The Labour Party’s Right Wing Only Cares About Destroying Socialism

The Forde report, an inquiry into antisemitism within the Labour Party, has found that the Right cynically used accusations of racism to undermine the Left. In the two years since it was commissioned, nothing has changed.

Labour leader Keir Starmer delivering a speech in Gateshead, England. (Ian Forsyth / Getty Images)

Over Easter weekend 2020, a leaked report into antisemitism within the Labour Party exposed a nasty undercurrent of factionalism and bullying. The report, commissioned by the party, unearthed some ten thousand WhatsApp messages and emails between MPs in which they conspired against then leader Jeremy Corbyn and launched sexist and racist abuse at Diane Abbott, a left-wing supporter of Keir Starmer’s predecessor.

For Starmer, the evidence the 860-page dossier provided was inconclusive. In response, the party launched an inquiry into this leaked report — an inquiry into an inquiry — conducted by Martin Forde QC, a lawyer well-known for being the independent advisor to the government’s compensation scheme for Windrush migrants wrongly denied the rights of citizenship.

Forde’s aim was to look into the document, but also “legitimate and serious concerns” regarding the party’s operations. The report faced numerous delays due to legal spats by some who were named in the original leaked document, an investigation over data breaches, and Labour’s decision to pursue legal action against five former Corbyn aides it accused of leaking the document in the first place. The Information Commissioner’s Office is still investigating the data breaches.

It is undoubtable that Labour was ridden with dysfunction during the Corbyn years. But what the report has made clear is that the instigators of this factional warfare came from the right. Since the first trove of documents was leaked in 2020, Starmer has made the factional struggle against the Left the core of his political program. With Labour’s selection processes underway and gearing up for a future general election, the last fortress of the Left that remain untouched by Starmer’s purging wand are now facing the cavalry.

In the East London borough of Ilford South, a diverse Labour stronghold, local members selected candidate and former coordinator of Corbyn’s leadership campaign Sam Tarry to contest the seat in 2019. There were murmurs of concern around Tarry’s win after council leader and frontrunner Jas Athwal was suspended from the party. Athwal’s suspension was later lifted and he was cleared of wrongdoing regarding claims of sexual harassment.

However, Tarry — a former campaign director for now deputy leader Angela Rayner’s failed bid for head of the Labour Party — has been an ever present thorn in the side of the Tory government since his time in office. He has consistently voted for bolder measures to prevent climate change and is a staunch critic of a stricter asylum system and draconian immigration rules. His support for fair and just immigration policies has proved popular in the diverse borough he serves.

Tarry now faces a stitch-up from his local party in his campaign to be reselected as Ilford South’s candidate. All party branches voted 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent in favor of a full selection process, but accusations of voter fraud have prevailed. Tarry has alluded to the actions of Athwal, former frontrunner and suspended candidate in 2019, as a potential breach of rules due to him campaigning for an alternative candidate before the trigger ballot has begun. It’s no coincidence that Athwal has been supportive of Starmer’s leadership, and has welcomed the leader and members of his shadow cabinet to Redbridge Council.

Just a stone’s throw away, Tarry’s fellow Socialist Campaign Group member Apsana Begum faces a trigger ballot selection process that is set to derail her political career. Begum accuses members of a “sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse.” A letter from the Muslim women members of Poplar and Limehouse Labour Party has expressed how it “saddens” them that gender and faith is “being used for factional politics.” What is interesting about this case, and how Labour members are waging war on left-wing candidates, is that it falls under the borough of Tower Hamlets.

Residents in that borough recently elected left-wing former Labour MP Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire party in the recent local elections. Rahman was previously barred from standing as mayor of Tower Hamlets as a Labour candidate in the 2010 election after allegations of signing up ineligible voters for the selection process, claims which have since been debunked.

The Right of the Labour Party have attempted to link Rahman and Begum, an association she has denied and described as “grossly insulting.” What this furore reveals is that under Starmer’s increasingly authoritarian rule, any affiliation with the Left, real or imagined, will be rooted out at a grassroots level.

All of this is part of the Labour leadership’s plan to hold onto the center ground. However, Starmer denies that left-wing candidates hoping to stand at the next election are being sidelined. This is hard to square with the fact that he has been unequivocal in his condemnation of the socialist left flank and anything attached to Corbynism.

Elected as the “soft-left” candidate, this reputation for moderation has been overshadowed by a war on those who don’t fit his mold of leadership. It’s not just London seats that are witness to interference from the top, heavy-handedness was notorious in the Red Wall seat of Wakefield during last month’s by-election. The Wakefield Labour Party’s entire executive committee quit in protest of Starmer parachuting in a candidate and ignoring the party rulebook’s process for candidate selections.

The leadership’s war on socialism has trickled down to grassroots level. Without its broad-church appeal and the coalition of voters needed to win an outright majority, Labour faces a grave reckoning at the ballot box.

With a new Tory leader and a general election looming, Labour’s inward focus on ridding left-wing candidates just proves what the Forde report has warned us all about: right-wing factionalism is destroying the party.