11 Aug 2015

Why entrism is such a small part of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise

Jeremy Corbyn And Ken Livingstone Attend A Labour Leadership Rally

Labour may be the victim of entrism – infiltration by members and supporters of other parties – but it’s only a very small explanation of Jeremy Corbyn’s extraordinary success.

I like to think I know a thing or two about entrism, sometimes spelt “entryism”.

Thirty years ago I wrote a book about Militant, the Trotskyist party which “entered” the Labour Party, and caused considerable problems for successive Labour leaders.  The book followed on from several reports and films I’d made for ITN, and for the early Channel 4 News.  Militant was an extraordinary successful phenomenon, a secretive Marxist party (known internally as the Revolutionary Socialist League) though they always denied being a party or an organisation.  They were just a group of people who read the Militant newspaper, they claimed.  Rubbish.

At their peak in the mid-1980s Militant had around 8,000 members, all of whom belonged to the Labour Party as well.  They operated clandestinely inside the Labour Party as a way of recruiting people to their ranks and to their ideas, and they even managed to get three Labour MPs – Pat Wall, Terry Fields and Dave Nellist.  Eventually most of Militant leaders were expelled by Labour, and Militant left the party.  After a split or two, and the odd witch-hunt of leading figures (such as Ted Grant), it now operates as the Socialist Party, part of the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition, led by Dave Nellist.

We may be seeing entrism once again, but its on a far smaller scale than Labour experienced in the 1980s.  “It’s tiny, really, really small,” says John Callaghan of Salford University, one of Britain’s foremost academic experts on British Trotskyism.

Watch Michael Crick’s 1982 report on the Militant Tendency

The Labour Party have just told me that they have now purged 1,200 people from the lists of voters in the leadership ballot, though the process continues.  48 staff are working on registering voters – and purging them – at their administrative HQ in Newcastle, and another 30 at their national base in London.

Of the 1,200, almost 300 people have been identified as people who’ve stood in the recent past as candidates for other parties.  Labour tell me this includes 214 Green candidates in recent elections, 37 people who stood for the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), 13 Conservatives, 7 Ukip candidates, and one BNP.  Oh, and a man who stood at some election or other for the Morecambe Bay Independents.

If groups like TUSC are that organised why hasn’t Labour identified all 137 candidates TUSC fielded (against Labour) at the general election?  Maybe Labour is too inefficient to spot them, but it shouldn’t be that difficult.  Maybe, and more likely, most TUSC candidates haven’t signed up for the leadership ballot.  And the purging process  will continue, I’m told, right up to the moment the results are declared on 12 September.  It will be possible to exclude people from the ballot even after they’ve voted, Labour tell me.

Anyway, this entrism is pretty small beer compared with the overall numbers.  Far left and hard left parties these days are nothing like as big as they were in the 1980s, and Militant’s heyday.  I’d estimate at most somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 entrists from the Left, including Greens, in this Labour ballot, and no more than 5,000 from the Right.  15,000 in all, and that’s probably a gross over-estimate.

Yet almost 400,000 people could be registered to vote in the leadership ballot, and today’s YouGov poll suggests Jeremy Corbyn will win pretty handsomely.  And with the first email ballots going out on Friday morning, there’s not much time for his opponents to make up ground, especially when many voters are likely to cast their ballots as soon as they get them, either by email or post.  As things are going, the entrists probably won’t make a difference.  Corbyn could well win without them.

Entrism may play a very small role in Jeremy Corbyn popularity, but it’s only a tiny explanation for what’s going on, and a pretty lame excuse for backers of other candidates to explain why their man or woman isn’t winning.  And, of course, the various Trots and Greens would like you to believe they made a crucial difference.  And journalists love it as a story too.

Corbynmania is a far, far bigger phenomenon than entrism.  Nobody fully understands what’s going on.  It’s a fascinating development in public opinion, linked to the rise of the Greens, the SNP and even Ukip.  But if you concentrate on entrism, you’re missing the much bigger picture, and a quite extraordinary story.

