Labour's Shabana Mahmood says trade unions positive about party manifesto

The MP said there were disagreements with a couple of unions but they did not push the issue to a vote

Shabana Mahmood appeared on the BBC1 current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. BBC/PA Wire
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Labour’s manifesto was passed with “acclamation” from trade union leaders, a leading figure of the party has said, despite reports of discontent with the party ahead of the general election on July 4.

Keir Starmer is expected to announce the party manifesto next week, but reports emerged on Friday that the trade union Unite would not endorse it.

This was owing to disagreements with the party’s pledge to stop oil and gas exploration in the North Sea as part of a green transition.

Shadow Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmoud confirmed the “disagreements” with Unite, but claimed the union chose not “push the issue to a vote”.

Instead, the manifesto was met with a “huge amount of positivity in the room” by trade unionists who agreed that the party would need to remain “fiscally credible”.

“At the end of the meeting we endorsed the manifesto by acclaim,” she told Sky News on Sunday.

"One or two of our trade union colleagues had particular policies that they wanted to push further, but the mood in the room was very much that we were going to remain fiscally credible - make sure everything was fully funded, fully costed. That's what we did," she said.

Ms Mahmoud rejected the concerns of 30,000 job losses raised by Unite, saying the transition would be fair and that new jobs would be created.

“We have a disagreement because we don’t believe that we will be losing jobs in the sector. We will have a strategy for the north sea and a fair transition that creates many more,” she said.

“We have given assurances not just trade unions but to workers in those industries. We’re going to retain this industry for many more years to come.

“We will have a fair and just transition. We will create over 100,000 … good quality jobs in the same sector."

Labour is being challenged by left-wing parties and independents over its centrist policies and perceived “purge” of the left, as well as its foreign policy stance on the Israel-Gaza war.

Among the challengers to Ms Mahmood is lawyer Akhmed Yakoob, who is standing in her safe Birmingham seat. Mr Yakoob won almost 20 per cent of the votes in the West Midlands mayoral elections in March.

The party is expected to include Palestinian state recognition as part of a peace process in its manifesto, as part of its attempt to win back the trust of Muslim voters who were alienated by Mr Starmer’s initial support for Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Ms Mahmoud, who had refused to serve in left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's cabinet, dismissed criticism that the party was following the Conservative’s spending plans, saying there were “billions of pounds” between them.

Responding to Green party leader’s claims that Labour’s Keir Starmer had changed the party “into Conservatives”, Ms Mahmood said: “That’s exactly the kind of stuff you’d expect from the smaller parties. There are billions of pounds between us and the Tory party,” she said, citing Labour’s plans for private schools to pay VAT and to abolish non-dom status.

Updated: June 09, 2024, 8:01 PM