Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, accused senior Labour figures of trying to quash Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate, as she threw her weight behind him in the leadership race.
Thornberry, who has remained in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet despite scores of resignations and more than three-quarters of Labour MPs backing a vote of no confidence against him, claimed the party’s national executive committee (NEC) had deliberately set the rules of the leadership race to put members back in their box.
Thornberry, whose Islington South and Finsbury constituency neighbours Corbyn’s, used a post on her Facebook page on Sunday to break her silence on the issue, as the row continues within Labour over what the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has called a rigged purge of party members by the NEC.
A growing number of Labour members or supporters are coming forward to claim that they have been denied a vote by the NEC’s panel for unspecified comments on social media or for being a member or supporter of another party.
Thornberry condemned the NEC’s decisions to impose a minimum requirement of six months’ membership to be allowed to vote in the leadership ballot and a £25 fee for registered supporters.
Here we are now, less than a year after Jeremy’s overwhelming victory, and the party hierarchy – through decisions of the national executive committee – is attempting to overturn that result, quash Jeremy’s mandate, and put the party’s members back in their box. And they are doing so in the most naked way, she wrote.
Thornberry also became embroiled in a public spat with Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson. She accused members of the last Labour government, including Watson, of deliberately picking a fight with the membership on issues including terrorism, in a show of strength to impress the rightwing press. She claimed he growled at her that she was a traitor in 2005 when she opposed 90-day detention without trial for suspected terrorists.
Who exactly was I betraying? Just a party hierarchy and a party leadership who were trying to shore up their relationship with the rightwing press by ‘taking on’ their members, and trying to outflank the Tories on security, she wrote.
A spokesman for Watson said: Emily Thornberry’s recollection of an event that took place over a decade ago is inaccurate. Tom is always respectful of other views. He said Watson had understood her reasons when Thornberry voted for an expansion of government surveillance powers as shadow attorney general, at a time when he was leading opposition to them in parliament.
Thornberry said she had not always agreed with Corbyn since being appointed to his shadow cabinet but said: I have always found him and his team willing to get around a table, listen, reflect and discuss a way forward.
That contrasts with the view of several former members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, including Lilian Greenwood, Chi Onwurah and Angela Eagle, who have all said over the summer that they found his approach dysfunctional and were sometimes unable to speak to him directly.
I fundamentally disagree with this attempt to take us back to the years when our members were deliberately antagonised, alienated and ignored, Thornberry said.
She recently took on the role of shadowing the new Brexit ministry, alongside the foreign affairs brief.Several members of the shadow cabinet have been forced to double up.
Watson, who sits on the NEC, is regarded by Corbyn’s allies as having directed manoeuvres designed to prevent new members – seen as being overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn – from being allowed to vote. This month he claimed he feared Labour was at risk of being infiltrated by Trotskyist entryists.
Thornberry resigned from Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet after posting a tweet of a house in Strood with a white van parked outside and several flags of St George draped on it, which saw her accused of snobbery.
News Source TheGuardianNews