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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

The fight for Labour

by New Worker correspondent

THE RACE to the top of the Labour Party has started in the aftermath of Labour’s defeat in last month’s general election. five Labour MPs are in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, who steps down in April. Three have vowed to continue, more or less, along the left social-democratic path charted by Corbyn. But only one of them, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has been endorsed by Momentum, the faction run by Jon Lansman, one of Corbyn’s key advisers.

They all needed 22 nominations from Labour MPs to go on to the second round of the leadership campaign and an all-members ballot in March. Although none of the old Blairite has-beens are in the running most of them have swung behind Sir Keir Starmer, who topped the MPs vote with 66 nominations. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Business Secretary, won 26 nominations. Shadow Foreign Minister Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips are also in the running, but Labour insiders believe the contest will revolve around Starmer’s and Long-Bailey’s bids to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Starmer was the architect of Labour’s swing in favour of a second European Union referendum that lost them the election in December. A die-hard Remainer, he nevertheless, poses as a “continuity” candidate in a renewed effort to win grass-roots support amongst the half-million strong membership whose votes will decide who will lead Labour for the next few years.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Business Secretary, won 26 nominations. She claims to be following Jeremy Corbyn’s footsteps, telling the media that: “I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them.” But she’s a supporter of Britain’s nuclear weapons and tries to win over blue-collar workers by talking a lot of nonsense about “progressive patriotism” in the media.

This week all five came under fire from Labour activists and the progressive Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) movement for endorsing a list of demands drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews that have clearly been designed to stifle all pro-Palestinian opinion within the labour movement.

The Labour Against the Witchhunt campaign defends campaigners who’ve been drummed out of the Labour Party on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism. Now it’s called on Rebecca Long-Bailey to reject the Board of Deputies’ demands.

It says: “The Board of Deputies (BoD) is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel — unlike the BoD. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation. It claims, for instance, that the Palestinians in Gaza are “using its civilians — including children — as pawns” in their fight against Israeli occupation and oppression.

“The BoD have supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. The BoD is not a neutral body, but one with an evident political agenda: to attack, weaken and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. The BoD encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews)…

“We believe that the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for. If implemented, these policies would for example, result in the suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who have stood in open solidarity with those wrongly accused of anti-Semitism, including Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth.

Solidarity is surely what the Labour Party stands for? If implemented, the pledges would create an atmosphere of fear, distrust and self-censorship. Is that really the kind of party you want Labour to become?”