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It has been reported that Labour MPs are being warned not to become “scabs” by accepting positions in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. Those MPs that return to or accept front bench positions have been advised that “crossing the picket line” will lead to a withdrawal of support from the wider Parliamentary Labour Party if and when shadow cabinet elections are held.
Labour MPs recently voted for a return to shadow cabinet elections in what appears to be a mechanism that will be used to try and curtail the power and influence of Corbyn and his allies.
A Labour source told Herald Scotland:
They are being told that if they do become scabs they won’t get the votes of their colleagues if there are shadow cabinet elections in the future
Ian Murray, the former shadow Minister for Scotland, has said that he would only consider returning to the frontbench if shadow cabinet elections were reinstated. The Labour Party National Executive Committee are currently having discussions regarding the shadow cabinet elections at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
MPs within the Parliamentary Labour Party that are using terms such as “scab” and “picket line” to describe sitting on the front bench and working with Corbyn, are aside from being overly dramatic – just brazenly hypocritical.
Guidlines issued by the NEC on ‘terms of abuse that will not be tolerated’ were leaked in July. They revealed that applications to becomes a registered supporter of the Labour Party would be blocked if the applicant has used the words “traitor”, “scum”, or “scab” to describe “any candidate, and Labour representative, or any other member.” The guidelines did not include words such as “Trots”, “Rabble”, “Dogs”, “Militant”, “Tankie”, “Anarchist”, “Maoist” or “Stalinist.”
Apparently, those terms, despite being both innacurate and used pejoratively, are fair-game. In the months since the guidance was issued there have been thousands of members and supporters purged and prevented from voting in the leadership election because of comments they have allegedly made in meetings and (or) on social media.
Since Corbyn’s stunning victory over the lacklustre Owen Smith, pious MPs and pundits are scuttling around television studios claiming that it is Corbyn that needs to compromise and bring unity to the party, without any suggestion that they may need to get their own house in order.
It is amazing to hear of MP’s taking such a principled position on picket-lines, as when Tristram Hunt, the then shadow education secretary, crossed a picket-line of teachers to deliver a lecture on Karl Marx, his colleagues had literally nothing to say.