If we support democracy, we should support Open Selection of MPs

Leader of a party rocked by allegations of Anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn is losing the support of moderate Labour MPs. MPs that recently heavily criticised Mr Corbyn’s leadership and some have even been tipped to leave the party and form a new centrist one, based on Blair’s New Labour Regime, with Umuna as it’s expected, leader.

But with the Labour Membership desiring open selection it may be a case of jumping before their constituents push them out.

If the policy of mandatory re-selection is approved by the National Executive Committee, then all Labour party MPs will have to go through the process of being chosen as their constituency’s parliamentary candidate once again.

Whilst most MPs will be unaffected by this change, as the majority have the full support of their local party, it will give some CLPs the chance to change who they put forward to run for MP if they are unhappy with the MP’s performance and feel he or she has been unaccountable to the local area.

Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, seems to believe that “mandatory re-selection is coming, and it will be the key to Labour’s success.” It is obvious that a majority of labour party members agree with Chris Williamson’s statement and that this will lead to unity and harmony within the party.

The chances of this policy actually happening heavily depends on the outcome of the National Executive Committee’s election. The favourites to win are the candidates collectively known as the Jeremy Corbyn 9, the left-wing slate, who all back increasing democracy within the party, these candidates were perceived as a threat to MPs from the right of the party.

On the 30th August 2018, MP Frank Field resigned the Labour Whip, Field had already lost a vote of no confidence called by his local party due to his actions in Parliament, the aim of this vote was to see him deselected.

Field is a prime example of why Labour needs open selection. There is no chance of him being forced out in a general election due to his near 26k vote majority and he clearly does not represent Labour voters. He has consistently voted against Labour’s Brexit policy, simultaneously propping up Theresa May’s government, and it is not only Brexit where he is distinct from the party.

The Telegraph named him in the Top 100 most influential right-wingers in the UK and he has called Margaret Thatcher a hero. Hardly a Socialist. He was chosen in 1979 to be Labour’s MP and since then and has had to be accountable to no one and been paid from the public purse for the pleasure.

Also worth remembering some MPs never won a vote in their local parties and were simply parachuted in by Labour’s NEC.

Many members of the labour party believe that, if these “rebel” MPs do not have faith in the party leadership and act to undermine the party, then they should no longer stand as MPs for the party. Many others have expressed their concern at Mr Field’s intention to transfer to an independent MP without calling a by-election. MP Dan Carden tweeting “people elected to be Labour Party MPs or councillors who then resign the whip should do the decent thing and call a by-election. Their political assertions should be tested at the ballot box.”

Many see a move towards Open Selection as a Corbynista attempt to seize control of the party, forgetting that the left control the NEC and could use Labour’s governing body to root out a few rebels, in fact many Blairite MPs may have the support of local party branches who are more right wing in their membership. Introducing Open selection would be overkill. Open selection is fundamental to a socialist vision of democracy and accountability of politicians. The real question to its opponents is why shouldn’t members choose who they endorse for MP?


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