Blair stopped Corbyn’s #deselection? No, he wanted ‘show-trials’

Former Labour Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong has made a clumsy attempt in Saturday’s Guardian to guilt supporters of Jeremy Corbyn into abandoning hopes of democratically deselecting obstructive MPs – by claiming that Tony Blair saved the Labour leader from a similar fate:

corbyn blair guardian.png

According to the Guardian,

Armstrong tells The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4 that Blair ruled out the move, taking the view that the party was “a broad church” and could “tolerate that level of difference”, despite Corbyn’s fierce and persistent criticism of his administration.

This leads the newspaper to describe Blair as Corbyn’s “highly surprising secret benefactor”.

A little history is inconvenient for this version of events.

In 2004, there were moves to arrange the ‘show trial’ deselection of MPs considered to be troublesome – or showing ‘serial disloyalty’ as it was described – to then-PM Blair, including one Jeremy Corbyn. A senior Labour source at the time,

cited the names of six MPs who could expect to be asked to make a vow of loyalty before the NEC as the price for having their candidacy endorsed.

They are Bob Marshall-Andrews, who has voted against the party whip 51 times since the 2001 election; John McDonnell, with 79 votes against; Jeremy Corbyn, 87; Lynne Jones, 57; Diane Abbott 36; and Mike Wood, 25.

So Blair was giving serious thought to trying to force the deselection not only of Corbyn but of two of his senior team. And the architect of the ‘show-trial’ move – its ‘champion’?

None other than Hilary Armstrong:

show trials.png

This raises serious questions about Ms Armstrong’s claim now that Blair was Corbyn’s protector against an Islington North CLP that has stuck with Corbyn for 34 years during which he has maintained a healthy, even huge, winning margin for the Labour Party in the constituency.

The threat of deselection was anything but theoretical, too. As the above-linked article points out, Reading East MP Jane Griffiths had been deselected just prior to its publication.

In 2007 Bob Wareing, Labour MP for the Liverpool constituency of West Derby who had opposed Blair over the Iraq invasion was also deselected – and replaced by a Blairite ex-minister who had lost his Middlesex seat in 2005.

In the context of history, Ms Armstrong’s claim to Radio 4 looks like little more than a transparent attempt at emotional blackmail in the hope of preventing ‘serially disloyal’ Labour MPs from facing exactly the fate she wanted to visit on Corbyn and two of his front-benchers.

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  1. It’s strange how history changes over the years, we now also hear several Labour MPs eulogising Corbyn after aggressively decrying him for two years, IMHO they are quietly working against him while trying to make themselves popular with their members. it is hard to believe them but I know lots are saying for the sake of unity we should get behind them, let’s see how they act in the months to come.

  2. Well done Skwawkbox for ” outing” this further not so subtle attack on Corbyn’s leadership and the MODERATE LEFT of the party .
    Truth will out and your warning of a series of staged activities by the coup plotters is proving very true .
    It is to great shame on them that they continue to undermine and try to deflate the momentum and positivity that Corbyn has built up with the electorate to support Labour and a better way of life , for the many not the few.
    What’s to do about it then , IMHO , and this is not intended for those who are already doing ” the business ” but perhaps for those who are still thinking about it .
    1.Go to your Branch and CLP meetings continue to support pro Corbyn actions .Don’t leave it to others thinking they will sort it all out, they won’t without full on grass roots help.
    This is especially true in some RW CLPs whos exec’s committees are dominated by officers who continue to undermine and damage the Labour Party . The LP has moved on to it’s centre left position where it should always have been .If they will not come with us on that journey then removal from their positions of power is the only answer. The Labour Party exists to represent the many in our country now impoverished by the Tories ( who are the real enemy ) and not the few .

    2.Report “rule bending ” to the NEC and appropriate channels , to throw light upon the undemocratic actions of the few , and it is ONLY a few that have gained positions of power in CLPS that are causing the problems and are desperate to cling to power there. As we have seen certain elements in the RW in the party are quite happy to pay little if any attention to working within the rules of our party.

    3.Touch base and contact your local sister CLPs near to yours find out how they are operating what’s going on there , get informed .

