The PLP and the Leadership Contest
A Letter to My MP On the Labour Party Leadership Contest
I write further to your emails of 19th July and 17th August, and have been taking my time in responding partly because of my intense disappointment at your support of Owen Smith.
I fail to understand both why the PLP have behaved so abominably to their popularly elected leader and how you could support Owen Smith as a leader over Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, the ———— Ward voted to support Jeremy Corbyn by an extremely narrow margin, and the meeting was better attended than most because the membership feel so strongly about supporting Jeremy Corbyn as leader. As at the date of writing, the vast majority of Wards have voted to support Jeremy Corbyn over Owen Smith, as have the majority of Unions.
I was very disappointed by an attendee at the meeting who stated he worked in your office and then proceeded to give his own personal opinion about how Jeremy Corbyn was ‘looking’ whilst working at the Houses of Parliament and attaching psychological meaning such as he was ‘looking tired’. In court this would be inadmissible as this worker is not a psychologist nor at his own admittance had he spoken with, nor did he have any knowledge of Jeremy Corbyn’s state of mind or physical capabilities. Surely we are attacked enough in this way by the right-wing press, we don’t need staffers and PLP members to denigrate based on personal opinion and propagandist interpretation?
Jeremy Corbyn has the support of the membership, and it is the membership who are the backbone of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn represents the views of the Labour Party and it is extremely dismaying to see so blatantly that the PLP no longer do. It is time we as a party got over the failed experiment with ‘New’ Labour and the betrayal of the root and reason for the Labour Party. The party was formed to support the disenfranchised; to literally enfranchise the people and ensure they had a say in the running of the country. It is clearly stated in the Labour Party membership booklet what the aims are.
Furthermore, the disgraceful attempt to remove new members from being able to vote in the leadership election, despite the clear promise in the guidelines, and forcing the issue through court to a successful appeal (although given the Judge’s reported affiliations I do question that verdict and as a person working in the legal system I understand how such rulings are at appeal stage based on opinion and interpretation of contract law as opposed to a clear reading of the same) I have lost all faith in the elected members of parliament for the Labour party.
Sadly, this now includes you as you have openly stated your support for Owen Smith over Jeremy Corbyn. To me, your reasons for supporting Owen Smith seem entirely unfounded.
In your email of 19th July 2016, you state “It pains me to say it, but Jeremy has lost my support. Not because I disagree with his ideas though. I mean I was with him last night as we voted together against replacing Trident. But because I believe that we need to provide a credible alternative to the conservatives.” Jeremy Corbyn is a credible alternative to the conservatives; unfortunately by staging this coup at the most regrettable time, when the conservatives had been seen to lost the Brexit/Bremain vote and were at their most vulnerable, the PLP has itself discredited the Labour Party and missed a vital moment in which we could have defeated the Conservatives and shown Labour as the more effective political party. It is the PLP who lost the Labour Party its credibility, and this is the view of the majority of the membership as is shown by the clear support Jeremy Corbyn has across the Labour Party membership.
It was claimed that Jeremy Corbyn did not campaign sufficiently hard enough for the Remain vote. He attended over 100 events despite ‘being on holiday’ and made numerous television appointments. It seems his principled stand against debating alongside David Cameron was seen as problematic, yet many cite his principles as the best reason for supporting him. No matter what he did, he would have been criticised, which is proper in a democratic process. However, when it is his own PLP doing the criticism, they are doing the Conservative’s job for them. Is it any wonder the PLP is nicknamed ‘Tory lite’ or ‘Diet Tory’ when such behaviours are clearly on show? IPSO, Mori, YouGov and Survation polls all showed that Labour support for Remain stayed consistent throughout the campaigns. It was the Conservatives who failed this campaign. The PLP should have been acting on those facts instead of denigrating their democratically elected leader.
I fail to understand how the PLP cannot understand this and should appreciate your clear explanation as to why you believe Jeremy Corbyn has lost the credibility and support of the Labour Party membership and the public. Even the right wing press clearly states Jeremy Corbyn has the support of the people, yet opinion pieces such as that by Sadiq Khan and Owen Smith himself claim otherwise.
