Labour MPs braced for silence Roy Hattersley lobbies Jeremy Corbyn
The former deputy leader wants Corbyn to reign in Chris Williamson.
“I have written to Jeremy Corbyn to express my concerns about the impact of Chris Williamson’s roadshow stoking tensions and damaging our party’s ability to win a general election.”
So announced Labour MP Barry Sheerman last week. His letter stated that “moderate MPs in West Yorkshire” including himself, Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves were being targeted by the left wing Labour MP’s constituency visits – which some have dubbed the Deselection Road Show. Williamson’s actions needed to be “promptly condemned” by the leader, Sherman concluded.
Staggeringly, Corbyn did respond to the man who once said that he had “failed abysmally to show real leadership”. Other Labour MPs have also failed to get Corbyn to reprimand his left wing pal. So now another veteran Labour figure is having a go.
In his letter to Corbyn, Roy Hattersley said he attended one of the Democracy Roadshow events last week in the South Yorkshire constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge, where the local MP is Angela Smith.
He wrote: “I do not question the right of a constituency Labour party to replace a sitting member with a new candidate. What is intolerable is a campaign to promote indiscriminate reselection which is organised from outside the constituency, supported by new recruits who have been briefly enrolled for that purpose and is intended to benefit candidates of a particular point of view….
“I lived through the split of the 1980s and failed in my attempts to prevent it. To avoid a repetition of that disaster you must speak out against the narrow sectarianism that Christopher Williamson and the campaign for re-selection represents.”
Will Hattersley succeed where Sheerman has so far failed? Labour moderates are not holding their breath, it seems.
As Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse, put it: “I think the silence will be deafening, Roy.”
Meanwhile Williamson has clarified that the Democracy Roadshow is "a grassroots initiative discussing the ongoing Labour party democracy review and campaigning for the open selection of MPs, which is commonplace in other democracies around the world" and it "has never asked Jeremy Corbyn for his endorsement, nor has he given it".
So that clears that up, then.