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11 August 2016updated 09 Sep 2021 11:01am

Deselection is a theoretical luxury if you don’t even have a Labour MP

Never mind Blairite - what if your local MP is a Tory? 

By Daniel Katz

The road to a Labour Government is steep, and requires the gain of many former Labour seats which now produce hefty Conservative (or SNP) majorities. Labour swept to power in 1997 with the help of six out of 11 constituencies in Hertfordshire. Today, all 11 are held by Conservative MPs, and even the most marginal boasts a vote majority of nearly 5,000. In the national picture, Labour’s failure in the 2015 general election reduced it to a party of 230 MPs, more than a hundred short of an overall majority. 

In short, Labour risks becoming as toxic in the south as the Conservatives are in parts of the north. The most urgent priority must be to reconnect Labour with the voters, and to increase its parliamentary representation in these areas.

Yet there seems to be an utter disconnect between the reality of Labour’s dire electoral performance and the priorities of many Labour members. The increasing clamour for deselecting “traitorous” MPs betrays this insular attitude. The idea that hardworking and diligent MPs, who talk to thousands of voters, can be turfed out of their job not by the electorate but by a couple dozen ideological purists in a dingy church hall, is ludicrous. 

I caught the political bug whilst studying my A-levels, and joined the Labour party upon arriving at university. In my time as a member, I have witnessed the hard work put in by prospective parliamentary candidates at the general election of 2015. I saw how these prospective MPs slogged their guts out for the right to represent their local area, and to win the trust of local residents. I saw how candidates and their teams spoke to thousands of voters and gathered immense amounts of information on the local political zeitgeist. And on polling day, I witnessed their heartbreak. Their dedication was proven fruitless, since their local popularity failed to override concerns about Labour’s top team. In my home town, the Conservative MP increased his majority. The Labour share of the vote barely changed.

For my constituency, and for the marginals I canvassed during the election, deselection is a purely theoretical exercise. The prospect of having a Labour MP to dislike seems an unattainable dream. Instead, the alternative to a “Blairite” MP isn’t a Corbynite MP, but a Tory one. Changing the composition of the existing parliamentary Labour party is as relevant as the Changing of the Guard.

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Denigrating and removing Labour MPs is a luxury not available to thousands of Labour members, particularly in the south of England.  It is a futile sideshow.

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Deselecting MPs does nothing to revitalise Labour’s prospects in target seats. All it does is satisfy the egos of those privileged enough to already have a Labour MP. It’s an ideological purist’s self-indulgence, and one that Labour can do without.