Labour already has a way of having MPs deselected and there is no reason to change it. The party has many thousands of new members and if they dislike the beliefs and/or behaviour of their MP, there is a perfectly reasonable mechanism for reconsidering that person’s position.
I also agree with MP Jess Phillips comments about people who abuse Labour Parliamentarians on the social media, over perceived sentiments that betray opposition to the new leadership under Jeremy Corbyn.
I have certainly contacted offending MPs to express my displeasure, but have always done so in a civilised manner. I would certainly agree with Ms Phillips that “shouting ‘neoliberal warmonger’ might make you feel clever and superior, but it makes you look a bit of a tit” (her words, not mine).
But there is also the much more serious issue of the upcoming Tory gerrymandering of Parliamentary seats to engineer a permanent Conservative majority.
Labour can mount an effective opposition to this, harnessing the campaigning power of its new members and the huge amount of support among the general public, including people who didn’t vote in May’s election due to disillusion and a feeling that Labour policies (at the time) were too close to those of the Conservative Party.
It may be that some current Labour MPs will have to swallow their pride and take a back seat, to be replaced by someone who is more acceptable to the current mood of the electorate.
The question is, how many will do that without a fuss? Does Jess Phillips (for example) have the strength of character to put party before personal interest?
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has moved to heal the rift with some of his backbenchers, saying he wanted to make clear that he does not favour any move to make it easier to deselect MPs.
He also announced he had appointed Rosie Winterton, the party chief whip, to oversee Labour’s response to the government review of constituency boundaries that will reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, as well as see the redrawing of many constituency boundaries – changes that could result in many sitting Labour MPs finding their status under question.
Her appointment is designed to reassure MPs that the boundary review will not be used as an excuse to target MPs who do not support the Labour leader.
Corbyn’s efforts to reassure MPs comes after a disruptive parliamentary party meeting last week, and anger among some MPs that supporters of Corbyn continually use social media to denounce MPs who question his leadership and to threaten deselection. Ben Bradshaw, Mike Gapes and Liz Kendall are among the MPs targeted on Twitter, often with a mixture of threats and offensive language.
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