Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, wants his army of supporters to have control over policy, thus replacing the influential National Policy Forum that Tony Blair had set up, in what appears to be his first concrete move to rein in rebellious MPs (Members of Parliament).
On December 9th, Mr. Corbyn’s aides told MPs in a private meeting in Parliament that the National Policy Forum (NPF) would be scrapped and replaced by a completely new system.
The NPF, part of the Partnership in Power process, was set up by the then leader Tony Blair. It comprises 186 members with representatives from government, devolved and European assemblies, affiliated trade unions, local government, socialist societies, and individual Labour Party members, who elect representatives through an all-member ballot.
Jeremy Bernard Corbyn (born 1949) is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the MP for Islington North since 1983. Born in Chippenham, Mr. Corbyn describes himself as a democratic socialist. He has received awards for his work as an international human rights campaigner. He is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, Amnesty International, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). He was the national chair of the Stop the War Coalition until September 2015. (Image: www.facebook.com)
Mr. Corbyn wants more e-referendums
Party members’ opinions should be consulted in more ‘e-referendums’, says Mr. Corbyn. E-referendums were used by the Labour leader to gauge opinion regarding air strikes in Syria before the vote in the House of Commons on December 2nd, 2015.
Mr. Corbyn would also like to see the annual party conference having a much larger say on policy.
Moderate Labour MPs, who Mr. Corbyn and his camp tend to see as rebellious, fear he plans to use the consultation to give thousands of new Labour Party supporters – who paid £3 each for a vote in the election for Party leader – voting rights in Labour constituency parties. Such a move would significantly consolidate his power.
At the moment, the new Labour Party supporters – the ‘three pounders’ – do not have a formal role and would have to re-sign to participate in another leadership election. Labour MPs say the proposal would push the party ‘back to the old days’ of party conferences mired in chaos and held to ransom by the hard left.
Mr. Corbyn could use the proposal to get his army of supporters to push through issues that are unpopular with his MPs, such as the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.
The Labour leader’s planned strategy was revealed by the ‘shadow, shadow cabinet’ – lawmakers who are not happy with Mr. Corbyn’s leadership. They include Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley since 1997, Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East since 2010, Jamie Reed, MP for Cumbria since 2005, Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central in Staffordshire since the 2010, and Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East since 2010.
Move sounded like ‘trollacracy’
Neale Coleman, Labour’s Executive Director of Policy and Rebuttal, attended on behalf of Mr. Corbyn. After announcing the plan for more e-referendums, he was told by one MP that it sounded like a ‘trollacracy’ – in reference to anonymous individuals who post deliberately provocative and/or abusive messages to a message board or newsgroups with the intention of causing maximum argument or disruption.
Mr. Corbyn’s plan will likely damage a system which has managed to keep all the Party’s sections united, Chris Leslie, who was shadow chancellor from May to September this year, said.
Mr. Leslie said:
“Those of us who’ve attended the National Policy Forum have valued the chance of a more detailed, two-way policy dialogue including all sections of the party.”
“It would be deeply regrettable if we lost that process and went back to the confrontational process of the 1980s. We need urgent clarification from Jeremy about his intentions here.”
According to Mr. Corbyn, the current system is not democratic. He would like delegates to have more say in open debates at conferences.
According to The Sun, Ken Livingston is being lined up for a peerage as part of Mr. Corbyn’s sneaky plan to get him into his Shadow Cabinet.
The Sun wrote:
“The Labour leader is desperate to get his Leftie comrade at the top table to help tame moderate rebels. But furious MPs have warned the move would be seen as a “declaration of war” on the Parliamentary party.”
Several Labour MPs are unhappy with Mr. Corbyn’s links with Stop the War Coalition. (Image: www.stopwar.org.uk)
Stop the War Coalition
Despite a barrage of criticism, on Friday evening Mr. Corbyn arrived at a Turkish restaurant in Southwark, south London, to take part in the Stop the War Coalition’s Christmas fundraiser.
He entered via a back door wearing his hallmark black Breton cap. Later that evening he emerged with no cap – it had been sold for auction for £270.
During his 15-minute speech, Mr. Corbyn said:
“The antiwar movement has been a vital force at the heart of our democracy. Branding it as somehow illegitimate is an attempt to close down democratic debate and campaigning.”
“It has brought hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets time and again. It has organised protests and lobbies in every part of the country, including by military families.”
“Most of all, it has been shown to be right in opposing more than a decade of disastrous wars – in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – while many of its most vociferous critics supported them.”
The controversy surrounding the Stop the War Coalition stems from two of its recent statements regarding terrorism, which had led to Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion since 2010, Peter Tatchell (Green Party member) and other former backers to disown the group.
The Coalition has claimed, following the Paris attacks, that France had ‘reaped the whirlwind’ of supporting Western air strikes. It also claimed that ISIL, sometimes known under the acronym Da’ish or Daesh, had greater ‘internationalism and solidarity’ than the UK’s bombing campaign.
Video – Corbyn attends Stop the War Fundraiser