47 reader comments

  1. Kath-H says:

    Entry-ism please. Entrism sounds stupid.

    Also this goes too far, someone who has stood for the Greens could still generally agree with the aims of the Labour party (undefined), why shouldn’t they vote? And who knows how many have joined to vote for Kendall? (cough, cough).

    Bleating about this entryism by the other candidates just sounds desperate, have they not seen the reports of Corbyn’s meetings where people are spilling out into the street?

    1. Michael says:

      Congratulations to Michael Crick on a balanced article, especially “if you concentrate on entrism, you’re missing the much bigger picture, and a quite extraordinary story”.

      The aims and principles of the Labour Party are set out in Clause iv of the current constitution (helpfully called “Aims and Principles”). Their will be several Greens who support these aims. However, if you have actually run against a Labour candidate who espouses those aims that gives good reason to believe that you don’t support them, thus the exclusion.

      The extraordinary level of support for Corbyn comes from his time worn humanitarianism, and his willingness to challenge a cosy economic consensus of Blairites and Thatcherites. Opposition starts now.

      1. Leon Wolfeson says:

        @Michael – Sadly, though, many Labour candidates didn’t support those values, but those of Progress.

    2. S says:

      You sign a document stating you are not member of a party opposing Labour. If you are a member of the Green Party , you are the members of a party opposing a Labour, esp. if you stood on a green ticket, you don’t support the party -you support a cause and the party is a useful instrument temporarily in furthering that cause. The long term effect on the party and indeed the consequences are not going to be borne by your kind. If JC loses, most of these ‘supporters’ aren’t going to stay to do the difficult groundwork for the next election -they’ll quit and focus on online haranguing and their usual twitter hysteria.

    3. Anne McLaren says:

      I completely agree, Kath-H. Lots of people will swing between the Greens, for example, and Labour, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. All this nonsense about entryism (you’re right about that too) just gives ammunition to the party of doom.

  2. Andy Coombes says:

    FMR! An established media piece that is correct and bang on the money! Thank you C$ and Michael Crick.

  3. Mark Taylor says:

    What we are seeing is the death of New Labour. A movement with a hundred generals but no army to speak of. Beneath the likes of Blair, Campbell, Mandelson etc, just who is there? A handfull of career minded yes men. And then what? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
    This was always the fatal flaw of the New Labour Project. Power at any cost in what was a popular political party. I.e. one that drew its strength not from its connections with business, the media, or the landed aristocracy. But with being able to organise and the support of millions (and I do mean millions) or ordinary people. Pericles for the modern age.
    And publicly disowning the existence of you key pillar of support would always come back to hurt you in the long run. Not least when you realise that doing just enough to keep them onboard (since how else are parties going to funded) would mean you would always have a large, clued-in, and potentially very powerful enemy given the right circumstances.
    And this it is, the great grass-roots revolt of the Labour Party. Everyone felt it coming, but no-one saw it when it did. The vast majority of the Labour rank and file coalesing around the last proper Pre-Thatcherite there was. It is not so much who Corbyn is; a mild, intelligent Atleean. But what he represents.
    That is to say, Labour being the moral crusade that it was always supposed to be. Since what is it othewise, as New Labour have proven all to well? It is nothing, nothing at all.

  4. David Oladele says:

    Hi Michael l hope l can see you and plant a smacker on you because you hit the nail on the head instead of campaigning on their originality and something different from Tories or lite all they are doing is scaremongering and blaming JC for all their previous decisions. JezWeCan

  5. James Lawrence says:

    There is nothing to Corbyn. The only reason it is news is because he is operating in a political vacuum that was the Labour Party. His rise is only being covered as something new in politics because there is nothing to compare it against. A small affair appears larger than it really is.

    There is no new left-wing vision of how Britain could / should be sweeping Britain. Rather a handful of supporters are now suddenly having their voices heard because there is no one else making any noise.

    Corbynism – if such a thing exists – merely demonstrates the left has disappeared rather than it is resurgent.

