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Labour's socialist MPs launch attack on party's leadership

SOCIALIST MPs launched a stinging attack on the Labour leader as the party’s tumultuous conference, dominated by attempts to isolate the left, came to a close. 

Addressing a raucous rally on Tuesday night at The World Transformed, the fringe festival for the Brighton conference, Labour MP Richard Burgon branded the leadership’s bid to change the party’s electoral system a “sick joke.” 

He said: “We started this conference with the two words on the lips of all my constituents in the pubs and clubs … and those two words my constituents say to me most often are: electoral college!

“What a joke! But what a sick joke, when you see what the Tories are doing, and that’s the best they can come up with.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was forced to drop the leadership rule change, but a package of reforms, including one giving MPs more of a say over who runs for leader, was passed. 

Speaking to a packed tent at the Socialist Campaign Group rally, Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said that Sir Keir “is not a politician for the Labour Party.

“No politician worth their salt would waste the whole of conference trying to introduce rule changes like they did. 

“No politician worth their salt would wage an internal war on a party when we have one of the worst governments in history.”

But MPs of the Socialist Campaign Group, of which there are 36, remained defiant despite manoeuvres against the left, telling audiences that the party will see a socialist leader again. 

The rally also heard from former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whitthome, Rebecca Long Bailey and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Whittome said the big crises facing society “cannot be tackled by tinkering around the edges of a system that is fundamentally rigged.”

“It is socialism or bust for this planet so giving up for us is not an option because this is a fight for our very survival and we have no choice but to win it,” she said.

Ms Sultana demanded Sir Keir restore the whip to Mr Corbyn, who was suspended from the party last year. While Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum spoke out about her recent experiences of abuse in an emotional address to the rally.

“The lengths that the right-wing in the party are prepared to go to defeat the left are frightening, as I know more than most,” she said.

“As a survivor of domestic abuse, facing vexatious charges, the last 18 months of false accusations, online sexist, racist and Islamophobic abuse and threats to my safety have been exceedingly difficult to cope with. As such it’s been really hard for me to speak out actually."

But Ms Begum, who was recently cleared of claims of housing fraud in a case brought by the Labour-run council Tower Hamlets, urged members to stay in the party to continue fighting for socialism.

The rally was closed by Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy with the message: “The future is bright and the future is socialist.”

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