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Destroying the Labour Party in order to save it

Inside Labour CorbynWe had to destroy the village in order to save it’; that maxim – a paraphrase of words famously uttered by a US Army major to a journalist during the Vietnam war – now stands a metaphor for the perspectives of a sizeable chunk of the Labour right. Cast aside pious invocations of the interests of ‘those that need a Labour government the most’, a staple of boilerplate anti-Corbyn polemics throughout the summer.

Maximising our chances of forming the next administration is but a secondary consideration when jobs for life are at stake, and a number of Labour rightwingers are openly proclaiming their readiness to terminate Corbyn’s career with extreme prejudice.

Blair’s former adviser John McTernan, for instance, gleefully offers Telegraph readers insights on ‘how Labour can get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in one easy step’. Note how even the use of the term ‘Labour’ here is loaded; Labour has just voted overwhelmingly to put Corbyn in charge. But such is McTernan’s sense of entitlement, the word is to him essentially synonymous with ‘me and my mates’.

He points to the section of the rulebook that provides for annual leadership elections at conference when Labour is in opposition:

Next year’s Labour conference needs to have an election with only one candidate. Not one apart from Corbyn, but only one” 

He says this can easily be engineered by the Parliamentary Labour Party, which controls nomination rights. The PLP simply needs to ensure that Corbyn doesn’t cross the threshold. Interesting how a man who would presumably join the condemnation of Corbyn for ‘hiring Stalinists’ is so keen to import tactics from North Korea, but let that pass.

Next up for all you comedy fans out there is the prospect of Simon Danczuk as a stalking horse, emulating colourful Tory backbencher Sir Anthony Meyer’s doomed challenge to Thatcher in 1989. That enabled politicians of more weight to administer the coup de grace the following year, and Danczuk is hoping to pull off a rerun.

To top it all, Frank Field has urged Labour MPs deselected in favour of leftwingers to immediately resign and fight by-elections on an independent Labour ticket. He has even proclaimed that he could mobilise 60 MPs, or over a quarter of the PLP, in support of such ventures.

That’s just a tour d’horizon of the quirkier plots currently doing the rounds. There are probably others that are not yet public knowledge. Let me put forward a few observations.

I’m the last guy to proffer theological exegesis on the nuances of clause this, subclause that of the Labour Party constitution. But I would be surprised if McTernan’s ‘contest with one candidate scenario’ – and don’t contests require at least two candidates, by definition? – comes off. Rulebook junkies of my acquaintance believe the relevant wording provides that sitting leaders automatically make it onto the ballot paper, although the point isn’t clear.

But even if Corbyn does need nominations, he’ll probably get them, despite his difficulties in making it over the threshold during this summer’s nomination period. A combination of his genuine supporters and those who back existing current leaders for reasons of either principle or simple brown tongue expediency will ensure that.

In that light, Danczuk would be somewhat conceited to believe that his plans would make much of a difference, either way. While nobody can stop him making a fool of himself, any #Simon4Leader project risks exposing him as an unimpressively vainglorious and self-important man. The uncharitable might venture that he has achieved such status already.

Field’s umbrage comes across as hugely misplaced, given the way in which rigging of parliamentary selections in Labour strongholds has been routine for more than two decades. Witness the way the Falkirk imbroglio blew up in Ed Miliband’s face, or the alleged ballot box tampering in Thamesmead a few years back.

In all likelihood, SpAds parachuted into safe Labour seats since 1994 outnumber the troops the RAF was able to land at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. Under the boundary changes, more seats than usual will unavoidably come up for grabs. The left has long argued for fairness in these matters, and is finally in a position to deliver that fairness.

If it simply does that, Field’s statement of hostile intent – which, if enacted, would damage Labour far more than a thousand solitary Tweets seemingly advocating anarchy in Croydon – will come to nought, if only through lack of boots on the ground.

Let’s not laugh the plotters off entirely. McTernan, Danczuk and Field are all – to put it euphemistically – notorious mavericks, and perhaps in the business of providing more serious players with plausible deniability. But their current manoeuvres amount to a clumsy threat that they will do all in their power to blow up the Labour Party if their heroes or heroines don’t get to run the show.

