The High Court yesterday rejected the legal challenge from a Labour Party “donor” to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot in the upcoming leadership election. With Corbyn riding high in the polls amongst Labour members and supporters, it seems that the Blairites have run out of options in their strenuous efforts to oust the anti-austerity Labour leader.
In what was, in the end, a relatively quickly decided and shortly-worded ruling, the High Court yesterday rejected the legal challenge from a Labour Party “donor” to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot in the upcoming leadership election. With Corbyn riding high in the polls amongst Labour members and supporters, it seems that the Blairites have run out of options in their strenuous efforts to oust the anti-austerity Labour leader.
Michael Foster, also a former Labour parliamentary candidate, had hoped that the High Court would step in and serve an injunction to stop Corbyn from being on the ballot paper for the forthcoming leadership contest unless he had 51 nominations from MPs and/or MEPs. But, to the annoyance of the Blairites, the judge upheld the decision of Labour’s National Executive from earlier this month that, as incumbent, Corbyn was automatically entitled to be on the ballot.
The hearing was already in trouble, so far as the Labour right wing was concerned, after the judge had ruled that Jeremy Corbyn (and his legal team therefore) could be “joined” to that of Ian McNicol, representing the Labour Party. This meant that it would no longer be possible for the existing defence team under McNicol to either “concede” the point of the challenge or refuse to appeal should the judgement have gone against the party.
The Party establishment certainly did not want the election to be held up, pending a full hearing in the High Court at some point in the future, as the January voter eligibility cut-off date would then clearly come up for review. This would potentially have meant giving the 130,000-plus new members who have joined the Party this year a vote in the election, once it was finally set to take place.
Blairite lies and hubris
In the end, the judge made it clear that the ruling would be a straightforward one. The Labour rulebook was clear and required no special interpretation, despite the attempts by Corbyn’s critics to muddy the waters.
Ironically, this was due to the fact that the section in question – having been drawn up by the Blairites – was intended not to hinder an existing leader from getting on the ballot (something the right wing would not have even considered a possibility given the number of their cronies in the Parliamentary Labour Party), but rather was included to hinder any left challenger from being able to stand unless there was a vacancy. As with the “lending” of nominations to Corbyn by right-wing MPs in last year’s leadership election, It was the Blairites’ hubristic assumption that they would always control the party machinery that prevented them from putting a requirement for sitting leaders into the rulebook.
The clearness of the decision also raises another interesting question. If, in the end, the factors which determined the High Court decision were so unambiguous, how come Party officials claimed before the crucial NEC meeting to have “clear” advice that Corbyn would need the 51 nominations? How real was this legal advice? Had it been drawn up to give impartial advice, or to present a pre-requested argument to stop Corbyn from standing? We may never know, but questions should be asked, in particular of the Party officials, as to who they are really serving: the Party or the Establishment?
Naturally all this has not stopped some of the Blairites from being “disappointed” by the verdict. After all, they have no problem with rich donors having a controlling say in the way the Party is run. For them, the millionaires are more important than the millions. Needless to say, these are also the same people who complain about Party “activists” and, of course, the affiliated trade unions. It was the Blairites who were pushing for a legal challenge from the beginning, but who did not wish to be directly involved themselves, hence the willing donor. As with the coup attempt, they prefer to plot from behind the curtains.
Smith’s seethrough left facade
So the fight between Corbyn and the other bloke – A.K.A. Owen Smith – is now confirmed. The Blairites – who lacked the confidence to put forward a candidate themselves, even forcing the luckless Angela Eagle to drop out – have decided to hide away, lest they undermine Smith’s desperate attempts to appear to be a genuine Left.
The early evidence – despite the support for Smith of the national press, the BBC (who are not even trying to be impartial), and the rest of the Establishment, including the Tories – is that Smith’s left turn is not convincing anyone. He has demanded a workers’ “revolution” and all manner of reforms (including many put forward by Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, already) in order to try and appear “radical” and left-wing enough to win over at least a layer of the Corbyn supporters. But this left veneer is easily seen though by Labour’s rank-and-file, particularly given that Smith has the explicit backing of the much-hated Blairite coup plotters.
The right wing, lurking in their Westminster hideouts and in the various council chambers and Party offices around the country, know full well that Smith’s left-wing promises are just an act, and that he has no intention of implementing any of his manifesto should he be elected. Unfortunately for Mr. Smith, party members can see his dismal voting record in Parliament and know just where he really stands.
Already a record number of over 180,000 people have paid the £25 to get a vote, the vast majority likely to support Corbyn. Trade unions are throwing their weight behind Corbyn across the board. Meanwhile, as regards the nominations from the local Labour Parties (CLPs), the early returns show an overwhelming support for Corbyn, with the Labour leader comfortably beating Owen Smith 49 nominations to 11. At the same time, the storms over anti-Semitism and abuse within the Labour Party are being revealed as manufactured crises, involving collusion between the Blairites and the media.
Defend Corbyn! Fight for Socialism!
So depressed are the Labour right wing about how the election is already going that they have started to return to their favourite obsession: the idea of setting up a new party. The main right-wing voice, the (so-called) Progress group, has enjoyed huge funding from big business – spending £5 million over the last period even though it only has around 2,500 members and a glossy magazine no-one actually buys. So the cash is clear there. Wealthy Labour donors are being sounded out (again) about funding a new party of the centre; i.e. an SDP mark II, or (in reality) a Tory Party reserve team. Some of the donors are hedging their bets, remembering what happened to the SDP. They do not want to be spending their hard-stolen cash without the guarantee of gaining influence in high places and nice shiny honours come the New Year.
Equally the ranks of the Parliamentary Labour Party are still undecided. Some want to wait to see what happens. Others are up for a split, but these tend to be the more stupid and arrogant Blairites who have been convinced by their own propaganda. Others are preparing to stay inside a Corbyn-led Labour Party as a Fifth Column, as happened after the SDP split in the early 1980s. The situation is still fluid.
Here is the warning for the movement. Firstly, that the right wing will resort to any trick to try and fiddle the result. Secondly that, should Corbyn win, as seems likely, the right wing will continue to try and undermine the Corbyn revolution that is transforming the Labour Party. As they have done for the last year, the Blairites– if they do not split – will work with the Tories and the media to stab Corbyn in the back as often as possible, perhaps before engineering yet another coup attempt sometime down the road.
The majority of the MPs, MEPs, councilors and party officials are all linked together in this task, as it is their careers and privileges which are at stake. These establishment layers cannot be trusted. They are tasked with defending capitalism and the rule of the 1% – and are happy to do so. They must be cleared out so that we can have a Labour Party which will defend the interests of the many, not the few.
- Deselect the Blairites!
- For workers’ MPs on a worker’s wage!
- Defend Corbyn! Fight for socialism!