Following the EU referendum and the attempted coup to remove Mr Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party by the PLP, a number of our members wrote to Roger Godsiff, our local MP to express our concern. This is the letter we all received in response:
I have had sight of a letter that you recently sent to another Labour Party member in reply to their request not to support the motion of no confidence in our democratically elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. I am replying to your letter. This is the first occasion I have ever written to my MP. You might glean from that the strength of my feelings on the subject about which I am writing to you.
I have been a member of the Labour Party for over 30 years. I am appalled at the behaviour of those 172 members of the PLP who were responsible for the vote of no confidence in our democratically elected leader. Their conduct has been shameful. I am writing to you to request that you please kindly support the democratically elected leader of our Party.
At a time when the Labour Party had everything to gain from being united 172 members of the PLP have chosen disunity. At a time when the Labour Party had everything to gain from taking full advantage of the opportunity that current circumstances have presented and attacking the Tories, 172 members of the PLP have chosen to attack their own leader and the membership of the Labour Party that elected him. At a time when the Labour Party had everything to gain from looking outwards and providing a voice for its members and the people of this country, 172 members of the PLP have chosen to turn inwards and simply speak for themselves. They profess to be concerned to ensure that the Party is electable. The conduct of these 172 members of the PLP is one sure fire way to ensure that the Party appears to be wholly unelectable.
It is not the case that some members of the PLP found it hard to accept the democratic decision of the Labour Party to elect Corbyn. The truth is that they never accepted the democratic decision of the Labour Party at all. At every available opportunity they have variously sniped, whined, briefed against and generally sought to undermine his leadership. Those members of the PLP have been searching for a pretext to overturn the democratic will of the Party at every turn. The only constant has ranged from passive aggression to outright hostility. This concerted strategy has finally resulted in the current attempted coup.
It appears that not content with fighting their own leader and members of their own Party they are now fighting amongst themselves over who is to challenge Corbyn in a leadership election. This is a truly unedifying spectacle. In stark contrast they are currently showing no interest in or inclination to either speak for all Party members, the country or attack the Tories despite the clear opportunity that has presented itself to do so.
Surely, Corbyn’s decision to front up the Remain Campaign notwithstanding his own previous position in connection with the European Union demonstrates true leadership. He was prepared to sacrifice what may have been his own personal position to support Labour Party policy in favour of Remain and for the sake of Party Unity. If he were not a leader he might have chosen to step aside and simply articulate what may have been his own personal position. However, he chose leadership.
Sadly, for the Labour Party and the people of this country those 172 members of the PLP responsible for the current attempted coup are demonstrating everything but leadership. Just when cool heads were required they have panicked. You say that Corbyn is kind, decent and principled. They sound like the qualities required in a leader. They are Labour Party values. Sadly, they appear to be values that are in short supply amongst those 172 members of the PLP responsible for the current attempted coup. One might not expect kindness. However, their conduct towards the leader and their lack of any respect for the democratic decision of the membership has lacked decency and has been singularly unprincipled.
Corbyn’s campaign for Remain was not half hearted and suggestions that he in some way sought to undermine the official Labour Party campaign are malicious and scandalous. His position was credible. Remain for a reformed EU reflected the views of most people who were for Remain. I do not think that anyone was able to explain how the EU was actually capable of reform but that is not the point because it was a view that was genuinely held by most Remain supporters. What was not credible was the attempt to portray the EU as practically perfect in every way and to warn of everything from further world war to economic conflagration in the event of a vote for Leave.
This was what was responsible for undermining the Remain Campaign together with all of the other failings and shortcomings of the EU whether actual or perceived. Corbyn was not responsible for overstating the case for Remain and was not responsible for the disillusionment that many felt towards the EU and and the wider political establishment. The reasons that people voted Leave were many and various. To attempt to hold Corbyn responsible for the outcome of the Referendum is laughable were it not so pathetic.
As you are well aware the reasons that many natural Labour Party supporters voted Leave were grounded in deep seated feelings that their interests and needs have been ignored, not prioritised and taken for granted by the Labour Party for many years. Do these members of the PLP seriously contend that the election of one of the alternative leadership candidates last year would have made any difference to the outcome of the EU Referendum? It would not have done so. Those members of the PLP who are not prepared to face up to that reality are in denial. Do these members of the PLP seriously contend that the election of one of the currently proposed leadership candidates will resolve the existential challenges that the Labour Party currently faces? It will not do so. Those members of the PLP who are not prepared to face up to that reality are in denial. Their current conduct suggests that they lack the vision necessary to embrace the changing face of politics in the UK at the moment and to take the Party forward.
It is plain to me that for the vast majority of the 172 members of the PLP that voted in favour of the motion of no confidence it has nothing to do with leadership or election results and everything to do with: (a) their wanting to ensure that the power base within the Party remains firmly with them and not with the membership of the Party and (b) their having a different political perspective to Corbyn and the members that voted for him and their wanting to ensure that the power base within the Party remains firmly on the Right. It would appear that they are prepared to resort to undemocratic and unconstitutional means to provoke civil war within the party and risk division to achieve their end. This does not appear to me to be the conduct of people interested in any form of coalition or power sharing either with their own members or with the Left of the Party, save one entirely on their own terms.
It is these 172 members of the PLP who, at this crucial time in the country’s history, are demonstrating that instead of seeing the bigger picture and appreciating and taking advantage of the opportunity presented to the Party at this time, are simply behaving as a faction of protest, shouting loudly at their own leader and their own members and supporters, attempting to bring about regime change through unconstitutional and undemocratic means, briefing against their own leader and engaging in orchestrated and staged melodrama, ignoring the needs of their own membership and the people of this country and retreating into their own comfort zone of fellow thinkers at Westminster, not realising how out of touch they are with many of the members of their own Party let alone with many of their natural supporters thoughout the country.
By initiating this unconstitutional and undemocratic act of self-harm towards the Labour Party those 172 members of the PLP have already made a momentous decision which may well have lasting consequences for the future of the Party and politics in this country.