Owen Smith cannot be Labour leader: He wrongly thinks party members should serve their MPs

160720 McDonnell Smith Eagle

Labour MPs are servants of the party, not the other way around. Jeremy Corbyn knows this and has made it central to his leadership.

Owen Smith is absolutely opposed to it. That’s why John McDonnell’s comment is so important.

Never forget what the Labour leadership challenge really signifies.

Addressing Labour supporters at a rally in Newcastle, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell nailed the truth behind the attempted coup:

This coup isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn. This coup isn’t about him, this is about you…

This is the 1% telling the 99% to ‘get back in your place.’

It appears the Labour elite do not fear Corbyn, they fear the political uprising he is facilitating. There is a huge movement coalescing under the Labour leader that threatens to break up media and banking monopolies, deconstruct neoliberal capitalism and bring the Westminster gravy train screeching to a halt.

The Labour elite trumpet ‘unity’, but they mean the membership following the MPs for unity, and not the other way around. The now approaching 600,000 strong membership must accommodate for the 172 MPs who voted for no confidence in Corbyn, not vice versa. They believe their vote of no confidence overrides Corbyn’s unprecedented democratic mandate from the membership.

Source: John McDonnell exposes the truth behind the Labour coup with one brilliant statement | The Canary


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19 thoughts on “Owen Smith cannot be Labour leader: He wrongly thinks party members should serve their MPs

  1. jeffrey davies

    owen is just another greedie mp a blairite at heart so crossing the floor wouldnt hurt him one bit leaving the labour party to get on with it

    1. Sean O'Donoghue

      Mike – yes, true…and I don’t know what all the fuss is about CLP deselecting their MP…as far as I know that right always resides with them. However, an MP has a duty to his constituents to the same degree as s/he has to their party.

      No, the electorate is boss…something which goes missing from current debate. Having the support of 5000 local party members doesn’t guarantee being elected to Parliament. So CLP and constituents need to be tempered against each other.

      >>The CLP is boss because, if an MP decides to go against the CLP, the members can withdraw their support and then the MP won’t have any effective campaign organisation.<<

      There is also a duty to Parliament itself…that is another debate.


      Sean O'D

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        You’re missing the important point here, which is that – in internal Labour Party matters – the opinion of anyone who isn’t a party member, affiliate, or paid-up supporter is irrelevant.
        Also, while having the support of party members doesn’t guarantee being elected, the absence of that support will guarantee that a candidate isn’t.

  2. autismandate

    Smith said he agrees with Corbyn on the true values of the Labour party, but it needs someone to take them forward. So basically he supports Corbyn, but he is a better con man, and the public prefer a good con man.

  3. hayfords

    MPs are the servants of the electorate only. That is the wider public electorate who elect them at a GE. The party members choose a candidate who might win a GE.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That would only work if our MPs were elected under a system of proportional representation.
      If we had PR, then our MPs would always be elected by a majority of the voters in their constituency.
      Under First Past The Post, that doesn’t happen – it’s always those who have more votes than any other individual candidate.
      So you are arguing for a situation in which MPs elected by a minority of the electorate to carry out the policies of a particular party would then be expected to serve the wishes of people who didn’t vote for them, more than those who did. It’s a nonsense – and do you see any of them actually trying to do that? They’d be deselected and kicked out pretty quickly if they did!
      Are you advocating Proportional Representation, though?

    2. deadtrax

      The rules of the labour party allow members to choose candidates. These people are more than welcome to strike out by themselves, create a new party with different rules and see how well they do.

  4. Daniel

    Looks like further evidence that the PLP believe that the membership should “get back in it’s place” today – namely the suspension of the Wallasey CLP over allegations of “bullying and intimidation” (I assume that’s the vote of no confidence in Angela Eagle MP and the motion to deselect her?)

    Sadly, Labour is looking less and less democratic by the day, wouldn’t surprise me if they decided after the Leadership election to disregard all membership votes for Jeremy Corbyn on the same grounds – easy way to have their candidate declared the winner I suppose!

    1. leedsjon1

      ‘Sadly, Labour is looking less and less democratic by the day, wouldn’t surprise me if they decided after the Leadership election to disregard all membership votes for Jeremy Corbyn on the same grounds – easy way to have their candidate declared the winner I suppose!’

      Would that be any worse than the situation we currently have at the moment where not just an MP but the Prime Minister herself has been awarded the job completely be default without having either the support of her own party (through a Leadership Election) or the support of the electorate (through a General Election)?!! As difficult as the present situation within Labour is, I think it pales in comparison to the situation within the Tories.

  5. Rik

    I concur entirely with your post Mike, yes they do not want any of the gravy spilt they want it all and then some. .

  6. John

    Owen Smith has offered Corbyn a presidential role in the party. I’m sure that’s quite an enticement for him.
    You never know, he might accept 😉

      1. John

        I was joking actually (hence the wink), but actually, they could just invent that role, couldn’t they?
        On another matter, I see that apparently 183000 odd people have paid £25 to become registered supporters.

