The Labour coup’s second candidate Owen Smith is attempting to hold the membership hostage with his leadership campaign.
Smith set out his stall in a column for The Mirror:
If the crisis and arguments we have seen in recent weeks continue, we are heading towards a disastrous split. That would put all the gains we have made at risk, as this Tory party is dead set on ruining our country.
The coded blackmail works like this: ‘if you don’t vote for me, we will defect and split the Labour party’. If the Labour electorate vote for Corbyn, Smith would be one of the MPs to defect (if such an idea was really carried out). Yet he speaks like the party is in crisis in spite of his actions, rather than because of them.
The former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary’s campaign whitewashes his own role in the ‘disastrous split’. He said last week:
I stand ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party.
The MP for Pontypridd is trying to rebrand himself as the saviour of a problem he helped create. Smith and the rest of the coup MPs are the ones who tried to eject their democratically elected leader from the pilot’s seat through a carefully coordinated series of resignations, public statements and PR stunts. And Smith was a key player; John Mann MP was asked to back him as leader 6 months ago.
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— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) July 13, 2016
Smith neither backed Corbyn nor abstained in the vote of no confidence, suggesting he believes the membership should unite at the behest of the parliamentary party, not vica versa. In his opinion, it seems, the now approaching 600,000 strong membership must accommodate for the 172 MPs who voted for no confidence in Corbyn, not the other way around.
The National Executive Committee (NEC)’s decision to breach the membership contract and ban new additions from voting chimes with this contempt for the grassroots base. As does raising the fee to vote as a registered supporter from £3 to £25. The Labour party cannot charge this while claiming to represent the working class. As The Canary’s Elizabeth Mizon writes:
the fee required to vote in the leadership election is now applicable even to those who are unemployed, and had hoped to get around it by joining Unite’s ‘community membership’. This is not only directly discriminatory against those on lower incomes, but it is also entirely ignorant of the current political climate – specifically the fallout from the Brexit debate.
The Labour machine has clamped down on the loophole: People who joined affiliated trade unions in the last 6 months will also be barred from voting. After blaming Corbyn for being out of touch with the working class, those opposing him have retroactively disenfranchised them.
After the present Labour leader was elected on the biggest mandate of any political leader in any political party in British history, Smith and the other MPs chose not to unite behind Corbyn, but launch a coup against him. The collateral damage has been the British public, abandoned while facing the uncertainty of Brexit.
Smith’s narrative as the ‘saviour’ candidate began last week. He said:
I believe that all of us whose priority is to restore unity in the Labour movement and give us a chance to defeat our only true enemy, the Tories, should give these talks every chance to succeed.
But it’s precisely the opportunist resignation campaign of Smith and other plotters that acted as a media smokescreen for a Tory party in disarray post-Brexit. David Cameron risked the fate of the country to secure power when he promised the referendum, while Boris Johnson led the country to Brexit in pursuit of his own selfish leadership ambitions.
However, instead of pouncing on the failings of both sides of a divided Conservative party, Smith and his fellow plotters abandoned the country and launched a coup against their elected leader. Not the best look for a self-appointed “effective opposition“.
And overall, the Labour coup’s argument is a tautologous sham: Corbyn is unfit to lead because he has lost support of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). But, at the same time, he has lost the support of the PLP because he is ‘unfit to lead’.
The majority of the parliamentary party and the National Executive Committee have exposed themselves as thoroughly anti-democratic with this brazenly Machiavellian coup. Smith and his backer’s attempt to blackmail the membership with threats of a party split shows they hold political ambitions above integrity.
And besides, campaigning on a Labour party free from himself and his ilk may in fact work against the leadership hopeful. It would gift Corbyn a Labour party united behind his vision. MPs who opposed the Conservatives, rather than their own leader and members.
Read more about the Labour leadership contest.
Find out about Angela Eagle’s calamitous leadership campaign.
Sign the petition to allow all full Labour members to vote in leadership campaign.
Write to your MP, demanding answers.
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