  6. Steve Parker says:

    I think that I may be one of the ones in question here. I have recently given my allegiance to the Labour Party as a result of the recent nominations for leader of the party. I have voted Labour in the past and was greatly relieved that Tony Blair was elected in 1997 after years of Tory rule. Unfortunately as a result of our country being hoodwinked into what I believe an illegal war I vowed that I would never vote Labour again. I believe that many of the current problems we face in today’s world are as a direct result of us supporting the warmongering of the USA and in particular the Bush administration.

    I understand that many of the Blair government are no longer in a position of authority within the party but at the last election I found it difficult to see much difference between the three major parties. With that I decided that I would vote for the Green Party. I fully acknowledge that under our unfair electoral system this would be somewhat of a wasted vote but I felt unable to support any other alternative. I had considered withdrawing from the political process completely as I believe it cannot be right for any party to form a majority government on just 24% of the electoral vote.

    With the current leadership battle I see just a glimmer of hope not only for the Labour Party but more widely for the country as a whole. The electorate is craving an alternative to the harsh, uncaring policies we are currently seeing from the Government. The Labour Party has an opportunity to grasp this moment and give the country some vision and hope; something that is absent at Westminster. There is a better way. We just need a leader with vision to articulate this.

    There was a moment during the last election where I thought for one moment we may be on the cusp of something. After the leaders debate on television the three ladies from the SNP, Plaid and the Greens embraced each other acknowledging common ground. If the opposition parties could somehow come together for the common good we may be able to realise that vision. I would urge whoever manages to win the leadership of the Labour Party to find some common ground and form a “progressive” alliance against this cruel heartless government.

  7. Tony Greenstein says:

    Yes this is one of the few serious articles by a mainstream political commentator. I have registered to vote. I was suspended in the Kinnock witchhunt of 1992 in Brighton after being a member of the LP for about 15 years. I have been a candidate since for both TUSC and the Alliance 4 Green Socialism and at the last election voted Green (Caroline Lucas). Am I an infiltrator? Well I’m not a member of any party and in an article at the last election advocated voting in the 3 Brighton & Hove constituencies for TUSC, Green and Labour candidates!

    My wife used to be a Tory but having seen and experienced the villification of claimants and single parents is now an ardent Corbyn supporter as are 2 of my children.

    What is happening? I knew Jeremy 30+ years ago through Palestine solidarity work and I like the guy a great deal but he didn’t strike me as a future leader of the LP! But he is committed and sincere and not out for himself.

    People are really p***** off with a political system that rewards the rich, takes rights away from the poor, doesn’t recognise the struggle people have just for somewhere to live (a basic human right) and don’t care for the way the tabloids demonise any group that tries to stand up to the rich and powerful. The attempts by the Daily ‘hate’ Mail to run daily stories on how Jeremy Corbyn is a closet holocaust denier/anti-Semite etc. are so absurd that you wonder why they bother. Likewise the attempt of John Mann MP to insinuate Jeremy is soft on child abuse.

    For many many people the fact that the Establishment hates JC (just like his namesake Jesus Christ!) is an added bonus. The 3 other candidates talk about being bold etc. but propose nothing that is out of the ordinary. They refuse to break with the consensus. This is why JC is attracting such massive crowds wherever he does. To suggest anyone on the far-left could attract hundreds in East Anglia or Wales is to live in cloud cuckoo land.

    Wheeling out Blair or Mr Perma Tan, with his offensive little ‘joke’ about heart transplants and all the other media luvvies is helping not harming Jeremy.

  8. Andy peacock says:

    Don’t see what is hard to understand. Corbyn articulates what a significant number of unrepresented people are feeling.

  9. Chris spink says:

    It seems the labour mps only believe in democracy when it agrees with them and will try all ways to say it’s wrong when it doesn’t

  10. Geraint Thomas says:

    “Trots…Would like you to believe that they made a crucial difference” For someone who wrote a book on us you really haven’t got a clue have you? We’ve got 4 or 5 articles explaining corbynmania, and the only credit we can give ourselves is a part of the pressure on union leaders that clearly forced some of their leaders to endorse him. Your claim that no one understands corbynmania speaks only to your own confusion. It’s very clearly a reaction of people, who are looking for an alternative and have been thinking hard about it since the tories got in (there’s been a huge increase in activity since they got in generally). A lot of these people, and a lot of people who fell away from labour as it left them behind to ape the tories, suddenly see someone who’s speaking to them, who isn’t a new labour clone and is putting forward ideas that might actually help them. It’s really not that hard to understand.

