Socialist Worker

Labour MP - left wing party activists are ‘uncouth and sometimes very unsanitary’

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2581

John Spellar MP thinks left wing Labour Party activists are unpleasant, uncouth and sometimes unsanitary

John Spellar MP thinks left wing Labour Party activists are 'unpleasant, uncouth and sometimes unsanitary' (Pic: LadyGeekTV/Flickr)


A BBC documentary about Labour’s general election campaign that aired on Monday embarrassed Labour’s right wing MPs.

Labour—the Summer that Changed Everything followed MPs Stephen Kinnock, Ruth Cadbury, Sarah Champion and Lucy Powell during the campaign.

It captured their pessimism and disdain for Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters throughout the election campaign—and their bewilderment as the results came in.

Yet on the same night that the documentary aired, right wing Labour factions met in parliament—and showed they had learned nothing.

MPs and supporters gathered for a “moderate meetup” organised by the right wing Labour First and Progress—a place to rally the right against the left.

They showed the same naked contempt for party members. John Spellar MP said new Labour members encouraged to join by Corbyn “can be very destructive”.

He suggested they were joining “not with the party’s best interests at heart”.

And he described left wing party activists as “unpleasant, uncouth and sometimes very unsanitary”.

The right still believes that Labour can only succeed with right wing politics—despite the general election result.

MPs and activists repeated the simplistic and patronising view that working class people are all right wing.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson implied that most people in County Durham who are “majority white British” aren’t inspired by left wing Labour.

Labour First chair and key right wing fixer Luke Akehurst said working class people “haven’t got the time to fantasise about socialism”.

He said someone could only be interested in fighting for a better society “if you are a middle class thrill seeker and all you know about socialism is what you read in books and what you’ve seen in a Ken Loach film”.

Fight

Akehurst wants right wing candidates to fight and beat the left in upcoming elections to Labour’s ruling NEC.

He also said that some big trade unions, such as Unison and GMB, don’t support Corbyn and are fighting their own left wing members.

He said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis “is not perfect politically.

“But the alternative to him inside Unison is the Socialist Workers Party, and he’s having to fight them constantly”.

But Akehurst was hopeful because Corbyn “is 68. So there is likely to be another Labour leader in my lifetime.”

He added that some “soft left” Labour MPs had “spotted this”.

These included one from the “North London elite” and another “from a gritty northern, trade union background”—believed by some to be references to Emily Thornberry and Angela Rayner.

Akehurst said if a Labour government was elected MPs would have to mostly follow Corbyn.

But they should rebel and support war and nuclear weapons as they “have a moral duty to veto anything that might damage national security”.

In the short term the right plans to force Corbyn to gradually shift rightwards.

Progress chair Alison McGovern MP said the right must force Labour into staying in the bosses’ single market after Brexit—and clamp down on immigration.

“I think we can take steps to manage the concerns of immigration within the existing rules of the single market,” she said.

Party activists may fight battles over internal elections.

But the real fight is to resist the pressure on the leadership to drift to the right.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.