Corbyn Cheerleader Moves to Seal Control of U.K. Labour PartyBy
Jon Lansman is seeking to become general secretary of party
Moderates fear further shift to the left will alientate voters
The “Lifelong Leftie” who helped persuade Jeremy Corbyn to run for the Labour leadership in 2015 has made his next move in a quest to cement the hard-line socialist takeover of Britain’s main opposition party.
Jon Lansman, whose Momentum group mobilized tens of thousands of supporters during last year’s general election to help Corbyn erase Prime Minister Theresa May’s parliamentary majority, will take a further step toward controlling the party if his application to become its general secretary is successful.
But his candidacy -- apparently against Corbyn’s wishes -- has set up a conflict that could radically reshape the party.
The post has previously been shared out by the labor unions that founded the party and provide the bulk of its funding, pouring in millions of pounds every year, and they’re not going to give it up without a fight.
Those around Corbyn hoped Jennie Formby, former political director of the Unite union, would be installed in the post on March 20 after a fast-track process to replace Iain McNicol, a moderate who quit last week.
But Lansman announced his candidacy on Thursday, saying he wants power to be handed to members -- after a string of internal party elections in which he has successfully directed Momentum supporters to back his favored candidates.
Moderates fear that if the key positions in the party are taken over by the Momentum faction it will pursue an ever-more hard-line agenda that will alienate the center-ground voters the party needs to win power.
Momentum, for its part, argues that without it Labour would be unable to mount a successful challenge to May’s Tories. The group says its activists knocked on 1.2 million doors in last year’s election and Labour won in 25 of the 30 seats that Lansman’s army of supporters targeted.
Corbyn “campaigned and won backing for a new kind of politics, for sweeping away the old machine politics,” Lansman wrote in a statement announcing his candidacy on Thursday, indicating that he wants to do the same.
While he added that he will also “work hard to strengthen Labour’s trade union link,” his candidacy risks damaging it. And costing the party a lot of money.