Battle for the heart and soul of the Labour Party as 54 plotters break cover


DOZENS of loyal Labour MPs have flocked to support their party leader as a coup attempt by a cabal of malcontent MPs is set to hit the buffers.

A battle for the heart and soul of the Parliamentary Labour Party has begun.

While 54 Labour MPs have announced their intention to try and oust Jeremy Corbyn as leader, many more are supporting him and more than 235,000 ordinary members have signed an online petition of total confidence in him.

Mr Corbyn won the Labour leadership vote last September with 59% (251,417) of the vote. A recent YouGov poll suggests that if a new leadership election is called he would win again with about 67% of the vote.

Last night Mr Corbyn warned the plotters:

“Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate.”

He also said he had been elected as leader with “an overwhelming mandate for a different kind of politics”.

“I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me – or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them,” he added.

“Neither wing of the Tory government has an exit plan. Labour will now ensure that our reform agenda is at the heart of the negotiations that lie ahead.

“One clear message from last Thursday’s vote is that millions of people feel shut out of a political and economic system that has let them down and scarred our country with grotesque levels of inequality.”

At 6pm tonight (Monday) a protest has been planned at Parliament Square in London to show support for the Labour leader.

A statement by the Momentum group which has organised the gathering says: “The future is uncertain. We face a Tory Brexit, Cameron has resigned and we are likely to have a general election in the coming months with the potential of Britain lurching yet further to the right.

“Yet a small number of Labour MPs are using this as an opportunity to oust Jeremy, disrespect the Labour membership who elected him and disregard our movement for a new kind of politics. We cannot let this undemocratic behaviour succeed.”

Jon Lansman, one of Mr Corbyn’s closest advisers who founded Momentum alongside the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said others in the party would join Momentum supporters in campaigning for the embattled leader.

He said party members across the board were dismayed by the sight of Labour MPs falling out among themselves at a time when the Conservatives are divided.

Mr Corbyn has a growing number of allies within the parliamentary party, led by John McDonnell, Andy McDonald, Dennis Skinner, Dave Anderson, Rachel Maskell, Clive Lewis, Ian Mearns, Ronnie Campbell, Pat Glass, Catherine Smith, Graham Morris and Diane Abbot.

In the past 24 hours Paul Flynn (Newport), Emily Thornberry (Islington South), Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) , Richard Burgon (Leeds East), Ian Lavery (Wansbeck), Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) and others have put their heads above the parapets to support him.

Paul Flynn condemned the plotters as:

“Orchestrated treachery. Resignations on the hour by the future Blair Tribute Party. Self-indulgent party games as steel jobs are in new peril.”

One of Mr Corbyn’s staunchest allies Ian Lavery MP (Wansbeck) said: “If we don’t respect democracy then we stand for nothing. The Labour Party membership gave Jeremy Corbyn a massive mandate. I’m supporting the membership and Jeremy.”

Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton under Lyne also gave her 100% support for Jeremy Corbyn and used her Twitter feed to pool support from other Labour MPs.

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central said: “Jeremy is an excellent leader, he is sincere and authentic and many think he’s the most honest politician.”

Andy McDonald MP (Middlesbrough) said Jeremy Corbyn should not take orders from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Absolutely he should stay. He has a mandate to stay. It was only nine short months ago that he was elected with a massive majority,” he said

“And I know that he hasn’t been popular across the PLP. That’s the understatement of the year. But it’s the members who overwhelmingly embraced Jeremy’s narrative. And I think some of my colleagues need to completely recognise that.”

Imran Hussain, Bradford East MP said: “With the Tories divided over the EU, Labour MPs and shadow ministers must be presenting a united opposition that the public need right now. Jeremy was elected with an overwhelming mandate amongst the membership, and that must be respected by the Shadow Cabinet.”

Kate Osamor MP (Edmonton) said:

“The Labour Party needs to unite behind our leader. We cannot descend into infighting at this critical stage. Let’s bring the fight to the Tories.”

Peter Dowd MP (Bootle) added: “As far as I’m concerned Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour Leader by 250,000 members and it should remain that way until they decide otherwise.”

And yesterday afternoon, shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham (Leigh) joined them.

“At an uncertain time like this for our country, I cannot see how it makes sense for the Opposition to plunge itself into a civil war,” he said.

“I have never taken part in a coup against any leader of the Labour Party and I am not going to start now.

