POLITICS

Unite Branch Targets 'Judas' Labour MPs For Voting For Syria Airstrikes

14/12/2015 12:01 GMT | Updated 14/12/2015 12:59 GMT
LINDSEY PARNABY via Getty Images
British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn talks to the media after Labour candidate Jim McMahon was confirmed as the newly elected member of parliament for Oldham West and Royton outside Chadderton Town Hall in Chadderton, Oldham, northwest England, on December 4, 2015. British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn passed a key electoral test on December 4 when his Labour party won in the first regional ballot since he took the helm in September. The Labour Party held it's Oldham West and Royton seat by a majority of 10,835 votes from UKIP in the by-election triggered by the death of Labour Party MP Michael Meacher. AFP PHOTO / LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP / LINDSEY PARNABY (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Labour MPs who voted in favour of airstrikes in Syria have been accused by a branch of the Unite union of behaving like "Judas" towards Jeremy Corbyn and warned they face deselection.

On Sunday evening 23 Labour MPs, including shadow first secretary of state Angela Eagle, were reportedly sent a letter accusing them of voting for military action as a way of trying to oust Corbyn as Labour leader.

"For those of you who excuse yourselves for voting on the basis of conscience, we wish to make it clear to you that selection for MPs cannot be based on individual conscience but on strict loyal support for party policy as determined democratically by the majority of the membership," the letter said.

The letter was sent by Mike Le Cornu, the chairman of the Unite Retired Members’ Association (Colchester and District) and first reported by trialbyjeory.

The Labour MPs were accused of "Judas congratulations" towards Corbyn when he won the leadership election against their wishes.

A Unite spokeswoman told The Huffington Post: "This is certainly not promoted by Unite. This is an action by some members locally and not a national union initiative."

Recipients are said to include Angela Eagle, shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander, shadow minister for young people Gloria De Piero, former deputy leader Harriet Harman and former home secretary Alan Johnson.

The letter adds: "With the rampant behaviour of some of you, we can be forgiven for concluding that maybe it’s not ISIS or Assad that you are interested to remove but Jeremy Corbyn whose success, you feel, is a threat to your careers as politicians and to the privileges you enjoy as members of the 'parliamentary club'.

"While we are not in favour of 'bullying', it should not surprise anyone that those of you in the fore front of disruptive behaviour should be the recipients of severe and emotional criticism."

Earlier this month 66 Labour MPs voted in favour of David Cameron's plan to bomb Isis in Syria. Jeremy Corbyn and the majority of Labour MPs voted against.

Under pressure from his shadow cabinet, Corbyn decided to grant his MPs a free vote on the issue - preventing potential resignations and a formal rebellion against his leadership.

Read the full letter:

Dear Colleagues

We believe it is high time to remind you that Jeremy Corbyn was democratically elected Labour leader with almost 60% majority, the highest ever recorded for a leadership contest.

While we understand that some of you will have been disappointed at the final result, we would expect that all of you should have the grace to accept that this was clearly a demand for a change of policy direction towards the desires and aspirations of the overall majority of working people.

We have to say that we find it distasteful that some of you indulged in, what can only be described as a ‘Judas’ congratulations to Jeremy when his overwhelming victory was announced.

Subsequent actions and statements and involvement of the media by some of you, indicate that even during the election campaign, steps were already afoot to undermine him.

It is our view that those of you engaged in disruptive tactics would be better engaged in analysing why such a huge majority have chosen Jeremy as the new Labour leader and that his success has resulted in a three fold increase in membership of the party in contrast to the 5 million votes lost by the previous Labour administration.

It might be pertinent to remind you that New Labour in office was the first Labour government in our history to preside over the gap between the rich and poor increasing, leaving illegal anti union laws on the statute book placed there by the Tories in violation ILO standards, extending privatisation rather than advance the public sector and, most shocking of all, abandoning the principles of peace and international law and lining up with a reckless, aggressive reactionary US administration.

Clearly the majority of the membership believe it is time to reclaim our party for the values of working men and women, the values of socialism.

Clearly supporting the Tories to unlawfully bomb Syria indicates that you have learnt nothing.

Did you feel comfortable going into the voting lobby with the Tories whose leader has, in effect, insulted millions of British people who have doubts about the bombing by implying that they are supporters of terrorism?

It is becoming abundantly clear that the idea that air-strikes will destroy ISIS while they are selling to oil to Turkey and are funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is ludicrous, and to exploit the memory of those who gave their lives to fight fascism in Spain and in WW2 is a misinterpretation of both events and an insult to those involved in both conflicts.

As veterans of the recent conflicts have stated ‘these invasions, occupations and attacks have caused great devastation, killed hundreds of thousands of people and have led to the destruction of societies’.

This irresponsible action has now placed Britain to the fore front and rather that make our country safe has exposed the British people as principle targets for the terrorists.

With the rampant behaviour of some of you, we can be forgiven for concluding that maybe it’s not ISIS or Assad that you are interested to remove but Jeremy Corbyn whose success, you feel, is a threat to your careers as politicians and to the privileges you enjoy as members of the ‘parliamentary club’.

While we are not in favour of ‘bullying’, it should not surprise anyone that those of you in the fore front of disruptive behaviour should be the recipients of severe and emotional criticism.

As for those of you who excuse yourselves for voting on the basis of conscience, we wish to make it clear to you that selection for MPs cannot be based on individual conscience but on strict loyal support for party policy as determined democratically by the majority of the membership.

As for the question of selection or deselection, that is a matter for CLPs to choose who is best suited to campaign for the aims of the party as a whole.

Our message to you all is to desist from any further divisive actions or statements and to unite behind our new leader and concentrate on getting rid of the Tories once and for all and establish a Labour government dedicated to achieve a socialist alternative to the present decadent society.

Yours sincerely