Starmer’s chicken**** move certainly has no mandate from members
Back-bench Labour MP Jon Trickett – far closer to an opposition leader than Keir Starmer or anything on Starmer’s front bench – has gone for the yellow knight over Starmer’s cowardly plan to deprive Labour members of a vote in future leadership elections.
Starmer plans – as Skwawkbox warned at the beginning of this year and predicted even before Starmer became leader – to drag the party back to the old ‘electoral college’ system of choosing party leaders, in which a handful of entitled right-wing MPs have as much voting power as all the unions or the entire party membership. What little say members would keep would not be exercised directly by a vote, but by local ‘constituency parties’ on their behalf, with the total of all the members counting for only a third of the total, the same as a couple of hundred largely unpleasant MPs (or far fewer than that after the next election under Starmer’s disastrous tenure).
The move is just as much an affront to the members of unions who formed the party and continue to be its main funders: all the millions of union members they represent would only have the same say as MPs and even that would be exercised indirectly by union managements in ‘block votes’.
The move – which has been circulated today as new but isn’t – has provoked perfectly correct outrage, but the media has been unsurprisingly complicit and it has been left to a few back-bench MPs to voice any opposition. Jon Trickett stood unambiguously for democracy in calling his party’s theoretical leader out:
Trickett’s intervention received praise from Labour members and supporters of democracy, in equal measure with condemnation of Starmer yet again moving to the right of the hard-right Tories:
Starmer’s move is not the first time the Labour right has tried to end democracy and reduce members to mere doorstep-fodder at best. In 2017, then-deputy leader Tom Watson – only days after Corbyn’s resounding second leadership election victory – made an attempt to push the same return to an electoral college system through Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
Watson had won the deputy leadership on a promise to support whomever the members elected. If that sounds familiar, it is because it is.
It is beyond question that Starmer has absolutely no mandate for the ploy. There was no mention in his pitch to members during last year’s leadership election that he planned to make it the last leadership election vote they would ever cast – and it is unthinkable that most of those who voted for him would have done so had he dared be honest about his intentions.
The right has no interest in democracy, nor in electability. Only in securing their control of the party even if it means burning it to the ground.
Update: Ian Lavery has joined in:
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