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Corbyn and Watson go head to head in Labour ‘Trotskyist infiltration’ row

Corbyn and Watson go head to head in Labour ‘Trotskyist infiltration’ row

🕔11.Aug 2016

Labour’s internal woes show no sign of healing with leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson engaged in a fierce battle over claims the party is being infiltrated by Trotskyist extremists.

West Bromwich MP Mr Watson hit back at suggestions from Mr Corbyn’s camp that he is “peddling conspiracy theories” by publishing a document he says shows members of far-left groups are campaigning for the Labour party.

He was responding to a strongly-worded statement from Mr Corybn’s spokesman, which accused Mr Watson of “patronising members” and engaging in a ‘Project Fear’ operation against the Labour leadership.

That statement was itself a response to an article in The Guardian in which Mr Watson referred to “Trotsky entryists” using Labour “as a vehicle for revolutionary socialism”.

In a letter sent yesterday to the Labour leader, Mr Watson backs up those claims by pointing to members of the Socialist Party and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty who are allegedly trying to infiltrate Labour. Mr Watson wrote:

It’s not a conspiracy theory to say that members of these organisations are joining Labour, it’s a fact.

I assume that you still support the proscription of other political parties. If the position had changed, please just let me know because I think it would be useful to discuss this within the party.

For the avoidance of doubt I am asking you to confirm that you believe members of the Socialist Party and the Alliance for Workers Liberty should not be allowed to be members of the Labour Party, given the proscription of these two groups by annual conference during Neil Kinnock’s leadership.

The Socialist Party, formerly known as Militant, was banned from the Labour party during the 1980s after a bitter tussle during the leadership of Neil Kinnock. One of the group’s most prominent members, former Coventry MP Dave Nellist, was expelled from the Labour party.

Labour’s hopes of winning three metro mayor elections next year were overshadowed by a row over the party’s failure to nominate any female candidates.

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Philips took to Twitter to complain, claiming that West Midlands mayoral candidate Siôn Simon, Greater Manchester candidate Andy Burnham, and Liverpool candidate Steve Rotheram could “go on a man date” together.

Mr Simon was selected from an all-male shortlist of two, beating former Birmingham city councillor Steve Bedser easily.

Mrs Phillips also claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his office ignored her approaches earlier this year to discuss equality in the mayoral races.

In May Labour’s Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London, while Marvin Rees became Mayor of Bristol.

Labour has yet to elect a permanent female leader, with Harriet Harman and Margaret Beckett serving as interim leaders during transitional periods.

The latest YouGov opinion poll contained a glimmer of hope for Mr Corbyn. A Conservative lead over Labour of 14 points last week has halved to seven.

However, when asked who would make the best prime minister 52 per cent said Theresa May and only 18 per cent opted for Mr Corbyn.

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