August 15, 2015


Labour always lurches left when it loses. But this time is worse : Ed Miliband fuelled the left's 'great betrayal' myth - and his changes to the party's voting system look disastrous (Robert Philpot, 15 August 2015, The Spectator)

Miliband not only provided the intellectual groundwork for the Corbyn insurrection, he also, albeit unwittingly, provided the organisational opening. Desperate to placate the increasingly truculent unions that had helped elect their boss, Miliband's team, says one observer, 'gave a free rein and turned a blind eye' as the unions tried to squeeze their favoured candidates into parliamentary seats.

This had two results. First, the unions managed to ensure left-wing loyalists were picked in a swath of constituencies so safe that not even Miliband could lose them. MPs elected for the first time in May figure disproportionately among those who nominated Corbyn.

Second, in the wake of revelations in 2013 about an alleged union stitch-up in the Scottish seat of Falkirk, Miliband sought to change the party's rules for electing its leader. His aim was to give the appearance of reducing the unions' influence but to do so in a way that their bosses would go along with.

This is not a system designed to encourage the kind of mass participation seen in US primary elections. Instead, the compromise Miliband forged -- abolishing the old electoral college in which the unions held a third of the votes, but allowing party 'supporters' to register for £3 and union members to do so for free -- flung Labour's doors wide open to Corbyn's growing army of hard-left activists and starry-eyed youthful idealists. The parliamentary party, which under the electoral college system controlled a third of the votes and used them to keep such barbarians outside Labour's gates, is now reduced to a bystander.

The left's strength has been augmented in the leadership contest by the support Corbyn is generating from far-left campaign groups such as the People's Assembly Against Austerity and the Stop the War co-alition, as well as the efforts of Len McCluskey's Unite union to encourage its members to support him. Many terrified Labour MPs fear the impact could be as politically catastrophic as the Militant entryism of the 1980s. Of the 190,000 new members and supporters who have signed up to the party since May, it's estimated that two thirds have done so to back Corbyn.

It's like letting CPAC pick the GOP nominee.
Posted by at August 15, 2015 7:20 AM

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