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McCluskey was spot on – MPs prepared to smear their own leader must be held to account

MANY Jeremy Corbyn supporters will welcome Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s denunciation of Labour MPs who can’t reconcile themselves to the members’ overwhelming support of their party leader.

McCluskey was spot on in nailing those “working overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-semitism and bullying,” which is not the party that most members recognise.

Shadow exiting the European Union secretary Keir Starmer ought to have thought twice before wading into the row.

His expressed disagreement with the Unite leader, implying that McCluskey was denying that anti-semitism exists in the Labour Party and was therefore “part of the problem.”

Neither McCluskey nor any serious Corbyn supporter has ever claimed that Labour is immune to anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism exists throughout society and in all political parties, as the Tory Party suspension of council candidate George Stoakley indicates, but it has become a weapon brandished maliciously to undermine the Labour leader.

What McCluskey and Corbyn’s supporters dispute is the vile allegation from the Corbyn-hating faction in the Parliamentary Labour Party that this form of racism is rampant in Labour and that the blame lies with the leader for presiding over a permissive climate that makes it possible and allows it to flourish unpunished.

As a lawyer, Starmer ought to be able to distinguish between these two positions.

McCluskey’s observation, that seeing the likes of Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin basking in the applause of Tory MPs for attacking Corbyn makes him understand calls for mandatory reselection, is portrayed as a form of bullying of independent-minded MPs representing their electorate.

They clearly believe that, once selected as a candidate by Labour and elected by voters in their constituency, they are there until voted out, irrespective of what they do or say.

Being an MP is not a job for life. Every Labour MP, including Corbyn, answers to those they represent.

Whatever MPs’ individual talents and gifts, they are returned to Parliament because of the party they represent.

Any MP who imagines their personal support trumps party affiliation can easily put this to the test. Stand as an independent and see what the voters decide.

There is nothing bullying about pointing out that constituency Labour parties are entitled to evaluate the conduct of those they chose as their parliamentary champions and to work out whether a change is required.

Politics is not a spectator sport that takes place in Westminster, TV and radio studios and central London media conferences where the consensus holds that Corbyn’s election as party leader unjustifiably upset the cosy set-up where only minor political differences divided all major parties.

Yet a modest and well-conducted picket of Marc Wadsworth supporters outside his appeal against a bizarre anti-semitism charge was also portrayed as bullying, necessitating a solidarity detail of dozens of Labour MPs forming a phalanx around Ruth Smeeth MP as she marched on Wednesday to give evidence against Wadsworth.

Others might be more perturbed to see this impressive mobilisation of white MPs ganging up against a lifelong equality campaigner, former Anti-Racist Alliance national secretary and National Union of Journalists black members committee chair when he worked successfully with all sections of society, including Jews, to tackle longstanding societal problems.

Corbyn and Labour general secretary Jennie Formby are determined to rid the party of any anti-semitism.

Is is too much to expect Labour MPs to work with them to do so rather than collaborate with the class enemy in smearing their leader as tolerating this scourge?

 

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