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Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members

Since last Thursday’s EU referendum, some 172 right wing Labour MPs have put their name to a vote of no confidence in their leader Jeremy Corbyn. They claim that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’, despite winning the biggest mandate of any party leader in British history.

Even leaders proven to be ‘unelectable’, such as Ed Miliband, are now calling for Corbyn to resign.

In reality, these Blairite MPs are opposed to Corbyn’s program of a £10 an hour living wage, mass council house building, free education, and nationalisation of the railways.

It is hardly surprising that right wing MPs have come out against Corbyn, but what is most galling is the attempt by small groups of Labour members, including MPs and councillors, to enclose the debate within the confines of the party.

This is a huge mistake.

The implications of the ongoing leadership struggle are much bigger than one party. This is a struggle to reconstitute the left as a mass force. The idea that you need to be part of Labour to have an opinion on this is exactly the kind of exclusionary nonsense that needs to be avoided if Corbyn is to succeed.

Despite Corbyn’s huge mandate, the majority of potential support for a new socialist Labour Party still rests outside of its membership.

It also seems that some Labour MPs and councillors are using the idea that this is an internal matter as an excuse for not publicly supporting Corbyn. It is patently obvious, however, that such individuals are hedging their bets; waiting to see what the outcome will be before committing to the fightback.

We can hold no truck with careerism in these circumstances.

Corbyn has precious little support in the PLP and amongst councillors. If you support him, you need to do so publicly. By sitting on the side-lines, or ‘privately’ supporting Corbyn, you are helping Labour right wingers.

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Thomas Barker is an independent journalist and PhD student in Aesthetics and Politics. He can be reached at https://durham.academia.edu/ThomasBarker

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