By Nick Clark in Brighton
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‘We have to make sure Marxism never succeeds’ —inside the Labour right rally in Brighton

This article is over 6 years, 8 months old
Issue 2573

Chris Leslie, the landlord MP, squatting inside the Labour Party

Chris Leslie, the landlord MP, squatting inside the Labour Party (Pic: Wikimedia )

After a huge crowd gathered for Jeremy Corbyn in Brighton on Saturday, the Labour right held their own rally in a hotel basement yesterday, Sunday.

Right wing faction Labour First organised the meeting to rally their troops on the first day of Labour conference.

But with the left growing in strength, the right feel under siege.

Richard Angell, director of the hard right Progress faction, said, “We’re in a position of weakness at the moment. There’s a new establishment in the party, and it feels like they control all the structures.”

Meanwhile MP Ruth Smeeth was “amazed that we’re still standing”. And Stella Creasy fretted, “Where does this end?”

MP Chris Leslie launched a long rant about “the dangers of Marxism”.

“You may come across it in your Constituency Labour Parties,” he raved. “We have to hold our ground to make sure Marxism never succeeds. It’s about trying to overturn capitalism completely.

“It has no place in the modern Labour Party.”

Professional northerner John Mann MP played up his working class accent to denounce “the middle class left”.

It wasn’t very convincing. But the old men and young wonks in suits were impressed.

Mann likes to cast working class people as racist and reactionary. “We are not getting traditional working class—particularly white working class—votes,” he said.


It’s a tired argument, usually followed by a call for more immigration controls. But this time Mann blamed Labour’s own membership. They are people who have “bags of money and can’t be bothered to join a trade union because they run their own business.” Supposedly. 

“The bigger your house, the richer you are, the more likely you are to join Labour,” Mann claimed.

Other MPs took it in turn to take credit for—or completely write off—Labour’s success in the general election. 

Caerphilly MP Wayne David said Labour’s working class vote recovered in Wales. But he insisted that was because canvassers told people, “The Labour Party isn’t just about Jeremy Corbyn. We’re also about Welsh leader Carwyn Jones”.

Wes Streeting said, “We definitely shouldn’t cheer the general election result”.

Some of the right have a plan. Angell spoke of how he wants to split the Labour left over free movement and the European single market. “The EU is Momentum’s conundrum,” he said. “We’ve got to separate off the Bennite Brexiteers from the Corbynites in the crowd”.

The right want to harness support for migrants and tie it to support for the pro-big business single market.

Their strategy could mean trouble—and underlines why the left needs to defend freedom of movement but oppose the single market.

But for now the right are still in the doldrums.

Headline speaker Yvette Cooper finished the rally with a speech to a rapidly dwindling audience.

A couple of her friends tried to start a chant of “Oh Yvette Cooper”. But no one joined in. 

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