Britain: Statement on the Labour leadership election

by Left Unity

2016-07-13 01 Left-UnityLeft Unity congratulates Jeremy Corbyn on his victory in the first battle against the coup plotters. Attempts to win a decision by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party to effectively bar Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership campaign – by wilfully misinterpreting completely straightforward party election rules – were a complete disgrace. The plotters were defeated and the NEC agreed that the incumbent shall automatically appear on the ballot paper. Nevertheless this whole shameful episode is one of the most underhand and undemocratic political acts of modern times.

But the next battle is already joined. Despite the fact that the clear will of the Labour Party membership, now more than half a million strong, was reflected in the overwhelming mandate that Corbyn received in the leadership campaign ten months ago, Corbyn’s opponents are seeking to undermine that support through effectively both raising a time barrier on membership voting rights and imposing a tax on voting for Corbyn.

In order to vote in the leadership election, members have to have joined the party by 12thJanuary. In order to vote as a supporter, those who joined as £3 supporters under the previous rules now have to pay £25 within the next two days to be eligible for a vote. Such exclusionary rulings are nothing short of electoral rigging to reduce the support base for Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn’s opponents on the NEC have also suspended internal party democracy. All normal party meetings at CLP and branch level have been suspended for the whole of the leadership election. So although keeping Corbyn off the ballot paper was deemed a step too far they are doing everything else possible to demoralise and demobilize the movement that has been built around his leadership. More than 120,000 members who have joined the Labour Party in order to be able to participate in both the leadership contest and Labour Party meetings find themselves excluded from both.

The strategy of the right is to portray Corbyn supporters as interlopers and ‘thugs’ and to shut down as much internal party democracy as they possible can. We can expect more dirty tricks as the campaign continues.

The Labour Party was founded to represent the real needs and interests of working people. Those in its leading body and in its parliamentary party that have pursued this approach to forcing the removal of their elected leader should be ashamed of themselves. They should instead be uniting to provide effective opposition to the Tory Party and the attacks on working people that will be launched under its new leader.

Left Unity stands foursquare with Jeremy and the vast majority of Labour Party members. We give full support and solidarity to those in the Labour Party working to support Jeremy Corbyn and secure his re-election. We condemn the ongoing leadership challenge: it will only serve to strengthen the ruling class at a time when their policies are doing untold damage to the fabric of our society and the lives of ordinary people.

Kate Hudson

Left Unity National Secretary