THE BLOG
09/08/2018 07:56 BST | Updated 09/08/2018 07:56 BST

Labour Needs Uniting, Not More Infighting

The Labour movement owes a lot to the contribution of Jewish members and campaigners

PA Wire/PA Images

I’ll make a confession: I’ve spent too much time on Twitter recently. It’s an echo chamber, and some not very nice people spend too much time on there as well. Mostly what’s been going through my head over the last couple of months is: “FFS. Is that what we are now?”

Like, I suspect, the vast majority of Labour Party members, I despair about our party turning on each other. Almost two years ago, I wrote on this very site, that after Jeremy’s resounding win in 2016 we needed to come together and get on with putting a Labour government in power. 

The 2017 manifesto – the best I’ve campaigned on in my lifetime – inspired millions. I was there with party members out on the doorstep campaigning to put that manifesto into practice. That manifesto would have changed lives. That’s the Labour Party I want to talk to GMB members about, not division and headlines about anti-Semitism.

Right now we risk missing a once in a generation chance to reshape our economy and our society, because we can’t get our collective heads out of our posteriors. Where is the common sense? 

I’ve got members in local government watching services being dismantled. The care system is on its knees. The NHS is being flogged to anyone with a cheque book. And the public are sick of it. All of it. 

Instead of taking the fight to a divided and squabbling Tory Party, we’re knocking lumps out of each other.  

It has to end. This is where I am in danger of penning a rant, not a blog. I’ll await the torrent of abuse from all sides that is such a constant and dependable feature of social media these days. But here goes.

Anti-Semitism is a problem in the Labour Party. I’ve been shocked at what I’ve seen on social media. For my entire life, and with every fibre of my being, I have campaigned against and fought racism.

There is no place for anti-Semitism in our Party, we need to tackle that head-on as well as providing political education and training for members. The Labour movement owes a lot to the contribution of Jewish members and campaigners and the party needs to get to work to rebuild trust across our Jewish communities. It is abundantly clear that Labour has to accept IHRA examples of anti-Semitism in full, while agreeing that criticising the Israeli government and supporting our Palestinian brothers and sisters is not being anti-Semitic. 

As one MP told me “criticise the Israeli government, but let’s do it without being a racist and without being an arse.” Surely, as a movement, that low bar cannot be beyond our ability?

Talk of a new political party. Really? The Tory press would love nothing more. Some MPs need to get over themselves – being elected as a Labour MP is just that. You’re part of a movement, a collective. We will disagree from time to time as families do, but an SDP split helps no one except the right, as it did with Thatcher in the 1980s. 

To anyone who believes keeping Jeremy out of Number 10 or getting rid of him is worth another five years of a Tory government, think again. I’d ask you to come and meet teaching assistants who are lining up at food banks and tell them why your self-indulgence is more important than putting food on their kids’ tables. Come and meet the NHS workers who would earn more working in Lidl. 

While we’re on the subject. Jeremy is here to stay. Accept it and embrace it. 

There are legitimate debates to be had about Brexit, I am increasingly terrified about what this chaotic version of Brexit could mean for GMB members’ jobs, but that’s an evolving process not a “you’re on my side or the other” battle which means all sides become entrenched and unable to listen, understand each other, cooperate or compromise. 

If we put as much energy into transforming our communities as people seem to put into debates about mandatory re-selection, internal rows or #resignwatson then maybe we would be further ahead in the polls – which is where we should be. We shouldn’t be neck and neck, we should be miles ahead.

I’m making this plea to all Labour supporters. Working people, young people, sick and disabled people desperately need a new Government. It’s no game. They are suffering and they are looking to all of us. 

We can make the choice to be the Labour Party, an inclusive broad church and determined Government in waiting, or we can choose to let down the people who need us most through our own indulgence or settling of old scores.  

It is in all our hands to deliver a Labour government that will transform and rescue our society. Millions of lives depend on us uniting and winning, so that is what we must do.