New group will charge MPs for participating and even plans to hire ‘coordinator’
A caucus of ‘eleven new left Labour MPs and an MSP’ from the Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) of left-wing Labour MPs have agreed to set up a separate group with its own funding, priorities – and at least one staff member.
An ‘MPs Strategic Coordination Proposal’ document, obtained by Skwawkbox, says that the group’s budget to March of this year will be almost £32,000, with a first year of operations costing £133,000. Among its planned funding streams are a levy of £1,000 per MP to be taken from their training budgets and contributions from
Economy high net work [sic] donors
that the group hopes to persuade to part with cash to achieve an ‘alliance between GND [green new deal] and new/progressive economics’.
The group also envisages itself as an entirely separate ‘legal structure’:
Money for this project should either:
● Be housed in a new legal structure, not a structure used previously
● Or in an MP’s office.
Our preference is likely for a new legal structure if Lloyd is able to administer but we’d like
opinions on this.
But the strategy document also makes clear that the new group, which sees itself as modelled on ‘The Squad’ of Democrat lawmakers in the US, sees itself trying to pressure Keir Starmer from off and on his front bench, in other words working alongside Starmer and trying to steer him, rather than resist or remove him, listing among its ‘tactical approaches’:
● Media interventions by backbenchers to push the Labour frontbench to take more
● An insider strategy within Labour frontbench teams for left-wing MPs who are also
The group also plans tactics such as parliamentary actions and stunts including:
● Using conventional Parliamentary tactics better i.e. strategic use of parliamentary
speeches and questions clipped for social media, coordination around Private Members’
Bills and amendments to Bills, media interventions around select committee
● Playing with Parliamentary conventions to capture media attention and generate debate
in Westminster i.e. calling Boris Johnson a liar, actions involving dresscodes, taking the
knee in the chamber etc
This new organising space for left MPs should in the first instance focus on innovating with new
parliamentary tactics and media interventions to push issues like the Green New Deal in the run
up to COP26 and off the back of it.
The document describes the group as a ‘space for organising’ but denies that it will be a ‘central identity’, despite the new and presumably centralised ‘legal structure’ for handling its funds – but its ‘Principles of organising together’ again emphasise that it intends to play a part in Keir Starmer’s front bench team:
● We are pushing the Labour leadership to do better on its economic approach and social
and environmental justice issues
● Individual MPs step forward to push particular issues together and not everyone will
work on everything
● We’re not setting up a central identity, just an organising space for collaboration and
planning action. No one can speak on behalf of the whole group on that basis…
● We are backbenchers and frontbenchers and believe in the power of insider and outsider
strategies in the Labour Party and will have MPs pushing both within the group
And the group sees its identity as ‘new left’, presumably to separate itself from the ‘old left’ of union activism and a focus on the working class:
Who are we?
● A group of 11 new left MPs and an MSP.
● In order to be part of the organising space for decision making in phase one you must
agree to the principles above and make a monetary contribution towards its organisation.
One member of the group, when approached by Skwawkbox for comment, denied that the new group represented a split from the SCG. However, they did not respond when asked to confirm explicitly to confirm that this meant there was no intention ever to leave the SCG and to clarify who would be considered qualified to join, there was no response.
Of those involved in the new group, only one appears to have publicly expressed support for Jeremy Corbyn – though that one was after the result of the Labour NEC’s vote on whether to reinstate Corbyn to the Labour benches was already known.
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