MANDATORY re-selection of Labour MPs was rejected by Usdaw delegates yesterday amid pleas for unity ahead of the general election.
The retail union’s conference voted down motions criticising the behaviour of Labour MPs undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and affirming that Usdaw officials had “backed the wrong horse” in supporting his opponents, including rival leadership candidate Owen Smith.
Branches had already been asked by the union’s standing orders committee to withdraw the motions on the grounds they were divisive in the current climate.
Delegates said the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) should not be allowed to “overrule” the membership, and said MPs should have to seek re-selection from members before each general election.
Last month the PLP announced that sitting MPs would automatically be allowed to contest without facing a “trigger ballot” among their local party members. Usually MPs would have receive more than 50 per cent of votes to be reselected.
East London retail delegate Scott Jones said: “Mandatory re-selection is not bullying or intimidation.
“It’s basic democracy and something the Labour Party needs to have, and it’s something union reps face all the time.”
Usdaw divisional councillor Pat Buttle said: “It’s about accountability, we have to be accountable to our members.”
Delegate Sachin Patel criticised MPs for public briefings against Mr Corbyn.
“I didn’t agree with Ed Miliband but I wouldn’t say it publicly, we need to keep it in-house,” he said. “What we’re doing in the Labour Party is stupid, we need to be a backing our leader.”
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said he had refused to join in public criticism, but warned against vilifying MPs.
He told delegates that a “journalist from a right-wing newspaper” had expressed interest in the motions and would use them to stoke internal divisions.
“I don’t want Usdaw to be internalising about the processes when we’re in the middle of the most challenging campaign we’ve had in a lifetime,” he said.