  7. Shaun

    With respect to the above, I’ve included a copy of an email I sent to Ms., Debbonaire M.P. in response to an email I received from her.

    Dear Ms Debbonaire,
    If what you state is the full account of how you were treated, though Mr Corbyn’s office may see things differently and without contradicting your comments, you were treated very badly and at time when you should have received support from those around you. I’m sure others will point out that it is difficult to accept that the Leader elected by the party membership was given anything other than even worse treatment by the parliamentary party. The treatment he received by some MP’s who co-opted in the Britain’s newspaper media – the real reason why Britain voted for BREXIT and in whom MP’s should have passed a vote of no confidence – will leave MP’s dammed in the view of most party members,  which I suspect will become apparent during the leadership election.  The problem here is that,  was it a coincidence that you choose to resign at the same time 20 or so shadow ministers also resigned and some on a Sunday, and on the hour to maximise damage to the Labour party. Furthermore, as you state, If Mr Corbyn is so unelectable why is it that a recent study by the L.S.E. (Journalistic representation of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Press: From watchdog to attack dog) found that ‘British “media” has ” systematically “attacked” Jeremy “Corbyn “ever” since “he” came” to “national “prominence” in “the” summer” of “2015’ . This media group, along with its totally biased coverage of the EU referendum debate, is the real cause of Britain’s disastrous decision to vote to leave the EU and Corbyn’s  difficulty in getting the Party’s message across; your fellow MP’s have aided and abetted them in this process. 
    In addition there is the obvious observation that if his policies are so unpopular why have they spent so much time, money and newsprint space to misrepresenting his policies and, much more often, attacked him personally. I suggest you consider that point from a political, for him as a person and yourself as a Labour M.P. The more immediate problem will be that MP’s need to get to grips with the fact that they are their to  represent the wishes of the party membership and not the other way round.  When Labour was founded most the electorate had never previously voted for the Labour Party and those wonderful things, such as the NHS, our welfare system, and more did not exist in any real form prior to party members and MP’s convincing the electorate they were necessary.  If you believe in Labour party values, as agreed by its membership, then you must be able to argue and convince prospective voters of the benefit of these policies to them – that’s why we need a party in Parliament! Your reference to clause 1, is putting the cart before the horse, in that we do not need a party membership to support the party’s MP’s, but MP’s to present the membership’s policies.

    As to the loss of previous elections it’s staggering you do not mention that it was Tory-lite party policies that lost these elections and the whole of the Scotland. As I’ve stated in previous emails,  arguing that we agree with Conservative party policies, but not quite so strongly as them, will always fail; they are only an argument for stating: Tory policy is right but we will do them with more compassion, to which the electorate’s response is,  no,  implement them in full and we will suffer the pain to get it out of the way quicker. What the membership want you to do is argue for its policies, not Conservative ones, and convince the electorate that these policies are in its best interest. True, this is a difficult task, particularly as it will be running against Britain’s newsprint media, but that is what you were selected to do,  and may, be deselected for not doing. It would be much easier for MP’s were the Labour not created to represent  the small people against media moguls and billionaire financiers. However, that’s what the Labour Party was created to do, and when MP’s engage fully in that battle, rather than constantly briefing against its elected party leader,  the sooner it will regain the respect of its membership.

  8. Sean O'Donoghue

    Mike, the job of an MP is to serve their whole constituency, not just their party members. It is impossible to please everyone, so when we elect our Members of Parliament we confer on them the right to make their own decisions on the many choices they have to make when voting. Corbyn, for example, broke with the party whip on 500 occasions..( I think that is the number)…he was following his own conscience. Members of Parliament get elected by and large on the basis of their Party’s Manifesto..and are expected to follow the party whip. Tom Driberg back in the 60s departed from it more often than Corbyn and was hated within the PLP but loved by the members who regularly voted him onto the NEC.

    Just think about it..how can an MP serve many masters..within any CLPs there will be a multitude of beliefs, from far left to far right. Is an MP supposed to listen to them all? Politics is above all the aggregation of the electorate. You cannot please everyone and you can please no one, but compromise is the name of the game.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Bear in mind: You are discussing internal Labour Party matters. A CLP is well within its rights to tell an MP to support the party leader. MPs are elected with the help of party members, and to follow party policies. The wider electorate have nothing to do with it because they aren’t party members. There’s no question of serving many masters. The CLP is boss because, if an MP decides to go against the CLP, the members can withdraw their support and then the MP won’t have any effective campaign organisation. Oh, and defying the party whip happens in Parliamentary votes and has nothing to do with internal party business.

  9. John

    Just thinking back to my previous comment, it was actually quite an unprecedented offer for Smith to make to Corbyn really! 🙂

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