RMT union backs re-election of former Labour mayor who criticised Keir Starmer

Jamie Driscoll has the backing of the RMT in his mayoral election bid <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Jamie Driscoll has the backing of the RMT in his mayoral election bid (Image: PA)

THE RMT union has snubbed Labour to back a left-wing English mayor’s re-election campaign after he was barred by the party from standing.

The union told The Guardian it had given £10,000 to Jamie Driscoll’s campaign.

The North of Tyne mayor is running to become the head of the newly-created North East combined authority.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said while the union wanted Labour to win the next General Election, it was backing Driscoll, believing he would be a “strong voice that will put the north-east first, whatever government is in power”.

Driscoll was last year banned by Labour from standing in the North East combined authority race – sparking widespread criticism of the party from all sides of the political spectrum.

Lynch told The Guardian: “Jamie has been a solid ally of the RMT and the wider trade union movement for many years. He’s supported countless picket lines and has helped us campaign to gain important victories for transport workers and the travelling public, including our recent victory to keep our ticket offices open.

READ MORE: Labour mayor Jamie Driscoll QUITS party and lashes out at Keir Starmer

“Nationally, we need to put a Labour government in to get the Tories out, but we also need a strong voice that will put the north-east first, whatever government is in power. That’s why the RMT and our north-east region is completely behind Jamie’s campaign.”

Driscoll said: “I’ve always been clear about my politics – I believe Britain should be run in the interests of those who do the work. It’s a big deal to have the backing of this trade union. It’s a demonstration of real solidarity and a drive to build political power that is in service of the people of the north-east.”

It is a blow to Keir Starmer who may have hoped Labour could have seen off Driscoll’s crowdfunded run as an independent.

But the RMT’s backing may not come as a surprise – the union has formally affiliated with the party for 20 years and has not donated to Labour centrally since 2019.

Speaking last year in an exclusive interview with The National, Driscoll warned that a Starmer government would be “very unpopular very quickly” as he hit out at the Labour leader’s “Stalinist” approach to running the party.

Driscoll quit the Labour Party a month after he was blocked from running on the party ticket in the mayoral election.