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Lisa Nandy pictured at picket line despite Labour’s ban on frontbenchers attending strikes

The Independent logo The Independent 01/08/2022 Kate Devlin
Labour Party Conference 2021 © PA Archive Labour Party Conference 2021

A Labour frontbencher has been photographed visiting striking workers days after one of her colleagues was sacked for comments made on a picket line.

The shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy was pictured in Wigan, where she is the local MP, by the North West regional secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Carl Webb.

Last week shadow minister Sam Tarry was fired hours after he appeared on a picket line.

Labour insisted he lost his job because he carried out a series of unauthorised media appearances and made up party policy “on the hoof” during the interviews, not because of his presence at the event.

Keir Starmer sacking Sam Tarry was 'severe mistake', John McDonnell says
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But earlier Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had set out why frontbench Labour politicians should not join the protests.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "It’s quite open to people to express their support for working people who are struggling to pay their bills.

"But I’m very clear that 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 Labour leader faced a backlash at the weekend, however, when the head of the UK’s largest union warned that the party was becoming “irrelevant to workers”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham also suggested her union could withhold millions of pounds worth of donations in the run-up to the next election.

Jamie Driscoll, the Labour mayor for North of Tyne, also hit out saying the "vast majority of the party is with the unions" and criticising Sir Keir for an “absence of strategy”.

In response to the photograph of Ms Nandy, Mr Tarry, the MP for Ilford South in London, tweeted: "Great to see Lisa Nandy on the picket line. Senior Labour politicians need to demonstrate loud and clear that our party is on the side of ordinary working people who are fighting back against this anti-worker government."

An ally of Ms Nandy said Sir Keir’s office were aware of her plans in advance. They added: “She went down to show her support for constituents campaigning for better pay and conditions at a really tough time, as you’d expect. As Keir said in the Mirror piece yesterday, we support their right to do that, and what they need now is a Labour government so they don’t feel like they’re on their own when times are tough.”

Labour has been contacted for comment.

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