The Labour leaders who are afraid of the party

August 15, 2016

An appeals court in Britain has overturned a lower-court ruling and reinstituted a ban that would stop around 130,000 new members of the Labour Party from voting in the leadership election that begins on August 22 and lasts for one month.

The voting ban against Labour Party members who joined in the last six months was imposed by opponents of left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn who dominate the party's organizational structure, including the National Election Committee (NEC). Rank-and-file members angered that they would be disenfranchised raised more than $100,000 through crowdfunding to file suit, and they won a decision in a high court overturning the ban. But Labour Party leaders appealed that decision and got the restriction reinstated by three court of appeals judges who declared that the NEC had every right to "set the criteria for members to be eligible to vote."

Corbyn won the party's top leadership post last year with a mass turnout of support from Labour's grassroots membership--to the horror of a Labour officialdom and apparatus whose commitment to the pro-austerity, pro-war agenda symbolized by former Prime Minister Tony Blair doomed Labour to disastrous defeats in 2010 and 2015. A majority of Labour's members of parliament and other leading figures of the party have been looking for the chance to overthrow Corbyn ever since. They made their long-plotted move after the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union.

But the Labour establishment's candidate Owen Smith is nowhere near as popular as Corbyn among the membership, so party leaders have resorted to underhanded maneuvers--like preventing the new members who joined in a show of support for Corbyn from voting. A torrent of slander and abuse has been heaped on Corbyn and his left-wing supporters by the likes of Tom Watson, the Blairite deputy leader of the party who claims that members who support Corbyn have had their "arms twisted" by "Trotskyites." The campaign to mobilize support for Corbyn, which includes the leaders of Britain's top unions, is being organized through the organization Momentum and other forums.

Here, Independent columnist Mark Steel, author of Viva la Revolution: A Stand-Up History of the French Revolution, wonders how low the Labour Party establishment will sink in their attempt to deep-six Jeremy Corbyn, in an article written before the appeals court overturned the initial high court ruling against the voting ban.

IT'S MARVELLOUS how they manage it, but every week, the people running the Labour Party election perform a stunt even more spectacular than the last.

Next week, Margaret Hodge will kidnap John McDonnell, which she will claim is in accordance with the Labour Party Constitution, Rule 457. (Shadow Chancellor Chained to a Radiator in the Basement Clause (14 B iii).) Peter Mandelson will reveal he has met Vladimir Putin to request he cuts off the oil supply to Jeremy Corbyn's office, and Hilary Benn will announce he has hired a fleet of Tornados to bomb a Momentum branch meeting in Exeter.

Labour must be bold and ambitious, and never before can an organisation have illegally banned its own members from voting in an election it promised them a vote in, then spent the money it took from those members on appealing to the High Court to try and keep the ban.

The argument of those who brought in the ban was that, although the new members were promised a vote in Labour elections, they didn't mean the next election, but at some unspecified one in the future.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally in his campaign to remain Labour Party leader
Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally in his campaign to remain Labour Party leader (Paul Newport)

What a boost this method would be if it was adopted by British business. Comet would never have gone bankrupt if anyone buying a washing machine handed over their money and was then told they wouldn't actually be given a washing machine, but the money they had paid would be used on appealing to the High Court for the company's right to not hand over a washing machine.

And this is from the wing of the Labour Party that insists it can be trusted on the economy.

It would be entertaining if it ran the country like this. Angela Eagle would announce: "We've spent the education budget wisely, on an appeal to the High Court that no one in Wales should be allowed to eat bananas."

Because Labour must be modern, and to prove how modern it is, the plotters are furious at how democratic they are ordered to be by High Court judges. Maybe this is how it plans to win a General Election--by appealing to the High Court to only allow someone to vote if they're called Kinnock or Eagle.

But these extreme measures are essential because, as Tom Watson explained, the Labour election has been undermined by "Trotsky entryists twisting arms of young members." This explains why Corbyn is expected to win again, because the 300,000 new members of Labour are powerless before the arm-twisting might of Britain's 50 Trotsky entryists.

Some people may wonder why these arm-twisters never overturned Tony Blair during the 15 years he was leader. That is because the Trotsky entryists were living in a city under the ground guarded by men in yellow boiler suits, perfecting their evil arm-twisting machine, cackling "soon we will unleash our power on Ipswich Constituency Labour Party then nothing can stop us...mwahaha."

Now the worry is what other votes they are influencing by arm-twisting. We should watch out for this year's Strictly Come Dancing, when Will Young comes second to Alf Barnshaw, the central committee member of the Trotsky Entryist group, the Revolutionary Movement for Extremely Violent Workers' Anger.

THE WHOLE strategy of the anti-Corbyn plotters appears to be random fury. Every vote that goes against them is a result of "bullying," and one MP, Conor McGinn, told the press that Corbyn "threatened to call my Dad." This suggests their aim to win a general election is to go after the toddler vote. They are going to campaign for the voting age to be reduced to three, then issue a manifesto that goes: "It's not faIr becoos I wozent doing anyfink and Treeza MAy kAlld my daD just like jErmY and thats wie I want to b pie minister."

But they don't appear to have any desire to work out what might be taking place. Because, like a married couple who scream at each other for hours about who left the ironing board in the wrong place, clearly there is something more to this disagreement than the rows they have about who sent a nasty message on Twitter.

The anti-Corbyn plotters complain Corbyn's policies make him unelectable, so their strategy appears to be to have no policies at all. They make no effort to explain why the support for Corbyn is an English version of what has happened across Europe and America. Presumably they think Bernie Sanders won millions of supporters because he borrowed Corbyn's arm-twisting machine, and the SNP won in Scotland because Nicola Sturgeon threatened to call Ed Miliband's dad.

And none of them attempt to assess why thousands turn out to hear Corbyn in town centres. They must be the only people in political history to see huge crowds coming into the streets to support their party and think "We'll ban that lot for a start."

So Owen Smith's campaign insists he will continue with many of Corbyn's radical ideas but do it more competently. If you were cynical you might wonder how strongly he backs Corbyn's ideas, when the people backing Smith most fervently are Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, and everyone else who hates everything Corbyn stands for. It is like standing for the General Synod of the Anglican Church when your campaign manager is Richard Dawkins.

The result is their campaign amounts to a series of unconnected exasperated attempts to force him to stand down, by all resigning or appealing to a High Court for the right to rig the vote, making them look like Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner.

Next week, at a Corbyn rally, Stephen Kinnock will hide above him waiting to drop an ACME piano on his head, but the balcony he is on will collapse, and he will land on Laura Kuenssberg.

Then Tom Watson will try to shoot Corbyn through a hole in a tree, but the gun will bend back through another hole and he will shoot himself in the face, so he will issue a statement that this proves Corbyn must stand down--he simply isn't competent.

First published at the Independent.

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