If you use this one simple word, Labour will now ban you from the leadership election vote

Steve Topple

Just when you thought the Labour Party elite couldn’t get any more ridiculous, it has added yet another word to the already long list of those classed as ‘abusive’. This time, members are no longer allowed to call people ‘Blairites’.

The party machinery had already been clamping down on words like ‘traitor’, ‘scab’ and ‘scum’. If party supporters were found to be using such ‘terms of abuse’, they would be barred from having a vote in the leadership election.

But in a somewhat bizarre twist, the website Inside Croydon has reported that its local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) warned its members last week that anyone referring to another member as a Blairite would also face possible expulsion – a mandate that apparently came from Labour HQ.

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And it would appear this CLP was going even further. The Inside Croydon report said:

Labour officials have begun sending out lists of “registered supporters”, the people who have forked out 25 quid to take part in the party’s leadership election, in an effort to weed out anyone who is deemed not be a “genuine Labour supporter”. And according to a senior figure in the Labour Party in Croydon, “This includes, for example, anyone who tweeted that they voted Green in the 2015 General Election.

Taking the vote away from people who use ‘Blairite’ as a derogatory comment is one thing, but proscribing them because they voted for another party at the last general election is surely overreach.

Judging by Croydon North CLP’s track record, however, this should perhaps be unsurprising. It was only last month that the General Committee (GC) was caught in another controversy, this time involving a vote of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

In an apparent attempt to subvert the democratic process, officials from the London Borough CLP were attempting to arrange a vote of confidence in Corbyn without the attendance of the 1,300 members of the local branch. In emails seen by Inside Croydon, the GC had to stage a public climb down and cancel the planned meeting, after complaints from members. It was intending to hold the vote with just the 60 members of the committee present.

As Inside Croydon has reported, Ann O’Connor, who was recently installed as the CLP chair by local MP and Corbyn critic Steve Reed, was behind the chaos:

By excluding the CLP’s membership from the meeting, there was strong suspicion that [the GC] wanted to endorse the candidacy for the Labour leadership of Owen Smith. Or what one ordinary member called “an absolute stitch-up”.

But then, in another chaotic twist, the CLP announced on 1 August that there would be an all-member meeting, scheduled for 8 August. This time, the meeting had been organised by CLP Secretary Janet Campbell.

It would appear that certain elements in Croydon North CLP’s General Committee are either not fans of Corbyn, or averse to democratic process. Or possibly both. But then, this appears to reflect those in high office in the party more broadly.

Those in charge of the Labour Party have gone from the not-so-sublime to the ridiculous in an attempt to reduce the vote for Corbyn. While sitting MPs are free to hurl abuse at their leader in the House of Commons, anyone using a term entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 must be ostracised from the electoral process, with heads hung in shame. The Conservatives, sitting on 42% in the latest polling, are probably laughing their heads off at Labour’s ridiculous shenanigans.

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Featured image via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

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