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The case for mandatory reselection

red rosette with question markIf you want to know what a good slice of political journalism in the 21st century looks like,Michael Crick’s “scoop” is an exemplar. It has it all. The anonymous source. The wild claims. Guilt-by-association. Bandwagon chasing. According to Michael, the “far left are preparing to oust several Labour MPs”. Sounds serious. He names the two MPs for Lewisham, Tristram Hunt, and Simon Danczuk as possible targets, at least according to some unnamed Unite organiser. However, as Unite and the Jeremy campaign make clear this had absolutely nothing to do with them, and that said activist is neither a lay official nor Labour member. In other words, our anonymous source has managed to nick some of the limelight by shooting his mouth off to a journo who long ago cut his teeth on a sensationalist expose of the far left.

Has Michael rendered much of a service to those stubbornly welded to anti-Jeremy scaremongering? I doubt it. Undoubtedly some representatives of the party are scaredabout what tens of thousands of new members could mean for their reselection hopes, but so what? Our mysterious Unite activist, and indeed quite a few members on Labour’s left might dream about ousting certain MPs (there won’t be any tears in this house for Danczuk, it has to be said), but that’s what they are at the moment: fantasies.

That isn’t to say it’s going to be this way forever. As we know, what with Dave’s boundary review coming up to “cut the cost of politics”, as he puts it, a sizeable chunk of Labour MPs are going to have to be reselected anyway. Looking at my patch, and having seen the proposed boundaries from 2011-12, it’s very likely that the North Staffs conurbation (Stoke-on-Trent + Newcastle-under-Lyme + Kidsgrove) will go from four seats to three. Depending on how they stack up, all could be scrapping for reselection. As well as interested others too. So the fear that some in the party have of mandatory reselections might not happen seeing as many MPs are facing them anyway. This in mind, assuming he wins Jeremy could avoid pushing the issue for party management reasons.

That said, we should have mandatory reselections. A lifetime’s entitlement to a particular seat is utterly inconsistent with democratic principles. That, and it’s bad politics too. Look at Scotland. Look at the rotten fiefdoms scarring many a safe Labour area. The absence of internal challenges led to sclerotic local parties, to lazy local parties in which membership dwindled and campaigning seldom happened. One of my comrades, who recently went for a selection in a “safe” Scottish seat, told me the constituency was divided into two urban areas. The outgoing MP had, for 20 years, only bothered with one-half of the seat. That was where the meetings were. Where most of the members were, and was therefore unconcerned with what happened to the party in the other half of the seat so long as matters remained tickety-boo in his. He had no incentive to bother talking to the members, so didn’t.

Of course, compulsory reselections aren’t a magic bullet. Sitting representatives have certain incumbency advantages, such as status (people new to the party might be shocked by the small number of members who treat the office of MP as a sacred thing), or resources to get a reselection through, but better this than the alternative that has helped cost this party dear.

This article first appeared at All that is Solid


  1. John P Reid says:

    So Jeremy supporters such as your selves say they have nothing to do with a unite officials plan to use his union power of contact,of funding certain people to join locally and swing votes at branch meetings , but at the same time you think de/re selections are good as you can get rid of those who aren’t as left wing as you like.

    1. Mervyn Hyde says:

      The Party was high-jacked by the right wing and it goes without saying, that same wing of the party parachuted their people into winnable seats, those loyal party members that were more interested in their careers than the people the represented.

      Tony Blair did not explain his real agenda for change in the party, he merely proceeded by stealth to put his people in places that allowed him to control the party.

      Jeremy has already outlined that he wants members to democratically vote for policies of a Labour Government through conference as we did before Blair, Blair operated by policy forums of people outside the party, this in fact reinforced the Neo-Liberal agenda as these people got their views via the media and the policies were framed in such a way as to get a yes or no agreement, such as, “Do yo want better public services?” I found Blair’s forums banal and clearly looked for compliance not real policy making.

