Enfield North Labour Party votes ‘no confidence’ in right-wing Labour MP Joan Ryan
North London Socialist Party members
Labour Party members in Enfield North constituency in north London have given a stinging rebuke to Blairite MP Joan Ryan, with a 95 – 92 vote of no confidence.
Years of attacking the Corbyn leadership, not to mention her criticised expense claims, voting for the Iraq war and against an inquiry into it, abstaining on welfare cuts, and her behaviour towards local party members that has been described as bullying, have built up a well of anger.
She took to the media to denounce ‘Trots, Stalinists, Communists and assorted hard left”. But that ‘assortment’ turned out to be the majority.
She attempted to use the antisemitism smear even though the ‘no confidence’ resolution reaffirmed opposition to all forms of racism and anti-Semitism. Members saw through that diversion. Many had watched the undercover documentary from Al Jazeera in which she is shown making false charges of antisemitism.
The mover of the motion pointed to Peter Mandelson’s statement that he worked every day to undermine Corbyn, and to Tony Blair’s refusal to back Corbyn as a future prime minister, saying that Joan Ryan’s actions have showed she has the same priority of damaging the Labour leadership, rather than fighting the Tories.
An Israeli party member said that Joan Ryan does not truly have Middle East peace at heart. Like Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, Ryan has talked about a two-state solution but her actions haven’t supported that.
The member dismissed the allegations of widespread antisemitism in Labour, saying that coming from a family that had been hit by the holocaust she took the issue very seriously, but it was clearly being used as an artificial weapon against the left.
Labour Party activists will take courage from this vote after a summer in which they have too often felt on the defensive from attacks by the media and their own MPs.
But it should also serve as a lesson to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Joan Ryan used a placatory interview given by John McDonnell to Jewish News, to claim he has supported her. Members brushed this off, but sending out mixed signals can confuse and demoralise.
There is no compromise on antisemitism to be had with the likes of Joan Ryan; they are interested in damaging the left, not in reaching agreement.
But if members are offered the chance to fight back they will take it. The meeting was the largest all-members meeting anyone could remember in Enfield North and for many present it was their first meeting.
The turnout shows the potential that still exists for a fight to select MPs who fight for socialist policies and to boot out the Tories if a firm lead is given.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 7 September 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.