The party, the party, the party: an eight-point plan to save the Labour party from itself

by Rob Marchant

We have now had the Shadow Cabinet appointments. While a few have raised eyebrows among moderates – not least the self-same Miliband who helped get us into this mess in the first place – it is not a bad selection from the limited numbers of available MPs.

Its significance will be dissected for weeks by the Westminster lobby, because that is what they see – the Westminster face of the party. But the first thing we members need to realise is that the Shadow Cabinet and, indeed, party policy in times of Covid-19, is a sideshow.

Let’s not forget: the party is finally out of immediate danger, but it is still in intensive care.

Yes, it is important in these difficult times to provide a reasonably effective scrutiny function to the highly-variable ministerial quality on the Tory benches. But most moderates, we might wager, inside or perhaps temporarily outside the party, have always seen this leadership election as a two-step battle, in which both steps are essential and not just the first.

Step one: get a decent, competent, non-extremist leader (a low bar, you might reasonably say). Tick. And with Starmer, at first glance, things looks considerably better than anyone might have expected. Then, step two: sort out the party. In short, get it back to a decent, healthy, functioning organisation without the slightest hint of anti-Semitism or far-left extremism – both of which pretty much amount to the same thing.

And it is this second one to which we need now turn. It is not a question of it being a nice-to-have or an “in the fullness of time”: any failure to act on this immediately will mean that the good guys will not return – either our members or our supporters – and the whiff of racism will remain. The party, simply, will not recover. It is a sine qua non.

Here Uncut proposes eight things which will need to happen to make that a reality, and they will all need to start – and some finish – during the first hundred days.

One. Make it abundantly clear there needs to be a new General Secretary. The GS cannot easily be fired, but it is also impractical for them to continue if a party leader really does not want them there. The only key figure who will now want Formby to continue is Len McCluskey; the PLP, NEC, Leader’s Office and other unions will not.

Two. Eradicate anti-Semitism, branch by branch if necessary, as was done with Militant. The EHRC report, when it comes, will help mobilise opinion within the party and ensure that the guilty are brought to task, but action needs to be taken before then. Starmer’s meetings with JLM and BoD have been a good start. But this cannot really happen until we deal with point one. This will also have the happy side-effect of removing some of the nastier extremists from the party.

Three. Ignore Momentum. It is not necessary to try to attack it, it is already in disarray; a fan club based around one man can hardly have much future when that man goes. It is fracturing, as the far left always does. Its anti-Semitic members will be expelled from Labour. The important thing is not to engage with it, let it have its little conference in September and let it be a flop. Ironically, an organisation called Momentum will die if it lacks that which gives it its name. Those decent members, who are not mad or extremist and joined in good faith, will drift back towards the party proper. Eventually even Unite will dump it – they will want to be where the power is.

Four. Consolidate the NEC. As of last weekend, Starmer now has a non-Corbynite majority much more quickly than anyone expected. But it is wafer-thin, and any setback could cause backsliding towards Corbynism, and potentially block resolution of some of the anti-Semitism cases, although Starmer has said he wants an independent process. This summer’s NEC elections matter like never before. As an aside, suspended Peter Willsman needs to be expelled from the party and the NEC forthwith, if the party is truly serious about anti-Semitism.

Five. Break Unite’s stranglehold on party funding and remove its placepeople. Miliband’s pushing away of corporate sponsorship and High Value donors inevitably weakened his negotiating position in resisting McCluskey’s demands. Corbyn killed these things altogether. But McCluskey is now weak: he self-evidently backed the wrong horses in the leadership contest and he may soon stand down anyway. Corbyn let him dominate his private office and party HQ: this must never be allowed to happen again.

Six. Rebuild in Scotland. If the party is ever going to get back to majority government, the current situation in Scotland must be reversed. Significant focus and resources will need to be put into this longer-term task, and for this reason we may need to accept that majority government is not a realistic option for 2024. But the later we start, the later we will finish.

Seven. Extend the hand of friendship to the people who left. We lost a lot of good people – many of them lifelong members and supporters – over the last four years. We need engagement, not recriminations, to get them back.

Eight. Get the party into a sensible place on trans self-id. A warning light for the party: during the leadership election, several candidates tied themselves up in knots over the rights of transsexuals to self-identify, an issue on which they are seriously out of step with the public and many of their own members. It is a ticking time-bomb. If not resolved, it will inevitably flare up into a huge embarrassment for the party and may well cause more members – especially women – to leave, at a time when we should be persuading them to stay.

That’s just for starters, of course – we are starting from a low base and there will be more reform tasks to come next year. But these are the essential ones from day one, and some must be fixed within weeks and not months.

