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Friday, July 07, 2017

Are more splits likely as Corbynistas seek to consolidate their position?

Fears amongst more moderate MPs that Jeremy Corbyn's relative success during the General Election will see their dissent punished by possible deselection have come to the fore after a challenge to the Liverpool Wavertree MP, Luciana Berger to tow the line or find herself out on her ear.

As the Guardian reports, Berger was challenged to get behind the leadership after eight out of 10 positions in the constituency Labour party went to Corbyn loyalists.

Soon after winning his new role, Roy Bentham, the trade union liaison officer, told the Liverpool Echo: “Luciana needs to get on board quite quickly now. She will now have to sit round the table with us the next time she wants to vote for bombing in Syria or to pass a no-confidence motion in the leader of the party – she will have to be answerable to us.”

As the paper says, officials on the Wavertree executive later dissociated themselves from Bentham’s comments. But it comes at a time when Momentum, the grassroots movement of Corbyn supporters, is growing in strength in local constituency parties following Labour’s better than expected performance at the general election.

They add that a Momentum group in South Tyneside posted a list on its Facebook group of 49 MPs, including Chuka Ummuna and Chris Leslie, that they said should leave Labour to “join the Liberals”. The post was taken down and disavowed by the national movement, which is working to dispel the idea that it wants to see MPs deselected.

With Corbyn backing the Tory Government in taking a hard Brexit line, there is significant dissent amongst his Parliamentary Party on that particular issue (and also amongst Labour voters). If his supporters are going to use the threat of deselection to keep dissidents in line on Europe then Corbyn could quickly lose all the goodwill that he has built up following his General Election performance. Is a split within the ranks looming?
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