One of Labour’s worst and most embarrassing MPs, Jamie Reed, has today announced his resignation from his Copeland seat in Cumbria. A date for the resulting by-election has not yet been announced, but is expected to be end of January.
The Progress member. who once accused leader Jeremy Corbyn of creating a ‘toxic’ environment in the Labour party, apparently sees no irony in going off to work in the nuclear industry, although it will presumably come as a relief to him to no longer be the most poisonous element in his vicinity.
Reed’s voting record means he leaves no positive legacy, while his arrogance, inability to inspire and readiness to undermine the party mean he will not be a loss to Labour, but the timing of his announcement may not be coincidental.
No information is available to indicate how long he has had his new job lined up, but given his history of undermining Labour’s leadership and new direction, it would not be much of a stretch to conclude that his decision to announce now may be timed to ensure that preparations for, news of and the result of the Copeland by-election will divert attention from the media drive announced last week by Corbyn’s team to emphasise Corbyn’s authentic insurgent credentials and capitalise on the prevailing anti-Establishment mood.
Nor would it be a stretch – in spite of Reed’s supposed good wishes in his resignation letter – to consider that neither he nor others in his Progress faction would be particularly upset if Labour were to lose what is a traditionally marginal seat. A Labour loss would suit their carefully-constructed narrative of Corbyn’s supposed unelectability and it would be foolish to assume that they, or some locals who supported Reed’s selection for the 2005 General Election, will exactly strain every sinew to ensure a win.
The idea that the Labour right is rooting for a poor performance is supported by social media messaging already appearing from them, such as this tweet from one of Reed’s close rivals for ‘worst Labour MP’, Wes Streeting:
Clearly the right-wingers are looking to raise the stakes, raise expectations and hoping for a poor result.
For this reason, three things are essential:
- All candidates shortlisted for the seat must be both local and 100% supportive of Corbyn’s vision and the party’s new direction under him. There is no inspiration in a ‘more of the same’ Blairite candidate, as we saw in Richmond Park, where the anti-Corbyn candidate failed to even get all local Labour members to vote for him, let alone inspire other constituents to vote Labour. Under no circumstances must any outside candidates be ‘parachuted in’ if good local people are available and prepared to stand.
- Corbyn’s team must take direct control of the campaign message, though of course in close consultation with supportive local members. The media and the Labour right will crucify Corbyn and his politics in any event if Labour lose this seat, so there’s nothing to be gained by remaining arm’s-length and nothing to lose by jumping right in.
- Members from other parts of the country who are able to must be prepared to support the campaign on the ground. Cumbria is not the easiest place to get to for anyone outside the north-west, but no chances can be taken on allowing a demonstrably anti-Corbyn HQ to decide the extent and nature of campaigning, giving them the opportunity to run a lacklustre, threadbare campaign to make Corbyn and the vast majority of members who support his vision look bad.
It’s common practice for campaigners from outside the area to bus in for by-election campaigns, but if you support Labour’s new status as a genuine alternative and you can get up there to help, it’s vital to do so. And for those who can’t get up to Cumbria, there will be plenty of phone-banking opportunities. The real-Labour movement has a huge amount riding on a good result
If you’re willing and able to help, please contact your local party and/or Momentum group to find out what arrangements are being made for people in your area.
Jamie Reed will no doubt be much more at home in a corporate environment, even if locals will be praying that he never gets anywhere near the the controls of a nuclear facility.
Good riddance and he will not be missed, but whether by design or coincidence his resignation makes Copeland the next major battlefield in the war to allow British people a genuine hope of change from the bleak, bland and withering consensus that he and his faction were so desperate to get back to.
A loss will be damaging, but a good win do much to expose the nonsense and collaboration of the media and right-wing Labour with the vested interests of those who want to shore up the status quo. It’s up to all of us to make the latter happen so the former can’t be exploited by those determined to maintain the status quo.
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but needs the support of its readers. If you’re able, please click here to set up a modest monthly donation or one-off amount. Thanks for your support.