EXCL Clive Lewis warns Jeremy Corbyn not to adopt New Labour tactics amid Brexit vote row
An ally of Jeremy Corbyn today offered a stark warning that the party should not ape the controlling tactics of New Labour, after members were blocked from a conference vote about Brexit.
Clive Lewis said the Labour leadership must not adopt the “command and control” approach of its predecessors after pro-EU members were enraged by the move.
Yesterday members voted against holding a conference debate on Brexit that would have allowed campaigners to trigger a vote on changing the party’s policy.
Labour has insisted last year’s referendum vote must be respected and committed to taking Britain out of the customs union and single market – meaning freedom of movement would end.
A powerful coalition of unions, Labour moderates and Momentum members has been calling on the party to change tack and campaign to stay in the Single Market.
But the Momentum leadership and other trade unionists urged delegates to back a list of other issues for topical policy debates – seemingly in a bid to swerve embarrassment for Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Lewis – who quit the frontbench so he could vote against the triggering of Brexit – said party members could lose trust in the decision-making process if it is not made more transparent.
“What we cannot allow ourselves to do is exchange one group of command and control fetishists for another,” he told PoliticsHome today at a Momentum event on the fringes of Labour’s annual conference.
“And just because I might like elements of their politics a bit more doesn’t make it right.”
The Norwich South MP added: “I just think that what we want to see in the future is a way whereby people have complete trust and faith in how those decisions are made.”
Mr Lewis said there would be another chance to debate the issue at next year’s conference and insisted there was “so much more to be upbeat about” when it came to the future of the Labour party.