Monday, 24 August 2015
Labour is only Purging Likely Corbyn Supporters
News that Labour has barred over 3000 new supporters and members from its leadership election process appears to be highly selective. If you look ‘below the line’ on this Labour List post, you can read about at least one example of a Corbyn supporter being barred unfairly.
Further examples can be found here on Politics.co.uk where a Lambeth blogger who has criticised the Lambeth Labour council has been barred and a piece in The Independent by a new Green party member (and ex Labour member) who has been barred with his wife who joined Labour before even the leadership contest opened. The author Luke Wright admits that his Green party membership is current, although he is intending to let it lapse, but his wife seems to have been barred for being guilty by association with him.
The Labour party are putting huge resources into stopping people vote in the contest who they suspect are planning to vote for the leftish candidate and sometimes on very flimsy evidence. People can appeal the decision, but first have to fork out £45 for full Labour membership (on top of the £3 supporter fee), and of course there is no guarantee that the appeal will be successful.
Contrast this with the case of Stephen Tall, a well known Lib Dem activist who was the editor of the Lib Dem Voice website from 2007 to 2015. He admits in his website post to being an ‘entryist’ and even went onto the BBC 10 o’clock news to flaunt the fact that he has voted for the right wing Blairite candidate Liz Kendall. Has he been purged? I can’t find any announcement by Labour to confirm that he has been, so I can only assume that ‘entryist’ voting for Kendall (or Burnham or Cooper) is OK, but anyone who is even suspected of voting for Corbyn has to be rooted out.
I imagine that this desperate attempt to stop Corbyn winning is doomed to failure, given the astonishing success of his campaign so far, and the Burnham camp have threatened to mount a legal challenge to the result as a back up option. Cooper and Kendall meanwhile have refused to serve in a Corbyn cabinet which is further evidence of a back up plan should Corbyn win, involving sniping from the back benches as a tactic.
Cooper has also tried to rubbish Corbyn’s economic policies, despite 41 economists, including a former Bank of England advisor saying they support them and with the public being unimpressed with Labour’s Tory lite offering only 3 months ago that Cooper wants to re-heat now. And Corbyn’s ideas on foreign policy are perhaps even more controversial (anti-Trident, anti-NATO, pro-Palestinian) to the Labour right than his economic ones, something will have to give if Corbyn wins.
One thing is for sure, Corbyn will need to mobilise the new members/supporters against the parliamentary party if he is to enter the 2020 general election still at the helm of the party and still advocating the same policies.
I think an SDP 1980s style split in Labour is unlikely, though not impossible. The Labour right has learned from the SDP experience, which ended with many SDP people coming back to Blair’s new Labour, so they don’t want to make the same mistake again. They will remain in Labour and wait for an opportunity to get rid of Corbyn as leader, more than likely well before the next general election, but possibly afterwards in the event of another defeat.
All of this is a measure of Labour’s control freakery and anti-democratic nature and if Corbyn is to survive as leader he will urgently need to re-democracise the party. The Labour right has lost the argument, and is increasingly focusing on procedural and negative tactics. Corbyn will know how powerful the Labour machine is and he needs to re-invent the party from the bottom up if his revolution is to really achieve radical change.
Good luck to him, I think he will need it.