On selecting Hard Left candidates
As I expected, my post on Christine Shawcroft has got people excited.
Good. Choosing a Labour candidate is an important process. It's vital that selection processes are scrutinised and candidates' records examined - if they become MPs they don't just write our laws, they are the talent pool from which we choose a Labour Government.
The process needs to be political not just a glorified job interview because the composition of the PLP plays a large part in determining Labour's direction and it's electability.
The election of new Hard Left MPs - be they Christine Shawcroft or anyone else - is a bad thing for a number of reasons:
1) It sends voters a message that Labour is forgetting the lessons they (the electorate) taught us about their low level of tolerance of extremist politics in the 1980s.
2) It's the thin end of the wedge - one extra Hard Left MP might not matter now but it could matter a lot if that person is still there in 20 years screwing up a more evenly balanced PLP.
3) In a parliament with a narrow Labour majority, having "Labour" MPs who break the whip and vote against their own government is about as useful to sustaining that government as a chocolate teapot.
4) Not many of them show any aptitude to be ministers - but they deny seats to other potential Labour candidates who would obey the whip and would make good ministers.
5) An MP's politics often shape those of their CLP. I care about the grassroots politics of the Labour Party, so I want MPs who will lead their CLPs in a sensible direction.
6) My personal experience is that Hard Left MPs don't prioritise campaigning or embrace modern campaigning techniques in the way other Labour MPs do - i.e. they have a negative organisational impact.
This isn't a game. When Labour didn't take selections seriously in the past and allowed multiple Christine Shawcrofts into the PLP and even more of them into positions of influence in the wider party, we were unelectable for a generation. The people who paid a price in lost jobs and life chances and public services were not on the Editorial Board of Labour Briefing, they were ordinary Labour voters.
A side issue in the post below concerns Trotskyists and their suitability as Labour MPs. Here my view is one of zero tolerance. If you embrace an ideology - Leninism - that believes in violent revolution leading to a dictatorship of the proletariat, then by definition you are not Labour because we are a democratic socialist party, and if you've really considered the implications of your ideology and the violence and absence of democracy and human rights it involves, you must be quite sick to carry on supporting it.