Image credit: BBC News
MP for Crewe and Nantwich Laura Smith has raised eyebrows by calling for a general strike during a speech at the Labour party conference in Liverpool.
She spoke at The World Transformed festival, organised by Momentum (a political movement that has links to the Labour party) which is running alongside the main party conference.
Ms Smith said: “As socialists we must work to strengthen the link between the party and the unions. Our strength comes from our unity and our solidarity.”
She continued: “Comrades, we must topple this cruel and callous Tory government as soon as we can. And, if we can’t get a general election, we should organise with our brothers and sisters in the trade unions and bring an end to the government with a general strike.”
Her comments were immediately met with rapturous applause and a standing ovation.
Ms Smith admitted: “That went better than I thought it could’ve gone!”
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, however, today moved to distance the party from Smith’s comments.
He told the BBC that she had “got a little bit carried away” and added that her comments were “not particularly helpful”.
What is a general strike?
A general strike is when workers from across industries take action collectively in large numbers. The last one to affect the UK happened in 1926, in support of coal miners.
Calling for a general strike is not presently a policy of the Labour party.
Laura’s comments were warmly received by the audience of party supports, and this included the shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon who can be seen sitting on stage as Laura gave her speech.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Tom Watson commented: “She is a new MP and she was at a big fringe event – nothing to do with the party organisation – and I’m sure she got a little bit carried away.”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey (MP for Salford and Eccles) said to the BBC: “Laura is an absolutely amazing MP, she’s one of the North West MPs with myself, she’s so full of energy and enthusiasm, but we’re certainly not advocating general strikes as Labour party policy.”
Click here to watch Laura’s speech.