Jeremy Corbyn – In Office but Not In Power – Right Gerrymanders to Prevent 130,000 from Voting in Leadership Ballot
Jeremy Corbyn – In Office but Not In Power – Right Gerrymanders to Prevent 130,000 from Voting in Leadership Ballot
Labour Party General Secretary Ian McNicol Accused of Deception and Lack of Good Faith
Surrounded by supporters
However many times
Momentum and Corbyn talk about the ‘New Politics’ ‘straight talking’ and all
the rest, they will be faced with a right-wing that is devious, dishonest,
manipulative and machievellian. The
policy of the Labour Right, as expounded by Peter Mandelson earlier today, is
summed up in one acronym – ABC – Anyone But Corbyn.
Owen Smith – the other right-wing challenger, former lobbyist for drug company Pfizer
The Right of the
Labour Party will employ any tactic, however undemocratic, in order to
prevail. Corbyn represents, in however a
mild form, a challenge to the neo-liberal market economics that Blair
pursued. Privatisation, public-private
partnerships, the primacy of the ‘free’ market are what Corbyn’s challengers
stand for. The ruthlessness of the Right
can only be defeated by a similar ruthlessness by his opponents.
The Eagle with Supporters
If you are attacked by a wild animal then you
have to shoot it not play with it.
The National Executive
of the Labour Party last Monday is a case in point. It was called at short notice by the Labour
Party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol.
McNicol was appointed against
the wishes of the previous Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who considered him
Iain McNicol is up to his
neck in the plot to depose Corbyn.
In a quite remarkable letter
from Howe and Co. solicitors acting for Jim Kennedy of Unite and other members
of the National Executive Committee, Labour’s General Secretary Iain McNicol is
accused of having gone to ‘great lengths
to conceal your intentions from the Leader and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’
to call an meeting of the NEC the following day.
McNicol is told not to engage in his favourite pastime – leaking to the media
Despite this McNicol
or someone else from his office deliberately leaked news of this NEC to the
press. It is almost a carbon copy of
what happened to myself, Jackie Walker and other suspended members of the
Labour Party. We were denied information
as to why we were suspended yet the very same information was leaked to the
press. McNicol brazenly lied in a letter
to me when denying that Labour Party staff had done the leaking.
McNicol is told he has a duty to act in good faith
The solicitors bluntly
tell McNicol that ‘You have an obligation
as General Secretary to act in good faith. You personally are required by the Party rules
to be transparent and to uphold the aims and values of ‘open democracy’. The manner in which this special meeting has
been arranged has all the hallmarks of anything but “open democracy”. McNicol is openly accused of calling the
meeting at short notice in order to exclude trade union delegates who are
working and live outside London.
McNicol is told that
he is under a duty to act according to common law notions of fairness and that according
to the Labour Party’s constitution the election of officers, shall be conducted
in a ‘fair, open and transparent manner.’ McNicol’s behaviour in other words was
anything but fair, open or transparent.
McNicol should not need to be told that ‘natural justice requires you to act fairly’ but as the experience
of those suspended demonstrates, McNicol wouldn’t know what fairness was if it
bit him in his nether regions.
Howe and Co. tell
McNicol that their concern is that ‘Our clients are very concerned that the purpose of the
special meeting is to manufacture a situation whereby Jeremy Corbyn’s name will
be omitted from the ballot paper.’
McNicol is told he has a duty not to destroy any documentation
McNicol is also accused of
withholding the legal advice he has obtained to members of the NEC, despite
having received the advice of 3 barristers including Mike Mansfield QC. McNicol is also told that he has a duty to
preserve all documents, emails etc. with his fellow conspirators such as Deputy
Leader, the ‘fixer’ Tom Watson. The solicitors finish off what is an extremely
strong letter with a series of questions:
McNicol is accused of withholding legal advice from the NEC
‘It is clear that you are acting as General
Secretary in a manner which has not been seen before in the Labour Party. [I’m
not sure that historically this is quite true – the post has not normally been
filled by people devoted to fairness or openness, though Jim Mortimer, who was
the General Secretary under Michael Foot was widely respected in this regard] Who is it
who is instructing you to carry out the actions you intend? Who has suggested to you that the legal
advice the Labour Party has received is to be ignored or kept hidden? Who is it who has suggested that the leader
be barred from the special meeting of 12 July 2016 and that the motion be voted
upon in secret?’
All of these are good
questions but the answer is most likely that McNicol doesn’t need to be instructed
to act as he has done. He has been part
of the conspiracy against a left leadership from the time that Corbyn was elected.
It is one of Corbyn’s
failures that he hasn’t, as Leader, taken control of the Labour Party civil
service. It was McNicol’s Compliance
Unit that began the witch hunt and the suspending of people for bogus
reasons. If he is to survive after a new
election it is essential that he takes decisive action to bring the Labour
Party civil service and the regional organisers under his control.
McNicol is told that his habit of leaking against his political enemies is a ‘potentially serious disciplinary matter
McNicol is also told that his favourite occupation, leaking material damaging to his political opponents is a ‘serious disciplinary offence’. On the basis of the
allegations in this letter the NEC has no alternative but to suspended Iain
McNicol for gross misconduct. It is
unconscionable that the General Secretary of the Labour Party is acting at the
instigation of the forces of the Right opposed to the Leader.
