Dear Chris Leslie & friends: if Blairites value a broad church so much, why did they spend 30 years destroying it? 


title ideas.

Blairites have no right to demand a broad church, they locked the left out for 30 years

If Blairites love a broad church, why did they evict the left from it for 30 years

Selective memories and hypocrisy: how Chris Leslie’s Blairite defenders ignore 30 years gerrymandering



There was a brief break in factional hostilities after the Labour party conference. Predictably, however, the cease-fire was short lived.

The most persecuted minority in British politics, the Blairite centrists, are outraged that Chris Leslie was the subject of a vote of no confidence from his Nottingham East CLP, accused of ‘disloyalty and deceit’.

The vote in itself is unsurprising: Leslie, after all, had his unedited words slating his own party directly transferred into a Conservative party attack ad.


Chris Leslie’s terrible record is formidable. As Alex Nunns explored in this “Peak Leslie” thread.

Defenders of the faith/broad church

However, if the vote itself was unsurprising, the reaction by Blairites is a masterclass in hypocrisy. Their insistence upon maintaining ‘pluralism’ a ‘broad church’ and ‘tolerance’ flies in the face of their own historical record to the contrary.

The usual suspects have ridden to Leslie’s defence…

But people did not hesitate to call out the hypocrisy

Further, those who defended Leslie by arguing that dissenting MP’s like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were allowed to dissent under Blair ignored documented instances to the contrary.

The weak foundations of the ‘Broad Church’ defence

The favoured ‘broad church’ defence raises several interesting points:

Firstly, is the democratic will of members of a democratic party inferior to artificially maintaining a ratio of neoliberals in the party?

Secondly, centrist’s show a selective support of grassroots democracy depending on what suits them. When lobbying for a second Brexit referendum they love member activism, but not when it’s used to hold them personally accountable as MP’s. Or when they introduced affiliate membership and one-member-one-vote for the leadership elections believing it would benefit them, then jacked up the price and disenfranchised new members when it subsequently harmed them.


Blairite amnesia about their 30 year destruction of the broad church

Centrists seem to have conveniently forgotten that New Labour years involved ruthlessly marginalising the left.

Academic Eric Shaw describes how Blairite party managers,

“…wielded the heavy artillery of ‘control freakery’ – including manipulating the machinery of internal elections – in an attempt to crush opposition”

Lewis Minkin described the Blair approach as “procedural flexibility” and a

“willingness to fudge or circumvent any rules and conventions that might inhibit ‘getting the right results’.

Alex Nunns for examples cites in The Candidate, how Tony Blair allegedly “went ballistic” upon hearing that left candidate, Liz Davies of Leeds North East had been chosen as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate by her CLP. To remedy this she was ‘smeared’ and ‘deselected’, despite clearing her name in court by which time it was too late.

Contrast this treatment to that of preferred centrist candidates. The late Michael Meacher MP wrote in 2009 how

“The Blairites have used every underhand trick in the book to parachute into a safe Labour seat the 22-year old daughter of Lord Gould, Blair’s pollster whom he rewarded with a peerage”

Adding that the sum of this was that,

“by machinations of this kind relentlessly pursued at most parliamentary vacancies over the last 15 years that the Blairite machine spectacularly succeeded in transforming the balance of power within the PLP in favour of the Blairite caucus”

At the local level, John Lansman describes how Blair introduced,

“strong council chiefs who, with the co-operation of the party’s regional offices, were able to ensure troublesome critics could be barred from selection, leaving leaders free to run their towns and cities as they chose.

Further that,

“In return, they would provide their overlord with a loyal ground force, who could be relied upon to operate the local party machine and deliver the outcomes No 10 desired.”

Lansman claims that a beneficiary of this system was the infamous former head of Haringey Council, Claire Kober. Making her subsequent claims of ‘bullying’ when held to account by local members all the more ironic.

Corbyn: an inheritor of a legacy of gerrymandering

Yet today, MP’s like Leslie, the beneficiaries of decades of party patronage and right-wing institutional bias going back decades, have the tenacity to cry they are being forced out and bullied by the tyranny of grassroots democracy and accountability.

Those who claim Labour party members have succumbed to a Corbyn personality cult would do well to remember the centralised cult of Tony documented above.

They would also do well to remember that New Labours grip on the party was achieved through gerrymandering and exclusion vs. Corbyn’s power being secured democratically and transparently through the will of members he represents.

Take action

Get involved with the Open Selection campaign and make sure your local CLP supports the open selection of your constituencies’ parliamentary candidates.

