Wednesday, 13 July 2016

If the Labour Party Splits, What is the Future for a Progressive Electoral Alliance?

The Labour Party Right, quite correctly were foiled in their attempt to keep the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, off the ballot paper for the upcoming party leadership election. The rules for a leadership contest when no vacancy exists, are pretty clear, and Labour’s NEC confirmed yesterday that Corbyn will be automatically on the ballot, as well as any challengers.
It is still possible that the Labour Right will challenge the NEC ruling in the courts, but it looks unlikely, and even if they did, they would no doubt lose the case. So the election in all probability, will now take place.

The change to the rules, barring new Labour Party members from voting and the sharp increase in the fee for Labour Party supporters being allowed to vote in the leadership election, is another attempt by the Labour Right to circumvent normal democratic processes, and to increase their chances of defeating Corbyn in the contest.
I have written before that I would broadly support the Green Party joining an electoral progressive alliance at the next general election, to try and oust the Tories from power, but recent events in the Labour Party throw this into question.

If Corbyn wins the leadership election, what will the Labour Right do? They may decide to form a separate party, and may even try to keep the Labour Party name. On the other hand, they may go back to the guerrilla warfare of the last month or so, and try to paralyse the party in Parliament, and wait for another opportunity to challenge Corbyn for the leadership, probably next year, and then again the year after that, ad infinitum.
If the Labour Right does form a new, separate party (whatever the name) or join forces with the Lib Dems, should Greens join this ‘progressive alliance?’ And would Corbyn’s Labour be invited into this alliance?

It seems unlikely to me, that if the Labour Party does split, they are then going to form to an immediate electoral alliance with each other. That just doesn’t make any sense, so the whole idea of a progressive alliance would be dead in the water.
Also, would anti-Corbyn Labour want to form an alliance with the Lib Dems and Greens (possibly even SNP and PC), but exclude Corbyn Labour? And if this was the case, should the Greens take part in this kind of reactionary alliance? I think not.

The best that can be hoped for, is perhaps a constituency by constituency alliance, where local Green Parties, assess the candidates and support whoever is the best placed ‘progressive’ candidate, which ever party they are representing. I would suggest in most cases this would be from the Corbyn led Labour Party.
A lot of things might happen before the next general election, so from this distance out, it is hard to say whether the idea of a progressive alliance is a runner or not. But recent events in the Labour Party do indicate that, at least in the previously suggested form, the alliance will be anything but ‘progressive.’

Personally, I don’t think that I could stomach an alliance with the Labour Right. I joined the Green Party in large part because I was thoroughly disillusioned with what the Labour Party had become under the leadership of Tony Blair.
I really can’t see me supporting the Labour Right in anyway at all now after their cynical use of the EU referendum vote and their complete contempt for fairness and democracy, in mounting this coup against Corbyn. I’d rather risk seeing a Tory government re-elected than help the Labour Right into power now.  


  1. Thanks, Mike.

    Based in LB Camden — the borough housing a major funding source for the Labour Party — I suspect that a root problem is how much Jeremy Corbyn's politics offend the ethics, or lack of, for people who want Labour to have plenty of campaign funds so that they can do their telephone canvassing and whatever, regardless of how and where that money is sourced. As 15 Camden Labour councillors and Keir Starmer MP turn on their party leader, who's pulling their strings?

  2. I would have hoped the fierce tribalism of Labour came mostly from their right but fear otherwise. Recently Brighton district LP hadcfresh elections for key positions and Momentum swept the board. New secretary Greg Hadfield gave an interview to latest TV in which he said they intend to get Labour MPs in all 3 Brighton constituencies. So they intend to unseat Caroline Lucas. Talk about an own goal for the left! I'll post a link here shortly. Maybe he's trying to appease the whole local party? Or maybe he's just another tribal Labour member who is convinced Labour can get a majority in Parliament which I don't see happening, whoever is their leader. What with the reports of bullying and intimidation (which I considered largely spin if not carried out to provide something to spin) - seeing the NEC member shaking in fear last night on c4 made me think again, I am really going off the Momentoes!

  3. Interesting post about a new Labour Party leadership contender: The Entirely Fake Owen Smith: ".... For PR professional Smith, political stance is nothing to do with personal belief, it is to do with brand positioning. On Channel 4 News last night, an incredulous Michael Crick pointed out that the “soft left” Smith had previously given interviews supporting PFI and privatisation in the health service. He also strongly supported Blair’s city academies. ...."

    Alan Wheatley

  4. In a Camden New Journal letter, Bob Pitt states The militant anti-Corbyn wing of Labour would rather break up the party than accept a democratic decision, backing up his argument with reference to Corbyn opponent Angela Eagle's volte face between referring mid-campaign to Corbyn's commitment, and the post-Brexit-vote statement that re "half-hearted ambivalence."

    Regarding aspects of democracy, a KUWG statement in support of Jeremy Corbyn's mandate as Leader of the Opposition draws attention to the anti-Corbyn wing's lack of leadership in abstaining from voting against the Welfare Reform & Work Bill that introduced an even nastier 'overall benefit cap'. It also draws attention to the gulf between an MP's salary of nearly £75K plus parliamentary expenses on the one hand, and the much lower overall benefit cap on the other.

    A further Kilburn Unemployed blog posting,As 15 Camden Labour councillors and Keir Starmer MP turn on their party leader, who's pulling their strings?, points to an obvious conflict of interest between the anti-exploitation politics of Jeremy Corbyn and the 'made in China' sourcing of a major stream of funding from a Labour right-winger John Mill, head of JML Direct Ltd.

    Greens who might be sympathetic to Bob Pitt's CNJ letter, could be very well pissed off by his omission of any reference to existence of Green Party members in the EU referendum.

    Interestingly, the Camden Council Finance Chief whose anti-Corbyn stance Bob Pitt's letter was replying to has announced that Camden Council will no longer be pursuing Council Tax payments from people too poor to pay even the 10% of Council Tax they've been charged. Camden Council to stop chasing worst-off for council tax with plan to exempt 11,500 residents

    Right wing Labour councillors will have to do a lot to win back the votes of the poorest people, but then again, 'social cleansing' changes the democratic landscape in ways that right wing Labour funders probably love more than they love the workforces that make their outsourced products that fund a right wing Labour Party.