Next big threat from #Labour right – the Trojan Horse you’ve never heard of

The information in this article comes from highly-placed Labour sources. It concerns a further, insidious attempt to nullify the landslide democratic decision of Labour members to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn as party leader by grabbing power within the Labour party at a local level.

The attempt constitutes a planned ‘3rd coup’ and my Labour sources consider it a significant danger to the healthy success of Labour’s anti-inequality, anti-austerity politics under Corbyn and his supporters, so please share this information widely.

As usual, the ‘party within a party’, Progress, is up to its neck in it.

The Labour right already mounted two coup attempts this summer. The first – the attempt to force the resignation of leader Jeremy Corbyn – was widely known, if also widely misrepresented as being connected to the referendum result.

The second is much less well known or understood, although you can read about it on the SKWAWKBOX and a few other blogs, with a couple of hints even appearing in some mainstream news outlets.

A third attempt is already underway. Chances are you’ve never heard of the vehicle those referred to by former deputy PM John Prescott refers to as ‘bitterites’ are using: SERA

For all their talk of unity – usually in an accusatory sense whenever anyone calls them on their behaviour – the Labour right has never stopped trying to undermine the party’s leader and to seize control of the party.

The rightwingers know – they must know – that they have no chance of presenting policies, or a leadership candidate with the credentials and integrity, to inspire a movement and excite Labour supporters and potential voters in the way that Jeremy Corbyn has done. But their strength lies in exploiting (and ignoring when necessary) the party rulebook and processes.

So they’re building a Trojan Horse. They can’t inspire, so they’re going for ‘uncontentiously important’ as a vehicle for a power-grab. Enter SERA.

As with the original Trojan Horse, the chance of success depends on keeping the real purpose and plan out of sight – concealing the real contents and threat. So it’s vital we expose it.

Labour rightwingers love to talk sneeringly of the ‘entryist’ tactics they say were employed by ‘Militant’ and its successor the Socialist Party, but they have shown no qualms about copying them.

What is SERA?

If you’ve heard of SERA before, you will be very unusual. The acronym stands for ‘Socialist Environment and Resources Association’, but the organisation now styles itself ‘SERA Labour Environment Campaign’.

Harmless enough, surely? Far from it.

The rightwingers can’t inspire through people or policies – so they’ve chosen the next best thing as cover (or a ‘front’, if you will – a term that Labour’s right has recently and falsely used to try to smear Corbyn) – something most people, certainly on the left, consider vitally important: the environment.

By packing the organisation with people bitterly opposed to Corbyn’s leadership, worldview and politics, they hope to prepare a vehicle they can then drive into the heart of Labour’s local organisational structure.

They can’t have a grassroots movement, so they’re aiming for grassroots structural control.

The ‘how’

Since everybody on the left agrees the environment is vital, the presence of an organisation whose purpose is – ostensibly – to present policies and coordinate campaigns for its protection will be uncontentious – and even welcomed with open arms.

After all, we all want to win over Green voters, don’t we?

The people controlling SERA hope to embed representatives within each CLP (Constituency Labour Party) and, crucially, to obtain an automatic seat on the CLP executive. This will give them significant indelible influence over the selection of council and parliamentary candidates – as long as they control SERA.

Provocateurs Progress

So, do they control the organisation? Let’s see. Progress is the main organisation of the ‘hard right’ in the Labour party. Funded by billionaires, pharmaceutical companies and other Establishment entities, the organisation is dedicated to propagating and promoting its policies and candidates throughout the Labour party.

Let’s take a look at Sera’s executive committee:

Co-Chairs

Melanie Smallman:  Progress
Jake Sumner: Progress

Treasurer

Cllr Tony Belton: Progress (see members’ comments section)

Committee Members

Joe Fortune: Progress status unknown. Interestingly, however, he is Political and Policy Manager of the Co-operative Party; Progress members predominate among ‘Labour & Co-operative’ MPs
Leonie Cooper AM:  Progress
Samantha Heath: Progress status unknown
Lydia Meryll: Progress status unknown
Hywel Lloyd: Progress
Amy Deakin: Progress status unknown
Natan Doron: Progress status unknown but holds a senior position in the Fabian Society, which is considered by many to have been co-opted by Progress
Tom Lafford: Progress status unknown
Polly Billington: Progress status unknown but her Twitter profile picture has a ‘Twibbon’ for its bastard child ‘Saving Labour
Ralph Barker (SERA Scotland): Progress status unknown
Louisa Casson (Youth Representative): Progress status unknown
Andrew Pakes (Editor of New Ground):  Progress
Alan Whitehead MP (Parliamentary Link): Progress status unknown but one of the co-ordinated resignations that signalled the ‘chicken coup’
Daniel Zeichner MP (Parliamentary Link): Progress

SERA’s close links with Progress go back some time – the organisation has jointly run Parliamentary and other events with Progress for some years (often series of events over a period of weeks) and leading Progress members such as Jonathan Reynolds and Luciana Berger have spoken at SERA’s annual general meetings.

But with both Chairs and the Secretary now Progress members and a significant portion of its committee in or closely linked to the same organisation, it’s clear that Progress has gone a long way toward its aim – according to my Labour source – of controlling the organisation from root to tip. The few Labour members this writer has spoken to who are aware of SERA also confirm that their local SERA organisations are heavily dominated by Progress members.

What to do?

