Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Now broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason, speaking on a debate panel at Progress’ annual conference, has told Labour’s neoliberal wing to decide: “Do you want to be part of this party, or not?”
“Right now our leader is addressing a 200,000 strong crowd at Glastonbury who are singing his name,” Paul told the Blairite caucus. “And the reason they are doing it is because they believe, unlike some of the people on the platform, that we are totally serious when we say we’re going to tear down the free market economy and replace it with one of social justice.
“That’s what that manifesto said and that’s what I want us to do. Make no mistake, as long as Jeremy is leader, as long as people like me have a voice, this is what we will try to do.”
Paul pointed out that many Progress-supporting candidates had run a campaign along the lines of “Jeremy can’t win, I am a good local MP”, and the party HQ (where staff tend to lean right) had “underestimated the strength of the surge in our favour, and therefore even on the last night they were fighting a defensive campaign when they could have been fighting an offensive campaign”.
“I staked my reputation on the idea that we could win,” said Paul. “And I said the night before that we could certainly achieve a hung parliament.”
“The question for people in this room is: it is now a left wing Labour Party. It is a Labour Party led by a man villified in 14 pages of the Daily Mail, and the Sun, as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’, and we got 13 million votes. Do you want to be part of it, or not?”
Progress is the last hold out of Labour’s right wing. MP Wes Streeting – despite being a former president of the National Union of Students – used the opportunity to speak out against the Labour manifesto’s commitment to scrap tuition fees. (He claims “the money can be spent better”.)
Polly, an audience member, absurdly accused Paul Mason of ‘intimidating’ Progress members by tweeting that ‘moderates’ had been wrong about the election, repeating to him, “would you like to apologise?”
“For what?” replied Paul. “Your tweet,” she said. Paul laughed, “I’d like to retweet it. I’ll retweet it now in fact.”
To hisses from the crowd, Paul spelled out that if they do not like Labour’s manifesto, Progress could split off into a party of their own, along the lines of Emmanuel Macron’s successful new centrist party in France.
“There could be a British Macron,” he told them. “You could have a totally ‘sabotage Brexit, end Brexit, second referendum’ party. Run right it could do much better than the Liberal Democrats did.”
Fellow panel member Liz Kendall MP and many audience members were outraged at this suggestion, saying they are “Labour through and through” – despite often in their next sentence setting out more of their disagreements with the party’s 2017 manifesto.
Richard Angell, Progress’ director, said some people in the room were being made to feel unwelcome in the Labour Party. Paul replied, with a smile, “You are all welcome in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
“But if you want a centrist party, this is not going to be it for the next 10 years.
“If it’s important to you to have a pro-Remain party that is in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation, form your own party and get on with it!”
This article was first published by Labourfeed
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones