Labour’s Witch Hunt

Labour Party elites aren’t really worried about Trotskyists infiltrating the party — they’re afraid of grassroots democracy.

By Steven Parfitt

A specter is haunting the British Labour Party — the specter of Trotskyism. All the powers of the old party leadership have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: deputy leaders and general secretaries, Blairites and Brownites, the soft left and the hard right.

This echo of the Communist Manifesto would have been a fitting opening to deputy Labour Party leader Tom Watson’s own manifesto about leftist infiltration of the party. Right now, as the party goes through its second leadership campaign in a year, Watson and other opponents claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s base swarms with Trotskyists who have entered the Labour Party to bore from within.

Their paranoia has been fed by an unprecedented rise in party membership. At the time of the last general election in May 2015 it stood at around two hundred thousand. That number has now jumped to more than half a million, including more than 125,000 in the two weeks following the European Union referendum. The British Labour Party is now the largest left-of-center party in Europe.

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