The row over whether or not Labour should back a general election showed how much power right wing MPs still have in their party.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn officially backed an general election on Tuesday of this week. He promised “the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen”.
But MPs had been “furiously lobbying” shadow chancellor John McDonnell to stop Corbyn from backing one, according to the New Statesman magazine.
Some of those MPs want to stop Corbyn from becoming prime minister at all costs.
Others think that delaying an election until Labour backs remaining in the EU is more important than getting rid of the Tories.
And some simply don’t believe Labour could win.
All of them essentially decided they would rather leave Boris Johnson in place.
Prominent pro-Corbyn voices have become increasingly exasperated. Matt Zarb-Cousin—who was once Corbyn’s press officer—tweeted, “Our members need to be up for a fight but our shadow cabinet is running from the battle.”
He added, “I am annoyed the leadership is still—4 years into this project—apparently still terrified of the PLP.” For all of his leadership, MPs have threatened to bring Corbyn down.
Labour members can try and get rid of MPs through a convoluted “reselection” process—but this isn’t easy.
Right wing candidates beat the left in over half of the reselection battles that took place last weekend. On Monday Margaret Hodge, who has pandered to racist ideas, was reselected to run again in Barking.
But even left wing MPs are unreliable.
Their focus on parliamentary games and crass electioneering means appealing to the most conservative elements in society. And MPs are nearly always to the right of Labour’s members.
Their pessimism infects the rest of the party.
McDonnell now also apparently believes Labour can’t win an election without backing Remain.
And many party members now also worry about Labour’s chances. That pessimism is a rot that’s spread too far through the Labour Party—and it started with the MPs at its heart.
It need to be pushed aside.