Unite "insider" plots to dethrone three Lewisham MPs

Channel 4 News' political correspondent Michael Crick quotes a union source who claims that Jeremy Corbyn's election will be an opportunity to purge Labour of three "careerist" Lewisham MPs, including Brockley's Vicky Foxcroft - or threaten them into adopting more left-wing positions. He writes:

"A Unite organiser from South-East London has told me that Vicky Foxcroft, who was only just elected in May as the MP for Lewisham Deptford, is said to be among the prime targets for de-selection. Remarkably, Foxcroft is herself a former union official, and was even listed as one of the names on the union’s list of 40 hoped-for candidates before the 2015 election.

"“Activists in the area are very disappointed in Vicky Foxcroft, and the noises she has been making distancing herself from Unite,” said the official, who did not want to be named – and whose views may not be shared by the union leadership. He explained that local union members planned to replace Foxcroft with a black woman who has been an active member of the Corbyn organising team.

"Some left-wing activists believe that the redrawing of constituency boundaries currently being implemented by the government in time for the next election will make it easier to get oust MPs whom they don’t like. “We think we can challenge Foxcroft if the boundaries are redrawn,” the Unite man said.

"The two other Labour MPs in Lewisham are also named by the Unite organiser as likely targets, including Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West since 1992.

"“We’re hoping that when the boundaries are redrawn he’ll step down. And there’ll be a real battle over the re-selection of Heidi Alexander [MP for Lewisham East since 2010]. There’s also a directly elected mayor standing down in Lewisham, so there’s a lot to play for. My union Unite will be putting resources into encouraging our members to join the Labour Party.”"

Foxcroft's certainly a career politician, given an easy progression into a safe seat with the backing of her former employer Unite, but the idea that she's now distancing herself from her union backers is insane. She's talked proudly about her links to Unite and has fallen squarely into line on the centre-left of the party, alongside Alexander.

This proposed putsch is probably little more than pub braggadocio, but it speaks to the febrile atmosphere that the Corbyn era will usher in.

We wouldn't like to guess who Crick's old-skool union source is, but their curious obsession with the borough of Lewisham, their fondness for media briefing and their itchy trigger finger does suggest that they might occasionally share a beer with the People Before Profit clowns who recently encouraged their members to vote Corbyn and who believe that "years of fractional battles will be needed” to win the “fight” for Labour’s soul."

With thanks to Jenny for the link.