Excluding the Labour stronghold of the City of Leicester, across the Tory heartlands of Leicestershire, Jeremy Corbyn’s strong and socialist leadership of the Labour Party ensured that Labour picked up an extra 38,225 votes on the 2015 results, compared to the Tories who only attained an additional 35,108 votes.
This gain provides a visible demonstration of the growing support for socialist politics that should be taken as a positive portent. This is especially significant when considered alongside the continuing surge in support for Corbyn as made apparent in today’s issue of the Daily Mirror (June 11) which observed:
“Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister if an election was held tomorrow, according to the pollster which most accurately predicted Thursday’s election result. A new poll by Survation puts Labour six points ahead of the Tories on 45% of the vote. The Tories, meanwhile, polled 39% – almost four points below their result in the general election.”
As in many other parts of the country, Labour’s local parliamentary candidates often achieved an increased share of the vote in spite of their personal politics.
Thus now more than ever it is critical that local Constituency Labour Party’s seek to replace their parliamentary candidates with socialist fighters, with individuals, who like Corbyn, have a track record of fighting for democratic gains within their respective trade unions and actively opposing austerity.
Candidates like Jewel Miah, who campaigned for the Loughborough seat, are not ideal parliamentary candidates to trust with taking forward Corbyn’s progressive program of socialist transformation. Not only did Miah oppose Corbyn’s groundbreaking leadership campaign in 2015 (which he did by backing Yvette Cooper), but he also allowed former Labour MP Andy Reed to serve as his election agent – a man who at the commencement of the snap general election saw fit to write:
“Over the last couple of years I think it has been pretty obvious that I think Corbyn has been an electoral problem for Labour. Nothing I have heard from hundreds of people locally (and wherever I go in the country) who have always voted Labour and now despair at what to do makes me change my view on our leadership. However, in Jewel Miah we have a candidate who we can support locally to be a good championing MP if he gets elected.” (May 2, 2017)
Contrast such useless backstabbing politics with those of Andy Thomas, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Harborough — a constituency, where in recent years, has seen their ever-swelling Labour membership actively campaigning to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. As reported in this weekends edition of the Leicester Mercury (June 10):
“Andy Thomas, who more than doubled Labour’s vote from 2015, polling 17,706, credited Jeremy Corbyn and activists for winning over young voters in particular. He said: ‘Our leader has been absolutely solid in everything he’s said.’”
Moving on to another local parliamentary seat, it is noteworthy that former Labour county councillor turned Tory, Leon Spence, credited Sean Sheahan (Labour’s parliamentary candidate for North West Leicestershire) with being principled enough for not turning against Corbyn. Spence tweeted:
“As most Labour parliamentary candidates are running a mile from Corbyn kudos to Sean Sheahan for sticking by him.” (May 8, 2017)
Contrast this political positioning with Dr Heather Peto, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rutland and Melton, who just last year was one of more than hundred local Labour Party members who publicly signed a letter that called upon Jeremy Corbyn to step down as the leader of the Labour Party. Here Peto was keeping company with Leon Spence in opposing Corbyn; while another notable signatory of the letter that Peto and Spence signed — in their ill-fated attempt to depose Corbyn — was Chris Kealey, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Bosworth.
Or consider the politics of Sean Kelly-Walsh, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Charnwood, who in 2015 supported Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership campaign in lieu of supporting the only anti-austerity candidate, Jeremy Corbyn. Kelly-Walsh came to the decision to oppose Corbyn after serving for two years as an Executive Officer at the University of Leicester Students’ Union where he worked alongside the solidly Blairite Union president Michael Rubin.
It should be clear by now that it is not good enough for Labour parliamentary candidates to sit on the fence when it comes to backing socialist anti-austerity ideas within the Labour movement. In this light it could be argued that Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Leicestershire, Shabbir Aslam, may be better than his predecessor Amanda Hack — who demanded Corbyn’s resignation only last summer — but Mr Aslam has studiously avoided mentioning Corbyn’s name on social media. In fact the only time that Aslam, an accountant who runs his own firm, did actually refer to Corbyn on facebook was when he was blaming him and the Labour leadership for allowing racism to flourish within their party… which of course was utter Blairite nonsense.
With Corbyn’s popularity surging by the day, now is not the time to be complacent. Labour Party members should, in the coming weeks, work to help ensure that all Labour parliamentary candidates in Leicester and Leicestershire reflect the progressive socialist values of Jeremy Corbyn. This can be done by raising the following political motion in their local Labour Party Constituency meetings, raising the demand to reinstate democratic processes within their own party.
[Name of Labour Party branch] welcomes the 2017 General Election results as a vindication of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme. But more could have been achieved if the Parliamentary Labour Party had united around this programme from the start.
MPs have not got ‘jobs for life’. They represent their constituency but ultimately, they are selected by and accountable to their Constituency Labour Party. To ensure democratic accountability and the rights of party members to select candidates that reflect their views, this branch supports the need for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in each Parliament as essential.
We call on the [name of Labour Party branch] CLP to support a rule change to the Labour Party rulebook to reintroduce mandatory reselection of MPs before each general election.
How to Support Mandatory Reselection
First, try to rally support for mandatory reselection amongst the people who go to your local CLP meetings. You might want to contact local Corbyn supporters to make this possible — it is unlikely that the Labour old guard (New Labour) willl support it.
If successful, then submit the motion contained in the article to your CLP. Get the Corbyn supporters to come to the CLP meeting where it is raised and, if possible, convince them to vote in its favour.
If the branch then chooses to back mandatory reselection, then it should be raised at the party conference. You need to make sure that this happens though. Given the lack of democracy which exists within the Labour Party, this is not guaranteed to work. But even if it is doesn’t, the fact that a local CLP is supporting this policy will help to spread the message that the members are not willing to put up with pro-war MPs anymore.
There are at least two CLP branches who support mandatory reselection already, but we need to get the ball rolling. As far as Labour Party activism goes, it is time well spent.