A most unseemy row has broken out after Alastair Campbell, former spinmeister to the blessed Tone, found himself expelled from the Labour Party earlier today. As the BBC has reported, “Tony Blair's former spin doctor says he has been expelled from the Labour Party after voting for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections. Alastair Campbell, a lead campaigner for another Brexit referendum, said he was ‘sad and disappointed’”.
Try to ignore the naked boy, folks
Although, as a lifelong Burnley fan, he stopped short of declaring himself Gutted, or indeed Sick As A Parrot. The report also told “He said he voted Lib Dem ‘to try to persuade Labour to do the right thing’, but ‘always will be Labour’ and appeal. A Labour spokesman said supporting another party was ‘incompatible with membership’. Mr Campbell revealed he had voted Lib Dem during the BBC's election night broadcast on Sunday”.
Big Al pointed out in his defence “there was ‘plenty of precedent of members voting for other parties/causes’ and that some were now senior staff” … “He claimed the decision also ‘contrasts with our era’ when Mr Blair was ‘pressed’ to withdraw the Labour whip from Jeremy Corbyn for voting against the party - but the then PM said no”.
Then someone dug out a Tweet from Jezza which, it was then claimed, showed that the current Labour leader was rather fortunate to retain his party membership. In March 2012, at a particularly low point for them leader Ed Miliband, Corbyn had said “Congratulations to George Galloway on astonishing result in Bradford. Big message here on opposition to wars and austerity”. Galloway had stood for the Respect Party in Bradford West.
Moreover, the idea that Galloway ever cared about anyone other than Himself Personally Now inevitably enters. So is Jezza bang to rights, or is this just a little more mischief making? Well, Owen Jones dug out the rules, and the rules make interesting reading.
This is what it says under “Exclusions”. “A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules”. Big Al supported an opposition candidate, and said so. Bang to rights.
But what of Corbyn under Blair, and indeed under Mil The Younger? Ah well. What happened under Blair was that Corbyn voted against the Government in the Commons, which back benchers often do. It is not the same thing as supporting an opposition candidate. Then there is the congratulation of George Galloway.
Corbyn may have praised Galloway’s result, but did not support his opposition to Labour. And, of course, Jezza is not on the electoral roll for the Bradford West constituency.
What we have here is one false equivalence (Commons Rebel v supporting another party), and one example of Corbyn knowing the party’s rules better than his critics. Case closed.
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