In the good old days
As reported earlier this week, I'm ploughing my way through some second-hand Labour history books.
First up is "The Road to Brighton Pier" by Leslie Hunter.
This everyday story of sectarian folk knifing each other in the back makes any tensions in the current cabinet look exceptionally tame.
Synopsis so far - I've only got to 1955:
Everyone hates Nye. Except his fan club (Harold, Barbara, Footy et al) who adore him.
And except the ordinary members of the Labour Party. Who adore him but have no say in the party because the unions hold over 90% of the votes and hate the left.
The TGWU, NUM and GMWU have over 1/3 of the total vote at conference, and are run by ferocious disciplinarian commie-baiters who think nothing of shouting "shut 'yer gob" at Walter Wolfgang style hecklers and openly advocate the expulsion of Bevan and up to 1/4 of the PLP for breaking the whip (the Chief Whip at one point suspends 57 MPs from the PLP) - once - on German rearmament. They think this will help win the 1955 General Election. They also propose - over drinks in a hotel at the Margate conference - abolition of the 7 constituency seats on the NEC so that the whole thing is elected by them.
The left, led by Cripps, tries to oust Attlee as leader in 1947 but screws it up.
Rightwing PPSs try to do the same thing a year later but also screw it up.
Attlee hangs on as leader for 2 decades just to spite Herbert Morrison by not retiring until Herbert is old and past it.
Attlee stops Nye getting expelled despite Nye's serial disloyalty to him.
The right hold every key cabinet/shadow cabinet position after 1950 but can't get it together to oust Attlee because they hate each other so much. Bevin hates Morrison. And vice versa. Everyone hates Dalton.
The CLPs take out their frustration at only having 10% of the votes on policy and no say at all over leader (elected only by MPs) by voting Morrison, Dalton and Shinwell, heroes of the '45 government, off the NEC.
Next chapter ... they are all surprised to lose another General Election ...