by Martin Odoni

I am stunned, and yet somehow neither surprised nor disbelieving, at the latest attempt by the Labour Right to ‘grab’ power where they do not have any right to it. Today saw a bewildering and unexplained decision by the Labour North West committee – dominated by members from the Blairite/Brownite wing of the party – to hit the reset button on the Liverpool Mayoral candidacy process.

Three candidates were on the party shortlist to replace the much-mired and widely-disliked Joe Anderson; apparent favourite Anna Rothery, Anderson’s deputy Ann O’Byrne, and Wendy Simon. Today, summarily, and without even letting the three candidates know, Labour North West re-opened the application process. To the best of current understanding, the three shortlisted candidates were effectively barred from re-applying. An e-mail was sent around Labour North West members at the same time, describing the fact of the process being rebooted, but with no description of why; –

After careful consideration, the Labour Party has determined that applications for the position should be re-opened in order to allow the Liverpool Labour membership to choose from an alternative shortlist of candidates.

No word has so far been forthcoming as to what was being ‘considered,’ by whom, or why this conclusion was reached. In fairness, there are genuine question marks about Ann O’Byrne’s suitability due to her past record. But that in no way reflects upon Rothery or Simon, and so these can hardly be adequate grounds for all three candidates to be axed.

It is therefore hard to resist the conclusion that the committee did this just because they wanted to. Rothery in particular has called for the whip to be restored to former party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has himself endorsed Rothery to become Mayor of Liverpool. It just seems that Keir Starmer and the party’s right wing are pig-headedly insisting, “If Corbyn says black, we say white. If Corbyn says up, we say down. If Corbyn says two-plus-two is four, we say two-plus-two is twenty-two. If Corbyn says rain is wet, we say rain is dry.”

This is before we raise the added worry that there may be a racist dimension to this, as Rothery is a black candidate.

Anna Rothery, an arbitrarily barred Mayoral candidate for Liverpool

It is not just spiteful, but downright anti-democratic to try to override the membership like this; a transparent attempt by an unskilled magician to force a card on his audience, while telling them he wants them to choose any card they like.

Maybe I would sigh and let it pass, but throughout the last few weeks, I have been having ever more of those conversations online with centrists again i.e. the conversations in which centrists say it will be the fault of the left if the Tories win again in 2024, because they failed to get behind Starmer. (Of course, if the left do get behind Starmer and he wins, those same centrists will say it was all thanks to Starmer, and claim it proves that centrism, not leftism, is the only way.)

People saying this are completely cut off from reality, and not just in the back-to-front idea of obligation; it is for the parties to convince the electorate to vote for them, it is not the ‘duty’ of the electorate to vote for any one specific party. But also, they are ignoring almost everything that Starmer and his cronies are doing. I am quite serious when I ask, how can these centrists witness events of this type happening pretty much weekly in the Labour Party, with the left wing being ever more neutered and dispossessed, and still feel like it is reasonable to demand that the left get behind Starmer? How can the left get behind a man who is trying far harder to destroy them than he ever tries to fight the Conservative Party? A ceasefire has to work on both sides, or it is no ceasefire at all.

Five more years of Boris Johnson if we keep opposing Starmer? So what?

We have reached the point where Johnson could hardly do anything worse to us.

Anna Rothery responds to today’s stitch-up.