Blairite traitor Ian Austin won’t be missed – by-election now!
Joshua Allerton, Wolverhampton and Black Country Socialist Party
On 22 February, Dudley North MP Ian Austin became the ninth pro-cuts, pro-war politician to leave the Labour Party in the space of two weeks.
In an outrageous smear, he blamed Jeremy Corbyn for his defection, accusing the Labour leader of “creating a culture of extremism and intolerance”.
Since then, Austin has denied any plans to join the new pro-austerity, pro-EU Independent Group of Tories and Blairites in parliament. That may be because, while he shares their general disregard for the lives of working-class people, he takes a different view to the eight previous splitters on how to best protect the interests of big business and the rich when it comes to the issue of Brexit.
In fact, Austin has supported the Tory government’s Brexit plans. In January, he was one of the three Labour MPs to vote for Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
Perhaps revealing one of his motivations for doing so, in a rare candid statement, he recently said that he “could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister.”
Really, Austin should never have been allowed to leave Labour’s ranks at a time of his choosing. He should have faced having the whip withdrawn for voting to keep May’s government alive by backing her Brexit deal.
Austin’s dislike for socialists, especially the Socialist Party’s predecessor Militant, has never been a secret. He launched a splenetic attack on John McDonnell for speaking approvingly of Marx. (If only John McDonnell applied Marx’s ideas more consistently!)
When Corbyn spoke out against the Iraq war under Blair, Austin shouted at him to “sit down and shut up!”
Austin’s defection is proof of contempt for workers and young people in Dudley North, many of who voted for him in 2017 on the expectation that it would increase the chances of a Corbyn government coming to power with an anti-cuts, pro-worker programme.
This episode shows the burning need for mandatory reselection of sitting Labour MPs by their local parties before each election. This would give party members and trade unions a democratic say in who represents them in elections.
If they are not subject to this challenge, pro-capitalist Blairites such as Austin will continue to undermine Corbyn’s attempts to introduce policies that benefit ordinary people and hurt the super-rich – whether they do so from inside or outside the Labour Party’s ranks.
Wolverhampton and Black Country Socialist Party took to Dudley High Street the day after Austin announced his resignation from the Labour Party.
We were demanding the people of Dudley North are given the right to a by-election, as well as emphasising the need to get the Tories out of government and the Blairites out of Labour.
Just like the other MPs who left their parties this week, Austin has denied that he has any intention of putting himself before the voters. Dudley News recently held an online poll asking its readers if they think Austin should now face an election.
At the time of writing, 63% of those responding thought he should!
Wolverhampton and Black Country Socialists will continue the fight to force Austin to contest his seat against a candidate that will stand up for working-class people.
If Austin is confident his pro-cuts politics has support among working-class people, then there should surely be nothing for him to worry about!