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Mandelson’s got a nerve

It takes quite a lot of gall to be accusing the unions of trying to fix Labour parliamentary selections when you yourself have been engaged on doing exactly that for the last 20 years. When I first joined the PLP in the 1970s, it was composed very broadly of 40% on the Left and 40% on the Right, with the remainder not particularly one or the other. Once Blair had established New Labour after 1994, he and Mandelson set about consolidating their parliamentary base by using every device in the book – and quite a lot outside it – to ensure that members of the New Labour faction overwhelmingly predominated in the PLP.

By the end of the 1990s some 60-70% of the PLP could be classified as part of the Blairite faction, with the Left confined to only some 10-15%. Corresponding to this the composition of the PLP changed from a rough balance between working class and middle class representatives to one which has become overwhelmingly middle class. The working class represents half the population, but only 10% of the PLP.

This gross imbalance was brought about by the rigging of selections which went on for at least 15 years. The methods used included getting party staff in the regions to get behind the preferred candidate and quietly canvass support for him/her in the constituency, ensuring that the preferred candidate got the membership list weeks or even months before any of the other candidates, using various devices to keep undesired challengers off the final short list, and even some shenanigans over postal votes. Since 2010 the Progress faction has used the Sainsbury money, more than £3 millions, to train, network and generally push forward their own New Labour candidates whilst at the same time denying this money to the Labour Party as a whole.

For Peter Mandelson now to complain that the unions are trying to rebalance the wholly unrepresentative PLP is pretty rich when half the population is at present largely disenfranchised at Westminster and when the unions are certainly not breaching the party’s rules as happened repeatedly in the New Labour heyday. The truth is that Labour are not going to win the next election unless it regains the huge swaths of the D and E classes who abandoned Labour in 2005 and further again in 2010 because they believed that Labour no longer represented them at Westminster. The unions should be complimented for helping to achieve this essential role and thus significantly improving Labour’s chances of success in 2015.

7 Comments

  1. Ric Euteneuer says:

    Mandelson’s main beef, of course, is that he is no longer able to stitch things up as he did previously.

  2. Jon says:

    I don’t buy this, the landslide of 1997′ saw people from all wings come in, and those who entered later Hilary Benn Andy Slaughter Katy Clark, John Cruddas, ed blls, Tom Watson, ed miliband, hedi Alexander,David lammy, Emily thorn berry, Iqn Davidson, Natascha engel Are hardly blairite,
    Meacher also points out that where in 1970′ that e Labour Party was 50/50 left and right wing, that changed by 74. And of course the left deselected people they didn’t want causing the SDP split, as for progress training people, half of them backed Ed for leader,if Sainsbury doesn’t want to give money to labour he doesn’t have too, I recall Mcklusky saying that he’d only give money to labour if Progress was expelled, and how d’you know that progress Ed miliband supporters like Luke Akehurst aren’t working class, or for that matter that, the left are working class, labour were in the rules to get the best candidates they could in the 90’s , also why do you assume working class trade union members would vote for a left wing Labour Party, half are Tories.

  3. Patrick Coates says:

    The whole CLP system needs to be changed, UKIP have won without any local activites on the ground up to the 2nd may they had no proper web site.
    All you need is to be on Sky or BBC 24 news all day long, even when the election is taking place, the whole elections are a farce. I have stood against and beated all of our UKIP candidates, most of which never made 100 votes, this time they were getting 1,000 votes.

    Next years elections will be even worse, our CLP has no chance unless we have access to the 24 hour media. This cannot happen the CLP system has 450 of them and most have no funds and no money. The old ways, which include the new labour ways will not work any more, the twitter and facebook have seen to that.

  4. John reid says:

    What’s your CLP. Patrick, region are only interestd in constituencies where there’s a possible labour win, or one with a small majority, if its a strong hold they don’t care.

  5. Patrick Coates says:

    Hi John,
    Maidstone & The Weald.

  6. Rod says:

    “All you need is to be on Sky or BBC 24 news all day long”

    Not sure about this.

    Where I live UKIP are very vocal in local/community organisations and on facebook – though they don’t go in for leafleting or doing much in the way of having/publicising party meetings.

    This is where Labour seem to be weakest. Because of the distrust/disempowerment of the membership by the Labour elite it seems internet use is discouraged – perhaps because of the danger of someone writing something ‘off-message’.

    And, of course, much of the membership/activist base has thrown in the towel anyway.

    Labour is a long way from being a mass party with enough activists to counter unfavourable media coverage and now it may be too late to rebuild.

  7. John Reid says:

    Patrick, if Maidstone s anything like havering, region have given up on it. And getting a labour council isn’t what they’ve been interested in either

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