A close ally of Jeremy Corbyn has told Labour MPs they deserve to face deselection if they do not have the support of party members.
Chris Williamson, who has been appointed to the shadow frontbench, said many MPs were guilty of “failing to understand what is really going on out there in society” and should not be surprised if they are replaced.
It is the second time this week Derby North MP risked deepening splits in the Parliamentary Labour Party by arguing in favour of mandatory reselection.
His latest comments came after HufPost UK reported Corbyn could back radical plans to make it easier for party members to deselect sitting Labour MPs.
The move came as grassroots group Momentum took control of yet another local Labour party, warning sitting MP Luciana Berger that she “needs to get on board quite quickly” after her previous criticism of the leader.
And new party chair Ian Lavery also told HuffPost UK last week that he wanted “different ways and means” of selecting MPs. And in a warning to those on the right, suggested the party was now “too broad a church”.
Williamson said today: “There are interest groups and individual MPs in this party who think it’s their god-given right to rule. No MP should be guaranteed a job for life and it’s crucial that we all get with the times.
“MPs elected in earlier phases of this party run the risk of failing to understand what is really going on out there in society. Although this Party’s hundreds of thousands of new members were once demonised the election has shown that the political instincts of these members are in line with popular opinion. For our party to succeed these members must be listened to.”
He added: “Yes Labour is a big church, but we currently have a large bulk of MPs who represent one relatively small tendency in the congregation. To keep Labour fresh and updated we need MPs who can win the support of the mass membership.
“Where I think critics of mandatory reselection are mistaken are in trying to view the Corbyn phenomenon through the lens of the ’70s and ’80s when the militant left was small and ideologically driven. Today, the bulk of Labour’s new members don’t see the new politics as left or right, they see it as a matter of right or wrong.
“Those MPs who are popular with their members, which may well be the vast majority, should have no problem getting reselected. But its unreasonable to think we as MPs can avoid any contest.”