Socialist Worker

Turmoil leads to growing debate in Labour

Issue No. 2098

The growing Labour rebellion is adding to the government’s crisis.

In a somewhat breathless outburst John Wiseman, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said, “I seem to be in the middle of a nightmare at present.

“The BNP are standing all over my home constituency. Everyone seems depressed where I am standing for parliament.

“Gordon has decided to take money away from his core vote. Parliamentary private secretaries are threatening to resign!

“When are we going to wake up? There are hundreds of councillors who are going to lose their seats if Gordon doesn’t listen.

“I am asking please Gordon for the last time wake up and smell the coffee and save the party – as in rectify the tax change!”

The PCS, RMT and FBU unions have been running a Make Your Vote Count campaign which includes asking candidates for their views on a number of issues.

In Peterborough the campaign received this response from John Bleakney, Labour leader of the city council: “I am so disgusted with this, ‘my’ government, that I am leaving the Labour Party after 35 years, during which I have served as a shop steward, deputy convenor in a large local industry, and 25 years as county and city councillor.

“I am also packing in, this May, my current position as Labour group leader and city councillor.

“Sadly, I don’t see any other party on the horizon which could represent me.

“The illegal wars of George Bush and his lap-dog have been the final straw. If the truth be known I have fought with my conscience about Blair/Brown-ism long before the wars.

“I tried to oppose from within, to no avail.”

Derek Wyatt, an aide to minister Margaret Hodge, said, “I’ve had virulent emails from my constituents saying they feel betrayed and deserted.

“They say they will never vote for Labour again. I have thought about resigning.”

The government is also facing a rebellion vote on plans to extend the time suspects can be detained without charge from 28 to 42 days.

A leaked note from Labour shows that 50 MPs – including ten former ministers – are expected to rebel when the vote is held after the local elections on 1 May.

The note reveals that Andy Slaughter, a ministerial aide, regards the plan as “barmy”, though he will vote with the government.


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