Building support for socialism in North Nottinghamshire: Young Socialist Party members doing a street stall  in Worksop, credit: Paul Tooley-Okonkwo (uploaded 30/07/2020)
Building support for socialism in North Nottinghamshire: Young Socialist Party members doing a street stall in Worksop, credit: Paul Tooley-Okonkwo (uploaded 30/07/2020)

Gary Freeman, Nottingham Socialist Party

There was anger in the local trade union movement and among many Labour Party activists when it became known that Greg Marshall, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who stood for Labour in 2017 and 2019, was not on the long and short list of Labour’s possible prospective parliamentary candidates for Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire.

Greg posted on social media: “Despite having the backing of the vast majority of members in the local party, eight trade unions, society affiliates, and respected regional Labour figures from across the political spectrum, the party has determined that I am unfit to stand.”

Greg is a local councillor, Unison lead negotiator in the Environment Agency who are currently in dispute, and has a history of community campaigning. The Constituency Selection Committee resigned in protest posting a statement on Twitter:

“The constituency party has been sidelined throughout the entire process and our choice of candidates has clearly been rigged to suit the leadership’s preference.”

That was followed by the entire Constituency Labour Party executive committee resigning their positions.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) union protested Greg’s exclusion from the Labour Party vote as did other trade unions. The FBU referred to the support from themselves, Unison, Unite, the CWU, TSSA, Aslef, NUM and GMB unions for Greg’s candidacy.

Trade union activists including FBU, PCS, CWU and RMT members and members of the Nottinghamshire trades council lobbied the regional Labour Party office. Unions have called for Greg to be included in the ballot for the future candidate.

The Guardian reported: “A Labour insider said Marshall’s inability to win in the previous two elections demonstrated the need for a fresh pair of hands to win the seat.”

The reality is that in 2017 and 2019, huge numbers of activists inside and outside the Labour Party campaigned for a Jeremy Corbyn victory and for Greg because he was seen as a strong defender of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. Despite the clear feeling during the 2017 General Election that the Labour Party regional office was doing hardly anything to help the campaign, the facts show the strength of support for Corbyn and Greg. The Tory majority was cut from 4,287 to 863. In 2019, the fall in Labour‘s vote was lower than the average for England.

Nottingham Socialist Party is clear that the core issue at stake is that Greg is not seen by the Labour Party leadership as an MP who would toe their line.

They would happily have a local candidate if they were a follower of Keir Starmer’s big business agenda.

What next?

As the Nottinghamshire, Mansfield and Nottingham Trades Council officers agreed:

“Workers need political representation that supports their action against the cost-of-living squeeze and stands for policies such as renationalisation, opposition to cuts, and for the repeal of the Tory anti-union laws. Local branches have made clear they see Greg as the best representative of their interests.

“If Greg’s exclusion is maintained, this increases the possibility of the Tories retaining the seat as quite understandably, many will see no point campaigning or voting for the longlisted candidate.”

Nottingham Socialist Party says that if Greg is not the parliamentary candidate for Labour in the next General Election then he should stand as part of a workers’ list of candidates supported by the trade unions, joined by Jeremy Corbyn and others, as a step towards a new workers’ party.

We believe that there is a layer of Labour Party activists who  would support and work for Greg if he was to stand, as well as others no longer in or having never been in the Labour Party, and we welcome that stance.