Thursday 19 April 2018

A Case for Mandatory Reselection

Not more centre party rumours. Perhaps it's just churnalism. After all, it's not like British politics is gripped by a major scandal or anything.

Touring the debris of recent weeks, Andrew Grice riffs off anti-semitism, Syria, and the Skripals to argue that relations between Labour's "two tribes" are breaking down and that a parting is inevitable. The only chance of salvaging the situation is, apparently, if Jeremy Corbyn speaks out for MPs who were on that anti-semitism protest and recommend they not be deselected. Given some of the most awful, anti-working class and anti-Corbyn people in Labour politics were in attendance, how about "no".

Let's be quite clear about the balance of power in the Labour Party. Corbyn is strong and immovable. The unions are onside. The central administration is under the left's control. Momentum is a large, growing and inescapable presence many multiples larger than the combined strength of Labour's right, and the membership, in the main, are extremely critical of the activities of our self-described Labour rebels. They might not like Corbyn's positioning on foreign affairs, but the real reason why "the level of despair is back to mid-2016" is because they're utterly powerless. They have no strategy, no way of asserting their former dominance, and only command attention when they're pouring scorn on their leader. Small wonder the fantasy of a new centre party exercises such a pull. It's the nostalgia fever dream of what they have always wanted: a technocratic outfit sans the hideous trade unions and a membership who expect a say over how things are run.

This is not a "tribal" issue, as Andrew and tedious Westminster commentators like to style these things, but a matter of interest. Should the Labour Party reflect the lives and articulate the interests of the working class as it exists now, in 2018, or pursue the austerity-happy, business-friendly, elite-embracing strategies that have proved such a success for centre left parties elsewhere?

The sad truth is there's no reconciling with these people. This is not a broad tent issue, it's a matter of fundamentally being at odds with what the Labour Party has become and is becoming. Until they do the decent thing and follow the logic of their politics out of the party, they will use their position as official Labour representatives to attack, undermine, destabilise and wreck the party's chances. Their powers may be depleted but their access to the media is not, and they are willing participants in, as Owen notes, their efforts at delegitimising the left as a whole. And they will keep at it until, at a time they think is right for them, they'll decamp to cause maximum damage.

Enough. The membership are not powerless to do something about this. At Labour Party conference this year mandatory reselection of MPs will be debated and voted on. It's in our power to select constituency delegates who support the policy and get it through. And if we're successful, it will force the hand of the hostiles to put up, or spend the next few years scrabbling around their constituencies begging for reselection. We will see what stomach they have for opposition then. Meanwhile, we can be confident that whatever outfit they come up with isn't going to be much trouble - unless you seriously think an alliance of Blairists, Woke Soubz, and the Liberal Democrats will be a goer among Labour's left-minded electorate more so than Tory voters.

Remember, Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership have bent over backwards to accommodate the self-designated core group hostile, and at every turn they've made their contempt clear. It's about time the membership showed them their contempt as well.


Anonymous said...

I get where the dissenters are coming from. Heck, i'm right with them on Corbyn, who i regard as unfit to lead the party and a man of very limited ability who has been hyped up by supporters to a ridiculous degree. He really isn't up to much.
His "performance" over the last couple of weeks has been abject, showing him in the worst possible light. So, Mps showing frustration at his less than inspirational leadership seems perfectly legitimate to me.
However, the party is in a different place to where it was two years back and it wont be reverting to where it was any time soon. Corbyn isn't going anywhere. For good or ill the course is set. Those dissatisfied with the direction of travel have two options, stay and fight or leave. Either option will be messy and probably wont do us much good at all, but a bust up will at least settle the issues and clear the air.
Losing any good MP will not be beneficial, nor will a signal that the moderate wing of the party isn't welcome do much for our appeal either. There are downsides to having MP's deselected, which may include losing current members who aren't completely won over by the leadership.


Jan B said...

"Those dissatisfied with the direction of travel have two options, stay and fight or leave."

When you say "stay and fight", do you mean stay and fight against the leadership? If so, how about a third option - stay and fight as hard as you can for the manifesto in the knowledge that there is, for the time being, no-one but Jeremy Corbyn who is:
a) Prepared to commit wholeheartedly to that manifesto despite the unceasing vitriol hurled at him by the right (Tories, MSM, Labour right).
b) Acceptable to the membership.
c) Able to get the necessary PLP votes to run for leadership.

You might also bear in mind that mandatory reselection doesn't mean deselection. Why would you think that Labour would lose good MPs through this process?

Anonymous said...

Nice concern trolling from "Steve" there.

Anonymous said...

However unfit to lead Corbyn might be he still has the overwhelming advantage, from his party's and the country's point of view, of not being one these 'moderates'.

Keith said...

very fair

Simon Martin Halstead said...

Very good article, well written and researched. Can I just clarify, you seem to be implying that the anti-Semitism furore is a canard of the right wing, designed to destabilise Corbyn. Is this what you are saying or not?

Phil said...

No. Labour anti-semitism exists. But it has also been used for factional purposes.

I recommend looking at this and some of the links I've included.