Remember unions, Leader leader contenders told

Image caption,
Len McLuskey said the union movement has to "reassert its values"

A senior union official says the Labour leadership contenders need to remember that the party is there to speak on behalf of the unions.

Len McLuskey, of Unite, said in the past the leadership forgot its roots.

He told the Politics Show Wales: "Nobody should be under illusions that Labour is the party that speaks on behalf of... of the trade unions."

Diane Abbott, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, David and Ed Miliband and John McDonnell are conesting the leadership.

They each need 33 nominations from fellow MPs to take part - currently only both the Milibands and Ed Balls have received 33 or more.

The deadline is Wednesday.

Mr McLuskey, Unite's deputy general secretary, said: "The problem we have had over a long period of time is that people in the leadership of the Labour party no longer speak with our values and no longer speak on our behalf".

He welcomed the fact that there was a contest to take over from Gordon Brown: "Debate is a good thing where ever you are - the trade union movement created the Labour Party at the end of the last century when we didn't have a political voice".

He said that union movement had got to "reassert its values - the values of working people - into the very soul of the Labour party.

"The important thing is to listen - and to anybody who wants to be the leader of the Labour party, I want to hear them say something different."

'Worse laws'

Mr McLuskey, who is also in the running for the post as general secretary of Unite, said he was very disappointed that the last Labour government did not do more to overturn turn what he described as the "anti-trade union laws" of the Conservatives.

"Unfortunately we had a Labour government for 13 years that never repealed those laws so we're deeply disappointed in that.

"The argument that we have to continually make is that these UK labour laws are the worse laws in the whole of Europe.

"Workers everywhere else in Europe have better protection than British workers - how can that possibly be fair and right?".

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