Shadow transport minister defies Starmer on rail strike picketing

Shadow transport minister sacked for defying Starmer on rail strike picketing

Labour’s shadow transport minister Sam Tarry has been sacked after joining striking rail workers on the picket lines this morning.

Sir Keir Starmer warned his frontbench team against doing so.

During last month’s rail strikes shadow Northern Ireland parliamentary private secretary Kate Osborne MP attended pickets, but was not removed from her position.

Speaking to ITV One’s Good Morning Britain programme outside of London Euston station today, Tarry explained: “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.

“It can’t be accepted anymore, that people just have to accept that inflation is out of control. The Government’s doing nothing on the cost-of-living crisis.”

Tarry previously worked as the national political officer for the TSSA trade union before being elected to Parliament.

Quizzed on whether he expected to be sacked from the Labour frontbench, 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,” he went on.

This comes just days after Starmer pledged to scrap Labour’s 2019 manifesto pledge to nationalise rail, water and energy.

Firmly on the left of the Labour Party, Tarry was a director of the Momentum group and supported Rebecca Long Bailey in the 2020 Labour leadership election.

He also served as the Director of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 and 2016 Labour Leadership campaign and is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs.

Speaking after Labour’s 2019 election defeat, he criticised Tony Blair for people’s lack of trust in Labour.  A polished media performer, Tarry is expected to be a leading figure on the left of the Labour Party in the future.

In early 2022, the Daily Mail reported that there was a romantic link between Tarry, and Labour’s Deputy leader, Angela Rayner. The paper claimed that Mr Tarry, a father of two, had parted from his wife.  In 2020, Tarry ran Rayner’s deputy leadership campaign.

Transport minister Grant Shapps accused Tarry of “clearly” defying Starmer: “who’s told his front bench they shouldn’t be. He’ll no doubt want to remove him from his job.”

“Nobody should be on the picket lines, stopping hardworking people who spent £160,000 per rail worker preventing any of them from losing their jobs during the pandemic. We come out of the pandemic and this is the way people are being thanked,” Shapps went on.

However he claimed he was a “reasonable guy,” and said he thinks: “that people should have the right to withdraw their labour and strike.”

“The question is one of proportionality. We have, in this country, a railway that still works, in many cases, on rules and regulations from the ’70s, the ’60s, the ’50s and in one case from 1919. That’s where the lack of Sunday working comes from.

Ironically, Shapps also accused the RMT of “taking passengers for a ride”, when speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.