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LABOUR MPs who won’t fight for a Labour victory should resign or be replaced, Chris Williamson MP said today.
The Derby North MP, a leading light of the party left, told the Morning Star it was “unforgivable” that some MPs were bent on undermining the party’s “popular and transformational programme” at a time when it had rediscovered its founding principles.
And he said the ceaseless slurs directed at leader Jeremy Corbyn strengthened the case for members to pass a motion at next month’s party conference allowing open selections for parliamentary candidates.
He spoke out following weekend reports that Ilford South MP Mike Gapes had said he would quit the party, repeating smears that Mr Corbyn was anti-semitic.
Mr Gapes has refused to confirm or deny the story, which emerged after right-wing MPs attacked the leader over a video recording in which he remarked that zionists did not understand irony, but he said he “agonised” over the state of the party and retweeted attacks on Mr Corbyn by Hope Not Hate chief Nick Lowles.
“Any MP not prepared to work for a Labour victory should resign and, if they won’t, grassroots members should replace them,” Mr Williamson argued.
“That’s why I hope conference will back Labour International’s motion to introduce open selections to make it easier for members to hold their MPs to account.”
Former Corbyn spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin also said MPs who think “their careers and profile are more important than improving the lives of those our party was established to represent” should go.
“Time to put egos to one side and contribute. Or go and work for the V&A instead or whatever,” he tweeted, referring to former minister Tristram Hunt’s move from Parliament to the museum sector.
The motion backed by Mr Williamson is one of four proposals to reform the way MPs are selected that could be discussed by delegates at conference.
It calls for a list of candidates to be presented to all members of a constituency party by a shortlisting committee before each election and guarantees the sitting MP’s right to be on the shortlist.
If passed, it would end the current model where sitting MPs are automatically reselected unless they cannot muster the support of half of all party and affiliated branches in a trigger ballot.
The system is open to abuse as branches and affiliates all count the same regardless of size and members can only choose between being happy or unhappy with the sitting MP, while alternative candidates don’t get a look-in.
Such a system makes victories like that of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district’s Democratic primary impossible in Britain, entrenching sitting MPs in office indefinitely in safe seats, Rachel Wood argued last week in the New Socialist.
The Derby North MP said the left should mobilise behind the Labour International motion, pointing out that “there are several motions and we could end up losing the lot if we don’t get behind one.
“In my opinion the Labour International one is by far the best.”
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