Monday, 25 July 2016

Considering a Labour Party Split

by Les May
THE stories about an imminent split in the Labour party are brought to us by the same people who have been busy telling us that Jeremy Corbyn was half hearted in his support of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, that Corbyn inspired thugs smashed the windows of Angela Eagle's constituency office and that found themselves accused of bias by an LSE investigation into media coverage of Corbyn in the period 1 September to 1 November 2015... need I go on?  These are the people for whom the 'story' matters more than the truth.

I've briefly dissected some of these stories in Northern Voices during the past couple of weeks and Tim Fenton dissects the latest one from Dan Hodges on the Zelo blog.

Media talk of a split pre-dates the events leading to the current leadership contest.  The same Dan Hodges had been promoting a Labour split with an article in the Mail on Sunday on 8 May.  Read this carefully and you'll spot his reference to a four week 'window of of opportunity' to challenge Corbyn between the EU referendum and the summer recess.  Notice also the reference to 'planning for Labour’s long-awaited leadership coup'.

Some of the stories implying there will be a split are more subtle.  Who 'owns' the name 'Labour' is a question which is suddenly being asked.  Why? If not to implant the idea of an imminent collapse of the party.

Whilst I think it is right to talk of a coup being planned within the Parliamentary Labour Party I think the attempts to infiltrate into the discussion the notion of a Labour party split was and is just a ploy to egg on the plotters and encourage the uncommitted to join them.  Presenting the present contest as a fight for the 'soul' of the party is an attempt to promote an apocalyptic message by people who have anything but the best interests of the Labour party at heart.  

There's one excellent reason why the Labour party will not split.  It's called 'follow the money'.

Labour receives a significant amount of funding from unions affiliated to the Labour party.  Speaking to a group of peers about the then 'Trades Union Bill', in March Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol revealed that, out of the £22m ($30m) which Labour-affiliated unions raised in political funds in 2014, £10m was handed to the party.

Now ask yourself a simple question. Will unions like Unite and Unison be more likely to spend their political funds with a party led by supporters of Corbyn or one led by supporters of those Blairites whose sense of entitlement that they, and they alone, have the right to determine party policy makes them incandescent with fury that they have been denied?  

If you object to the notion that in the end pragmatism will rule and the outcome will be decided by where the unions are prepared to put their money, ask yourself whether you prefer Labour to be funded by the pennies of a lot of ordinary people or the millions of a few of the very rich.

Interested readers might like to follow the link to the 'Labour Leaders Office Fund'.

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