At this morning’s session of Labour’s annual conference, there was a bitter battle to try to prevent the forcing-through of a ‘pre-pack’ of NEC rule changes, rather than a proper, democratic debate on each rule change. This bundling of good and bad rule changes forced delegates to either accept good and bad or reject good and bad – and the conference Chair and platform broke numerous clear Labour rules to force it through.
I’ll be publishing in detail about the various anti-democratic aspects of this morning’s debacle in detail, but there is one aspect that deserves special attention.
The ‘party line’ on the decision to bundle the changes as one ‘take it or leave it’ package was defended on the grounds that it was about ‘moving business forward’ quickly to allow more time ‘to talk policy and take the fight to the Tories’ – and that it was not about an attack on Corbyn’s democratically-won majority on the NEC.
So why did right-wing ‘parties within a party’ Progress and Labour first call on supporters to push it through – and why was every person who spoke to defend the pre-pack during this morning’s session a pro-Progress, vehemently anti-Corbyn activist?
Matthew Brown, Cleethorpes CLP
Mr Brown’s claimed his support was about taking the fight to the Tories and that a proper discussion would take too much time. Yet his Twitter timeline is riddled with anti-Corbyn comments and derision – and even pining for the disgraced Tony Blair. Here are just a few examples:
Marianna Masters, Streatham
Ms Masters is not only a member of arch-Progress villain Chuka Umunna but a firm fan of Umunna, arch-plotter Hilary Benn, ludicrous former Blair advisor and Corbyn-hater Alistair Campbell – and of the shadily-funded, ironically-named anti-Corbyn organisation ‘Saving Labour’. Here are a few of her Twitter gems:
Will Holmes, Bermondsey & Old Southwark
Mr Holmes’ Twitter timeline shows not only that he is a keen supporter of anti-Corbyn group ‘Labour First’, but also an avid fan of Johanna Baxter, the soon-to-be-defunct NEC member at the heart of the Labour purge scandal, who appears various times in his feed, and of Ben Bradshaw, one of the most hysterically and venomously anti-Corbyn MPs. It also shows that he is very clearly and specifically a fan of the anti-democratic rule-change designed to stack the NEC against Corbyn:
Mike Payne, GMB
Mr Payne’s activities as a union rep probably preclude any (at least public) involvement with Labour First etc, but he is evidently an ardent Owen Smith supporter, as a glance at his Twitter feed reveals:
Matthew van Rooyen, Bridgend
Mr van Rooyen’s allegiances were clear during his speech. As he boasted about later on Twitter, he ‘quipped’ that Jeremy Corbyn ‘is our leader, whether we like it or not’. His Twitter feed also includes, among many ‘gems’, ire at Corbyn’s emphatic victory and quotes from the loathsome, viciously anti-Corbyn failed NEC candidate Luke Akehurst, who is embedded in Labour like a Progress-Labour First tick:
So, Labour First and Progress put out a call to their supporters to push through a rules package containing poison obscured by good rules – and, lo and behold, every speaker in favour of the pre-pack ‘to save time and take the fight to the Tories’ is a person with a vested interest in hampering and undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
The only person who couldn’t positively be identified as vehemently anti-Corbyn was the woman who spoke last – who ignored the usual conference protocol and failed to state her name and CLP. But in the context of the other speakers and of what she said herself, there’s little doubt of her leanings.
So, was their declared reason for wanting good and toxic rule-changes presented as a package really as they described it? Was it bollocks.
Clearly, the anti-democratic, rules-ignoring farce this morning not only brought shame on the people involved and the party they are unfortunately associated with – it is also clearly one more step in ‘project anaconda’, the plan to try to ‘strangle’ Corbyn’s leadership and to treat every gain and concession as a ‘ratchet’ to advance their plan further.
Even more clearly, ‘unity’ is not a concept in which the right-wing faction have any genuine interest. Rather, it’s a convenient camouflage or distraction to divert attention while they proceed with every anti-democratic ‘scorched earth’ measure they can devise – whether that means exploiting the Labour rulebook – or completely ignoring it when it doesn’t suit them.
In other words, the attempted right-wing coup did not end with the leadership challenge. It just moved into a different, insidious phase.