Mass gerrymandering of conference delegates means leadership rule change certain – Labour left must strike now or lose chance indefinitely
With Labour set to lose the Batley and Spen by-election – even the party doesn’t think it can win – and Keir Starmer’s party now seen as such an electoral liability that campaign leaflets in the constituency do not even mention Labour – there has been widespread speculation about an immediate leadership challenge if Starmer does not resign in the morning if the expected defeat materialises.
Last Chance Saloon
But the reality is that the left must force a leadership challenge and complete it this summer – or else say goodbye to Labour as an electoral force, let alone as a vehicle for genuine change for the better in the UK.
There can be no room for hesitancy or timidity – the party and the left alike are both in the Last Chance Saloon and a failure to move now means disaster that will not be retrievable in a generation, if ever. This is not a Kinnock-era situation. The right intends to exterminate the left in the Labour party, not just cow it.
Mass gerrymandering and a leadership rule change
From the instances already confirmed, it is apparent that there has been massive gerrymandering of delegate selections for this autumn’s conference, with annual general meetings controlled by Labour staff to ensure right-wing executives in charge of selections – and where this could not be guaranteed, then delegate selection votes around the country cancelled or delayed to the point where delegates have simply been imposed.
All of this seems directed to one main end: a change of rules for future leadership conferences to return to the old ‘electoral college’ system that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of members in favour of a handful of right-wing MPs, to make sure that no left MP gets anywhere near a position on the ballot ever again.
Some timid or blind souls are pinning their hopes to a left win in the Unite leadership election before conference – but even if the left wins, Unite will control only some 12% of votes on the conference floor, nowhere near enough to fight off the intended right-wing move to brick up the doors against the left. Any democracy at conference will be an illusion, after a months-long war on members’ rights.
At this autumn’s conference, without a change of leadership, if David Evans – who has never even been confirmed as general secretary by a conference vote – decides to change the party’s name from ‘Labour’ to ‘ToryTributeParty’, it will pass easily.
And with the door walled up against any hope of a future left leader, those left members who have hung on in the party in the hope of a fightback will leave in droves.
Move it or lose it
Left MPs who are too timid to move now will lose not only the chance of a left leader forever, but also face the loss of their seats. The disastrous lurch back to right-wing, weathervane politics has already so disgusted voters that without change dozens of Labour MPs will lose their seats whenever Boris Johnson calls a general election – but many of those MPs will not even get to stand at the next general election: the right’s preparations for the deselection of left MPs are already well underway and with no left members to support them in ‘triggers’, most will be gone the instant a trigger vote is called.
Even if left MPs don’t support a challenge out of principle and electoral awareness, they need to do so for the sake of naked self-preservation.
And they need to do it now. No qualms about who is available or ready to step forward can be given room – MPs need to unite behind a challenger, or the chance will be gone for decades and perhaps permanently, with a good chance the party itself will not survive.
The Last Chance Saloon is about to close and throwing-out time is almost here. The only question is who will be thrown out and who will do the throwing – and if the parliamentary left puts its fingers in its ears and hopes for the best, they will soon be history.
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