Journalist Paul Mason caused a storm when he spoke at the Progress annual conference on Saturday 24 June. Because he told the Labour-leaning organisation that if the delegates weren’t happy, they should “form their own party and get on with it”.
Calling out the “bullshit”
Mason was responding to a direct question from a Progress delegate. Angie from Enfield said [from 2:32.50] she felt “scared” to speak at her Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meetings. She quoted a tweet from Mason, in which he said that:
Good morning. It's time to call out the bullshit of the Labour "moderates" – it cost Labour victory. 1/~ They fought a *defensive* campaign
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) June 11, 2017
Angie said “I spent the past six weeks [campaigning]…”, to which the room applauded. And then, she didn’t “know what else to say”. But in response to Angie, Mason stunned the room by saying:
If you want a centrist party… a pro-Remain party that is in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation – form your own party and get on with it.
Mason explained his tweet in detail, saying [from 2:53.30] that “we’re all part of the Labour Party” and that he had “come here to try and have a debate with you about what we can agree on”. But he also cited the fact that people were undermining Corbyn while out campaigning during the election. He said [from 2:55.40] that:
those candidates that fought the election specifically saying [on the doorstep]… ‘Jeremy can’t win; I’m a good local MP’… If you did that… it then disorientated you about electoral strategy.
An example of Mason’s claim was MP for Enfield North Joan Ryan. During her campaign, she wrote to voters saying that “whatever your misgivings about the Labour leadership, I hope that you will consider voting for me as your local MP”:
— E17 Conservatives (@E17_Tories) June 2, 2017
And Mason used the internal undermining of Corbyn to issue the Progress delegates with a stark ultimatum [2:57.30]:
The question for people in this room is: it is now a left-wing Labour Party… It is a Labour Party led by a man… vilified… as a terrorist sympathiser. And we got 13 million votes. Do you want to be part of it or not? There could be a British Macron… You could have a British… ‘totally sabotage Brexit’, ‘end Brexit’, ‘reverse Brexit’, ‘second referendum’ party… Now is the time.
But does he have a point?
Mason is known for his forthright manner and no-nonsense debating. But his speech at the Progress conference points to a deeper problem within the Labour Party. Because while many MPs who were once opposed to Corbyn have, after his election success, backtracked and said they now support him, there are others who fundamentally do not, and never will, agree with him or his policies. The question for Corbyn and the party is how long will these people stay quiet? And can Labour ever be truly united while many are still poles apart from its leader?
It goes back to the issue which has often dominated the debate since Corbyn took power in 2015. That is, should the Labour Party listen to its membership who support Corbyn, or to the electorate? But that choice would seem clearer after the election; it should, and now can, listen to both. Because the voting public has obviously warmed to Corbyn and his policies. And as Mason said, if people in Labour don’t like it, maybe they should indeed “form their own party”.
– Read more from The Canary on the Labour Party.
– Join The Canary, so we can continue to work for the people, not the powerful.
Featured image via screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?