Keir Starmer really is determined to make the Labour Party toxic, isn’t he?
His latest wheeze is to turn away anybody who believes in democracy, by making leadership elections more undemocratic than those of the Conservative Party.
You don’t believe me?
At the moment, the Tories elect their leaders by a system in which two candidates are chosen by MPs (in a series of votes that whittle down the potential choices) and then the wider membership is invited to choose between them on a “one member, one vote” basis.
Labour’s current system is more democratic, in that if a vacancy arises, a candidate may be nominated by five per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party or at least three affiliate organisations (including two trade unions) representing at least five per cent of the affiliated membership; if an incumbent is challenged, a candidate must be nominated by at least 20 per cent of MPs prior to party conference. Then the wider membership votes by preferential ballot (candidates ranked 1, 2, 3 etc). Eligible party members, affiliates and registered supporters each have one ballot.
Starmer wants to change Labour’s system back to the corrrupt ‘electoral college’ system that gives disproportionate weight to votes by the few hundred party members who happen to be members of Parliament. They would get an entire third of the vote.
The other votes would be split between trade unions, whose block vote would represent another third of the total – and Constituency Labour Parties whose officers would vote for their choice, whether it was supported by the members or not. They would take up the last third.
Rank and file Labour members would not have any say in the election of a future leader at all. Around 200 MP would have more voting power than around 400 thousand rank-and-file members.
Well, we know what that’s all about, don’t we?
It’s about keeping a bitterly unpopular leadership failure – and Tory fellow-traveller – at the top of the Labour Party even if the membership at large is desperate to remove him.
Starmer would find it much easier to keep his job if a third of the votes in a leadership election come from his right-wing (and deeply unpleasant) fellow cuckoos, many of whom were parachuted into seats during the Blair/Brown years and are closer to the Tories than to traditional Labour in terms of their political values; and if CLP executives that have been purged of left-wingers under the nightmare tenure of unelected general secretary David Evans get to impose their will on party members.
Looking into the future, the trend would then continue because genuine democratic socialists would quit in large numbers, in the realisation that Labour is now neither democratic nor socialist.
And Boris Johnson would then have a free ticket back into Downing Street for as long as the situation would last, because Keir Starmer has absolutely no interest in mounting any serious opposition to the hard-right Tory despot.
Starmer’s words on the subject are as ridiculous as you might expect: “I have said I will make the Labour Party the party of working people, I am determined that the Labour party I lead focuses on the country, on the concerns of voters, so we need party reforms that better connect us with working people.” Nonsense!
He’s making it the party of privileged right-wing MPs! This duplicitous piece of treachery would sever the connection between the party leadership and working people and Starmer knows it. He is simply trying to trick the gullible.
Fortunately, there remain a few people in the Labour movement who are prepared to oppose the Blue Abstainer.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, according to the BBC: “This proposal to reduce the membership to one third of the vote, while inflating the vote of Labour MPs is unfair, undemocratic and a backwards step.
“People will remember that at their conference, Labour talked about rules not issues.
“That’s a huge error for them. We are almost trying to save them (the Labour leadership) from themselves.
“This is not the path to go down.”
And Momentum vice chair Callum Bell warned: “These rule changes would mark the start of a civil war in the party. Starmer holds the membership in contempt.”
On Twitter, Labour MP Jon Trickett led the fightback – and it wasn’t long before fellow members made the obvious point:
Twenty years since the Tories went over to OMOV. Staggering that Johnson could trump Starmer when it comes to party democracy
— Mark Blacklock 💙 #JoinAUnion (@MarxMedia) September 20, 2021
Fellow MP Ian Lavery has also spoken up in support of democracy:
Every single individual member of our party is an equal.
Let’s remember that @UKLabour
— Ian Lavery MP (@IanLaveryMP) September 20, 2021
And there are others – all from the Left of the party:
As a Labour MP, I should have no greater say in leadership elections than other @UKLabour members. The members are ultimately the Party and they should equally elect their leader. OMOV is the most democratic system. Let's respect our members, let's respect Party democracy.
— 💙Rachael Maskell MP (@RachaelMaskell) September 21, 2021
Going back to an electoral college would be exactly that, a backward step. OMOV is the democratic way to elect the Leader, giving everyone an equal say regardless of who they are/what they do. Every member is of equal value & I reject a hierarchy which places 1 above another.
— Kate Osborne MP 💙🌈 (@KateOsborneMP) September 21, 2021
It looks like the authoritarian currents in our wider democracy are now percolating into @UKLabour itself. Shrinking the selectorate and handing power from the ‘many to the few’ is not how you fight authoritarianism. Actions speak louder than words.
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) September 21, 2021
I have seen OMOV..
Our votes should carry equal importance in a party that values democracy.
It should be part of a Labour movement that wants to grow, inspire, energise & win power.
— lan Byrne MP (@IanByrneMP) September 20, 2021
The proposal to revert to an electoral college for Labour Party elections is a retrograde step, putting MPs above ordinary members. Democracy dictates that OMOV is the system we should retain – giving all members of our party a say in how we are governed.
— Kim Johnson MP (@KimJohnsonMP) September 21, 2021
Perhaps predictably, we are yet to see opposition to this insult from the likes of Yvette Cooper, Angela Rayner, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting, and the rest of the Usual Suspects infesting the Labour side of the Green Benches.
The good news is that, unless Starmer gets support for the idea from at least two out of three major trade unions at a meeting this week (September 22), it won’t go forward.
So it’s over to you, GMB, Usdaw and Unison. Do you support worker (and member) empowerment, or are you all for the bosses dictating and the rest of us slaving? Your choice.
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