Labour sacks frontbencher Sam Tarry after he defies picket line ban

The party says the shadow transport minister has been ‘removed from the frontbench’.

27 July 2022

Labour has sacked shadow frontbencher Sam Tarry after he defied Sir Keir Starmer’s ban on joining picket lines in support of striking rail workers.

The party said Mr Tarry, the shadow transport minister, had been “removed from the frontbench”, saying it took seriously “any breach of collective responsibility”.

A Labour spokesperson said: “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.”

Mr Tarry stood alongside striking workers at London’s Euston station on Wednesday morning.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If we don’t make a stand today, people’s lives could be lost.

“Some of the lowest-paid workers are on strike today in the rail industry, safety-critical workers, workers who make sure our railways get people to work and do so safely.”

Asked whether he expected to be sacked by Sir Keir, Mr Tarry said: “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.

“I have absolutely 100% confidence that any Labour Party MP would be in support of striking workers who have given up a day’s pay, a week’s pay or even longer.”

Mr Tarry told Sky News he was “not defying anybody”, but was supporting “40,000 low-paid transport workers”.

He later tweeted a photo that said he was “on the side of the members not the establishment”.

It came after Sir Keir said he would again tell his frontbench MPs not to join striking workers in the latest action.

The Labour leader said: “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.”

The Conservatives have sought to use the row to claim Labour is on the side of the striking workers, who have caused chaos for millions of commuters.

Prior to the announcement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps predicted that Sir Keir would sack Mr Tarry.

The Conservative MP told Sky News: “It’s clearly in direct defiance of Sir Keir Starmer, who told his frontbench that they shouldn’t be (on picket lines).

“No doubt he’ll want to remove him from his job.”

A number of backbench Labour MPs also joined picket lines, including Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne.

He told the PA news agency: “What I’m seeing across the city is people absolutely struggling in the public and private sector.

“Wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and it is really, really worrying.

“It’s massively important for me to be here.

“I’ve been a trade unionist all my life and I will always back workers.”

Brent Central MP Dawn Butler, Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck were among those sharing photos of themselves on social media from picket lines.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader and now independent MP, told PA outside Euston station: “There are three Labour MPs here on this picket line, and no doubt there are all over the country.

“I think Members of Parliament represent their constituencies and hear day to day what their constituents want, and they’re doing the right thing by being there with the workers in dispute.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.