You also stated that “The man [Jeremy Corbyn] has principles, he is honest, but I believe it’s time for him to go.” This beggars my belief. Why would you want to get rid of a man of principle and honesty? You also state that Labour is a political party, not a fan club or protest group. This seems to indicate what you think of those of us who support Jeremy Corbyn; patronising, reductive and untrue as it may be. I have spoken with very many people who have been galvanised by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader; he provided hope, a strong leadership, and a believable pathway to equality and fighting for the minority and discriminated against groups within society who tend not to vote in general elections because they are not represented by the electoral candidates. Jeremy Corbyn gave these people, who in the last election represented 33.9% of the voting population, a voice. By taking this away the PLP are hoping to appeal to Conservatives. This has not worked over the last two general elections and the PLP is figuratively throwing away 33.9% of the voting population. This is a retrograde step and a huge mistake.
In your email of 17th August you state your reasons for supporting Owen Smith. You give a list of your beliefs, all of which are also those of the Labour Party AND Jeremy Corbyn, but the only reasons you give for specifically supporting Owen Smith are that you believe he will mean the Labour Party is in a stronger position to win with Owen Smith at the head of the party. This despite clear evidence that he does not have the support of the majority of the Labour Party members, and that he is seen by many as untrustworthy due to the fact he registered his website for the coup before resigning his position and worked for a private pharmaceutical company as a lobbyist before entering politics.
All the policies that Owen Smith claims to be standing by are those of Jeremy Corbyn, yet when it came down to it last year, Owen Smith abstained on the NHS Reinstatement Bill and Jeremy Corbyn did not. Voting records are publicly available at http://www.theyworkforyou.co.uk, and I think perhaps the PLP should pay more attention to how often such sites are accessed; it seems that some PLP members may not realise how public (rightly) their voting records are. Jeremy Corbyn showed an ability to work with cross-party members whilst holding to the principles of both himself and the Labour Party, it was Owen Smith who failed at this time.
You also stated in the email of 17th August that “Locally, we as a party need to ensure we remain an inclusive party focused on fighting and winning the next election.” I agree and applaud this stand. Yet it is Jeremy Corbyn who instigated the in-depth examination of anti-semitism within the Labour Party, through the report of Shami Chakrabarti, which also covered racism and islamophobia, and came to very useful conclusions. I have read the report as I am sure you have too, and given your support for inclusivity I am sure you applaud the conclusions and the implementation of the same. To date, Jeremy Corbyn is the only political leader ever to have taken any such step in the move to wipe out bigotry and discrimination within the ranks of a political party.
However, as I have stated before, it is Jeremy Corbyn who appeals to and has the support of those who are more often excluded from mainstream politics. Indeed, despite ——————— being a multi-cultural borough I was very disappointed to note that the heavily attended ———– Ward meeting was almost exclusively white (one attendee of middle Eastern heritage) and quite clearly the majority were home-owners and/or of middle-class description. Clearly the party which supports Owen Smith does not appeal to the non-voter or those who are defined as being of a minority group. Jeremy Corbyn is supported by the working class, those of BAME identity, and those groups who campaign for equality and are of non-privileged identities.
A clear message of the division between the candidates is on the Prevent measures and the reactions of the Islamic community to such a controversial anti-terrorist countermeasure. Owen Smith supports this measure, which is tantamount to racial profiling, whereas Jeremy Corbyn opposes it.
In my view it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn remains the best candidate for leader of the Labour Party. I am deeply disappointed that you do not agree, and look forward to receiving your detailed response as to why you believe this. It is not Conservative voters we should be appealing to, it is the non-voters and it is there Jeremy Corbyn is superb as a leader. Jeremy Corbyn is not only re-engaging the Labour voters who left as a result of New Labour, but bringing in new members in the youth and the underprivileged people. These are precisely the people the Labour Party should be supporting and for whom the Labour Party was created.
I should appreciate specific reference to the policies of both candidates in your response. I look forward to hearing from you.