Scottish party leftists defiant after week of turmoil in Labour which has seen MPs and members diverge over loyalties to leftist leader
THE VICE CHAIR of the Scottish Momentum group, established to defend the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has said that a UK wide Labour split over Corbyn’s leadership is “likely”, unless MPs agree to change course.
Vince Mills, who is also vice chair of the Labour campaign for Socialism, made the comments following a rally in Glasgow yesterday (3 July) which saw leading Labour leftists characterise 172 Labour MPs who had passed a vote of no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership as “charlatans”.
Speaking to CommonSpace about the possibility of a split in the Labour party between the membership and the bulk of the MPs, Mills said the parliamentarians had to climb down or leave the party.
He said: “It can be resolved, but not easily. Either the MPs accept the will of the party or they go, there isn’t really anything in between.”
Asked if a split in the party was possible, Mills said: “Yes.”
Asked if a split was likely he said: “Unless there is a shift by the parliamentary labour party, then yes, I think it’s likely.”
Mills also said that he was bemused by the following week’s attempts to oust Corbyn, which saw resignations by most of his senior ministers and repeated calls for the leftwinger to stand down.
Mills said: “They are surely aware that a majority in the party support Corbyn.
“I had assumed they had this all worked out; that they would challenge Jeremy to a leadership contest and then if they lost they would then go off and do SDP[Social Democratic Party] mark two. But they seem to have no plan, they’ve just been left thrashing about.”
The Labour party experienced a painful split in 1981 when four senior party centrist, including two standing MPs, split to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is now defunct. Any similar split between parliamentarians and the bulk of the Labour party along the lines of centrists versus leftwingers could be far more damaging, given that the Parliamentary Labour Party is today far more dominated by centrists.
Momentum Scotland vic chair Vince Mills
The rally, which was attended by around 200 party activists at the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) headquarters, and which saw speakers from across the Labour movement vent their anger at the MPs, comes less than a year since Corbyn won an overwhelming mandate to lead the party.
Tensions have existed since the veteran socialist and anti-war activist took up his leadership post, which was made possible in part by a change in the party’s voting system which empowered the membership at the expense of trade union and parliamentary blocs.
Speaking at the rally, the Aslef train driver’s union Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “Somebody said Ed Miliband did nothing. He did do something
“He changed the voting system, and everyone, including these MPs, voted for it.
“They didn’t do it to help us [the left] they did it to undermine the trade unions.
“These charlatans at Westminster didn’t know they were voting to take away their own power as well.”
The tensions in the UK Labour party have made themselves felt in Scotland in recent weeks, with rival letters, each sporting the names of several hundred party activists, being exchanged variously supporting and condemning Ian Murray, Scottish Labour’s lone MP who resigned as shadow Scottish secretary in protest at Corbyn’s leadership.
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