Jacob Rees-Mogg gets boned: protestor Ian Bone is an anarchist, so why is he being associated with Corbyn?



The increasing desperation to sustain an anti-Corbyn narrative has taken yet another tragic turn, this time in the wake of a protest outside the house of Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Admittedly, Corbyn supporters shouting at a political opponent’s kids wouldn’t be a good look.  There is, however, one slight problem: the protestor in question is Ian Bone, the public face of anarchist group ‘Class War.’

Anarchist groups, generally speaking, aren’t exactly notorious for their faith in the transformative potential of democratic socialist political parties… As these Class War banners show, they aren’t exactly Corbyn’s biggest fans.

That’s not to say that Bone hasn’t had some rather fantastic moments in the past. Take for example this is gem where he told New Labour darling, Harriet Harman, she should be tried as a war criminal.

However, the small detail that Bone is an anarchist with no affiliation to Corbyn, hasn’t deterred the usual suspects from retweeting the incident with all the righteous indignation of Ned Flanders wife.

The obvious subtext of their sentiments documented below being ‘this incident is symptomatic of Corbynism.’ It fits into a growing body of hysterical centrist polemics, all united by a unique centrist pomposity that laments the rise of ‘populism’ ( Translation: democratic participation) and the apparent mindless ‘anger’ of the public ( Translation: public protests against economic oppression).

Corbyn’s estrangement to Bone aside, it is telling that ‘moderates’ who supported tory welfare cuts and condemned millions of children to poverty, only care about the welfare of children when their sacred rules of political civility are violated and provide them with a weapon to attempt to damage their opponents with.

As such, this latest Rees-Mogg incident provides centrists with further proof of their self-serving narrative (/delusional religious prophecy) that the forces of Corbynism are leading the country to political nihilism. The elitist overtones of this are nauseating; demanding we take heed of their enlightened warnings and re-bestow upon them the political authority they believe is rightly theirs.










Chris Leslie MP, the boy who cries wolf on “abuse”

Another day and another Blairite MP crying ‘abuse’ from his left-wing critics. In the latest episode, one of the perpetual PLP splinters in Corbyn’s side, right-wing Labour MP, Chris Leslie, claimed the following tweet amounted to “abuse”.

This is a particularly revealing exchange and provides insight into the flimsy threshold by which abuse is alleged by such self-described “centrists”, often without presenting evidence. It is particularly pertinent considering the media use such claims to amplify their favoured narrative that Labour has a unique monopoly on malicious online abuse.

In this latest case, Umaar Kazmi, who works for his Corbynite nemesis, Chris Williamson  MP,  questioned why Leslie would once again use an appearance on the BBC’s Daily Politics to pour more scorn on the Labour leadership’s popular economic policies.

However, Kazmi didn’t shy away from calling out Leslie’s accusation, tweeting back:

It is an interesting phenomenon to observe how swiftly the Labour leadership are expected to act against those accused of “abuse” and for “bringing the party into disrepute” and yet how those, like Leslie, who cry “abuse” over such timid political exchanges and demean the very issue they champion, go unpunished.

A further curiosity to consider is this: does Leslie really feel that such challenges amount to abuse? If he does, as I suggested to him, it is questionable whether he is fit to serve as an MP who is routinely subject to public scrutiny. Beyond that, it is perhaps indicative of the safe cocoon such Blairite MP’s have inhabited in recent decades, elevated from the righteous anger of the grassroots.

As another respondent noted, in light of the visceral racial abuse endured by Dianne Abbott MP, the triviality of Leslie’s claim becomes all the more apparent.

Of course, a final possibility is that Leslie knows full well that Kazmi’s comments fall well short of abuse, but is willing to cynically smear an opponent, all too aware that a favourable media will pedal his claims. Whatever the explanation, Leslie needs calling out.

Question Time for the BBC: for a new generation your credibility hinges on who you appoint as Dimbleby’s successor

Andrew Neil, Jeremy Paxman, Huw Edwards, Emily Maitlis, Piers Moron, Kirsty Wark, Nick Robinson, Victoria Derbyshire, Nicky Campbell, Eddie Mair, Evan Davis, Robert Peston, Andrew Marr, John Humphrys and that guy from Richard and Judy who did that one good interview scolding Gavin Williamson.

As Dimbleby declares 762 episodes not out on Thursday, these are the predictable names for heir apparent to the Question Time throne.