    4.Join Momentum , yes I know , it’s not perfect , but it’s better than anything that the moderate LW has had before .Remember Momentum Members are Labour party members too , you have to be before you can join Momentum.
    It is a fantastic source of information and action that helps the Labour Party to win as we have just seen in the GE ( this does not detract from the hard work by all party members it ADDS to it ) . The use of some of the Momentum “apps” has really helped target and produce some very good results .
    5.Volunteer to help with campaigning do whatever you can do , however , it is only by talking to people that you can really get the Labour messages across. Not always pleasant I know , having done it , but in the end it’s what works best.
    I regret having to write stuff like this , it would be just great if the RW would simply admit they were badly wrong on Corbyn and that the country is now ready for a change to centre left policies as per our manifesto , unite , unify and help remove the Tory trash that masquerades as Govt .

    1. Especially volunteer for campaigning, as a campaign organiser I really implore people to offer just a couple of hour a month if that’s all you can spare. There’s stuff you can do from home whenever you have time. Please get involved and help us bectid if the Tory pestilence, and build a party we can be proud of.

      1. Absolutely, Florence.

        I’d recommend that anyone who wants to support Jeremy and party democratisation generally should get in touch with their local Momentum group, find out when branch / CLP AGMs take place in their area and volunteer to help with phonebanking to get people out to vote when officers and delegates are being elected.

        I’ve spoken to a lot of new members who joined as a show of support for Jeremy but don’t appreciate the dificulty that active pro-Corbyn members have when local branches and CLPs are held by people who are hostle to Corbyn and what he stands for. Even members who aren’t comfortable being involved on a regular basis can often be persuaded to turn up for two or three crucial votes a year to support pro-Corbyn who are standing on their behalf.

        Momentum is especially valuable in areas where branches and/or CLPs are currently hostile (e.g. https://skwawkbox.org/2017/07/21/fireworks-in-walthamstow-as-members-discuss-skwawkbox-article-on-fb/).

        Replacement is sometimes the only option, and for the sake of a few hours of your time you could get 5…10 extra pro-Corbyn members to swing a branch or CLP vote in favour of a clean sweep for pro-Corbyn candidates at a local AGM.

        It’s really not hard to do and, because you’d be calling people on Momentum’s contact database, they’re 99% pro-Corbyn anyway so you will often end up having a very enjoyable chat about how ace Jermey is =)

  3. Everything has changed since the General Election result, when Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing manifesto won the support of 13 million voters, destroyed the Conservative Party’s majority and slashed the vote in Tory held constituencies, turning them into marginal seats which are now ready to be captured by the Labour Party.

    The historical orthodoxy of the party managers on the right wing of the Labour Party, and its proponents like Hilary Armstrong, has been found to be false and obsolete. The party managers on the right, including the right wing unions, believed it was necessary to undermine the left of the party to make the party credible to the electorate. The General Election result has shown that to be a false premise.

    Hilary clearly didn’t get the memo and is still labouring under that false premise. By doing so she is achieving nothing more than acting as a useful idiot and doing the dirty propaganda work of the Conservative Party.

    If Hilary and her fellow right wing party managers continue to undermine the Labour Party by making such self defeating comments and intentionally blocking the path of the return of a Labour Government then their efforts will be completely counter productive, as they will merely increase the probability of deselection of members of the PLP and the sacking of party workers and officials who continue with their coordinated programme of sabotaging the Labour Party.

  4. The difference between then and now? Now we are rebuilding a democratic party and a membership led mass movement. Then it was a quasi presidential system top down with the membership treated like ants.

    If the CLPs want to change their MPs, it is a serious matter, requiring long discussions if you have an existing MP about policies, unity and leadership. But at the end of the day, if the MP is not able to support the memberships and leadership aspirations, they need to be aware, sadly, that as very last resort they will be deselected. Its not about show trials – its about the heart and soul of the Labour movement.

  5. There’s a bigger picture don’t be put off by the title of this video it covers everything from the purpose of austerity to how the planets ‘Owners’ are taking us back to a place where we get to shut up, sit down and take whatever they dish out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIxGFXhYnWM

  6. Under Blair/Brown, anyone who wanted to be a parliamentary candidate was vetted before he/she could appear on an approved list of candidates. Only those on the list could be selected. For a number of reasons, this was abolished under Ed Miliband. Those people who became MPs under this system now have the nerve to complain about possible challenges.

    As for the Hilary Armstrong story, it is shocking how the MSM report it without making any effort to question or verify it.

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