The Labour Party is not full of salt of the Earth politicians like Jeremy Corbyn. He may be their newly anointed leader, but other than a handful of socialist allies, for the most part he is surrounded by peppery Blairites content on plotting his demise.
The ill-favoured tinpot despot best-representing the Blairite cancer within Labour is Liz Kendall, whose extremist policies have now been categorically rejected by the majority of Labour members and supporters. The straight-talking socialist policies of Corbyn, however, have massive popular support; with tens of thousands of people flooding into the Labour Party’s ranks.
But the problem these new members face is that they are joining an organisation devoid of the democratic structures that once enabled their ordinary members to direct the Party’s political trajectory.
Here, one significant barrier to mass participation in the Labour Party is the National Policy Forum, which represents an unholy relic from Tony Blair’s legacy. This anti-democratic Forum was cobbled together by Blair to explicitly remove power from the Labour Party conference and hence from ordinary rank-and-file members.
Alongside rightfully restoring democracy back to the Party conference, another positive step forward would be to return to the idea of automatic reselection of MPs, which would allow democratic accountability of candidates. This is critical because most Labour MPs reside in a world of privilege, neatly insulated from the lives of their voters.
There should be no doubt that such reselection processes would favour progressive MPs like John Mcdonnell, whose current political priorities include collecting the £120 billion a year that banks and big corporations refuse to pay in tax.
Automatic reselection would enable members to reject unsavoury Blairites whose only commitment to PROGRESS is their membership of the right-wing pressure group bearing this name – a group which counts Liz Kendall as one of their vice chairs.
Wannabe careerists like Allen Simpson, who supported Kendall’s leadership campaign, and was Labour’s unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, would likely have little future in a democratic Labour Party.
Indeed during the General Election Simpson recalled that he’d only joined Labour seven years previously, that is, after he had already begun his ascent to Labour’s commanding heights. This is because from February 2006 onwards he was already employed as a researcher for local Labour MP, Keith Vaz.
In the wake of the financial crisis Simpson then acted as the chief speechwriter (propagandist) to Chairman and Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange, before becoming the head of public policy at Barclays Bank in 2012, where he continues to promote ruling-class interests to this day.
Like many Labour elites, Simpson now resides on the advisory board of Demos — a Blairite think-tank. Here he confides with Labour right-wingers like Lord Falconer (one of Tony Blair’s closest friends), a man who, problematically, has retained his place upon Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
With Corbyn having kept so many of his own political enemies within his shadow cabinet, it is clear that in the months ahead he will need all the help he can get from people both inside and outside of the Labour Party.
Just one important way he which Corbyn might do this is by calling a conference of all anti-austerity forces which can develop a clear programme of no cuts, and can lay the groundwork for the necessary action at local and national level to pave the road to socialism.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 20th September.