It is clear to all that Jeremy Corbyn is not about to reintroduce mandatory reselection to the Labour Party’s internal processes – a democratic policy that would allow the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Labour members to select MPs who represent the interests of the 99% of ordinary people. This has been and continues to be a big mistake on Corbyn’s part.
One of the reasons why Corbyn is not taking a firm line on the issue of mandatory reselection is because he is still trying to placate the interests of the Blairites who dominate the Labour Party’s elected positions. This again is a mistake.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that hundreds of thousands of Labour members who support Corbyn and his ideas have to behave like Corbyn. The membership can, and should, place more radical demands upon Corbyn, as there is no place for Blairites within the Labour Party let alone within the Labour movement!
Paul Mason, however, uses his latest article in the New Statesman (April 4) to propose that the solution to Labour’s enduring problems is for Corbyn to simply to rejig the composition of the Shadow Cabinet. He writes:
“There are numerous highly-talented centrist politicians sitting on Labour’s backbenches who could and should be in the shadow cabinet. Give them big positions and create a resilient alliance of necessity between the left and centre of the party, isolating the Blairite rump.” (“How Labour can fight back against the British establishment’s attempt to destroy it,” New Statesman, April 4, 2018)
This ill-informed conclusion flows from Mason’s (wrong) opinion that the Blairites compose only a minority of the Parliamentary Labour Party. He says “the 30-plus hardcore Blairite rebels” are Labour’s problem; although, he optimistically states (within the same article) that the problem may just be “a group of up to 30 Labour MPs…” Up to 30 Blairites?
Recall for a moment that just the other week 36 Blairites signed the parliamentary motion backing Theresa May against Corbyn on the issue of novichok’s. And what about the 66 Blairites who voted for the bombing of Syria in 2016?
Then there was the ongoing anti-Semitism smear attack upon Corbyn, which was kicked off with a protest in Parliament Square, many of whose supporters included Blairites who did not sign the novichok’s parliamentary motion. To just take the example of my own city, Leicester — one of our city’s three MPs attended the protest (Liz Kendall) and another said he wished he could have attended (Jonathan Ashworth). Neither were counted among the 36 Blairites who had signed the novichok’s parliamentary motion.
But don’t just take my word for the fact that the Parliamentary Labour Party is dominated by Blairites. Take the recent statement agreed by the Labour Representation Committee which mixed no words when it stated:
“The Parliamentary Labour Party and the Party bureaucracy remain firmly in the hands of the right wing. They seem determined to rule or ruin. Dirty tricks, sabotage and witch-hunts are their stock in trade.
We should note that John McDonnell is the President of this Committee.
Paul Mason is of course correct that Corbyn must isolate the Blairite element of the Labour Party, but as Mason only believes the problem is small, his solution is wrong. Mandatory reselection is the only solution to the problem that was has been clearly identified by the Labour Representation Committee.
Mason points out how a lot of new people have joined the Labour Party, which he says means that many of them simply do “not have the levels of political education to recognise and fight anti-Semitism.” Yet are we really to take lectures about “political level” from Mason – a man who doesn’t even possess the requisite level of political education to recognise the scale of the problem posed by the Blairites.
It follows, then, that Mason’s two other ‘solutions’ to enable Labour to “resist this onslaught” from the Blairites and all the other representatives of big business are equally ridiculous.
Hence Mason says that Corbyn must “streamline the internal discipline” process. But if we observe that the Party bureaucracy (including that responsible for internal discipline) has been in the hands of those for whom “Dirty tricks, sabotage and witch-hunts are their stock in trade,” then streamlining this process is not quite as simple as it sounds.
Which brings us to Mason’s last suggestion for radical change, which starts by stating that Corbyn must “build a vibrant political culture where anti-Semitism is combated,” which, again, starts from the incorrect assumption that Corbyn hasn’t been trying to do this all along.
This suggestion also adds, quite rightly, that the Labour Party should create a “a culture where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement and its diverse traditions…”
But again, this is not the easiest of things to do when the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the members of the Party bureaucracy, and the majority of local councillors (up and down the country) are intent on sabotaging Corbyn’s leadership of their Party.
I do wish Paul Mason would raise his political level, but I fear that this ship may have already sailed.
Remember the morning after the failed 172-strong Blarite coup that was led by Owen Smith? Mason went on television and stated “I think Stella Creasy would be an excellent next leader.” This is the same Stella Creasy that backed the bombing of Syria, supported the Owen Smith coup, signed the novichok’s parliamentary motion, and attended the anti-Semitism protest. Mason’s sell-by date has well and truly passed!