“It is for our members to decide who leads our Party and 10 months ago they gave Jeremy Corbyn a resounding mandate. I respect that and them.”

And the anti-Corbyn bloc in the parliamentary Labour party could find itself pitted against not only large numbers of party members – making for potentially fraught and daunting appearances by MPs in front of constituency party meetings – but against unions whose financial and organisational muscle helped Mr Corbyn win.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unison, expressed renewed support for him and condemned the attempt to remove him.

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “Those looking to unseat him have got nothing to offer. They have been hiding in the shadows looking for any excuse to try and get rid of the Labour party leader who has was the biggest democratic franchise the party has ever seen.”

There are now 34 Labour MPs who have broken cover and signed up as part of an undemocratic coup to oust Mr Corbyn.

Most have been part of a cabal with a right wing agenda since September 2015, ready to use any opportunity to topple the Labour Party’s democratically elected leader.

Their plotting has been an open secret.

An article in the Telegraph dated the 16 June detailed that the “Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum.”

Further evidence that these Labour MPs have been plotting against Mr Corbyn and would have assailed his leadership regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accuses many of the assassins of being linked to the Blairite campaign group Progress.

“Many come from a sort of a narrow right-wing clique within the Labour Party based around the organisation Progress,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve really ever accepted Jeremy’s mandate. I’m afraid they have to recognise that Jeremy got elected with the largest mandate of any political leader from any political party in our history.

“I’m afraid they haven’t respected that leadership election result.”

These traitors must be put on notice: We are watching you, have noted your actions as traitors to the Labour Party and your time as a Labour MP is numbered.

As at 4pm, Monday 27 June, we can name 54 of these self-serving plotters. More high profile Blairite MPs are expected to join them today boosting numbers within the cabal to over 60:

  • Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
  • Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)
  • Alison McGovern (Wirral South)
  • Angela Eagle (Wallasey)
  • Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge)
  • Anna Turley (Redcar)
  • Ann Coffey (Stockport)
  • Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)
  • Caroline Flint (Don Valley)
  • Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
  • Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)
  • Chris Matheson (Chester)
  • Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)
  • Diana Johnson (Hull North)
  • Frank Field (Birkenhead)
  • Gloria de Piero (Ashfield)
  • Hilary Benn (Leeds Central)
  • Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East)
  • Ian Murray (Edinburgh South)
  • Ivan Lewis (Bury South)
  • Jamie Reed (Copeland)
  • Jenny Chapman (Darlington)
  • Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley)
  • John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)
  • John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)
  • Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central)
  • Karen Buck (Westminster North)
  • Karl Turner (Hull East)
  • Kate Green (Stretford)
  • Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East)
  • Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill)
  • Lillian Greenwood (Nottingham South)
  • Lisa Nandy (Wigan)
  • Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree)
  • Lucy Powell (Manchester Central)
  • Margaret Hodge (Barking)
  • Maria Eagle (Garston)
  • Mike Gapes (Ilford South)
  • Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Southwark)
  • Nia Griffith (Llanelli)
  • Owen Smith (Pontypridd)
  • Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East)
  • Peter Kyle (Hove and Portslade)
  • Phil Wilson (Sedgefield)
  • Roberta Blackman-Wood (Durham)
  • Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston)
  • Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)
  • Steve Reed (Croydon North)
  • Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)
  • Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South)
  • Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central)
  • Vernon Coaker (Gedling)
  • Wayne David (Caerphilly)
  • Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone gave warning to the plotters.

“If your local MP is undermining Jeremy Corbyn, opposing the anti-austerity measures that we want, people should have a right to say: ‘I’d like to have an MP who reflects my view.’ It shouldn’t be a job for life”

he said.

The redrawing the parliamentary boundaries, as part of plans to shrink the size of the Commons from 650 MPs to 600, will provide the opportunity to move against some right wing Labour MPs.

Under the Labour rules for boundary changes, existing MPs have the right to be reselected for a new seat if they can claim a “substantial territorial interest” of at least 40% in the new seat.

But reselection battles could be triggered under the current rules in many of the 206 Labour-held seats in England.

Just 36 will remain unchanged while in 54 of the seats the proposed boundary changes will be larger than 40% of the territory of the constituency, potentially opening them up to new candidates.

  • Many of these plotters have narrow majorities – John Woodcock’s (Barrow and Furness) for instance is only 795 and Chris Matheson’s (Chester) is only 93.