‘Forewarned is fore-armed’, as the saying goes. With a huge majority among Labour’s grassroots membership supporting Jeremy Corbyn, Progress’ successful use of SERA as a ‘trojan horse’ to access the levers of local power and selection depends on those members remaining ignorant of the plan. If they can pose as harmless, uncontentious environmentalist members looking for influence for wholly benign purposes, there is little to prevent SERA CLP affiliates from winning approval for attempts to gain permanent places on CLP executives.

But if those same members are aware that SERA is becoming/has become a front for the right-wing, pro-austerity Progress ‘party within a party’, those attempts can be fought and defeated.

So two things are key: inform and combat. Share this information so that people are ‘forewarned and fore-armed’; and if/when SERA initiates moves to gain influence over local Labour groups and committees, prevent them.

Starting now.

21 responses to “Next big threat from #Labour right – the Trojan Horse you’ve never heard of

  1. Excellent, Steve. One small point, though: the SWP wasn’t the successor to Militant, the Socialist Party (SP) was. I wouldn’t have thought anyone in the SWP would ever have mooted the idea of joining Labour. Even of being registered supporters. That would have caused ructions galore too soon after the rape-allegations problems that you blogged about earlier.
    Anyway, keep blogging!

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  2. Pingback: Next big threat from #Labour right – the Trojan Horse you’ve never heard of | elizapdushku's World·

  3. I have no labour sources. I’ve not been a member for long enough to throw my hat into the ring as a contender for any seat. What I do have is a natural instinct that wakes me up and forces me to write things down.
    I started note taking on this subject a week prior to the LP election results. Labour First and Mr. Akehurst have helped with this whilst on their ‘road to conference’ campaign. Of that I feel sure. The advertising of 40/50 new ‘local groups’ across the country was a cover to portray emulating Momentum but they would never be that honest. It gathered individuals and party details of like minded people who could become
    the very individuals you talk about.
    I have never heard of SERA but why should I have.
    I’m relieved to see this blog going out and I shall assist in ensuring it get to a wider audience.
    I feel as if it’s easier living with myself now and that I am more than a conspiracy theorist.
    Thank you

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  4. I remember SERA. I was a member back in the 1970s. In those days it was a group of serious minded (or as the right would have it, loony left) activists encouraging the use of sustainable energy sources and technologies, and trying to get the Labour Party to take climate change seriously.

    Many thanks to you Skwawkbox for all your valuable Intel.

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  5. Some new members of Labour may be unaware that the party is an umbrella organisation with many different unions and socialist societies (like SERA) affiliated to it. You can get delegated to your constituent party from local branches of these affiliated organisations. I suspect that THAT is what the Labour right is up to – getting its cronies to pack the CLP General Committees and AGMs.

    To counter this, it is important that Corbyn supporters in the party also do this. Go along to your local union branch and get yourself delegated to your constituency party. Some CLPs have regular delegate-based General Committees that run the CLP and select the MP. Others have ‘all member meetings’ that are open to any member, with just one delegate-based AGM per year. But that AGM is vital to electing the CLP officers and ONLY DELEGATES from Branch (ward) Labour Parties and affiliated unions and Socialist Societies can vote or select the MP.

    If your union is NOT affiliated to Labour (mainly white collar unions like NUT), the traditional route for getting delegated to your CLP is via one of the Labour-affiliated Socialist Societies such as SERA. Join one of them and get delegated to your CLP from the local branch. For example, members of the NUT cannot get delegated to their CLP because this union is not affiliated to Labour. NUT members traditionally get around this problem by getting delegated to their CLP via the Labour affiliated society the Socialist Education Association which IS affiliated to Labour.

    To find out if your union is affiliated to Labour see here:

    http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/trade-union-and-labour-party-liaison-organisation-tulo

    A full list of Labour-affiliated Socialist Societies is here:

    http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/affiliated-organisations

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  6. Pingback: Que sera, SERA? Is this the Labour right’s latest bid to stifle Jeremy Corbyn? | Vox Political·

  7. Doesn’t surprise me though SERA seemed quite reasonable in the 90’s. It seems the whole of the environmental movement now seems to have been hijacked by eugenicists, totalitarians, racists, elitists and neo-liberals. They also seem very Ayn Randian though I wouldn’t call any of them libertarians as they only believe in freedom for the elites and business owners. Damn it and I was thinking of joining SERA as an antidote to the Transition Movement. Well if I do now it would be only to infiltrate them to expose and root out the Blairites.

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  8. I wonder if Progress has framed posed photos of Tony Blair grinning his head of all over their HQ and at their conferences. Does he make surprise appearances and they all crouch prostrate towards him chanting “Hail our great and glorious leader”.

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  11. I think this is a mountain out of a molehill, ever since I can remember the associated socialist societies and TUs were used to get people into the general committee or now EC of the CLP. when Blair was in power the left used it now the left is in power the right use it. Since JC came to power there has been an enormous amount of jockeying for power at all levels. Far too much effort goes into forging or countering all this when we should be focussed on presenting policy, selecting candidates and winning elections. We are so far behind in the polls, we can cast blame around but it’s time to educate, agitate and organise …SERA will most likely give one delegate, wow, that’s Scarey, all those branch delegates, Tu delegates, BAME, irish labour society, co-op party, COTL, they can’t take them all, no one can. Let’s keep Labour a broad church and start organising to win.

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  12. Just to mention that there has been denial by some names on this list that they are anything to do with progress and in fact some are overt Corbyn supporters.

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    • If you can provide details, I will be happy to issue a correction. Remember, the article does not suggest that everyone in this list is a Progress member or opposed to Corbyn, but if any have been incorrectly tagged I’m more than happy to correct it – so a pointer to any details would be appreciated.

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