IT is more than 30 years since former Labour leader Neil Kinnock began his attack on Militant – as a left wing ‘Party within a Party’ seeking to undermine core Labour values.
Within six years Militant had been proscribed by Mr Kinnock and banned from ever being part of the Labour Party.
Now in 2016, his son Stephen Kinnock is part of a sinister group known as Progress – a right wing ‘Party within a Party’.
More sinister and undermining than Militant ever were.
Progress is the Blairite power behind the 75 treacherous MPs now seeking to oust the Labour Party’s democratically elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Progress runs on £260,000-a-year funding from Lord Sainsbury.
He used to fund the Labour Party, giving over £6.3 million between 2005 and 2010. But he stopped funding Labour when Ed Miliband got elected. Angry at Miliband’s shuffle to the left, Sainsbury went on a rich man’s strike.
But he didn’t just take his money and go home. Instead of funding Labour, he funds Progress, whose job is to keep Labour right wing and Blairite.
Progress’s income since 2010 is about £1.5 million.
Progress, through its website, its weekend school, its meetings at Labour’s conference and its activist network push the candidates and policies Sainsbury likes.
Tristram Hunt is a particular Sainsbury favourite — he was in fact Lord Sainsbury’s personal spokesman before he became a Labour MP.
Hunt was working for Sainsbury when Progress was formed out of the money left over from the original campaign to make Tony Blair leader of the party.
Sainsbury originally got Derek Draper to run Progress.
He soon disgraced himself and Labour by claiming he could get influence with the New Labour government for corporate lobbyists.
Despite this early link to a lobbying scandal, Progress still relies on money and contacts from lobbyists, alongside Sainsbury’s cash. In fairness, Progress is more open about its income than it used to be. Its website advises that in 2014 it relied on money and support from Bellenden Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that represents privatisers like Serco and NHS outsourcer Care UK.
Progress also took money from Lexington, another lobbying firm whose clients include Interserve, another major privatiser, and the “Giant Vampire Squid” of banking, Goldman Sachs. The City of London Corporation put some cash into the Progress operation as well.
Progress is deeply committed to pro-privatisation and pro-corporate policies. It has also campaigned to reduce trade union influence in the Labour Party.
During last year’s Labour leadership election Progress supported Liz Kendall for Labour leader and Tessa Jowell for mayor of London.
Progress could not pick a candidate for deputy leader — which in fact shows how deeply Progress is embedded in the parliamentary party. The three deputy leader candidates — Caroline Flint, Ben Bradshaw and Stella Creasy — are all Progress members, so they couldn’t choose which one to back.
Progress’s attempts to shift the party towards privatisation and other business-friendly policies favoured by their funders aren’t hard to find.
But they don’t get reported that much because most journalists both rely on Progress members for their stories and agree with their Blairite arguments.
Only now are people waking up to the sinister nature of Progress’s coup attempt to unseat Jeremy Corbyn.
Paul Flynn MP (Newport) 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.”
Even former SNP leader Alex Salmond – a politician I know personally and someone steeped in honesty – called out the plotters last night.
The mass resignation of senior Labour MPs over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party is a “disgusting, organised coup”, he said.
“I find it depressing to see people that he appointed, most of whom the public have never heard of, stabbing him in the back.
“I find that is a debilitating sight, and personally I hope he sticks it out and is vindicated, because I’ve never seen such a disgusting, organised coup.
“On the hour, every hour, one of them resigns, and if they think the general public finds that impressive I think they’ve got another think coming.
“I can’t help but have a good deal of sympathy for Jeremy Corbyn and some contempt for the tactics of those who he appointed, who now feel free to stab him in the back,” added Mr Salmond.
But their plotting has been an open secret.
An article in the Telegraph dated the 16 June detailed that the Progress led “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 has described the MPs in Progress as a “narrow right-wing clique”, “conservative” and “hard right”.
“They all 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.”
Some 30 of the 75 plotters who have so far broken cover are active Blairite members of the Progress cabal.
But while they try and oust Jeremy Corbyn as leader, many more are supporting him and more than 217,000 ordinary members have signed an online petition of total confidence in him.
These plotters must now 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.
- Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) PROGRESS
- Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)
- Alison McGovern (Wirral South) PROGRESS
- Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith)
- Angela Eagle (Wallasey) PROGRESS
- Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge)
- Anna Turley (Redcar)
- Ann Coffey (Stockport)
- Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) PROGRESS
- Caroline Flint (Don Valley) PROGRESS
- Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
- Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) PROGRESS
- Chris Matheson (Chester)
- Colleen Fletcher (Coventry North East)
- Conor McGinn (St Helens North)
- Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) PROGRESS
- Diana Johnson (Hull North)
- Frank Field (Birkenhead) PROGRESS
- Gloria de Piero (Ashfield) PROGRESS
- Hilary Benn (Leeds Central)
- Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East)
- Ian Murray (Edinburgh South)
- Ivan Lewis (Bury South)
- Jamie Reed (Copeland) PROGRESS
- Jenny Chapman (Darlington) PROGRESS
- Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley) PROGRESS
- John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)
- John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) PROGRESS
- Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge) PROGRESS
- Julie Elliot (Sunderland Central) PROGRESS
- Karen Buck (Westminster North)
- Karin Smyth (Bristol South)
- Karl Turner (Hull East)
- Kate Green (Stretford)
- Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras)
- Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East)
- Kevan Jones (North Durham) PROGRESS
- Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill) PROGRESS
- Lillian Greenwood (Nottingham South)
- Lisa Nandy (Wigan)
- Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree)
- Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) PROGRESS
- Margaret Hodge (Barking) Non Progress Blairite
- Maria Eagle (Garston) PROGRESS
- Matthew Pennycrook (Greenwich and Woolwich)
- Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby)
- Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) PROGRESS
- Mike Kane (Wythenshawe)
- Mike Gapes (Ilford South)
- Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Southwark)
- Nia Griffith (Llanelli)
- Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe)
- Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) PROGRESS
- Nick Thomas Symonds (Torfaen)
- Owen Smith (Pontypridd)
- Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) PROGRESS
- Peter Kyle (Hove and Portslade)
- Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) PROGRESS
- Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield)
- Roberta Blackman-Wood (Durham)
- Ruth Smeeth (Stoke on Trent North) PROGRESS
- Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) PROGRESS
- Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) PROGRESS
- Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South) PROGRESS
- Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) PROGRESS
- Stephen Twigg (West Derby) PROGRESS
- Steve Reed (Croydon North) PROGRESS
- Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South)
- Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West)
- Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) PROGRESS
- Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South)
- Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) PROGRESS
- Vernon Coaker (Gedling)
- Wayne David (Caerphilly)
- Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)
At the time of writing fellow Progress members Chuka Umunna (Streatham) and Liz Kendall (Leicester West) have yet to indicate whether they will vote to oust Mr Corbyn.
Watch this space!
- Acknowledgement: The Morning Star