Given the willingness of Andy Burnham, one of several über-ambitious pols contesting the leadership of the British Labour Party, to destabilise the finely balanced peace in the north-east of Ireland while pursuing the votes of local BLP activists, I must admit to experiencing a small degree of schadenfreude at the very public troubles enveloping his organisation. The unexpected rise of Jeremy Corbyn, an old school left-wing Labourite who rejects the cult-like veneration of “New Labour” and the Blair years that formerly dominated the outlook of many in the party’s careerist hierarchy has turned an ennui-inducing contest amongst Blairite-clones into something far more interesting. His recent popularity has led to an internal purge of the party’s mushrooming membership by the upper echelon cadres, creating something of a spectator sport for politics-watchers in Britain and elsewhere, as this report by the New York Times aptly illustrates:
“Until this week, Grace Coles, a 24-year-old student in Wales, had never heard of Ken Loach, the great English filmmaker born five decades before her, whose social-realist dramas about the struggles of the British working class are more acclaimed at Cannes these days than in the multiplexes of Cardiff.
On Thursday, however, when Ms. Coles called the British Labour Party to ask why her application to register as an official supporter and vote in its coming leadership election had been rejected, she was told that because she had reposted a Twitter comment by Mr. Loach, or the party he is associated with, she was suspected of harboring sympathies for a rival political movement.
With that, Ms. Coles — who is unsure what the comment she reposted was, but suspects that it was something critical of the Conservative Party she opposes — found herself caught up in what was described on social networks as the #LabourPurge.
While the party maintained that it was simply carrying out a necessary vetting process, to keep its ranks from being infiltrated by saboteurs from other parties seeking to influence the results of the leadership contest, some suspected a plot to derail the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran backbencher whose left-wing platform has spooked the more centrist, Blairite establishment.”
Syria or Iran it is not, however in the relatively staid world of contemporary British politics this has the makings of a minor scandal while playing into the hands of Corbyn and his supporters.