In praise of Roger Godsiff
Campaign Group MP Lynne Jones has ended her parliamentary career by almost but not quite endorsing Salma Yaqoob (candidate of George Galloway's Respect party, which used to be a coalition of Trots and Islamists but has now suffered a walk out by the Socialist Workers' Party).
Yaqoob is running in the new Birmingham Hall Green seat against veteran MP Roger Godsiff. This is expected to be a Labour vs. Respect marginal though the Lib Dems also fancy their chances.
You can see the careful wording Jones has used here: http://www.thestirrer.co.uk/April_10/jones-endorses-yaqoob-080410.html - stopping just short of the direct endosement of Yaqoob that would lead to automatic expulsion from the Labour Party.
Ironically, Godsiff's voting pattern in the Commons is not that disimilar to that of Jones and the rest of the Campaign Group:
- He voted for Jones' amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill
- He voted for an inquiry into the Iraq War
- He voted to abolish the ID cards programme
- He voted for Frank Field's compensation proposal on the 10p tax rate
- He voted for the reintroduction of the committee system in local councils
- He voted against 90 day detention
Overall he was the 16th most rebellious member of the PLP in 2008/9.
Either Ms Jones is such a sectarian that anyone who does not match her own record of being the 5th most rebellious Labour MP must be purged, or she has an extremely long memory.
For the other half of Roger Godsiff's political career, before he became a totally un-whippable rebel backbencher, was to have been Political Officer of APEX, later part of the GMB, in the '80s. In this role he was one of the key organisers with people like John Golding and John Spellar, of the fightback by moderate trade unionists which systematically smashed the Bennite Hard Left's grip on Labour's NEC and enabled Kinnock and Hattersley to make Labour electable again.
Roger Godsiff may be an abrasive character with some quirky views but he doesn't deserve to be stabbed in the back by a fellow Labour MP. The last thing Birmingham Hall Green needs is an MP who is a proponent of Respect's brand of communalist politics.
People on Labour's left should be backing Godsiff because he is a free-thinker who has rebelled with the left on a range of key issues. People on Labour's right should be backing him because his historic contribution to Labour's recovery from insanity deserves our gratitude. Lynne Jones joins the ranks of people like Brian Sedgemore who have chosen to end their parliamentary careers by betraying their Party.