Betty Boothroyd, former Labour MP and speaker of the House of Commons, joined the Labour right’s refrain that Labour is doomed if Corbyn wins. She has a history of witch hunting the left during the 1980s.
Boothroyd declared, “What enterprise would allow first-time customers a say in its future in return for a one-off donation of £3?”
But the left did not introduce the new voting system. It was brought in to undercut the ability of trade unions to influence the outcome.
The right are only denouncing it now because they are worried that it may enable the left to win.
Interim leader Harriet Harman argued after Labour’s defeat in May that the party must “let the public in”.
Yet now there is a frenzy about the danger of “entryists” who voted for other parties in the past. So far Labour has rejected 3,000 applications.
However a senior Labour figure told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that “at least 25,000 people” are being investigated.
Activists point out that the party should be thrilled that so many people want to get involved and that Corbyn’s anti-austerity, anti-war politics has energised activists.
In Nottingham people queued for over two hours and filled the 900-seater hall. Corbyn also had to speak to an overflow meeting of 300.
Richard Buckwell said, “There were many new and younger people, and two school students on the platform. But there were also many active on the left over the past
20 years reunited and enthused by the meeting.”
Over 1,000 people came to hear Corbyn speak last week in Newcastle. Another 1,000 came to a meeting in Middlesbrough.
Such meetings strike fear into the right as they panic about losing control. They face problems.
If they defy a democratic vote and attack Corbyn immediately with legal challenges and confidence votes they could cause an even deeper crisis in the party.
If they wait then Corbyn and his supporters can use the time to establish their position, and some will want to break.
The danger of this process is that those galvanised by Corbyn’s campaign are drawn into a logic that sees the key issue as changing the Labour Party.
So when six trade union general secretaries wrote a letter in Corbyn’s support last week they talked about what he could do for working class people.
It’s absolutely right that the unions should back Corbyn. But when it comes to resisting the Tories’ assault on working class people the trade union leaders should be doing more themselves.
They have repeatedly squandered opportunities to resist allowing the Tories to run rampage.
Relying on getting Labour into office is a way of getting themselves off the hook for any responsibility for leading a fightback.
People are flocking to Corbyn meetings because they want to see someone oppose the Tories. We need to use the opportunity to build a real fightback.