As one former leader once said, “Our top priority was, is and always will be education, education, education”. For Keir Starmer’s top team, it must now be the party, the party, the party. Its very survival depends on it.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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14 Responses to “The party, the party, the party: an eight-point plan to save the Labour party from itself”

  1. Dave Roberts says:

    All on the face of it sensible but very much a wish list. Let’s look.

    3. Maybe but let’s take no chances. and the open letter to Keir Starmer. It could be that Momentum will turn out to b like Respect and all all of the other far left opportunistic formations but let’s be sure. Furthermore the public will want to see something done in a concrete way. Also look at how two current MPs, Apsana Begum and Sam Tarry were selected and if necessary call in the police. Starmer is a QC so he can’t say he doesn’t know.

    6. Scotland. An almost impossible task. The SNP is now firmly embedded in the political and social structure of the country and will not be easily dislodged if at all.

    7 depends on the above and 8, Trans rights but that can be lumped in with the whole political correctness garbage which should be publicly dumped. The whole country is sick of it.

  2. Alf says:

    The only cult in Labour is the Blairites.

  3. wg says:

    Well, that’s the deck chairs nicely rearranged – when are we going to get onto the reason and purpose of the Labour Party ?

    All Corbyn’s fault – nothing to do with the ‘progressive’ fascism of this globalist new world order that tramples underfoot nations and their people.

  4. John p Reid says:

    Considering labour won the 2017 election
    If only the blairites did more Sabotage in labour HQ it would have been a big a victory as when labour won’t the argument in 2019

  5. Dave Roberts says:

    Alf and DG.
    You two are exactly why Labour is un-electable. You are a part of the problem and need to leave the party or be expelled.

  6. David Walsh says:

    “If the party is ever going to get back to majority government, the current situation in Scotland must be reversed. Significant focus and resources will need to be put into this longer-term task” But it isn’t resources and agents. It is a huge cultural, constitutional and political issue that must mean Labour – and “British” social democracy coming to terms with full autonomy in the four nations (and the R.O.I. if we are to be honest). We cannot just blithely nail our flag to a unionist mast, hoping that a tide will somehow turn. It will not. Unionism is a dead-end – literally as it is a creed of the old in Scotland.

  7. anosrep says:

    Marchant talks about trans people the way Chris Williamson talks about Jews.

  8. Tafia says:

    The entire Shadow Cabinet have one thing in common – they are all Remainers. So obviously Labour has abandoned it’s northern heartlands and intends to become a largely metropolitan and southern England middle class party.

    And whoever thought making Naz Shah Shadow Communities should be dressed in a seal skin and sent to Canada.

    Two. Eradicate anti-Semitism, branch by branch if necessary, as was done with Militant.
    Huge swathes of high profile Labour members – such as Richard Burgon, refuse point blank to accept anti-semitism exists. That’s before we get to the Israel-hating radical membership.

    Three. Ignore Momentum.
    A contrary position to Two, ignoring the sheer size of Momentum in comparison to Militant, and how embedded they are – again in comparison to Militant. They are a cancer – you either eradicate them or they will eat away at you and eradicate you.

    Six. Rebuild in Scotland.
    You can forget that. Labour’s current idea of offering increased federalism is a non-starter. The minute Labour opposed full independence it was finished in Scotland.

  9. Anne says:

    Agree with these points Rob, but number six – rebuild Scotland I am afraid is nearly a lost cause. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have a stronghold here – if they get a second referendum it will be touch and go. Gordon Brown is the most effective speaker for Labour on the subject of Scottish independence.

  10. John P reid says:

    Alf, you’re the sort of person when Ed Milibiand spent 5 years saying I’m not tony blair, unlike in the past i’m Moral, which implies New labour is immoral
    Someone saying of his victory. “we’ve got our party back” New labour is over and I’m not new Labour
    and cheered him being anti Austerity

    then when Ed Miliband lost said he was A Blairite, he was new labour lite and we lost as it wasn’t left wing enough
    I’ve heard everyone from Jess Philips, who quit he party over Iraq, to Keir starmer a lawyer who proved the war was unlawful
    called blairtes they’re not and then you get people who call blue labour New labour, even though it’s the complete opposite like that idiot Lee jasper

    Anosrep Jews are a race trans people with a few exception are people with a mental issue who feel they can rewrite dictionary definition of biology

    well said Tafia

  11. John P Reid says:

    3 and 4 Momentum, they may have a strangle hold if their preferred choice win the slate on the NEC, look at the way it was divided up into the Progress Labour first said you’re with us or you’re against us

