Hugh Fitzgerald: Jeremy Corbyn and the Great Labour Party Purge


The purge in the Labour Party of those opposed to Jeremy Corbyn continues. So far, the most publicized case is that of Joan Ryan, a longtime Member of Parliament and the leader of Labour Friends of Israel, who failed to prevail in a vote of no-confidence — it was close, 94-92 — but insists she will not quit the party. She blames her loss on “Trots, Stalinists, Communists and assorted hard-left,” many of whom have recently joined the party it seems precisely to support the far-left and antisemitic Jeremy Corbyn, by driving out of the party all those who refuse to toe the Corbynite party line.

Frank Field, who has been a Labour M.P. for 39 years, has even quit the Labour Party in protest at the antisemitic and anti-Israel turn it has taken under Corbyn, and, too, at the sudden influx of rabid far-left activists who have recently joined the party precisely in order to purge it of people like him and Joan Ryan. Another member of the party and of Labour Friends of Israel, Gavin Shuker, has also lost a vote of no-confidence, but like Joan Ryan, vows not to quit the party. Others who have lost votes of no-confidence, over Brexit, include Kate Hoey, a long-time member of Parliament, who supported the government on Brexit. Graham Stringer, another M.P. who supported Brexit, has survived a no-confidence vote, but has been put on notice that there will be future attempts to repeat such a vote. All of these votes of no-confidence, whether they succeed or fail, have been promoted by a brand-new group of Labour Party members, determined to purge the party of everyone who does not slavishly follow the Corbyn line.

The latest victim of this Labour Party purge is Chris Leslie, who lost a vote of no-confidence brought by the new activists of the far-left who have joined the party with the sole goal of driving out all those who dared to have opinions different from theirs. Leslie has described the situation vividly:
In my case, the censure motion criticised me for disagreeing with Jeremy Corbyn. I do. On the importance of a responsible economic policy, on national security, on Europe, ironically similar issues on which Jeremy disagreed with previous leaders.
The notice for the Nottingham East Labour meeting on Friday stated that “we want the meetings to be inclusive and productive”. For most of my eight years as the local Labour MP, the Friday night GC meetings have been exactly that. Sadly today, it is not the tone of many meetings and the promise of “kinder, gentler” politics has long been forgotten if, indeed, it ever began.
It has become increasingly apparent that differing views are not tolerated in the Labour party and every opinion is judged on whether it is acceptable to the party leadership. This started shortly after Jeremy became leader, as colleagues with whom I had previously thought I shared a similar political outlook began expecting me to do a U-turn and take positions I would never have otherwise agreed with – whether on national security or the EU single market.
Whenever I speak publicly – and it doesn’t really matter what I say – there follows a tirade of abuse on social media calling for deselection, denouncing the politics of the centre, telling me I should not be in the Labour party.
And that is not just my experience. Indeed, I know I am more fortunate than some of my colleagues as the comments directed at me tend to be political. I am in awe of the professionalism and determination of those colleagues who face a torrent of sexist or racist abuse every day but never shy away.
As these rabid Corbynites of the far left, many of them new to the Party, continue to harass or drive out from the Labour Party those who disagree with the Supreme Leader, whether on Israel or on Brexit or on anything else, the entire center of the party disintegrates. It is not just Members of Parliament who are being purged. Corbyn moved the hard-left Seamus Milne, his director of communications,  and his most important staff member, to Labour headquarters back in August 2017, in order to have Milne, who was once a journalist on a Communist paper, purge the party of all its moderates, and to put in place, in the Party’s bureaucracy, only those of the hard-left. What is left is a Labour Party that in foreign policy is mainly consumed with animus toward Israel, is friendly toward Vladimir Putin, and dislikes the United States. In domestic policies, the Party now promises nationalizing rail, energy, and water, offering free tuition for all and, in large companies, guaranteeing annual bonuses of up to 500 pounds paid to all workers. Corbyn has on his staff someone who was a real Communist — a member of the party — until 2016, one Andrew Murray, who has been working in Parliament without a security clearance, for which he has been waiting since February. One wonders what is causing the delay — is it something in his past or in his present? Murray was recently barred from visiting the Ukraine because, the Ukrainians charged, of his close ties to Putin. It is at least bizarre that Murray has still been allowed to wander all over Parliament without such clearance? Another worrisome member of Corbyn’s staff is Iram Awan, Mr Corbyn’s private secretary, who has been working in his office for more than nine months despite awaiting clearance from the security services. it appears from news reports that Ms. Awan has not been granted because of security concerns about her “associates.” So here we have Corbyn’s private secretary, who knows more about his dealings than anyone else, unable to win security clearance. Shouldn’t this be of concern to everyone? Why hasn’t anything been made of this ? Could it be that everyone is afraid of being called an “islamophobe”? After all, why else, if not because of “islamophobia,” would anyone think Iram Awan might be a security threat? Isn’t it enough that Jeremy Corbyn has full confidence in her?
The witch hunt by far-left Labourites against centrist Labour members of Parliament, and especially against those who support Israel, continues. Several members of Corbyn’s staff who have not been granted security clearances nonetheless continue to work in the most sensitive positions. The far-left Seamus Milne, Corbyn’s right-hand man, was for decades a journalist infamous for one thing: his incessant, obsessive, and ferocious attacks on Israel.
And yet, despite all this and much more in the same disturbing vein, if a general election were to be held today,  polls suggest that Labour has a good chance to defeat the Tories. Corbyn was preferred to Boris Johnson by 29% to 25%, while in a contest with Theresa May Corbyn would lose, with 27% preferring May to 25% for Corbyn. The Labour Party itself has a 5-point lead over the Tories. It should be noted, parenthetically, that Muslims make up 5% of the voting population in the U.K. That last poll is less a tribute to Jeremy Corbyn and his leftist claque and more a verdict on Theresa May’s perceived mishandling of the Brexit-mandated exit from the E.U. When you hear Theresa May’s  pollyannish comments on Islam, as here, you cannot believe anyone in her position could possibly remain so ignorant of that subject and at the same time be so sure of herself. Then you listen to Jeremy Corbyn, who counts members of Hamas and Hezbollah among his friends, and you realize you were wrong.

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