Given the recent media furore over deselection in the Labour Party, one would be forgiven for thinking that the process is a dirty underhanded trick of the political left. On closer inspection, however, it would seem that deselection of political representatives is fine when used by Blairite party members to serve their own interests, but never if it is intitiated by their Party’s grassroots membership.
Earlier this year, 10 Redcar and Cleveland Labour councilllors resigned en masse in support of seven other Labour councillors who were deselected from their Party. Playing a central role in this deselection was local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) and soon-to-be elected Anna Turley (Redcar). Explaining the reasons for the deselections they made it clear, it was “time for change. We are building a fresh, exciting and committed new team.” Both MPs voted to bomb Syria and are members of Labour’s Blairite Progress faction, which represents the business-class over the working class.
Other Blarite MPs, who vehmently oppose deselection, are sometimes themselves direct beneficiaries of the deselection process – a good example is provided by Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) who rose to power on the back of the deselection of his predecessor. Interestingly, just the other day Mr Bradshaw, who stood alongside fellow Progress faction members Caroline Flint and Stella Creasy for the deputy leadership of Labour, supported other members of the pro-big business rump of the Labour Party in supporting the bombing of Syria.
Amazingly, despite all this, Jeremy Corbyn has recently spoken against the need for deselection of MPs. But this doesn’t mean that Labour members shouldn’t demand democratic accountability from their representatives, in just the same way that they do within the trade union movement.
If Labour members think that deselection of unaccountable parliamentary representatives would promote democracy, then they should follow the example of the Labour right and ensure that their candidate best represents their class interests.
The media and the right wing of the Labour Party have done what they can to present deselection as an undemocratic process, even referring to Labour grassroots activists as ‘mobs’. This selective outrage is indicative of the fact that the Labour right fear their new party base, that is, a growing and democratically inclined membership who are keen to throw their weight behind Jeremy Corbyn and his socialist ideals.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on December 5.