Last weekend Chris Leslie, MP, received a vote of no confidence from local Labour members. The vote being held in the Mapperley Ward, within the constituency of Nottingham East, gave Leslie a vote that could be the start of the end of him representing Nottingham Trent students.
A former Shadow Chancellor under Ed Miliband, he has been a critic of Jeremey Corbyn’s leadership since the announcement of his candidacy to lead Labour three years ago.
Why have local party members had enough of Trent’s MP, Mr Leslie?
Well, the MP comes from the tradition of ‘New Labour’ being first elected way back in 1997 for the Constituency of Shipley, Yorkshire. He is considered an ideological follower of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the ‘Third way’ of politics. After losing his seat in 2005, he was chosen to stand for Nottingham East in 2010. During that Parliament he entered Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet, being chosen to the role of Shadow Chancellor. In this position, he mirrored the Economic policy decisions of George Osborne, the then Chancellor.
It is on the Economic policy which Leslie has so famously criticised Corbyn over. Instantly rejecting the perceived socialist values the current Labour leader represents. The rise of Tony Blair as leader of Labour and the country in the late 90s meant a denouncement of ‘traditional’ values ascribed to Labour, like socialism. The ‘third way’ was supported by Blair and his followers, like Leslie, meaning supporting things like gay marriage but also advocating a tightening on welfare payment to vulnerable members of society, commonly associated with Conservatives. It is this ideological commitment that has seen Leslie at odds with the current Labour leadership- and local members.
This tension between the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and constituency Labour Party (CLP) is embodied by this vote. Over 400,000 people within the party voted for the leader of the opposition. A year later, the PLP tabled their own vote of no confidence in Corbyn. That triggered another leadership contest resulting in a bigger win for Corbyn. Despite, winning both elections Corbyn has had difficulty gaining the support from the PLP. The vote against Leslie is a national trend, possibly representing party members’ disaffection with their MPs over lack of support for Jeremey Corbyn, which is highlighted in the case of Chris Leslie.
Interesting times in Trent’s constituency. Is this the case of the Mapperley Labour Party just wanting more democracy and holding their representative to account? Or is this a plot by Corbyn, nationally coordinated as Nottingham East’s MP suggests.
The whole of the CLP will vote on the motion at their next meeting, deciding the MPs fate within Parliament, possibly changing one of Trent’s MPs.
By James Evans