Memo to Mark Serwotka

The general secretary of the PCS has called for Corbyn's critics to be deselected as MPs. Jamie Reed, a Labour MP, responds.

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Dear Mark,

 

Welcome back to the Labour Party.

It's been 25 years since you were expelled because of your membership of the Trotskyist group Socialist Organiser and although you were barred from voting in last summer’s leadership election on the grounds that you did not share the “aims and values” of the Labour Party, clearly something somewhere has changed and you're back in the fold. Congratulations.

For what it's worth, I still don't believe that you share the aims and values of the party voted for by 9.3m people at the last general election, but I don't make the rules.

Neither do you.

I enjoyed reading your comments in the Guardian last week where you called for the deselection of sitting Labour MPs to be made easier. Unfortunately, it's precisely that type of calculated intervention that is fuelling a growing discontent right across the Labour movement, the Labour Party and within the PLP.

But this attempt to sow division is entirely consistent with the recent partnership between the union you lead, the PCS, and CND with regard to the renewal of Trident. As a representative of the men and women who rely upon the jobs that this critical national mission will provide, their children and the communities which they sustain, I was saddened to find your union campaigning to throw skilled workers in working class communities out of work. Please rest assured, I will never adopt that approach with regard to the jobs of your Union members in the communities I represent or anywhere else.

I'm not sure you're aware but the Labour Party achieved a lot in your absence. Since you've been gone we saved the NHS, trained and employed tens of thousands of new doctors and nurses and oversaw the biggest hospital building programme this country has ever seen. Since you've been gone we built hundreds of new schools, introduced the national minimum wage, lifted millions out of poverty, introduced Sure Start centres, introduced new and improved employment rights and protections and oversaw the regeneration of some of our greatest cities: Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham and more. Since you've been gone, we devolved power to Scotland and Wales, reduced crime, scrapped Section 28, introduced civil partnerships, oversaw massive environmental improvements, improved millions of homes and helped to transform some of our most troubled communities. This is just a small illustration of the huge improvements to the lives of British people achieved by the last Labour government. We achieved all of this without you, but this was a choice you made.

Now then, the trick to achieving all of this really isn't that hard to understand. The trick is this: to improve the lives of the people in our country, we have to win elections. There's no scope for us to withdraw our participation from the democratic process. We can't go on strike if we don't like the direction in which the country is travelling. The opposite is true. We have to work harder, participate more and convince people that we have the right solutions for the problems that the country faces.

The last time you were a party member, we were a byword for electoral failure. In your absence we won three consecutive general elections. We did this because we understood the issues people cared about and, on balance, they believed that we had the best solutions to those problems. We won't win a general election by obsessing about deselecting Labour MPs. We won't win a general election talking about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, the decriminalisation of prostitution or by unwisely embracing unilateralism. We won't win the next general election is we obsess about these issues, or other fringe issues, and we won't deserve to.

It will not be trade union leaders or the remaining Labour MPs in 2020 who will feel the effects of this failure. But this failure will be felt by every community in our country. It will be felt by every man, woman and child who need a Labour government to help them and who have already  suffered so much as a Conservative government ruthlessly pursues a national vision built upon low pay, insecure work, zero hours contracts, mortgaged debt, collapsing public services and a hollowed-out NHS.

So you have a choice. You can help the Labour Party to become electable or you can become an accessory to another Conservative victory in 2020. It's a simple choice. We achieved a lot when you were gone. Let's see what happens now that you're back.

 

With fraternal regards,

Jamie Reed

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland.