14 July 2016

Jeremy Corbyn – In Office but Not In Power - Right Gerrymanders to Prevent 130,000 from Voting in Leadership Ballot

Labour Party General Secretary Ian McNicol Accused of Deception and Lack of Good Faith

Surrounded by supporters

However many times Momentum and Corbyn talk about the ‘New Politics’ ‘straight talking’ and all the rest, they will be faced with a right-wing that is devious, dishonest, manipulative and machievellian.  The policy of the Labour Right, as expounded by Peter Mandelson earlier today, is summed up in one acronym – ABC – Anyone But Corbyn.
Owen Smith - the other right-wing challenger, former lobbyist for drug company Pfizer
The Right of the Labour Party will employ any tactic, however undemocratic, in order to prevail.  Corbyn represents, in however a mild form, a challenge to the neo-liberal market economics that Blair pursued.  Privatisation, public-private partnerships, the primacy of the ‘free’ market are what Corbyn’s challengers stand for.  The ruthlessness of the Right can only be defeated by a similar ruthlessness by his opponents. 
The Eagle with Supporters
If you are attacked by a wild animal then you have to shoot it not play with it.

The National Executive of the Labour Party last Monday is a case in point.  It was called at short notice by the Labour Party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol.  McNicol was appointed against the wishes of the previous Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who considered him incompetent. 
Iain McNicol is up to his neck in the plot to depose Corbyn.

In a quite remarkable letter from Howe and Co. solicitors acting for Jim Kennedy of Unite and other members of the National Executive Committee, Labour’s General Secretary Iain McNicol is accused of having gone to ‘great lengths to conceal your intentions from the Leader and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer to call an meeting of the NEC the following day.
McNicol is told not to engage in his favourite pastime - leaking to the media
Despite this McNicol or someone else from his office deliberately leaked news of this NEC to the press.  It is almost a carbon copy of what happened to myself, Jackie Walker and other suspended members of the Labour Party.  We were denied information as to why we were suspended yet the very same information was leaked to the press.  McNicol brazenly lied in a letter to me when denying that Labour Party staff had done the leaking.
McNicol is told he has a duty to act in good faith
The solicitors bluntly tell McNicol that ‘You have an obligation as General Secretary to act in good faith.  You personally are required by the Party rules to be transparent and to uphold the aims and values of ‘open democracy’.  The manner in which this special meeting has been arranged has all the hallmarks of anything but “open democracy”McNicol is openly accused of calling the meeting at short notice in order to exclude trade union delegates who are working and live outside London.
McNicol is told that he is under a duty to act according to common law notions of fairness and that according to the Labour Party’s constitution the election of officers, shall be conducted in a ‘fair,  open and transparent manner.’  McNicol’s behaviour in other words was anything but fair, open or transparent.  McNicol should not need to be told that ‘natural justice requires you to act fairly’ but as the experience of those suspended demonstrates, McNicol wouldn’t know what fairness was if it bit him in his nether regions.

Howe and Co. tell McNicol that their concern is that ‘Our clients are very concerned that the purpose of the special meeting is to manufacture a situation whereby Jeremy Corbyn’s name will be omitted from the ballot paper.’  
McNicol is told he has a duty not to destroy any documentation
McNicol is also accused of withholding the legal advice he has obtained to members of the NEC, despite having received the advice of 3 barristers including Mike Mansfield QC.  McNicol is also told that he has a duty to preserve all documents, emails etc. with his fellow conspirators such as Deputy Leader, the ‘fixer’ Tom Watson.   The solicitors finish off what is an extremely strong letter with a series of questions:
McNicol is accused of withholding legal advice from the NEC
‘It is clear that you are acting as General Secretary in a manner which has not been seen before in the Labour Party.  [I’m not sure that historically this is quite true – the post has not normally been filled by people devoted to fairness or openness, though Jim Mortimer, who was the General Secretary under Michael Foot was widely respected in this regard] Who is it  who is instructing you to carry out the actions you intend?  Who has suggested to you that the legal advice the Labour Party has received is to be ignored or kept hidden?  Who is it who has suggested that the leader be barred from the special meeting of 12 July 2016 and that the motion be voted upon in secret?’
All of these are good questions but the answer is most likely that McNicol doesn’t need to be instructed to act as he has done.  He has been part of the conspiracy against a left leadership from the time that Corbyn was elected. 

It is one of Corbyn’s failures that he hasn’t, as Leader, taken control of the Labour Party civil service.  It was McNicol’s Compliance Unit that began the witch hunt and the suspending of people for bogus reasons.  If he is to survive after a new election it is essential that he takes decisive action to bring the Labour Party civil service and the regional organisers under his control.
McNicol is told that his habit of leaking against his political enemies is a 'potentially serious disciplinary matter
McNicol is also told that his favourite occupation, leaking material damaging to his political opponents is a 'serious disciplinary offence'.  On the basis of the allegations in this letter the NEC has no alternative but to suspended Iain McNicol for gross misconduct.  It is unconscionable that the General Secretary of the Labour Party is acting at the instigation of the forces of the Right opposed to the Leader.

Corbyn has a duty to show that he has the mettle of which a Leader is made and to take Executive action by suspending McNicol and barring him from Labour Party premises as and until an investigation is conducted into McNicol’s behaviour. 

It is essential that an emergency meeting of the NEC is called to reverse the undemocratic decision to bar 130,000 members of the Labour Party from voting.  This is a naked attempt to swing the election away from Corbyn.  Although it won’t succeed it is essential that this is not allowed to happen.  People joined the LP with a promise that they could vote in the leadership elections.  Likewise the decision that Labour Parties cannot hold meetings during the campaign is outrageous and should also be reversed.   The Right’s attempts to fix the election cannot be allowed to remain unchallenged.

It is essential that people on the Left do not make assumptions about Corbyn winning with the same majority as last time.  The effect of the expected media barrage, that Corbyn is unelectable needs to be rebutted.  He needs to firm up on a radical manifesto which will put the Eagle/Smith duo on the defensive.  If Labour Party members are simply left to their own devices then many will succumb to the press and media. 

Momentum has a crucial role to play in this.  It is essential that an emergency Momentum conference is called and that a plan of action is laid out on a national basis.  Momentum itself needs to be democratised.  The days of Jon Lansman running things with a few trusted acolytes needs to end now.

It is also essential that Corbyn sorts out once and for all the Shadow Cabinet membership of the NEC.  According to the published list on the LP site, two of the three NEC members who are in Corbyn’s gift, are on the Right i.e. Angela Eagle and Jonathan Ashworth.  On Wikipedia Angela Eagle has been replaced by Jon Trickett which is what I understand to be correct (McNicol is too incompetent to ensure the LP’s own web site is kept up to date).  I also understand that an attempt was made to replace Ashworth but it was unsuccessful.  This is really not good enough.  He should have been replaced months ago.

There should be a determined attempt to ensure that the trade union delegates are of the Left and those like Paddy Lillis of USDAW are replaced.

Equally important is a recognition by Corbyn that the right-wing of the PLP will never accept his leadership and will always conspire against him, often with the Tory press.  It is essential that the balance of the PLP is changed and that deselections begin. 

The redrawing of the boundaries will enable this but I can offer the following 53 MPs as starters:  There are probably other candidates I have missed out who are equally deserving, so I welcome other suggestions!

John Mann, Hilary Benn, Rosie Winterton, Tom Watson, John Spellar, Ruth Smeeth, Harriet Harman, Peter Kyle, Stephen Kinnock, Chuku Ummuna, Keith Vaz, Steve Reed, Shaban Mahmood, Dan Jarvis, Chris Bryant, Nick Brown, Ben Bradshaw, Stephen Twigg, Gisela Stuart, Tristram Hunt, Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman, Mike Gapes, Margaret Beckett, Kate Hoey, Margaret Hodge, Barry Sheerman, Simon Danzuk, Fabian Hamilton, Ian Austin, Stella Creasy, Jonathan Ashworth, Fiona McTaggart, Ann Coffey, Rachel Reeves,  Liam Byrne, Frank Field, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, Joan Ryan, Alan Johnson, Vernon Coaker, Caroline Flint, Ivan Lewis, Maria Eagle, Michael Dugher, Gloria De Piero, Chris Leslie, Liz Kendall, Heidi Alexander, Owen Smith, Angela Eagle, John Woodcock
Loll Duffy, a sacked militant, shipyard worker was removed by Kinnock to pave the way for Angela Eagle in the Wallasey CLP
The suggestion that the opposition to Corbyn is motivated by his lack of leadership qualities or personality is risible.  Is it seriously suggested that if Corbyn were say Tony Benn that he would be acceptable?  It is a measure of the disingenuousness of Angela Eagle that she was unable to spell out her differences with Corbyn at the launch of her campaign or her interview with Andrew Neil.  Indeed the shambles of her launch throws into stark relief the light comedy that this clownish figure provides.
Angela Eagle, who now portrays herself as a candidate of the Left, is the same person who in 1992 was imposed on the constituency of Wallasey deposing the existing parliamentary prospective candidate, Loll Duffy, a sacked shipyard worker.  It is noticeable that in her interview with Andrew Neil, she was unable to identify a single policy difference with Corbyn apart from Trident.  Three times Neil asked her what her policy differences and three times she was unable to provide an answer.
It should not however be thought that there are no differences between Eagle and Corbyn.  It’s just that it’s hard to declare that you are in favour of more wars, bombing Syria, capping and cutting benefits, privatising the NHS, opposing the renationalisation of rail and the utilities.  These are not things to be mentioned.

Likewise Owen Smith the other right-wing candidate worked as a lobbyist for the drug company Pfizer.  Despite portraying himself as another ‘left’ candidate Smith supported the Tories cap on  benefits, abstained on their welfare cuts and justifies private involvement in the NHS, saying that:
‘Where they can bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services that the NHS is not able to deliver, and where they can work alongside but subservient to the NHS and without diminishing in any respect the public service ethos of the NHS, then I think that’s fine. I think if their involvement means in any way, shape or form the break up of the NHS, then I’m not a fan of it, but I don’t think it does.’
This is in the context of a situation where 40% of new NHS contracts are going to private firms and we are seeing the slow privatisation of the NHS.

Tony Greenstein

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