Labour MPs Are 'Asking To Be Deselected,' Says Len McCluskey

Ned Simons

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey has accused some Labour MPs of “asking” to be deselected, amid divisions on the left the party over how to choose parliamentary candidates.

“We want to make certain that those MPs that need to be called to account will be called to account,” he said on Sunday.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) last night agreed reforms to make it easier to change who stands as the parliamentary candidate in each seat.

Under current rules if a sitting MP loses support of 50% of the branches in their local party a contest is triggered.

The new proposal, supported by the unions including Unite, would see this threshold reduced to one third.

But the proposal does not go far enough for many members, including the grassroots campaign group Momentum, which wants sitting MPs to have to automatically face a contest against other candidates.

This triggered open divisions on the floor of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Sunday.

McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, told a fringe event at the gathering he was “slightly shocked” at the split given the compromise plan was backed by Jeremy Corbyn.

He called for unity in the party against the “vilification and vicious attacks” from the media and “some people within our own ranks”.

“I believe there are certain MPs within our party who are almost asking to be deselected,” he said.

“They really don’t want be part of this exciting transformation that is taking place.

“We want accountability and we will get it. This year will just be a staging post towards the fully democratic party that we want,” he said.

Many Labour MPs think the move towards so-called mandatory reselection is designed purely to make it easier to replace them with pro-Corbyn loyalists.

McCluskey told Labour MPs who have claimed pro-Corbyn activists are trying to get rid of them they should accept party members had the right to choose who their representatives were.

“We have already heard the terminology, ‘bullying’ and ‘intimidation’ and ‘intolerance’. I have got another word for them. It’s called accountability,” he said. 

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