Corbyn has a duty to show
that he has the mettle of which a Leader is made and to take Executive action
by suspending McNicol and barring him from Labour Party premises as and until
an investigation is conducted into McNicol’s behaviour.
It is essential that an emergency meeting of
the NEC is called to reverse the undemocratic decision to bar 130,000 members
of the Labour Party from voting. This is
a naked attempt to swing the election away from Corbyn. Although it won’t succeed it is essential
that this is not allowed to happen. People
joined the LP with a promise that they could vote in the leadership
elections. Likewise the decision that
Labour Parties cannot hold meetings during the campaign is outrageous and
should also be reversed. The Right’s
attempts to fix the election cannot be allowed to remain unchallenged.
It is essential that
people on the Left do not make assumptions about Corbyn winning with the same
majority as last time. The effect of the
expected media barrage, that Corbyn is unelectable needs to be rebutted. He needs to firm up on a radical manifesto
which will put the Eagle/Smith duo on the defensive. If Labour Party members are simply left to
their own devices then many will succumb to the press and media.
Momentum has a crucial
role to play in this. It is essential
that an emergency Momentum conference is
called and that a plan of action is laid out on a national basis. Momentum itself needs to be democratised. The days of Jon Lansman running things with a
few trusted acolytes needs to end now.
It is also essential
that Corbyn sorts out once and for all the Shadow Cabinet membership of the
NEC. According to the published
list on the LP site, two of the three NEC members who are in Corbyn’s gift, are
on the Right i.e. Angela Eagle and Jonathan Ashworth. On Wikipedia Angela Eagle has been replaced
by Jon Trickett which is what I understand to be correct (McNicol is too
incompetent to ensure the LP’s own web site is kept up to date). I also understand that an attempt was made to
replace Ashworth but it was unsuccessful.
This is really not good enough.
He should have been replaced months ago.
There should be a
determined attempt to ensure that the trade union delegates are of the Left and
those like Paddy Lillis of USDAW are replaced.
Equally important is a
recognition by Corbyn that the right-wing of the PLP will never accept his
leadership and will always conspire against him, often with the Tory
press. It is essential that the balance
of the PLP is changed and that deselections begin.
The redrawing of the
boundaries will enable this but I can offer the following 53 MPs as starters: There are probably other candidates I have
missed out who are equally deserving, so I welcome other suggestions!
John Mann, Hilary
Benn, Rosie Winterton, Tom Watson, John Spellar, Ruth Smeeth, Harriet Harman,
Peter Kyle, Stephen Kinnock, Chuku Ummuna, Keith Vaz, Steve Reed, Shaban
Mahmood, Dan Jarvis, Chris Bryant, Nick Brown, Ben Bradshaw, Stephen Twigg,
Gisela Stuart, Tristram Hunt, Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman, Mike Gapes,
Margaret Beckett, Kate Hoey, Margaret Hodge, Barry Sheerman, Simon Danzuk,
Fabian Hamilton, Ian Austin, Stella Creasy, Jonathan Ashworth, Fiona McTaggart,
Ann Coffey, Rachel Reeves, Liam Byrne,
Frank Field, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, Joan Ryan, Alan Johnson, Vernon
Coaker, Caroline Flint, Ivan Lewis, Maria Eagle, Michael Dugher, Gloria De
Piero, Chris Leslie, Liz Kendall, Heidi Alexander, Owen Smith, Angela Eagle,
Loll Duffy, a sacked militant, shipyard worker was removed by Kinnock to pave the way for Angela Eagle in the Wallasey CLP
The suggestion that the
opposition to Corbyn is motivated by his lack of leadership qualities or
personality is risible. Is it seriously
suggested that if Corbyn were say Tony Benn that he would be acceptable? It is a measure of the disingenuousness of
Angela Eagle that she was unable to spell out her differences with Corbyn at
the launch of her campaign or her interview with Andrew Neil. Indeed the shambles of her launch throws into
stark relief the light comedy that this clownish figure provides.
Angela Eagle, who now
portrays herself as a candidate of the Left, is the same person who in 1992 was imposed on the constituency
of Wallasey deposing the existing parliamentary prospective candidate, Loll
Duffy, a sacked shipyard worker. It is
noticeable that in her interview with Andrew Neil, she was unable to identify a
single policy difference with Corbyn apart from Trident. Three times Neil asked her what her policy
differences and three times she was unable to provide an answer.
It should not however
be thought that there are no differences between Eagle and Corbyn. It’s just that it’s hard to declare that you
are in favour of more wars, bombing Syria, capping and cutting benefits,
privatising the NHS, opposing the renationalisation of rail and the
utilities. These are not things to be
Likewise Owen Smith the
other right-wing candidate worked
as a lobbyist for the drug company Pfizer.
Despite portraying himself as another ‘left’ candidate Smith supported
the Tories cap on benefits, abstained on
their welfare cuts and justifies private involvement in the NHS, saying that:
‘Where they can
bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services that the NHS is not
able to deliver, and where they can work alongside but subservient to the NHS
and without diminishing in any respect the public service ethos of the NHS,
then I think that’s fine. I think if their involvement means in any way, shape
or form the break up of the NHS, then I’m not a fan of it, but I don’t think it
This is in the context of a situation where
40% of new NHS contracts are going to private firms and we are seeing the slow
privatisation of the NHS.