Labour in crisis: Momentum’s massacre of the moderates

“The Labour party faces the greatest crisis in its history,” says Roy Hattersley in The Observer. Momentum, the grassroots organisation set up after Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership win in 2015, and dedicated to “moving Labour to the far left”, is set to win control of Labour’s policy, programme and constitution. Momentum dominated this year’s conference, and is busy purging the party of moderate MPs and councillors.

If this “invasion” is not resisted, it will “split the party and keep Labour out of office for a generation”. Fears about a far-left general election victory is helping to hold Labour’s opinion poll lead at 4%-5% “at a time when the government’s incompetence should put it 20 points ahead”.

Oh, give it a rest, says Owen Jones in The Guardian. This isn’t a purge, this is democracy. Labour is choosing candidates to stand as councillors in next year’s local elections and some, calculating that they will lose to a leftwing rival, have stood down. Others have lost. The truth is, the rightwing press and the Tories are “terrified” of Momentum because it could help to catapult Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.

Momentum is winning because so few moderates dare to speak out, says Tom Harris in The Daily Telegraph. Prospective parliamentary candidates are being made to sign a loyalty pledge in order to secure the support of Momentum – a pledge designed “not to encourage or inspire, but to restrain and intimidate”. But Momentum “deserves to prevail”. They’re the ones who’ve put in all the hard work, while the moderates sit there like sheep, waiting for the wolves to arrive.

The moderates are being “edged out but they no longer feel comfortable in the party anyway”, says Rachel Sylvester in The Times. “On Brexit, national security and the economy, the centrists have profound disagreements with Corbyn”. The Corbynista purge is “deeply unpleasant and emblematic of the intolerance of the hard left, but it could also liberate those who favour progress and modernity over outdated ideas”. With Labour “veering” to the left and the Tories “careering”to the right, there is a “gaping hole in the centre”. British politics may finally be set for “a long overdue reshaping”.

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