Sir Keir is learning the cost of Corbyn's exile as unions voice fury

ANDREW PIERCE: Sir Keir is learning the cost of Corbyn’s exile as hard-left unions voice their fury

When ‘Red’ Len McCluskey was general secretary of Britain’s massive Unite union, he funded Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to the tune of millions.

How times have changed. Today, under Sir Keir Starmer, the union movement is growing spectacularly unhappy with the party it bankrolls. 

In particular, hard-Left senior trade unionists are furious at the decision not to return the Labour whip to their beloved Corbyn, who lost it in 2020.

At the meeting last month of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee — where Corbyn’s fate was decided — Andy Kerr from the CWU postal union lost his temper and had to be told to moderate his language.

Labour and the unions are at odds over strikes, too. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has attended several picket lines during the recent wave of industrial action.

Sir Keir pointedly has not — and has ordered his frontbenchers to stay away, too.

Sir Keir pointedly has not — and has ordered his frontbenchers to stay away, too

In Brighton this summer, Unite is due to hold a key conference. Expect talk that the union could disaffiliate from Labour — which could wipe out £1 million in donations.

Should Sir Keir work to turn his party into a government-in-waiting, or should he appease his union paymasters?

Answers, please, on a postcard to Labour HQ.

Ruth puts the squeeze on Nicola

As Scottish Tory leader through most of the 2010s, Ruth Davidson often gave the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon a run for her money at Holyrood. 

Recalling the first time they met on the campaign trail, in 2009, Davidson, now gracing the Lords’ red benches, said she rushed over to her: ‘I picked her up and gave her a massive bear hug.

‘The look on her face! She couldn’t compute the fact there was a Tory touching her and being nice.’ 

Davidson added archly: ‘Oh my God: I’ve never touched her since.’ 

Poet Pam Ayres waxes lyrical about the national public alarm system, set to cause all our phones to buzz on April 23:

Plug up your ears, you can’t avert,

Armageddon’s new alert,

A not-so-very dulcet tone,

Erupting from the mobile phone.

For bomb or storm or flood or quake,

The mobile phone will shriek

and shake,

And cause us all, with such a scare,

To rudely wet our underwear.

Gagging order

Defendants who refuse to go to court to hear sentencing and witness statements, like the killer of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt- Korbel, would have been given short shrift by the late former High Court judge Sir Frederick Lawton.

As his son wrote to the Times: ‘He told me that he was once faced by a convicted prisoner who refused to appear for sentence. He told the offender’s lawyer: ‘If he won’t appear, I’ll send for a straitjacket and gag.’ It worked.’

A Freedom of Information request reveals the new lectern used by Rishi Sunak when he unveiled his ‘stop the boats’ pledge cost £1,575. 

Expect to see it a lot more often after different lecterns, each said to cost between £2,000 and £4,000, were deployed for PMs David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and even Liz Truss. Cheap at the price, Rish?

Researchers at ITN have uncovered footage of a radical young Sir Keir Starmer demanding an end to barristers wearing wigs and gowns.

In 1994, the firebrand legal eagle declared: ‘It’s time that the court system became more of a place where the ordinary person feels they can go’.

Starmer, an ex-Director of Public Prosecutions, often seems to have been at odds with his ultra-traditional career choice. In 2005, he said: ‘I got made a Queen’s Counsel — which is odd, since I often used to propose the abolition of the monarchy.’

 It’s a funny old game, Greg

Tory Party chairman Greg Hands ought to be pleased that Rishi Sunak’s personal poll ratings are catching up with Starmer’s. 

But Hands is downbeat. His beloved constituency football club, Chelsea, has just sacked manager Graham Potter. 

Hands wails: ‘I’ve been MP for Chelsea FC for 18 years and in that time there have been 18 managers.’ 

Someone should tell him his party’s not much better: Hands is the 16th Tory chairman in the past 18 years.

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