  11. Chris says:

    While nobody may fully understand what is going on, may I proffer that people finally have found someone who stands for what he believes in, walks the walk not just talks the talk, and is that rare beast in politics, someone who is genuine?

    We all have an inbuilt ability to tell when someone is being evasive or telling the truth. Corbyn, like or hate him, is as genuine a politician as we have seen for years, in a political class dominated by sound-bites, media opportunities and coaching to use the correct hand gestures and smiles.

    That’s why the other 3 are lost. They are drones and have no idea how to respond to a pensioner who tells it as he sees it, with decency, honesty and truth!

    Agree with him or not, you only have to see the Tory media to see how scared they are of him!

  12. AW1983 says:

    Michael Crick is spot on; Corbynmania is about a lot more than a few old Trots signing up to vote and much more interesting. I’m a Green Party member myself and like most of my party I have no interest in voting in Labour’s leadership for two reasons:

    1) Whether Corbyn is leader or not, most of the PLP will still be New Labour schmucks whose politics no longer resonate with the public;

    2) The Green Party prides itself on freedom from the influence of special interests, be they corporate donors or trade unions. That’s a hugely important distinction that should matter to members of the Green Party.

    However, if Corbyn was to win, I would encourage the Green Party to create an electoral pact as there will be a lot of common ground and it would be stupid to split the vote under FPTP.

    As to Corbyn’s real popularity, I say look to three key groups for an explanation:

    1) Old Labour voters who never left the party out of loyalty, despite disagreeing with it profoundly. Benn, Skinner and Corbyn all stayed loyal for example. People like Harry Leslie Smith and Owen Jones fall into this bracket;

    2) People who stopped feeling middle class because of the financial crash, outsourcing or technological innovation. This group is hard to pin down and may well have voted Tory in May, but seek a party that will challenge the grinding halt of social mobility and opportunity. You could call them ideal New Labour voters, but the ground has shifted and New Labour ultimately failed them;

    3) Young people of all classes. Generational inequality is a big deal to the under 35s and only the Green Party came close to offering a fair go to generation Y. New Labour doesn’t work when an increasing number of voters can’t afford to buy a house, don’t have a steady job and can’t save a pension.

    These groups indicate to me that there is appetite for Old Labour, but not of the Bennite kind. Corbyn may well be doing so well because of the lack of an Old Labour right candidate in the mould of a Hattersley or a Healey.

  13. Gregory Neill says:

    “It will be possible to exclude people from the ballot even after they’ve voted, Labour tell me.”

    Good grief…
    The fact that they’re even considering doing that – let alone mentioning it to a journalist – tells a story about what a mess the party is in at the moment. Do they not understand how corrupt that would look? How weak the position of a leader elected after that would be?

  14. Hank Evens says:

    Entrism is an excuse that is being prepared by the establishment (both Labour and the Tories) to destabilise Mr Corbyns win, the labour parliamentary party all those red Tories masquerading as labour MPs will cry we have no faith in this result and as such we cannot work for a tory stooge and all the Tories will cry “it’s we wot won it”.
    These red Tories are reacting in horror to democracy in action and that the constituencies may demand that they act to up hold labour values, no longer hiding behind a weak leadership claiming party unity as why they won`t vote to do anything to stop this rotten to the core government (want to buy post office on the cheap, here you go guv, don`t go too far away sir we`ve a bank coming up soon knocked down to our friends once again).
    At this present moment Labour desperately need Mr. Corbyn, a man of principal, unelectable next time around, maybe but look at the others, Andy Burnham a man with no guts, I voted to take the food off the table of the poor for the party unity, really SpongeBob Square pants has more backbone than him, Yvette Cooper sorry another voter against the welfare bill, no heart no way and Liz Kendall, a chancer who is positioning herself for the next labour leadership contest by raising her profile now, none of these other three could win the next election for labour.
    Mr Corbyn is the only one to vote for, the others well two cowards and err… Who are you again?

