McDonnell has endorsed Byrne’s candidacy – but local Momentum’s public letter asks him to reconsider
Early this month the SKWAWKBOX broke the surprising news that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had agreed to support Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne’s attempt to become Labour’s candidate for West Midlands ‘metro mayor’.
McDonnell confirmed his support, saying “We have worked together on the economic policy development and actually he’s been brilliant.”
Byrne was a co-founder of right-wing pressure group Progress, but currently serves on Labour’s front bench as Shadow Minister for Digital.
But the Birmingham Momentum group has publicly objected to the endorsement, sending a letter to McDonnell – also published – raising Byrne’s record and objecting to an alleged lack of consultation by the Shadow Chancellor:
23 May 2019
John McDonnell MP
House of Commons
West Midlands Mayor
We wish to raise a matter of concern- your support for Mr Liam Byrne as a possible Labour candidate for the West Midlands Mayor in advance of any timetable being disseminated for the selection.
Mr Byrne is the founder of Progress, whose austerity-based politics were responsible for the significant loss of popularity of the Party which led to the 2015 Election loss and the collapse of Party support in Scotland.
I also attach reports on his defence of his racist immigration policies:
There are many more examples. He is unrepentant, judging by his statements that solutions to homelessness and hunger are charity and food banks, rather than reversal of austerity
At the 2017 Mayoral election, Mr Byrne was the main architect of Mr Simon’s campaign. Mr Simon stood on similar policies to those advocated by Mr Byrne and achieved a far lower vote share than achieved by the socialist 2017‘For the Many ‘ manifesto, which achieved the largest swing to Labour since 1945.
It is only with a candidate who advocates the popular anti austerity policies of the Party under Jeremy Corbyn that we stand a realistic chance of winning the Mayor election, end austerity and begin to regenerate the Region in the interests of the Many.
We are unaware of any consultation with the Left in the West Midlands before making your statement. This is not in accordance with socialist democracy.
We ask you to reconsider your support for Mr Byrne and instead endorse a local socialist candidate who enjoys the support of the regional Movement.
Momentum founder Jon Lansman, who earlier this month denied claims that he was involved in the endorsement decision, responded publicly to the letter:
The selection process has not officially opened but a number of potential candidates have either declared their intention to stand or are said to be ready to do so.
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