Left Unity, a fringe left political party, decided over the weekend that it would not run candidates in next year’s elections, but back Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn instead.
Explaining this decision Simon Hardy appeared on the Daily Politics alongside Labour grandee Alan Johnson, with the former home secretary using the opportunity to belittle the fringe party.
Johnson began by describing Hardy’s spiel as the same “rubbish“ he has heard his whole political life, adding that “this guy despises the Labour party, and he’s got no place in the Labour party.”
Provoked further, Johnson stormed:
“I’ve been with Jeremy while we introduced the minimum wage; when we introduced the education maintenance allowance; when we introduced Sure Start Children’s Centres; when we reduced child poverty; when we attacked pensioner poverty; when we gave trade unionists the right to be represented, the right not to be sacked for going on strike.
“You’ve done none of that. All you’ve done is print out your leaflets despising the Labour party and suggest over here there’s a plausible alternative. Now you’ve found that doesn’t work so you want to come into the Labour party. You won’t be welcome.”
Left Unity’s decision will surely add to fears that Labour’s party machinery are being taken over by fringe leftists, with the campaigning group Momentum being accused of trying to have non-Corbynite MPs replaced with more sympathetic alternatives.
Many are warning that a move to the left will match the swing to the right that kept the Tories out of power during the Tony Blair years, and result in a wilderness period reminiscent of Labour during the Margaret Thatcher and John Major years.
Complicating this story further is the sapping of Labour support by the radical right party Ukip, which mopped up a huge amount of working class support to come second in 120 constituencies during the general election in May.
Thus the, er, “common sense” of Hardy that if Johnson were to pull behind Corbyn Labour could win elections looks rather more common than sensible…