      1. john P Reid says:

        why is the right of the party running hte party since 1988,hijacking it the left of the party took over,some means fairly ,some by trot deselections and militant, the right of the party ran in from 1957-1976
        yes the right of the party in 19988 ditche dmost of the 983 manifesot and guess what we went form 30% to 34.5% then in 97 to 43,5% and yes that vote fell to 29% in 2010

        but hte left of the party took over in 2015 and we got 30,4% as for parachuting look at katy Clark,Kate osamor,Cat smith,Emily thornberry, the left of the party has been getting in left wingers for 12 years now ,as for your other commetns OK but,the right of the party were’nt using trot ideas to delsect people, all be it Charles Clarke wanted John Mcdonnell ,deseelcted,

        1. Mervyn Hyde says:

          If we go back to Ed Miliband’s selection as leader, his famous quote to get himself elected was, “that he got it,” what you have to deduce from that, and I quote again, he said “I get it,” repeated “I get it,” IS WHAT DID IT ALL MEAN.

          Well he later said that Neo-Liberalism had gone too far, note here NEO-LIBERALISM. So he wasn’t saying I am going to change everything, just that he would limit it.

          Why did he refer to Neo-Liberalism in the first place? Clearly a lot of people recognised that Neo-Liberal theology had destroyed the economy and that the previous incumbents in New Labour had followed this doctrine to the point where people had had enough.

          Having raised the issue of Neo-Liberalism and obviously finding growing decent in the
          ranks of the Labour Party, he thought he would camouflage the new Neo-Liberal agenda under the guise of Blue Labour, unfortunately for him it was again obvious to a lot of people not just Labour members, that this was not Labour and a swing further right to appeal to the Tories. Which he quietly dropped as it went down like a lead balloon.

          For those of us that understood Ed was just another charlatan posing for the support of people calling for change, whilst continuing with policies of more of the same, clearly also did not appeal to people in the country.

          The old saying you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time applies in this instance.

          Ed if he had been a left winger would have thrown his full support behind the save the NHS movement, instead he ignored it, and I can tell you from factual personal experience even found Labour representatives ignore valuable inside information which would expose what was currently happening. They even hindered our ability to expose it under local scrutiny committees.

          Ed Miliband had the opportunity at the last election to romp home with a massive majority by declaring he would reinstate the NHS using the 2015 reinstatement bill, which entered parliament with the aid of Caroline Lucas NOT ED MILIBAND.

          I conclude by saying, Ed did not even want a majority, he was angling for coalition with the Libdems, it was even rumoured that they had had preliminary discussions about it, Ed was carefully walking a tight rope, noting most of his critics were saying, why was Ed missing such open goals that the Tories put in his way? the obvious answer of course was that he would continue with the same policies, using the argument the Libdems and Tories used, that they were limited by the coalition and that they could blame each other for the policies that were unpopular.

          The problem for Ed was the libdem vote collapsed without trace and his little dream went with it.

          What I find particularly strange about you, is that you readily brand the left as Trots without asking yourself what you are doing in a socialist party. By all means challenge our beliefs with factual information, but slandering people where you have absolutely no evidence for or even justification for is contemptible.

          1. Jeff says:

            So Ed wasn’t as left wing as Caroline Lucas,so QED Ed must be new labour,forget all the other stuff,about we’ve got our party back, I’m not Blair to Booes, or new labour is over….

          2. Mervyn Hyde says:

            Look, you need to examine why it was he missed all those open goals the Tories offered him. He was seen as weak, although he did a good job of acting up on PMQs, and that’s the difference, putting on a show is New Labour.

            I have made it clear in my previous comment that when people like yourself say the want to save the NHS, what in effect does that mean?

            As you infer, mentioning Caroline Lucas, you understood the connection between the Bill that she brought before parliament and Andy Burnham’s privatisation bill, the preferred provider. It should be as plain as the nose on your own face, that both Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband were not saving the NHS but carrying on, business as usual more privatisation.

            Also in support of what I say, if Andy Burnham was seriously trying to save the NHS, he would have sought the advice of Britain’s top Health researchers of world renown, Dr Allyson Pollock and Dr Lucy Reynolds, in fact the first place he presented his health policy to was the Kings Fund, a quasi pro private health think Tank.

            Their own evaluation of his policy was expressed as, the NHS would become a commissioning body with a single budget and NOT a provider.

