At the time of the leadership coup against Corbyn last year, Cashman proudly declared on Twitter, ‘I am not supporting Corbyn – I resigned the job he gave me’.
In fact, Cashman’s timeline is one long diatribe about the supposed evils of the ‘hard-left’ Labour leadership of Corbyn and McDonnell. Just over the weekend, he called Corbyn ‘wrong’ three times, retweeted A C Grayling calling Corbyn ‘indefensible’, Lib Dem Sarah Rudford calling Corbyn ‘absurd’, Frances Barber calling Corbyn supporters ‘deluded’… yet has the nerve to claim he is the one who is mistreated on social media.
An actor in the early days of Eastenders, Cashman’s advocacy of gay rights at a time when the Tories were still upholding Section 28 is to be applauded, certainly. But he did not follow the path of left wing LGBT activists like Peter Tatchell, combining militant activism with a fight to democratise the Labour Party and turn it into a vehicle for socialist ideas.
Instead, Cashman supported anti-left struggles inside the Labour Party waged by the likes of Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair (the latter a personal friend). This allowed him to jump aboard the Brussels gravy train as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1999, and subsequently get himself ennobled for helping the party establishment in 2014. He now has not only an MEP’s generous pension, estimated to be worth £57,000 a year, but can also claim the House of Lords’ £300 per day attendance allowance.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about grassroots democracy where everyone’s voice is heard, the European Parliament and House of Lords aren’t the first places that spring to mind.
In truth, despite his rhetoric about making party conference ‘inclusive’ of all strands of opinion, Cashman has long been a backroom fixer for the party’s hard right, together with his running mate on the right wing slate Gloria de Piero. Cashman stood for the party’s national executive as long ago as 1998, on a platform supportive of Blair’s leadership.
His lordship has been consistently opposed to Corbyn since day one. In June 2015, he said Corbyn as leader was ‘self indulgence’. In July 2016, ‘Corbyn must go’. In August, ‘Jeremy Corbyn and his staff are not up to represent[ing] the party, nor the country’. September, ‘We got Labour into government despite McDonnell and Corbyn. I’m with [Alastair] Campbell.’ And so on, and so on.
It’s no coincidence that Baron Cashman is being supported by the likes of Labour First’s Luke ‘the Nuke’ Akehurst or Richard Angell from going-bust Progress. Cashman is, behind the transparent rhetoric, an arch-Blairite – and the very last person who wants to see Labour Party conference empowering the mass ranks of new members who have joined to support Jeremy Corbyn.
To liberate conference from the grip of Corbyn’s enemies, vote Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes for Conference Arrangements Committee.
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In a world of isolation and a left which tends towards despondency, collective joy is our weapon against neoliberalism. Sam Swann reflects on The World Transformed 2018
Michael Calderbank brings you a bite-sized guide to what went on at conference, and what that means for the future of the party.
Labour needs to develop a socialist strategy that goes beyond a single election manifesto. Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin look at the challenge of state transformation
If we want a radical socialist government, it starts with democratising the party from the bottom up. Dan Gerke argues in favour of mandatory reselection.