Socialist Worker

Letting the Labour right come crawling back could have ruinous results

After spending all their energy trying to undermine him many right wing Labour MPs are now willing to return to the fold, but they will still try to drag Labour to the right.

Issue No. 2558

owen smith

Owen Smith challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership but failed (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Many right wing Labour MPs were quick to genuflect to Corbyn after the election result last week.

Owen Smith, who tried to replace Corbyn as leader last year, said, “We were hearing people who hadn’t voted for a long while voting Labour yesterday evening.

“They were inspired by the policies, and it has to be said by Jeremy, to vote Labour.”

Several right wingers, who resigned or refused to be members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in a bid to unseat him, now graciously say they would join.

Angela Eagle, who resigned from the shadow cabinet to challenge Corbyn last year, said she would “play any part my party should ask of me”. So did hard right MPs Chuka Umunna and Dan Jarvis.

Other MPs clearly couldn’t bring themselves to make the leap.

Missed

Chris Leslie said last week’s result was “not good enough,” adding that Labour had missed an “open goal” in not beating May.

Veteran Blairite Mike Gapes said, “My constituents can’t live on humble pie. They need a Labour government. Now.”

Right wing Labour activists are also preparing to resume the ground war against the left.

In a post-election email to the right wing Labour First faction, activist Luke Akehurst said he hoped “the spirit of unity and teamwork” would continue.

This meant calling on Corbyn to allow right wing MPs back into the fold and a shadow cabinet elected by MPs—a key demand of the right.

Corbyn hinted last Sunday that he might allow right wing MPs to rejoin the shadow cabinet, telling a BBC interview, “I’m the most generous person in the world.

“Yes, of course we are going to reach out, ever since I became leader I had reached out. There’s been one or two difficulties at times with the parliamentary party but let’s put that behind us.”

Yet there’s no sense in trying to forge unity with people whose aim is still to drag Labour back to the right.

MPs made a show of praising Corbyn as a campaigner. But they will increase the pressure on him to prove he can be a respectable leader in parliament.

That will mean dropping some of the left wing policies that made Corbyn’s success possible.


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