            So in other words they were saying that the NHS would be in name only and the private sector, various charitable organisations and social enterprises would deliver care.

            It goes without saying both Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband were duping our own members into believing they were going to save the NHS.

            Please watch this video as it explains exactly what the Neo Liberals were doing to our NHS and is some 4-5 years old now which means you can see for yourself how valid the content is.

  2. Chris says:

    I don’t necessarily oppose mandatory reselection in principle, but if Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader I think he needs to strike a more conciliatory tone rather than introducing one of the left’s most controversial policies.

    1. Mervyn Hyde says:

      Isn’t the real problem, given the vitriol expounded by those very real right wingers, that whatever Jeremy does they intend to disrupt and do what ever they can to block his progressive platform.

      That in itself could bring the charge of bringing the Party into disrepute.

      That being the case they would deserve deselection and just to note, after all that has been said of the left, I can not ever remember hearing the left behaving so badly in public view with regard to electing a new leader.

  3. Karl Stewart says:

    John P Reid, if you’re addressing your comments to the author of this article, he says on his own ‘All That is Solid’ site that he’s voted for Yvette Cooper, rather than the socialist candidate.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Poor man, he clearly needs help urgently; even if it’s only a few useful tips on fiddling his expenses, still Cooper would be as good a person to seek such help from as anyone, although if she’s not available by all accounts Andy Burnham apparently also knows a thing or too about this topic as well.

  4. James Martin says:

    I really don’t get the fuss about reselection within the Party, although the misunderstandings by the media are par for the course.

    The bottom line here is that MPs, like councillors etc., are representatives of the Party. They can be removed by electors, which is of course democracy, but they should also be regularly re-endorsed (and if necessary removed) by their local Party bodies if they are no longer seen as properly representing the views of members and affiliates or for that matter if they are judged to be useless. It happens all the time in trade unions, no workplace rep, branch or exec officer, or general secretary is elected for life and they can all be removed by their members at regular intervals. The problem we have always had with the PLP is that much of them no longer see themselves as elected representatives of the movement (in part because a lot of them haven’t been elected but were parachuted and imposed from the time of Blair) but as the unaccountable leadership of the Party with a job for life. And if the current leadership campaign has shown anything it is just how out of step and out of touch the majority of the PLP are with the wider membership (including the ‘old’ membership). Certainly I think Tristram Hunt is in the wrong party (and he is a worse than useless in shadow education to boot), while we have incurable imbeciles like Danczuk and Mann with their talk of coups ‘from day one’ that should never have got to be representatives of the movement to begin with, and hopefully if their local CLPs are sufficiently revived they will be removed in due course, and what on earth is wrong with that?

  5. Peter Rowlands says:

    I am in principle in favour of mandatory reselection. However, I support the Corbyn campaign in opposing its reintroduction now as it will be seen by many MPs as a hostile act which could isolate jeremy from the support he needs.( I am assuming that he is going to win).
    I should add that the current system is not a ‘lifetimes entitlement’. It requires maajority endorsement, otherwise reselection will take place.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Agreed. The general strategy of making the Party more democratic could be wrecked by ill-considered tactics. The most important thing for the first year of a Corbyn leadership (if he wins) should devoted to doing whatever is required for him to consolidate his position. Phil B-C’s argument only deals with the general case and not the particular conditions of it impementation. The CLPD’s rule change motion calling for mandatory reselection was drawn up in very different circumstances to those that have developed since it was written. In current circumstances it is unhelpful and the CLPD should demonstrate its sense of (non-dogmatic) political judgement by recommending that the CLPs that have taken up its proposal should now withdraw their motions.

  6. Karl Stewart says:

    It just strikes me as being a little bit odd that someone who says on his own ‘All That is Solid’ website that he voted for Yvette Cooper has written an article here in which he omits to mention that.

    1. James Martin says:

      Yes, but why should it surprise that someone who seeks to write so much about theory and analysis then supports the one candidate in Cooper who hasn’t got a policy on hardly anything except a couple of issues that link to her fake middle class feminist identity politics. He even said that he didn’t find the Corbyn effect existing, but perhaps that is because hardly any of the half million members and supporters whose very presence is exciting want to sit down and list to his navel fluff musings.

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