The unravelling disaster of the attempted coup against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is beginning to have real world consequences for the plotters behind it, as their constituencies move to oust them from their posts.
The first victim of what is now becoming known as the #ChickenCoup, is likely to be Labour MP John Spellar. He recently appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, and launched into a breathtaking rant about the party membership and voters – who are now all to the left of him. Dismissing the membership as “Trots” and “lunatics” – Spellar revealed the utter contempt with which the Blairite ring of the Parliamentary Labour Party holds their 380,000 members and millions of voters.
Spellar is Labour MP for Warley in the West Midlands. He attended the fee-paying public school Dulwich College, also attended by UKIP-leader Nigel Farage. Later, Spellar graduated from St Edmunds College at the University of Oxford. After a short period as a Trade Union official, Spellar entered parliament in 1982 and saw his career accelerate under Tony Blair. Blair gave Spellar several ministerial positions in Defence, Trade, Transport, and the Privy Council – even bringing him into the cabinet.
So you can imagine Spellar’s displeasure at the party moving away from the Blair-era, in a new and progressive direction. It’s not the first time he’s embarrassed himself and the party with such outbursts either. In November 2015, he demanded Corbyn resign for refusing to back a new war in Syria, saying:
“What we’re seeing here is an attempted coup by Jeremy Corbyn and the people around him in the bunker trying to take over the party. It’s unacceptable. What we’re seeing here is an attempted coup by a group to try and over-ride and over-run others.
How does Jeremy Corbyn and his tiny band of Trots in the bunker think they’ve got the unique view on it all? If anyone should resign after this incident, it should be Jeremy Corbyn”
Spellar and the Blairite fringe of the party are attempting to redefine the democratic change of voice in the Labour party as a coup. To do so, they have to ignore several very inconvenient truths.
They have to ignore the fact that when Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership election in 2015, he did so with a bigger landslide than any other leader in history, including Tony Blair.
They have to ignore the fact that since that time, membership of the Labour party has more than doubled.
They have to ignore the fact that despite all their shenanigans, and a unanimously hostile and hysterical mainstream media – the Labour party has pulled ahead in the polls.
They decided to ignore all that, and mount this coup anyway. Despite the fact that the country badly needs a defiant and effective left-wing counter-point to the increasingly dangerous right-wing narrative dominating the Brexit vote, and much of government policy. So, as The Canary predicted – local constituencies are now moving against those MPs for disloyalty – beginning with Spellar. The Canary received this press release from Spellar’s ward this week:
90% of John Spellar’s Local Labour Party Members Support Jeremy Corbyn.
Following the tabling of a Motion of No Confidence in the Labour Party Leader, officers of Abbey Ward in the Warley constituency launched a poll of its members. Over 90% of the members have called on John Spellar (their Labour MP) not to support the Vote of No Confidence.
The members called on all Labour MPs, especially our own MP John Spellar, to join with the majority of party members and reject this attempt to remove Jeremy Corbyn. It is only by uniting behind the leadership of the party that we will ensure that the Labour Party proves to the electorate that we are capable of governing and providing a real alternative to the austerity measures of this Tory Government at the next general election.
But Spellar looks to be only the first, among a widespread democratic upheaval within the party. As BBC Newsnight tweeted (but no journalists seemed bothered to pick up) this is likely the beginning of a landslide rebellion against the neoliberal/Blairite establishment of the party.
Like so much of the reaction to this coup, this should have been foreseen by the Labour plotters – if only they hadn’t had their finger so hopelessly far removed from the pulse.
Meanwhile, a petition called “A vote of confidence for Jeremy Corbyn after the Brexit vote” has gathered more than 230,000 signatures in the last five days and continues to rise rapidly. A hastily convened confidence rally outside parliament this week saw more than 10,000 supporters pack out Parliament Square at a moment’s notice to back the Labour leader. The leaders of the 12 strongest unions in the United Kingdom also wrote a letter of support following the attempted coup.
Today, over 22,000 people are rallying at the hashtag #Corbyn4All to demonstrate the diversity of Corbyn supporters which the mainstream media and the neoliberal establishment of the party refuse to acknowledge.
— Jamie Scallion (@JamieScallion) June 30, 2016
In the wake of this unprecedented support for a political leader whose Parliamentary Party has all but abandoned him, Labour wants to replace him with Angela Eagle or Owen Smith. Names which, to much of the country will be greeted with: Angela and Owen who? The most gifted writers at The Thick of It could not have conjured a more ridiculous episode than the last week of the Parliamentary Labour Party. As this author put it in exasperation on Wednesday night:
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) June 29, 2016
In short, the left has found a progressive voice that is resonating with people outside the Westminster political and media bubble – and not a moment too soon. In reaction, those inside the bubble have decided to attempt an entirely undemocratic coup, and even threaten to leave the party to found a new one. We cannot be alone in thinking, simply: Good riddance.
For Canary readers who are current or potential Labour supporters, you can sign this petition to back Jeremy Corbyn (if you haven’t already).
Momentum has also called on Labour supporters and members to:
Contact their MPs to express their support.
Thank their unions for continuing to back Corbyn.
Express themselves on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #OurPartyOurLeader and #KeepCorbyn.
Join its group and the Labour party to make their voices heard.
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