  15. Ryan Evans says:

    Yes entryism is not significant. It is also true that people can support policies in more than one party, a kind of “pick and mix” approach and therefore a green or ukip or liberal supporter might vote for another party at a local or national election. Supporters of Corbyn are coming out in large numbers because in the past they have had nowhere to go , no one who offered the policies that they wished to see. Jeremy Corbyn has broken the taboo, speaking the unspeakable and breaking that horrible consensus which has existed between tories/liberals and labour. He has provided the voice, his supporters are providing the amplification. This genie will not be put back into the bottle now it has been released. Win or lose Jeremy Corbyn will have made sure that Labour will be a very different party.

  16. Nik P says:

    The current political and economic concensus is seeing more and more people losing out financially and socially, especially younger voters who are effectively paying the price for tory policy aimed at buying off the old and wealthy. In comes a bloke who is prepared to speak up in their cause and take on, rather than swerve, the tory argument – is this really that hard to understand and appreciate? There certainly is no mystery in my view.
    BTW, I’m not a Corbyn-ite.

  17. David says:

    I’ll be furious if I’m excluded from the leadership vote just because i stood as a Green party candidate. If Ed Milliband & co had proposed any of the policies JC has, I would have voted Labour in May. As it was, they were just a pale gutless version of the Tories so I had to go green instead. What does the Labour party think it’s doing, preventing its natural supporters from voting for a new leader who represents their views?

  18. JMR says:

    The Green’s views were similar to Jeremy’s so I, too, would expect some may now want to vote for him.why remove them?

  19. Trev says:

    Nobody fully understands what’s going on you say Michael?

    Its obvious. The Labour Party has not been serving the people ‘of the Left’, only a tiny minority of those ‘on the Right’ who are nearly Tories anyway. This happened because Labour correctly presumed a move to the centre ground and an adoption of free-market would get them elected.. And it did. They had to adapt and adopt.

    Now, they’re adapting and adopting again, but from the grassroots. The free-market model is not working in this country, too much has happened post-2008, the election reflected an atomisation of the public in ideological terms, the Left was scattered, whereas the Right remained united. Now the Left is attempting to realign under Labour and again push from the Left for a fairer society.

    Onwards and updwards. Go Jeremy, go!

  20. James Doonan says:

    Michael, you could write an interesting book on the right wing entryism into the labour party known in these parts as the red tories. Who’d have thought the Labour Party of the sixties would have removed clause four ?

  21. Bob A says:

    I have been a Labour voter all my life, but was fed up with their performance in the last election JC has brought back some hope that we don’t have to keep drifting right. I’ve signed up to support him!

  22. Andrew W says:

    Why do the Corbyn supporters confuse the SNP victory with a need to lurch left, towards populist anti-austerity. That victory was the result of the rise of regional politics, those of us who live regionally understand why the Scots ditched the Westminster parties – we are all fed up with “London myopia”/the “Westminster bubble” and politicians who have never had a real career outside of politics and or law. Once again the Labour party have shown they are not good with numbers, do the electoral maths, half the voters will earn above the median salary and will want lower taxes funded by a smaller role for Government in our lives. Left leaning politics will never secure a majority, you have to have a broader appeal. Vote Corbyn and confine Labour to the history books you might argue, or you might argue for a strong opposition which is the key to a healthy democracy. Stop this madness.

