Momentum chief says winning elections matters to 'political elites'
The founder and chair of pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum has said winning elections is only the "small bit" of democracy that matters to “political elites”.
In a public spat with a political rival Jon Lansman added that concern “only” with winning elections was how the centrist wing of the Labour party drove working class voters away.
Labour has been seized by civil war since Britain voted to leave the EU, with MPs convinced Mr Corbyn would be trounced at a general election seeking to topple him.
Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle announced last night she would launch a leadership challenge on Monday after talks to ease Mr Corbyn out of his role broke down.
Mr Corbyn has refused to quit as leader despite more than 60 Labour MPs resigning their frontbench positions in an attempt to force him out and an overwhelming vote of no confidence.
Today Mr Lansman leapt to the embattled leader's defence on Twitter, pointing at the support for Mr Corbyn among Labour members and arguing “democracy” in the party was vital.
In a conversation on Twitter with John McTernan, Tony Blair's former director of political operations, Mr Lansman said:
@johnmcternan Democracy gives power to people, “Winning” is the small bit that matters to political elites who want to keep power themselves
He subsequently qualified his claim, adding:
I want Labour to win power to democratise it. Focusing on "winning" alone hoards power, ignores real needs & ultimately leads to defeat
And he argued: “Democracy never mattered to Blair or those around him - not in the party, the PLP, the Cabinet, in Parliament nor the country.”
Mr McTernan countered that winning elections was the only way to put policy into practice.
“Winning. The small bit that gives you NMW [national minimum wage], tax credits, new schools & hospitals, devolution, HRA, maternity rights,” he tweeted.
To which Mr Lansman said: "But being concerned only with 'winning' is how you drove working class voters away from @UKLabour to UKIP and the SNP."
Hilary Benn, who was sacked from his role as shadow foreign secretary after he told Mr Corbyn he no longer had confidence in him, weighed in, tweeting:
Jon - maybe I have misunderstood what you were trying to say but winning is what enabled Labour to create the NHS @jonlansman
He added: "And writing off up to 100 per cent of the debt owed by the poorest countries. And devolution for Scotland and Wales. And restoring city-wide government to London
"And setting up 2,200 Sure Start Children’s Centres. And scrapping Section 28 and introducing Civil Partnerships. And free eye tests for the over 60s and free entry to national museums and galleries.
"Aren't all these the result of “winning" in a democracy, Jon?"