Labour leadership election and Unison election both show the grassroots are no longer prepared to be told which ‘left’ candidate they can vote for
The last two big elections for the left – the Labour party leadership and Unison general secretary elections carry a sombre warning for any left hierarchies that assume they can railroad the left grassroots into supporting whichever candidate it suits the ‘machine’ to put forward.
In early 2020, despite warnings from Skwawkbox and others that she couldn’t inspire the movement and a massive outcry from the grassroots, Rebecca Long-Bailey was the only left candidate on offer – and pressure was put on on others that the working-class left could more easily have swung behind.
In early 2021, the same hierarchies decided that Roger McKenzie was their preferred candidate – in spite of an obvious grassroots groundswell for Paul Holmes and warnings, again, from Skwawkbox and others that it could only backfire.
The disaster that is now the Labour party is at least in part the legacy of that misplaced assumption that imposing a candidate would force the left grassroots to toe the line because Long-Bailey wasn’t as bad as Starmer. In the absence of a candidate that inspired them and their trust, much of the left simply didn’t vote – and Keir Starmer’s catastrophe resulted.
In the Unison election, much of the same ‘machine’ backed McKenzie. Popular grassroots candidate Paul Holmes won by far the biggest share of the left vote, but not enough to beat right-winger Christine McAnea.
And now, the Starmer-friendly Establishment, the ‘accommodating’ left and a cadre of ‘fixers’ are coordinating their efforts to prevent the grassroots left having Howard Beckett on the ballot to vote for – some in the hope of keeping Gerard Coyne out, but there are also widespread rumours of help for Coyne to obtain nominations, purely in an attempt to create a situation that would allow Beckett to be forced out.
One Labour activist expressed perfectly what the parts of the left hoping to exclude Beckett are missing:
If they stand Howard down… Len will be accused of a stitch up and the left will be seen as a joke.
Left members won’t bother to vote as they will feel let down and made to do as they are told when they have worked hard on their campaigns and hopes. There comes a time when leaders have to respect the power and ability to think & chose of the members – they have to have confidence in the members.
People will rebel at a stitch up and Coyne will be in 7th heaven.
Warnings from sources in tune with the grassroots were ignored and the result was disaster. It’s time for the lesson to be learned.
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