  23. Phil B says:

    If Shaun Woodward could be a sitting Tory MP and then join the Labour Party (and the Cabinet!) then what is the problem with say, a Green voter supporting the election of Corbyn, and subsequently voting Labour? Greens and TUSC members have far more in common with the ideals of the original Labour Party of Keir Hardie, Clement Attlee etc than defecting Tories of the Blair era

  24. Beverley Krell says:

    Jeremy Corbyn has captured what has been missing in politics for generations – a conviction politician who seeks social and moral justice for the poor and disenfranchised. Labour under Blair and Brown ignored the roots of what Labour stood for and aligned themselves with wealthy backers and played the American game of special interests.
    Corbyn is a breathe of fresh air who strongly believes and talks about the injustices perpetrated by our colonial last. The voters spoke and elected Cameron, something they will regret in the future as he attempts to turn this country into a one party state.

  25. Peter Barjonas says:

    The ‘Labour’ party today are obviously not the same party as they were when founded. As a different party, they should have a different name. So-called Labour supporters who rubbish Corbyn should consider their own position and form a party suited to their needs and principles. True Labour principles belong to the true Labour Party.

  26. Ray Vison says:

    Big attack on Corbyn from Toby Young – make UK into next Venezuela – a little taste of things to come.

    There is also a big danger of this vote being rigged. How is the process being checked?

  27. Jooee says:

    Exactly, Kath-H. I have in the past voted Green and spoilt my ballot papers, and at present belong to the NHS Party BUT deep down am a Socialst. Unfortunately, the present Labour Party are too right-wing for my liking. If I could, I would vote for Corbyn, not because he is “far-left”, but because he has traditional Labour principles. What’s more, he actually HAS principles!

  28. BlackPhi says:

    I find myself wondering whether the right wing of the Labour party actually wants Corbyn to win, because their interventions seem almost designed to increase his support.

  29. Paul Trembath says:

    “Nobody fully understands what’s going on”?

    Voters have had Hobson’s Choice for years – the real Tories, or the Tory Fruitcakes, or the Yellow Tories In Denial, or the Nicer Tories who might not starve you if you are lucky, but can’t admit it out loud. All Tories, except for the little parties that (in England and Cornwall) won’t win many seats. All cutting down the state, all promising to run a surplus (using our money), all hating the unions, all throwing away our rights, all spying on us wholesale, all in cahoots with tax-dodging billionaires, all regurgitating the lies and distortions of the Tory press (even the less Tory press follows the Tory agenda and talking points), all doing whatever the United States tells us to do. Some a little less cruel, some a little more competent, but all roughly the same and all unable to imagine or promise anything else.

    We are desperate for someone to vote for who isn’t more or less a Tory.

  30. Rosemary Howden says:

    The Labour leadership election is about NOW : the man or woman elected will be
    Head of Her Majesty’s Opposition. As such, they have a definite political (and moral?) purpose NOW – to challenge, confront, and generally hold to account. her Majesty’s Government.
    Seldom has this been so necessary: we now have fixed term parliaments, and during this current five year stint there are plans for constituency boundary changes, and even creation for an influx of new Tory peers in the House of Lords. There will also be a Referendum (on Europe certainly and who knows about Scotland?)
    The country needs an astute, energetic and principled Opposition, with a Leader to match. It is not about what may or may not happen in five years’ time. The career politicians in the party hierarchy may not like it (a bit of an understatement, that!) but all the evidence points to Jeremy Corby being the man for the job -NOW!

  31. Nick Burrows says:

    A useful article offering some perspective

    This story has dominated the coverage for the past week. It is because the right in the party are desperate and trying every last trick to discredit a Corbyn victory before their voice slides into obscurity.

    Michael is right that this truly is a remarkable story, a major political shift happening before our eyes and all the media can talk about is a small minority of people who mainly agree with Corbyn, but have been active in other parties.

    This is part of wider international shift to the left born of the understanding that neo-liberal economics is rapidly widening inequality and is deeply unstable.

    Let’s keep the focus on Corbyns policies and why it is that they are so popular.

  32. anthony hammond says:

    I think I like many others that usualy vote labour have got sick of the party moving right,like saying sorry for spending two much ,,when most people new it was the banks who caused the problems in 2008 any party who was in power at that time would have done the same otherwise the public would have lost there savings etc

  33. Madgefairy says:

    The Labour Party is crowing about having ‘discovered’ Greens who registered as supporters of the Labour Party; of course, they do not know who those people might vote for; it’s all speculation. They’re assuming that they would vote for Corbyn, but that doesn’t actual conform to any logic if the Greens were setting out to damage the Labour Party. There is an argument that voting in a right winger would continue the decline of a Labour Party that’s just been trashed in a general election, and accelerate the ‘Green surge’ – many of whom were former Labour voters.

    Voting in Jeremy Corbyn, it could be argued, would boost Labour Party membership and could actually slow the ‘Green Surge’ so there is no logic in the Labour Party’s frantic weeding out of Green members and candidates. The view of all the Greens I know, who registered, is that they would like Jeremy Corbyn to become leader because it would STRENGTHEN the Labour party, revive a sense of honesty and justice in politics, and increase Labour’s chances dramatically in the next general election. It would give the Greens an effective and sympathetic party to co-operate with in parliament so it would be win/win.

    But this isn’t about the dirty underhanded motives of the Green Party and TUSC or whoever else on the left, is it? It’s about a group of right wingers desperate to use any scare tactics in the book in order to retain control of the Labour Party, in order to do what? Throw the votes of Labour voters down the toilet in the next election too?

  34. Simon says:

    I was really looking forward to the meat of the story and it just stopped. OK, it isn´t entrism so give us the answer as you see it. The story just stopped. If I was marking that as an essay it would not get very high marks at all.

  35. Art Vandeley says:

    You’re actually incorrect to say that Millitant lives on as the Socialist Party. It actually lives on as Socialist Appeal, part of the International Millitant Tendency. The Socialist Party split from the Millitant, hence why they are their own party and no longer an autonomous group.

  36. Philip says:

    The true entryists are the crypto-Tories & careerists who are what the Blairite wing of the Labour party have finally become. Blair appears to have no notion that his interventions are increasing Corbyn’s popularity. The other leadership contenders are light-weight clones whose bleating about the ballot merely displays their horror at not winning and their refusal to serve in a Corbyn-led shadow cabinet displays a lack of belief in democracy. Of course they have to throw mud at the ballot. It’s the only way they can credibly refuse to accept the result & either sit sulking & plotting on the backbenches or keep trying to organise a coup against Corbyn. But if Corbyn wins handsomely, as now seems likely, their actions will be seen for what they are: and if the Labour party splits (again), the culprits will be them, not the thousands of ordinary people who wanted a Labour party true to its principles and not one “triangulated” just to the left of the Tories.

  37. Merril Richards says:

    Wow!! An interesting political article that seems straight and balanced. And a set of commentators that make sense, are not trolling, sneering at right or left opponents, not trying to show how intelligent or ‘witty’ they are, just stating honest perceptions and reasonings. And many that I didn’t just agree with, but felt exactly as they did.

    Like most believers in fairness, kindness, social justice and balance, I loathed Thatcher and her boys, voted for and delighted in Blair’s lot on Election Night( even hummed ‘Things can only …..’.,etc’, but, far too soon, came to despise him, and what, eventually, was happening at his/their ‘democratic’ command. Brown was doooomed, doomed, but that the Brothers Grimm/Milliband and their lesser brethren, political pros in every sense, said NOTHING to defend Gordons’ governments handling of the financial crisis, let the slimey Bankers slither out of their responsibilities was disgusting and typified the rest of their mealy mouthed movement rightwards.
    So, with only Caroline Lucas resonating in any way, like thousands, I joined the Green Party and voted for them in 2015. But I thought Bennett a poor choice and thought them amateurish in wastefully dividing the vote, putting up candidates in constituencies that already had strong, leftish, sitting MP s with a chance. And then the horror of ‘the morning after’!

    And then, in the midst of the Cameron/Osborne/IDS diseased rule, comes forth Corbyn! Hope at last – despite the hysterical crap being peddled and hurled at him!
    He DOESNT take the Labour Party far-left, just brings it/us back from the brink of the rightist abyss. A bit left of centre, maybe, but a human, honest, intelligent and caring voice that can be respected and listened to, if truth is actually cared about.

