the serious business of governing.”
  • On the RMT: “The RMT isn’t an affiliated union with the Labour Party, it’s important to stress that, I think it’s also important to say that we’ve got to support working people wherever they are in the country… There are working people who use the trains to get to work, there are working people who are no in unionised industries.”
  • Asked whether he would support members of Labour-affiliated unions Unite and GMB members striking over a dispute with British Airways: “No, I don’t. No, I don’t. It is a no. It’s a categorical no… Because I’m serious about the business of being in government and the business of being in government is that you support negotiation.”
  • He added: “Look at what’s happening in Britain: we’ve got queues in all our airports, both on the security side and waiting for your luggage, you can’t get a passport, you can’t get a driving licence. You know, the country is at a standstill. It’s not the Labour Party in the driving seat. It’s the Conservatives.”
  • Asked whether he would stand to be Labour leader: “[Starmer] is going to be the next Prime Minister. He continues to lead this party and I’m totally against any sort of suggestion that we should be preparing for some sort of succession. It’s ridiculous. The Labour Party is in the strongest positions we’ve been in for many, many years – don’t break what is working.”

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Lammy argued that Labour is “concerned for working people’s interests”, including both those who usually use the railways that have been disrupted by recent industrial action involving the RMT and those working on them.

  • On Labour’s win in the Wakefield by-election earlier this week: “We need to win in those so-called ‘Red Wall’ areas. Seats that we lost in 2019. We need to pick up right across the country. Very pleased with that result on Thursday.”
  • He added: “Labour is on its way back and it’s on its way back for two reasons: 1) because we are now the party of change in this country… and 2) because we are winning Tory voters – people who voted Tory now voting Labour.”
  • Asked why Labour does not enter a pact with the Lib Dems: “I don’t think the voters of Britain want politicians to stitch up deals… People expect to make their own judgement and decide who they want to vote for.”
  • Asked whether Labour is ready for a minority government in “alliance” with the SNP: “We’ve seen an increase in our position in Scotland… I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of an election that is likely in two years time.”
  • “We’re not striking deals with the SNP or the Liberal Democrats. We want to win outright and we will be fighting for every single vote in every single constituency, right across the country.”
  • Asked where Labour stands on the RMT dispute: “The truth is in the name, we are the Labour Party. We are a party who has always been concerned for working people’s interests. Working people who are using our transport up and down the country who don’t want to see strikes, and of course working people working within the railways.
  • On negotiations: “In the end, we’re not in government. This is a matter for the government, Network Rail and the unions themselves… The government should be leading and encouraging negotiations, not stoking this dispute for their own political reasons.”
  • Pressed on whether Labour supports RMT’s demands for a 7% pay increase and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies: “I don’t want confusion for people listening, the RMT is not affiliated to the Labour Party… It is not for Labour to predetermine the outcome of this.”
  • Asked whether Labour supports putting tariffs on steel imports: “I believe in free trade. It’s good for everyone. Tariffs is usually a bad idea… My instinct is this can’t be right.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said he was “disappointed” by Labour’s position on recent industrial disputes and argued that it is time for unions to “step up” and “not rely on any political party to solve our problems”.

  • On BT and Royal Mail: “It’s about getting a pay rise that recognises the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. It’s also about recognising the efforts that workers… recognises the efforts that have kept these companies going.”
  • On their profits: “BT posted profits of £1.3bn last year. The Royal Mail, £758m. They paid shareholders dividends of £700m and £400m respectively, and I think what’s making workers more and more angry is that the CEO of BT, his pay has actually gone up by 32% in the last year. In Royal Mail, the financial director… got £1.5m and the CEO has just received a bonus of £140,000.”/li>
  • On disruption caused to other workers: “We have a simple message: every worker counts or no worker counts. And of course going on strike is the last resort. You know, we do that when negotiations have failed.”
  • On the ‘summer of discontent’: “I mean, obviously the people who are trying to create that image is the government and I think people across the UK have seen through some of these tactics.”
  • He added: “If people look at the financial crisis, 2008, the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, the climate crisis – the only certainty in the UK at the moment – if we don’t make a stand for all working people – is that the rich are going to get richer and the powerful are getting more powerful.”
  • Asked for his view on the Labour Party and its support for unions in the disputes: “It’s time for unions to step up now, community organisations, and run our own campaigns and not rely on any political party to solve our problems.”
  • On Labour: “Labour has miscalculated because I think they’re obsessed with reconnecting with working people and, you know, the reason that people moved away from Labour was over Brexit – I don’t think people are going to turn their backs on working people who are facing these challenges.”
  • He added: “I’m disappointed but I don’t let it get us down.”
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