If they want to play these silly little games, they can expect their ugly machinations to meet a suitably measured and proportionate response.


  1. John McTernan has virtually no credibility. His advice aan “support” Lost a gener al election for the Austrlian Labor Party when I there. He was also instrumental in the SNP winning 40 out of 41 seats in Scotland at the 2015 general election.
    Your comment about the parachuting of SPADs and other New Labour supporters into safe Labour seats Labour during the 1990s and up to 2010 is very important and valid observation. I have researched and documented this extensively. The report is in my internet book “New Labour :was the gain worth the continuing pain ? to be publisehd within the next two weeks. For more information and to be kept informed about the book please page the website:

  2. James Martin says:

    I wouldn’t put Frank Field in the same category as the other two if only because Frank has some intelligence at least (although I disagree with much of his politics).

    Why McTory is on the TV so much is galling given he has so little support in our Party.

    As for the lying Daily Mail house drunk Simon Dumbfeck, I still suspect his ultimate home is UKIP but he will cause as many problems as he can before he arrives there. But it is truly astonishing that he is not already facing disciplinary action given this is precisely what he did to long-standing Rochdale members who had the nerve to ask for an investigation into the credible allegations he indulged in domestic violence:

    1. James Martin says:

      Oh, and here is the MoS story (from July this year, before he started to work for them agaisnst Corbyn of course) with the comments from family members and text messages evidence regarding the serious domestic violence allegations against Danczuk – and yet he appears not to have been investigated for his alleged behaviour and bringing the Party into disrepute. Why?

    2. James Martin says:

      Oh, and here is the MoS story (from July this year, before he started to work for them against Corbyn of course) with the comments from family members and text messages evidence regarding the serious domestic violence allegations against Danczuk – and yet he appears not to have been investigated for his alleged behaviour and bringing the Party into disrepute. Why?

    3. Ric Euteneuer says:

      I hear much of Frank Field’s supposed “intelligence” when the reality is that he is an old school wet Tory who has blundered into the Labour Party.

      In favour of private healthcare insurance and member of Tory ginger group “Reform” in favour of this ? Tick
      In favour of private unemployment insurance ? Tick
      Against abortion ? Tick
      Supports return of National Service ? Tick
      Friend of Mrs Thatcher ? Tick
      In favour of a English Vote for English Laws (EVEL) ? Tick
      Employed by incoming Tory/Lib government as poverty czar ? Tick

      Please let me know what stunning pieces of political insight Frank Field has brought to bear on any of the 20th century debates, and I would be considerably enlightened. What this man is doing in the PLP is anyone’s guess.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        What he’s doing in the labour party full stop is anyone’s guess, he and far too many others just like him.

        1. John P Reid says:

          He disliked Tories view on apartied, racism, homophobia, poverty,

      2. John P Reid says:

        When has he said he’s against abortion, it’s not just Tories who wanted EVEL,it was Tam Dyell who questioned it in 1996

  3. Jim says:

    Corbyn is just a different bag of salt in the same old bag of crisps. Real change will only come when the Labour Party finally dies and people have to choose their new ground

    1. Ric Euteneuer says:

      Presumably involving some far left group you are presently a member of…

      1. Jim says:

        No, I am waiting for it to form. Nothing fits the bill right now. The Labour party came to be when 90% of the population was under the thumb. That percentage is down to about 30-35% now, most people in this country are doing ‘all right’. The Blairites got this – but then promptly forgot about them once they achieved power. If we are to do anything to improve the lot of the 35%, there will have to be new thinking, some sort of PR and a lifetime of working in different types of coalitions. In my view of course. The current labour party, the left and just about everyone else is still fighting yesterday’s battles with yesterdays opinions, debates and even personalities. Something will rise from the ashes eventually, it will not be Labour.