    Win at any price, which is the aim of Blair and the three Stooges, is not worth the complete loss of true Labour ideals and honour. Corbyn understands that. And believes True Labour is worth fighting for AND can win.
    Which is why he’s been gaining the followers. Including me.

  38. Patrick Holt says:

    It’s really very simple, and the only people surprised are the denizens of the London media bubble who are experiencing cognitive dissonance on being confronted by evidence that comfortable and complacent group-think of their clique is not the same as the truth, normality, or the political mind of the country. They have been taking it for granted that those not voting have no opinions, or that they are exactly represented by those who do vote, just not as motivated. The press, frankly, haven’t been bothering with doing research. People haven’t been voting because there has been no-one on the ballot speaking about what they care about, or voicing their beliefs. People haven’t been voting because they haven’t been offered any real choice for over 20 years. People haven’t been voting because whoever they voted for they were clearly going to get Thatcherism anyway. For the first time in over 20 years, there is the possibility of a real alternative to Thatcherism from one of the main. It is utterly predictable that hundreds of thousands of people are coming out of the woodwork to get involved in that possibility. New Labour as an edifice was built around depriving labour electors of any other choice but another Thatcherite party, assuming that their votes could be taken for granted and that there was no price to be paid for disappointing and frustrating them. Having kept the old Labour centre and left off New Labour’s internal ballots for 20 years, the Blairites have forgotten how large that old Labour centre and left actually is, and that is why they are outraged and panicked now, when the centre and left turn-out for Corbyn is shattering their self-delusions of popularity. The success of the Blairites in within the party was always based on shutting the left out, and expelling members in droves, so that they were never faced with actual competition, until they let Corbyn be nominated by accident, having forgotten their actual weakness and unpopularity.

  39. Laurence Hallewell says:

    Given the four featherlight weathercock alternatives, Corbyn is the only even halfway acceptable opposition leader for the immediate future. But as that brilliant critique of Thatcher and Nixon, “The Leaders we Deserve” pointed out, nice people never make effective executives, something the electorate instinctively recognises. For 2020, Labour will need to find a competent nastie, with a thin veneer of false populist charm to cover his / her low cunning and total ruthlessness, less a Kier Hardie or Michael Foot, and more a Disraeli, Lloyd George, Getulio Vargas, FDR, SuperMack, LBJ, Hillary Clinton, or Nicola Spurgeon…

  40. Phil Edwards says:

    I agree with most of this – my own estimate on the numbers involved is here – but the last point, about Trots exaggerating their importance, is wrong. Momentum will certainly claim their share of the credit when Corbyn is re-elected, but Momentum is much bigger than any of the existing Trot groups; you won’t hear members of the Socialist Party claiming they won it for Corbyn. I think the only Trot group which has capitalised on the contest is the (continuity) WRP – a tiny fragment of the group that used to go by that name – which managed to persuade a BBC journalist that they’ve got 3,000 members (I’d be amazed if they had as many as 300).

  41. Phil Tresadern says:

    My understanding of Kinnock’s argument (and Watson’s later) is that although the entryists are few, they tend to be older, more experienced and knowledgeable, and therefore the ones that younger, less experienced Labour members (who may make up a much bigger proportion of new recruits) are likely to turn to for inspiration and advice. If this were the case, their influence among members could be disproportionate to their number.

  42. Mike Dixon says:

    Why doesn’t anyone interview these so called entryists? I am a Lab Party member of 40 yrs standing. At our Branch we had a former Green Member who had joined up because of Corbyn because she believed that he gave some hope to her ideals and vision actually being realised within a party led by JC. She was not loony left, but she was sick of careerist self serving Westminster bubble politicians. This could be the beginning of a progressive alliance across centre left to left. I say welcome aboard

  43. Mick McNulty says:

    The success of Jeremy Corbyn is the meeting of two forces, a principled politician and millions of people looking for principled politics. We’ve had thirty years of rising political graft and falling social standards and we’ve had enough of it. That’s why so many recently became active.

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