Fri, 1 March 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Women in Westminster: In Conversation With Tulip Siddiq MP Partner content
Press releases

ANALYSIS: Why Labour MPs fear election victory could cost them their jobs

3 min read

Ian Lavery could not have been any clearer.

The Labour party he told the Huffington Post, is "too broad a church".

What's more, the party's new chairman said, if MPs lose the confidence of their local activists, they should not expect to be MPs for very much longer.

"You can’t be any more democratic than allowing the people in your constituency to pick who they want as their MP. I think that’s really fair and really important," he said. "That is the way it is at the minute, by the way, but perhaps we need to look at different ways and means. Listen, if you get de-selected in a constituency there must be a reason for it."

His words are being seen by many moderate Labour MPs as further proof that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn - intoxicated by an election campaign which surpassed their wildest dreams, and confident that the left's grip on the party is strong and can only get stronger - are gunning for them. They believe that a co-ordinated campaign is underway to have them replaced by candidates ideologically closer to the leader.

They point to the experience of Thangam Debonnaire and Peter Kyle - both of whom were re-elected last month with vastly increased majorities, but who are already under pressure from activists in their constituencies.

Hove and Portslade MP Kyle's local paper, The Argus, reported last week that he was "blind sided" at a meeting of his constituency Labour party, when a small group of left-wing members forced through a motion supporting moves to change candidate selection rules. At the moment, a sitting MP is only at risk if two-thirds of local members say he or she must be re-selected. Under the new proposals - set to be debated at the Labour conference in Brighton in September - re-selection ballots would only require a simple majority, making it far easier to unseat those who do not show enough loyalty to the leader.

Debonnaire - who now has one of the largest majority in the country in Bristol West - is also under threat, according to the Bristol Post. Last year, she accused Mr Corbyn of giving her a job and then sacking her a day later while she was receiving cancer treatment.

Lines of communication between Labour MPs are abuzz with rumours that they could be next.

One source told PoliticsHome: "They are sh*****g themselves. They believe that winning their seats were nothing more than Pyrrhic victories."

But veteran MPs, who have seen it all before, believe their fears are misplaced and that the Corbynistas are over-playing their hand.

One said: "Morons like Lavery can shout their mouth off all they want, but all deselections would do is play into the Tories' hands at a time when we should have them on the run. It would just create another civil war and would be an enormous distraction."

A fascinating long read by the Evening Standard's political editor Joe Murphy said the likes of Tulip Siddiq and Stella Creasy were also at risk, as Mr Corbyn tries to strengthen his grip on the party.

The newly-emboldened leader has already flexed his muscles by sacking three frontbenchers who defied the party whip over Brexit. Before the election, he would not have dared.

Further changes to the party rules which would make it easier to get a left-winger into any future leadership contest will also be debated and voted on at the Labour conference.

Last week, some MPs sang the 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn' song as they gathered in Westminster Hall for their Class of 2017 photo. But the air of unity was misleading. Labour is once again heading for another almighty internal battle, and the stakes could not be higher.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Political parties