Right-wing Labour faction Labour First routinely nominate – usually together with Blairite group Progress – right-wing candidates it wants its supporters to vote for in elections for key positions.
But it has now been accused of muddying the waters by including left-wing candidates in its recommendations.
Allies of Mary Foy, a Corbyn-supporting candidate for the National Policy Forum (NPF) in the North region, say that she has been added to a Labour First list recommending candidates to support and nominate in the forthcoming elections to the Labour policy-making body.
Ms Foy has been on the NPF since September 2015, when she was elected alongside Laura Pidcock, who is now MP for North West Durham. Foy is a Gateshead councillor with a solid track record of supporting socialist policies – and she consistently backed Corbyn’s leadership against attacks by the right of the party, including Labour First and Progress.
Ms Foy also been outspoken within the NPF both in Corbyn’s defence and in support of the party’s socialist policy pledges. So she says she was shocked to see her name shown among candidates backed by the faction behind those attacks on the Labour Party leader and his ideas:
Ms Foy has also been asked to join the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA)/Momentum slate in the Northern region, but her supporters are understandably concerned about the damage done to her reputation by being included on the Labour First ‘slate’ – and they consider the move to be a ploy to peel away left-wing votes from left candidates.
Curiously, Labour First’s list for Yorkshire also includes veteran socialist Ann Cryer – another candidate who is also on the CLGA/Momentum slate. It is currently unclear whether Ms Cryer has been consulted about her inclusion, either.
In 2015 Labour First pulled a similar stunt with another north-east candidate who also claimed she had no knowledge of her inclusion.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Labour First secretary Luke Akehurst about the inclusion of Ms Foy on the organisation’s slate. He responded:
It’s not a slate – it is who we are recommending people should vote for. In her case, our supporters in the Northern region told us she was doing a good job and deserved to be re-elected. Us recommending someone does not imply any affiliation with Labour First on their part.
Of course, if Labour First have to choose left-wing candidates to find enough recommendations it does not speak well of the quality of right-wing candidates available.
But if Labour socialists are being tarred with a Labour First brush it is likely to confuse the uninformed and many left-leaning members will, understandably, automatically avoid any candidates supported by Labour First or Progress because of the values and track record of those groups.
For some time now, right-wing candidates have been claiming to be Corbyn supporters in an attempt to sow confusion, but the right including good left candidates on their lists is even more misleading.
Mary Foy has written to Labour First organiser Matt Pound to protest her inclusion. Please spread the word so that all Labour members are aware of the situation and know that she is a candidate worth supporting in spite of the confusion Labour First has created.
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