Since when does Labour care about democracy?

Nearly every wing of Labour tried to overturn the Leave vote.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

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Topics Brexit Politics UK

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With their party conference looming, Labour members are up in arms.

Are they angry about the Rosie Duffield scandal? About the fact that one of their own MPs cannot attend her party’s conference because her belief in biological sex and women’s spaces has put her security at risk? Of course not.

Are they annoyed by leader Keir Starmer’s inability to make even the slightest dent in public opinion? Or his failure to stand up to the government on anything substantial? Some are, but that’s not what’s riling most of them up this week.

No, what Labour’s members and some of its leftish MPs are furious about is the party leader’s attack on party democracy. I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially Sir Keir wants to revert to an older ‘electoral college’ system that would give more weight to MPs than ordinary party members.

Starmer, quite overtly, wants to stop the election of another Jeremy Corbyn figure – someone adored by left-wing members but disdained by Labour’s more centrist parliamentarians.

Whatever we may think of the move – I think it’s bad news, but it’s an internal matter for Labour – it’s more than a bit rich for Labour members to start bleating about ‘democracy’.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Labour Party came out very explicitly against democracy – when it vowed to hold a second EU referendum in order to annul the mass vote for Brexit.

I don’t recall Labour members protesting about this obscene attack on democracy at the time. On the contrary, the vast majority supported it. They filed a flurry of conference motions in favour of it. They organised rallies demanding it. And the push for a second referendum came from both the Starmerite centre and the Corbynite left.

In other words, the same Labourites who agitated against democracy in the country at large are now deeply concerned about the threat to their own internal party democracy.

Perhaps the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ only matters if said persons are part of the Labour selectorate. Some democracy that is.

Fraser Myers is assistant editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

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