What all these names have in common (besides mostly possessing penises, being white and middle class) are being staple media celebrities embedded within the Westminster Village consensus. To name but a few, Andrew Neil – The Daily Politics and This Week; Emily Maitlis, Kirsty Wark and Evan Davis – Newsnight; Peston and Marr – shows in their own name, and so on.

Seemingly these candidates existing existence in media means they automatically qualify as members of a unique community known as ‘the talent’. TV commissioners and executives create a self-fulfilling prophecy, rationalising that audiences require familiar faces to tune in to, and so shower them in gold and programme appearances.

Although many have a soft spot for Dimbleby, his elite Etonian heritage has not helped his cause whilst hosting a show apparently exhibiting the countries democratic and pluralistic credentials. This problem is compounded by a perception (correct in my view) that guest panels have historically excluded left-wing voices, whilst consistently embracing those of the right (Nigel Farage, Kate Andrews et al) and audiences brimming with “gammon”.

Consequently, Question Time has become the social media equivalent of the battle of Stalingrad, where lefties as a Thursday ritual do battle on Twitter lamenting the inevitably unbalanced, unrepresentative #BBCQT proceedings.

While it may be nauseating to hear the left continually make this point, the medias post-election output remains the same discredited formula concocted prior to the election. It has the same predictable array of establishment guests with an obvious right-wing bias in guests (irrespective of party) brilliantly documented by Alex Nunns, not to mention a sprinkle of suspect inputs from opaque dodgy right-wing think-tanks of unknown income (the Adam Smith Institute, The Taxpayers Alliance etc..). This trend is all the more unbearable in light of Corbyn’s so called “hard left” Labour gaining a 40% vote share, despite being vilified and ridiculed across platforms for years.

Despite this context, the names proposed are predictably from the ‘more of the same’ category, the same post-election gawpers who cried in unison “nobody saw this coming!” as millions screamed at their TV’s “we fucking did and you either ignored or mocked us!”

So I write this as a polite warning to the BBC: we are your future license fee payers and many of us begrudgingly persist in watching Question Time out of a combination of morbid curiosity and a faint naïve hope that one day it can be reformed and fair.

As the Dimbleby era ends there is a real opportunity to freshen the format, making it truly representative, interactive, and by consistently embracing fresh perspectives beyond the stifling zorb of the Westminster club – both in terms of journalists and politicians invited on the show. Only then can Question Time operate with any credibility and this starts by appointing a host, or hosts, who demonstrate a willingness on the BBC’s part to appeal to a winder spectrum of opinion than that it has historically permitted.

Skripal with Hindsight: Salisbury May Yet Be Corbyn’s Finest Hour (the Piece the Huff Wouldn’t Publish)