    Johanna Baxter wasn’t even part of the Progress slate when she got on in 2011 and even though they endorsed her in 2012 she didnt’ want to be, then there’s useless people like Heather pito ,or before there was Ellie reeves A oxford University human rights lawyer special adviser to Ed Miliband part of a political family dynasty who then got parachuted in a safe seat in Lewisham which she had no idea of the issues in the area, A area of similar indentity politics middle class liberals who were telling the African Carribean community there their views were wrong if they didn’t think we should decriminalise prostitutes or ,parents should have the right to smack naughty kids

    there were many moderates who use to vote For ann Black, then when she fell out of favour with momentum or the CLPD as (the slate) they were called before then
    why on earth, Progress put so many candidates up against momentum is A joke there were independents (I May have not liked him Eddie Izzard) and Gary spedding were much better than progress

    thing with constituencies being Cliquey is where they stand Margaret Hogdes seat is under her control but there were many who got caught in the Zietgeist of Corbyn as strong remainers and voted for him, more fool them, even Ilford North controlled by wes Streeting has a small momentum wing
    and other areas it was a collective of Old EU skeptic bennites and pro remain students

    so momentum slate and the labour first one are very similar

    regarding Unite they have even infiltrated the Ruddy Fabians, and totally refuse to accept that they lost labour the 2015 and 2017 elections so they’re not going any where

    7 the People who left will only come back if those who bullied them out accept they were wrong don’t do it again and clear up the mistakes they made

    the leaked report shows how nasty it all was

  12. anosrep says:

    And now “John P reid” is talking about trans people the way people a great deal worse than Chris Williamson talk about Jews.

  13. John P Reid says:

    I was on the picket line with my dad during the Ambulance driver /Nurses strike of 1989
    Some of the ambulance drivers come in worked for free so that way no one lost out but weren’t taking the wage it wa the first strike kf the 80’s that thatcher lost as the brave way nurses behaved and turned sympathy away from Thatcher to the nurses who’d been told they were having a lay freeze
    Compare that to the nurses strike of the winter of discontent a closed shop told of you refuse to join that union you’re sacked and the union bosses tell you you can’t cross the picket line , you’re sacked as well
    Then taking the nurses out without a ballot in the cold winter of 1978 thinking the nurses wouldn’t dare risk being they’d be sacked crossing a picket line

    But they did the nurses tore up their union cards saying I dare you sack me I’m not going to join your kind even if I need a pat ride and I’m going into work there’s sick people who need my help
    Then like now It’s not the nurses union members who were the embarrassment they were great workers who needed the union to negotiate rights, nor the great women who stood by the Labour Party when their husbands were off during the miners dispute had no wage coming in were the ones in the soup kitchens that fed their families
    Got the equal pay act legalised abortion, got all women shortlists that if we had to have them gave a leg up when needed

    And their lesbian sisters who got rid of section 28 some of them standing with gay men when it was illegal in the 60’got civil partnerships
    They also had the decency to stand up to to the macho men union bullies, who’d bully them out of work
    The men may have been sexist not taking the fords Dagenham machine worker women serious
    but we knew where we stood with them
    I feel the brave nurses of 1978 who tore up their union cards went to work in the winter of discontent or the paramedics who worked for free and dated in the union bosses and the anHS bosses are the equivalent of the (real) women who are saying to these latching on to victim hood Surrey middle class Tarquins and Samantha from young labour desperate for victim status to feel mentally ill blokes who want to shoe they’re not macho so getting their effeminate side intimate themselves with oestrogen and wearing women’s clothes to say they’re victim and the lesbian who fought for equal rights are the bigots because they dont want to see penises even if the penis belongs to someone calling themselves female in their changing rooms, are heroes
    When teenager goes through a phase of rebellion getting a tattoo or piercing or green Mohican maybe a sign that apart from a hole in the nostril or permanent ink under the skin isn’t in reversible
    But a woman feeling she has such a low libido she wants to be Asexual to the point she has a double mastectomy she regrets as it
    Is a teenage mistake it’s life changing and when older, it’s a shame and a lady regrets what’s she’s going through

  14. John P Reid says:

    I knew 2 Lesbians Pat and Chareigh they didn’t know each other
    Both cars their dads wanted A son gave them a boys name taught them to be car mechanics or footballers one joined the police went into the “riot police” the other went into the army
    They got to the stage where they wanted to be male so Charleigh became Charlie
    What Charlie’s female partner thought suddenly finding her partner now wanted to be a man but as a lesbian she was attracted to women I don’t know

    They both regretted it injecting so much tostestorone very close to having skin scraped from their arms to cover a plastic penis down in and ovaries and womb removed
    It wasn’t nature it was peer pressure nurture
    Luckily they never had mastectomies
    The latter
    When first walking into a make changing room was angry to see naked men, later saying I was A lesbian, I’d never seen a naked man before I don’t want to see penises,surely Pat would have had a fake penis sown on AT some stage

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