Just in case anybody had forgotten the fear that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has left it vulnerable to infiltration by the hard left, the Times (£) today reports that John McDonnell wants to make their ingress even easier.
He apparently told a meeting of Momentum, the pro-Corbyn grassroots outfit, that he wanted to scrap the Compliance Unit, a team inside Labour HQ which polices the party’s membership and roots out undesirables.
This comes only a few days after Jill Mountford, a senior member of the group’s committee, was expelled from Labour – with Stephen Bush of the New Statesman writing that “further members of the committee may face expulsions”.
The proposal has gone down very badly with Labour MPs, but it has won the Shadow Chancellor accolades from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, a self-described “Marxist and Trotskyist” organisation.
(It is sometimes very hard to find a niche for stinging, explicitly Conservative critiques of the Opposition when one can write sentences like that as simple reporting.)
More bad news for Momentum was in this morning’s Financial Times, which revealed that big unions are refusing to fund it. The paper further reports that:
“…the honeymoon between the unions and the Labour party leader is starting to fade as the increasingly divided party slides to new lows in the opinion polls… There are growing strains on the relationship over issues such as the Trident nuclear deterrent and Heathrow expansion.”
This could explain McDonnell’s provocative statement. Of the three pillars of the Labour Party, Corbyn and his faction have the membership and are opposed by the MPs. If the third, the trades unions, are drifting away than it makes sense for those around the leader to do what they can to bolster their bunker in the membership.