  4. rachel says:

    The trouble is that the Labour Party has no control over how deselected MPs respond to their deselection. There is no great history of deselected MPs continuing to serve the Labour Party in any meaningful way: it effectively ends their service to the party. I mean, you can hardly expect them to turn up the following weekend for a spot of Labour Doorstep!

    In fact, it’s quite common for them to respond by defecting or standing as Independents: that’s the risk you take when you deselect an MP!

    Yes you could expel the MP (but why would the MP care?!) and anyone who campaigned for them. But bear in mind, we haven’t had an SDP split yet and mandatory reselections may be all it takes for it to happen.

    Party unity is a two-way street: yes, moderates should show loyalty but the Left need to show respect. You can’t expect to drive people out of the party and then expect them to stay indefinitely.

    1. Robert says:

      Who is being deselected, I see no risk of anyone being deselected this would of course a rocking of the boat something Corbyn has no intention of doing.

      I see that great welfare campaigner and Blair-rite Byrne has not come out warning about Corbyn, I suspect he thinks labour did not go far enough in Welfare not a single workers camp was set up.

      Labour has many serious issue and In suspect over the coming month years and it will be up to local labour CLP to discuss whether they back MP’s who attack Corbyn will they do it, somehow I doubt it so a split within labour will occur.

  5. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    All I can really say is that nomination of Jim McMahon as the next Labour MP for Oldham, (following the death Micheal Meacher,) seems to have followed exactly the same, “me and my mates,” pattern outlined above, and there has been absolutely no attempt at broader consultation whatsoever about his nomination as far as I can tell, with anyone outside Labour’s infamous closed circle of the chosen few, but somehow I and people like me who voted for JC in the hope, (increasingly unrealistic it seems,) that this sort thing would change are still supposed to simply vote for him their say so.

    Most of the people I know who voted for JC are either baffled by this or annoyed or both.

    How anyone can describe this farce as being in any sense, “democratic socialism,” completely baffles me anyway.

    It not so much that we’re, (people like me,) losing interest, so much as the will to live.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Oh and by the most extraordinary and uncanny of coincidences he turns out also to be yet another Roman catholic, a cynic might even suggest that there is some kind of pattern here, particularly after their infamous closed meeting at our local Roman catholic church to decide who they’d endorse as the next Labour leader.

      It’s like living in Spain under Franco.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        I’m trying to think, (having lived in Oldham for much of my adult life,) off the top of my head, what this man’s achievements actually amount to and the list that comes up is scarcely inspiring; Oldham council closed our much loved and well used local cinema, (The Roxy,) have jumped straight onto the Tory, “partnership,” bandwagon particularly with regard to these all despicable schemes that are now preying on the unemployed and the disabled, “Get Oldham Working is supposed one of these flagship projects; but really it does little but cynically exploit and take advantage of our young, (mostly,) and vulnerable unemployed under the spurious pretext of providing training and experience, to the applause of all his right wing mates and no one else.

        OMBC are also claiming credit for the fact that a new branch of M&S, (less than 5 miles away from the one in Ashton,) is opening, claiming it will create, “employment,” although I don’t personally know anyone who could afford to shop there and are subsiding a new and completely unnecessary privately operated sports and leisure centre whilst we already have adequate provision with the existing facilitates, which will doubtless be now closed.

        That’s really about it.

  6. David Ellis says:

    I think we need to realise that New Labour is a busted flush. The electorate killed it. It is toxic. It is never coming back. All its moaning about Corbyn and Co is just a fart in a hurricane. If it did regain control Labour would simply disappear. They can moan but they cannot make an impact because they cannot reinvent the unreinventable and because they are despised by literally everybody. There is simply no objective space for a Third Way since the collapse of Capitalism in 2008. There is only one way back for the right of the party and that is through Corbyn who doesn’t look like he is going to tackle the PLP which is the real party winin the party but sidestep the issue with Momentum whilst packing his shadow cabinent with discredited Brownites and Blairites. In fact, given the exceptional ferocity of the capitalist assault on working people currently taking place Corbyn’s mild anti-austerity looks extremely timid and inadquate to the task. It makes the Corbynistas look like the party’s new right wing though they be to the left of the old right wing. But everything is up in the air and there is a window of opportunity for socialists to argue for a radical programme for working class power and the transition to socialism before everything is closed down by the Stalinists Milne and Co.

  7. John Penney says:

    I think those who are already tiresomely expressing their disappointment that the extraordinarily totally unexpected Jeremy Corbyn Leadership victory hasn’t overnight turned what is still a party totally dominated by the neoliberal neo Tory Right, after decades of Progress et al funded manipulation and neo Tory infiltration, into a root and branch radical socialist party, need to show a tad more political patience and maturity.

    Comrades there is a long, long, struggle for us on the Left ahead. The totally unpredicted Jeremy Corbyn victory still finds us with a Party totally dominated by careerist neo Tories in Westminster, and though more patchy at local council level, the Right, and the straightforwardly corrupt still outnumber the ( still many) genuine socialists councillors who will actually oppose Austerity if given support by a newly reinvigorated Left dominated membership and the new socialist leadership.

    It is a political miracle that Jeremy has won the leadership at all – lets not expect more even more stunning miracles in transforming the Party in just a few months.

    Civil war is undoubtedly coming in the party – of that there can be no doubt. The point for us on the Left is to dig in for the long haul, not get pouty and hypercritical because just a few months after his victory Jeremy hasn’t rooted out the huge swamp of cronyism and dodgy dealing and crap politics that has held the party in bondage to neoliberal capitalism for over 30 years.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      That is of course the voice of common sense, wisdom and maturity and a point well made.

      Unfortunately it’s also complete and utter bollocks; the small dint that Corby’s unexpected election as labour leader briefly made in the aplomb and complacency of the entrenched Tory wing of the rotten post Blair labour party is rapidly disappearing before our very eyes and things from here can only get worse not better.

      Just when exactly are we going to see anything even remotely akin to socialism being practiced or preached by Labour and I’m not fooled for one moment by all this, commercially, (partnership,) driven cooperative borough crap and it’s ilk being foisted on us by people like Sean Wright, Andy Burnham, (up to his neck along with people Debbie Abrahams in the NHS privatizations,) as some kind of substitute.

    2. David Ellis says:

      Aren’t you from Left Unity?

      In any case civil wars are won by maintaining momentum (hence the name) not by digging in. Stasis is death. We’ve beaten them, let them go, said no victorious army ever.

      1. John Penney says:

        And weren’t YOU in Left Unity too once David ? I remember your endless self indulgent ultraleft posts on that website too.

        Unfortunately both David Ellis and J P Craig-Weston have nothing to contribute but posturing ultra left negativity. The all too common Far Left mindset – which pretty much guaranteed that the Left Unity project never escaped from the Far Left bubble to engage with ordinary Left leaning voters. A lot of Left Unity members have now grasped that that project is now irrelevant with the victory of Jeremy Corbyn – and joined/re-joined the Labour Party , like myself.

        1. David Ellis says:

          If I intervened in Left Unity it was to try to give it principled politics but you were only interested in dropping principles for short term gain. You were the Blairite wing of Left Unity as pointless as tits on a bull. Stick with your collection of centrist sects and cults.

  8. Bill says:

    I want to know why nothing I post ever seems to appear on Left Futures Why is this and do other people find the same thing?

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      It does happen occasionally, but actually it”s really not that bad, although the occasional post has been deleted, most recently when I called the Labour council in Manchester a bunch of, “piggies,” but it scarcely matters, since Left Futures is essentially just a forum for a bunch of wannabe journalists and bored academics who can raise 23 comments about someone swearing and can produce almost non at all about the effects of Tory policy on the disabled and the unemployed and who regard the worst thing that’s happening in the UK today as being the increase in tuition fees whilst people are starting to starve and die on our streets.

  9. Bazza says:

    Perhaps the real victory will be power back to grassroots members and conference. Bottom up, democratic, grassroots-led; perhaps that is what socialism was always meant to be.

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