The Weaponisation of Labour Resignations

While Jeremy Corbyn continues to retain the overwhelming backing of the vast majority of the Labour Party’s membership, the opposite is true for most Labour MPs and councillors, who with little support remain adamantly opposed to Corbyn’s determination to rebuild a genuinely socialist organization for the working class.

Those elected Labour representatives who continue to actively oppose Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party have of course been very vocal in their discontent, and it appears that some have now decided to use their resignations to signal this. Today’s Leicester Mercury (January 13) thus described how Councillor Sue McKendrick, the leader of North West Leicestershire District Council’s Labour group, took her unprincipled fury to the extreme by quitting the party to stand as an independent!

Councillor McKendrick’s opposition to Corbyn however did not really come as a shock to many, as only last year she was one of just one hundred Labour Party members from the East Midlands who signed a letter addressed to Corbyn which asked him “to put our party first, and resign.” (Lincolnshire Live, June 29, 2016) Here one might note that the only Leicester city councillor who signed this letter was Councillor Vijay Singh Riyait (who represents Abbey ward), although it should be noted that at exactly the same time both Leicester’s City Mayor and his deputy also called for Corbyn’s resignation in the pages of the Leicester Mercury.

Today’s other less than shocking news is that yet another Blairite Labour MP, Tristram Hunt this time, has resigned and in doing so triggered a by-election in his three-way marginal seat of Stoke Central. This comes shortly after the resignation of fellow Blairite plotter-in-arms, Jamie Reed MP, from another marginal seat. Evidently this is seen as a viable way of undermining Corbyn’s leadership, as in these marginal seats there is a chance that Labour may lose in any ensuing by-election.

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Tristram Hunt’s case is particularly interesting because when in was parachuted into Stoke Central in 2010, the Chair of that CLP (Gary Elsby) felt so aggrieved by the undemocratic manner in which Hunt was foisted upon his branch that he himself resigned from the Labour Party so he could stand as an Independent Labour candidate against Hunt.

The contrast between Elsby and Hunt couldn’t be any starker, and while the formers’ resignation was carried out for principled socialist reasons, the same is not true for Hunt. Understood in this way, Hunt’s resignation should be interpreted as a frontal attack on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, so it is very informative to see the names of Corbyn’s Leicester-based enemies lining up on social media to wish their Blairite comrade farewell, three highlights included tweets from  Liz Kendall MP (Leicester West), Jon Ashworth MP (Leicester South), and Leicester’s Deputy Mayor, Rory Palmer.

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