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    I wrote and submitted the following piece weeks ago, on the 14th of March. The Huffington Post – who I’ve written for on and off over the last 8 years – refused to publish it. When I emailed them (twice) to ask why, I received no reply. The contempt and indifference they have for their writers is staggering. Writers, without whom their “for the exposure” profit extraction model, could not exist. Unfortunately, this is a rant for another time.
The period immediately after Skripal exposed (once again) the flimsy quality of our democracy, the limits of our “free and open society” and the cowardice of our brave and intrepid “free press.” A range of media, ranging from the increasingly discredited BBC, to the eternally discredited Daily Mail, have demonstrated a tour de force in the wilful promulgation of State propaganda.
Scepticism has not been permitted. Credulity to the all-powerful British executive was expected and willingly adopted by the media, on both right and ‘left’ of the political establishment. Those who cautioned to show the mildest degree of restraint before we bellicosely cast accusatory aspersions at Russia were called “Russian stooges” and “Kremlin apologists.”
But hey, thank goodness we don’t live in an oppressive country like Russia, where the state dictates the truth and the media are forced to comply….. Although, in the UK, media seemingly choose to comply. Not only did they comply, but seemed to proactively publicly police and admonish those who dared to deviate from it. Surely this is far more disturbing?
Yet today’s revelations (Tuesday the 3rd of April) have highlighted that the medias servility to the May Government’s account at the inception of the crisis – as many of us cautioned – was unfounded. In doing so, they gifted her a Falklands moment, based upon a dubious evidential rationale.
Porton Down have stated categorically that they could not directly attribute the so-called nerve agent to Russia:
This is in direct contradiction to what the paragon of truth, Boris Johnson, originally asserted on behalf of the government.
And so, in light of the above, now seems a good time to return to my original article with the full benefit of hindsight. I hope it reveals, once again, that scepticism of the state when it makes such bold claims with significant repercussions for our national security should be the medias default setting, not the exception. They have again fallen foul of the “Shock Doctrine”: fallen into suspended animation, and grovellingly turned to an agenda laden state for truth when they should have been finding it for themselves. This sceptical failure is all the more incredible considering the government in question are buried in a steaming heap of scandal and failure they’d be happy to escape from.
Our brave media have proven to be the real stooges of state power.
Note: the following was written on the 18th of March and was not published by the Huffington Post
Salisbury May Yet Be Corbyn’s Finest Hour 
   Russia may yet be proven responsible for Salisbury, but the vociferous defence of the government’s allegations, despite a lack of evidence, has demonstrated what historian Mark Curtis describes as, “a remarkable obedience to authority”, both by the media commentariat and the political establishment.
Scepticism should be obligatory in the post-Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan era, yet once again it is conspicuous in its absence. Despite a context of recent foreign policy disasters, the government still has the audacity to demand unwavering fealty to its conclusions.  Further, it is insisted that we place a religious faith in the accounts of intelligence agencies; agencies historically tainted by their routine use of deception to facilitate desired foreign policy objectives.
Predictably the media have formed an unthinking mob of Dad’s Army, war-ready, jingoists. Against this tied of vocal reactionaries – front and back – stands, once again, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn, “the traitor”, but who inconveniently for his critics, is a Foreign Policy Nostradamus,  whose bloody predictions have been vindicated time and again. Instead the media prefer the judgements of the same New Labour cheerleaders of the aforementioned blood baths, the so-called “moderates” and “centrists” who Owen Jones aptly describes as:
The media just don’t get it.
Almost a year has passed since Corbyn slapped the Westminster nexus round the face with a big wet fish, yet the Salisbury saga again highlights a fundamental inability by media to understand the seismic shift Corbynism represents – namely the public’s preferred dove foreign policy – and shows again how out of the sync the media are with this reality.
Like so many others, I came of age during the Iraq war. As a clueless 15 year old, I recall shouting support at the TV as death rained down on Baghdad. I later discovered that the BBC had carried ten pro-war voices for every one anti, so perhaps my youthful jingoistic exuberance was inevitable. The subsequent revelations of systematic lying by government, intelligence, military, media, the mass deaths, the wasted resources, and the terrorism it subsequently unleashed, has embedded in me, and many of the public, a deep distrust of state power  (a principle you might expect Conservatives to sympathise with….).
Of course, every subsequent foreign policy event we are assured is nobler. “Yes, Iraq was terrible Josh, but Libya is different” I was assured by liberal friends at Warwick University. We then proceeded to destroy the country, created a staging ground for ISIS, and unleashed a refugee crisis that helped dismember the EU.
Those of us who stood firm during such times were maligned as ‘cranks’, ‘apologists’ ‘naïve’ etc…just as we were when we stood by Corbyn prior to the election, isolated against a barrage of conventional wisdom. The alienation many of us were wrongly made to feel during this period has created a strong affinity for Corbyn’s unapologetic principled stance and within us an uncompromising defiance of state narratives even in the face of an onslaught of mockery.
Corbyn’s reluctance to embark on foreign adventures and his deep scepticism of elite agendas should surely be the norm in any functioning democracy.
As such, contrary to the beliefs of blowhards like Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall, and the falsely labelled “centrist” John Woodcock brigade,  Corbyn’s cautious approach to Russia is far more aligned with public opinion, conservative even. My advice to such war mongering “centrists” is to tread carefully: such figures in the Labour Party are again highlighting their fundamental incompatibility with the new Corbyn era, and their residual allegiance to the Neo-Imperial Foreign Policy of New Labour. Their latest insurrection against Corbyn’s leadership on Russia may yet prove another significant milestone in their further alienation from the party membership – in short, they have no future.
So Salisbury is yet another revealing and disturbing moment in British political life. Our idealised fantasy of an open democracy, a free press, plurality of opinion, the celebration of scepticism and dissent, has once again come crashing down after colliding with energetic demands for mass conformity by those in power. It reveals that on matters of foreign policy, the hive mind amongst elites still prevails. Deference to executive authority seems to be sacrosanct and etched in stone during such times, yet it is exactly during these fluid periods of uncertainty, when so much is at stake, that irreverence and scepticism are essential . As Laura Kuenssberg revealing stated on the BBC 10 O’Clock News:
“It’s tradition that the two parties stick together when it comes to foreign policy”
She was referring of course to the government and the opposition, but she could have just as easily meant government and the media.

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