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On a Rainy Day in Oldham, A Ray of Hope for Labour

01/12/2015 09:51 GMT | Updated 30/11/2016 10:12 GMT

It's been a horrible week for the Labour party. Obvious disunity and rumours of coups and resignations have tragically eclipsed what should have been two major victories - the chancellors U-turn on tax-credit and policing cuts. It's getting harder to dismiss the impression that the Labour party is engaged in a civil war; the parliamentary party irreconcilably at odds with the pro-Corbyn rank and file.

But on the soggy streets of Oldham on Saturday, something different was happening. Almost 200 Momentum activists from Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Kent and Leeds had come to put themselves at the disposal of the local party in advance of Thursday's vital by-election. These activists were mostly new members or Labour returnees; herded back into the Labour fold by the progressive, hopeful politics espoused by Jeremy Corbyn.

If you go by the hysterical briefings of certain Labour "moderates", Momentum is on a kamikaze mission to deselect most Labour MP's and destroy the party from within. And yet, the candidate Momentum activists were getting their socks wet for was not some socialist firebrand but Jim McMahon; a Progress feted council leader who backed Liz Kendall in the Labour leadership contest.

Momentum activists joined Jim because we understood that supporting Jeremy's principles counts for nothing unless we throw everything we've got behind the electoral ambitions of the Labour party; to translate those principles into real change. Jim in turn was grateful of the support of activists he may not have seen eye-to-eye with on every policy issue, but whose energy and dedication he valued. The Labour party is, and always will be, a broad church but the hopes and fears of Oldham constituents, anxious about jobs, schools, the NHS and the cost of living - were a call to unity.

Disagreement is fine but repeated, unconstructive statements of no confidence - whether from MP's in relation to the leadership or from tweet-happy members regarding MP's they don't fancy - just make the party as a whole look lost and incompetent. To the big names of the old guard still queasy and bewildered by Jeremy's victory; you've put your reservations on record. Now it's time for all of us to show some loyalty. Not to Jeremy, but to the millions of ordinary people who deserve an effective opposition.

Because up and down the country, people are facing five more years of vicious assaults on public services and basic living standards, while the Tories happily get down to the business of redistributing wealth to the rich. The Labour party, in all its shades, needs to wake up and realise that its own internal politics cannot be allowed to eclipse the infinitely more important fight against a cruel Tory administration, hell bent on dismantling society as we know it.