Politics Home | Labour rebels ‘plan new group in parliament’ if Jeremy Corbyn wins leadership race –


21 August 2016

Labour rebels ‘plan new group in parliament’ if Jeremy Corbyn wins leadership race – report

By Sebastian Whale

Labour MPs opposed to Jeremy Corbyn will reportedly establish a new rebel group in parliament if he wins the leadership election.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith are vying to become Labour leader [Credit: PA Images]

The Sunday Times [£ = paywall] reports the “party within a party” framework will be based on the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, which counts Mr Corbyn as a member.

According to the paper, the rebels will look to sign up more than 100 MPs to join the Co-operative party, Labour’s sister party, and sit on the green benches as “double hatted” MPs.

The group will appoint their own whips in parliament to co-ordinate rebellions where they disagree with Mr Corbyn’s policy and look to change the rules to appoint an elected Shadow Cabinet, as previously called for by the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

It will draw up policies on areas including Brexit and national security, the Sunday Times reports.

The rebels apparently prefer the creation of a new group on Labour benches to forming a breakaway party.

They argue Mr Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, both members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, would struggle to criticise the move after they voted against the Labour leadership from the backbenches when in power.

“Corbyn voted against the leadership more than 500 times,” said one rebel leader.

“We’ve only done it a dozen times. We’re just getting started. There will be a new grouping within the PLP a lot like Corbyn and McDonnell had. We will stick together for mutual support. We will have our own approach on the economy and Brexit and national security.”

The Co-operative party has held an electoral agreement with Labour since 1927 that allows them to stand joint candidates in elections.

MPs Stella Creasy, Jonathan Ashworth, Gareth Thomas, John Woodcock and Louise Ellman are among the 25 Labour MPs also to be members of the Co-operative party.

“Some MPs for the sake of their own sanity want some formal way of organising,” a Labour source said. “The Co-op is established as an official entity and could be used as a means of doing that.”

The Co-operative party is recognised by the Electoral Commission.

Speaker John Bercow has said if he is to recognise a different official opposition, the party must be registered with the Electoral Commission.

The rebels believe that the move could help protect from threats of de-selection, as Co-Op-Labour MPs could apply to become the official opposition if they command more seats than Mr Corbyn.

Elsewhere Tory MP Andrew Bridgen claimed Labour MPs who expect Mr Corbyn to retain the leadership have been urging the Tories to call a general election.

“I’ve had very senior Labour MPs come to me and they have begged me to push for an early general election to finish Corbyn off. They say, ‘Put us out of our misery. It would be a mercy killing,’” he told the Sunday Times.

“The Conservative party should play politics like chess while Labour get on with their unending game of lots of snakes and no ladders.”



One thought on “Politics Home | Labour rebels ‘plan new group in parliament’ if Jeremy Corbyn wins leadership race –

  1. The following day [22 Aug], this appeared on Momentum Exeter, East and Central Devon Facebook page”

    Can I suggest we discuss this at Wednesday’s Momentum Exeter meeting? Seems like there is the need for large numbers of Corbyn supporters to join the Cooperative Party. So far there are only 8000 members, so it should be possible to change the way the Party votes…

    I then posted on the Momentum Exeter FB page, the response from Co-op Party NEC:

    “The Co-operative Party was created 99 years ago to champion the co-operative movement and that remains our mission today.

    We are not a vehicle to be used by one political faction or another to advance their own agenda.

    The Co-operative Party has worked with Labour under each of its leaders since 1927 and remains neutral on the current leadership contest within the Labour Party.

    The Co-operative Party NEC has had no discussions about changing the way the Party operates based on the outcome of the Labour Leadership contest.”

    and followed up on the Momentum FB page with this comment:

    Unfortunately, I am unable to make tonight’s meeting, but as a Labour/Coop local councillor, the recent article in the Sunday Times and the follow-up on Politics Home does not reflect the true facts.

    The Co-operative Party is neither a “party within a party”, nor is it affiliiated to the Labour Party. It is separate political party – the political party of the co-operative movement with its own rules, manifesto and selection processes – albeit with a arrangement with (our sister party) the Labour Party to work in partnership to achieve these ends.

    Just simply joining the Co-op Party would not be enough to earn the designation Labour/Coop – many Labour MPs are already members of the Co-op Party and several have signed up to “Friends of the Co-operative Ideal” a grouping that was formed for MPs who were members of the Cooperative Party but hadn’t stood as Labour/Coop. Current members of the Co-op Party range from John Woodcock to current Shadow Defence Secretary, Rachael Maskell who are Labour/Co-op MPs [and includes Ben Bradshaw, who is not designated Labour/Co-op].

    But to become a Labour/Coop MP, the candidate would need to be on the official national Coop Party panel, and selected by the local Coop Party branch even before they became the official Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.

    Both parties place strict limits on joint candidates. – and from the Coop Party’s side, limits on how much financial support they can give their MPs.

    I hope this helps set the context, and highlights the many falsehoods highlighted in the original Sunday Times article, and the subsequent follow-up report on the Politics Home website.


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