MP Tarry sacked from Labour frontbench role over picket line TV broadcasts

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MP Tarry sacked from Labour frontbench role over picket line TV broadcasts

Sam Tarry - who faces an uncertain future as MP for Ilford South - was sacked from shadow transport role after conducting a series of television interviews from an RMT rail strike picket line at Euston Station

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Sam Tarry appears on Sky News from picket line at Euston Station
Sam Tarry appears on Sky News from picket line at Euston Station

A Labour MP who once accused some in the party of “exploiting” antisemitism claims to attack Jeremy Corbyn has been sacked from his frontbench role.

Sam Tarry, who ran Corbyn’s leadership campaign in 2016, was dismissed as a shadow transport minister for doing broadcast interviews from a rail strike picket line.

Leader Keir Starmer had warned all shadow ministers not to join picket lines in order to show Labour under his leadership was seeking to resolve industrial disputes.

But the Ilford South MP joined strikers at London’s Euston station on Wednesday morning, and proceeded to do a series of television interviews.

A Labour party spokesperson confirmed Tarry’s dismissal was because he conducted multiple broadcast interviews from the picket at Euston.

“The Labour party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work,” the spokesperson said.

“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.”

Jewish News understands that Tarry is also the subject of allegations about his conduct, made by Labour Party staff members to their union.

Both Tarry and the GMB union have been contacted by Jewish News about the claims, which, according to sources, were lodged with the staff union this week.

In interviews with LBC radio following his sacking on Wednesday, Tarry claimed he had been contacted by trade union secretaries who were “fuming” about the move.

He claimed his dismisal had put Labour on a “direct collision course” with the unions.

Tarry is facing a fight to remain the Labour candidate for Ilford South at the next general election after being “triggered” in a ballot of local members.

Earlier this month Jewish News revealed he had failed to win any of the 10 local branch votes that took place in his Iford South constituency, leaving him facing competition from other candidates for selection in the seat.

A final selection vote of local members will take place in September.

Tarry – a former officer of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) – stood as a candidate in the seat previously held by Mike Gapes ahead of the 2019 election, which he went on to win.

On 4 October 2019, the evening before members were due to vote, rival candidate, local Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal was suspended from the party over an allegation of sexual harassment.

Later that month, after a postponement of the vote, and with Athwal ineligible due to his suspension, Tarry was selected.

Athwal was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, admitting the false allegation deeply affected him, and after spending £150,000 on lawyers.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, the MP for neighbouring Ilford North, is amongst those to have called again for an independent investigation into the alleged “stitch up” over the parliamentary selection.

As Redbridge Counci leader Labour have enjoyed unprecedented success, and Athwal is now expected to announce he wishes to stand for selection in the seat again.

After Tarry made his comments about antisemitism being “exploited” during the 2019 election campaign, the Jewish Labour Movement said his remarks were “beyond disappointing”.[

Tarry later claimed that his comments had been misunderstood.

In 2020, he again faced criticism after a motion attacking the Board of Deputies infuriated local Jewish members, but Tarry refused to condemn allegations of intimidation at a branch meeting saying only “there are conflicting accounts of what happened and what was said.”

Some local members also raised concerns about the amount of time Tarry spent in the east London constituency, including during the pandemic.

Tarry also ran his close friend Angela Rayner’s deputy leadership campaign in 2020.

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