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