For the last few weeks grandees of New Labour and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party have been campaign for all three Labour leadership candidates not called Jeremy Corbyn. However in recent days the rhetoric has been stepped up; as well as MPs refusing to serve in the shadow cabinet, Blairites are suspected of plotting a coup against a more left-wing leadership and/or threatening to split from the party much like the SDP in 1990.
I have been encouraged by Jeremy Corbyn’s comments regarding the pro-capitalist parts of the Labour Party, which is a phrase that makes Keir Hardie and Nye Bevan turn in their graves, as he has, rather statesmanly, openly extended a hand of friendship in the spirit of uniting Labour’s ‘broad church’. But I have run out of patience; plotting a coup against a democratically elected leader before the election takes place and then the same MPs going to the media complaining that they fear being ‘purged’ from the party is the last straw. Corbyn hasn’t said that there should be a purge, but I now think there should be.
Simon Danczuk and Graham Stringer, Labour backbenchers on the right of the party, have publicly stated that Ed Miliband should apologise for the reforms he implemented to the election of the Labour leader. Ed Miliband’s reforms changed the election from equally weighting votes from trade union members, which in this contest is around 190,000 votes, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which this time is 232 votes, to ‘one member one vote’; opposition to Miliband’s reforms is opposition to democracy.
Mr Corbyn has finally addressed his detractors saying that MPs should support a more left-wing programme if he were to be elected reminding them that they are only MPs because Labour’s grassroots “worked night and day” to get them elected. The purge that the right of the Labour Party fears is becoming more and more likely because of their own actions, whether it inferring Corbyn an anti-Semite or briefing against fellow party members. Take Danczuk and Stringer, both of which are MPs in Greater Manchester and have both been critical of Jeremy Corbyn; if both were deselected and replaced with more left-wing candidates, the number of votes Labour won by is so high that even if they ran as independent candidates and took half of Labour’s vote with them, the left-wing Labour candidate would still win because of defections from the Greens with the Blairite finishing second.
Not only would a purge of Blairites be easy to achieve, it would actually strengthen the party as there would be less in-fighting and factionalism, which was a hallmark of the New Labour years. What the Blairites are terrified of is having left-wing competition because in places like Manchester and London, left-wing candidates have historically done better in elections; imagine the scale of Labour victories against an independent Blairite campaign in these areas if the candidates were providing a genuine socialist government.
The electorate is calling out for an alternative to the Tories, as shown by another low election turnout and the 63.9% of people that didn’t vote for the Tories (which is excluding the millions of people who didn’t vote for anyone). By expelling the Blairites Labour could distance itself from the Iraq War, propose more left-wing economic policies like the renationalisation of the railways, and focus on working class people’s concerns rather than palling around bankers and Rupert Murdoch.
If Blairites are determined to sabotage a left-wing Labour leader and essentially undermine the only viable opposition to this Tory government, they should be deselected and gotten rid of. If they want to run as independent candidates or form their own party they have that right to, and the electorate will decide who is more electable.
Jeremy Corbyn has been patient enough. For the good of the party and the country push the Blairites out.