barrie cunningBarrie Cunning of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk CLP says he won’t be voting for Jeremy Corbyn, but the personal and bitter attacks need to end. We’re a democratic party.


Am I the only Labour member who is getting fed up with the leadership election and the apparent divide that seems to be taking place within the party? I joined the Labour Party because I believe in the core principles of equality, fairness, solidarity and – not to forget – democracy. What concerns me the most is that whilst the leadership contest continues the party is becoming more divided. The left and the right are at loggerheads with one another, which is fine, but what isn’t fine is when it becomes more than just a difference in ideology, but a personal attack.

A few nights ago John McTernan said on Newsnight that the MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn were “morons”, and Tony Blair said that those whose hearts were with Corbyn needed “a transplant”. Blair added that we couldn’t win power if it was on a “traditional leftist platform”. Tony Blair’s comments are starting to sound like a bitter ex member of a band who always feels the need to let everyone know he was the best front man and everyone else is secondary.

I liked New Labour and what we had to offer people back in 1997, and I agree that we have to reach out if we want to be back in power in 2020, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon our core beliefs in the pursuit of power. One of the things I love about the Labour Party is that we are a democratic party that encourages an open debate between its members even if we disagree. After all, we wouldn’t be the real party of social justice if we didn’t.

What I will never tolerate is anyone referring to members as “needing a transplant” or being “morons” for voting for Jeremy Corbyn. I think Jeremy Corbyn is a fantastic MP and works well for his constituents and is clearly respected by many members in the party. But I won’t be voting for him as I don’t think he will lead us into power in 2020.

A lot of members reading this will be voting for Jeremy, and what I would like to say to them is vote for who you think is the best person to lead and represent the party, and don’t pay any attention to the discouraging words by our former leader and John McTernan who I’m led to believe has a track record that is hardly worth boasting about.

I don’t think anyone in the party is a moron or in need of a heart transplant. We need to stop tearing strips of one another as it’s these actions that are really damaging the party; let’s respect each others opinion. In my last piece I wrote about how Labour is a members’ party, and it’s time that the party remembered that. Chuka Umunna stated that he wouldn’t serve in a shadow cabinet if Jeremy becomes leader. This to me suggests that he is putting his political career before the needs of the party and, to be brutally honest, is an example of why we find ourselves in the situation we are in.

It’s not a case of what the party can do for you but what you can do for the party. If Jeremy does win then people like Chuka, if asked to be a part of the shadow cabinet, should make themselves available. They are there to serve the leader and the party at large. Perhaps I’m just describing the concept of party loyalty, but there does seem to have been a lack of it recently, and it’s really not such a terrible idea.

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16 thoughts on “Time for a bit more respect

  1. If you “believe in the core principles of equality, fairness, solidarity”, it seems to me that you are in the wrong party, Barrie. This Labour party is lurching ever more to the right – will it take you with it?

    1. Hi Malcolm,

      Interesting question. I think we have to realise that there are two competing ideologies within the party and some will say that we have to be a bit more centre right in our approach in order to be a real contender for power. As the political landscape of the UK has changed so has Labour but I don’t feel we have abandoned our core beliefs but instead applied them to 21st century politics.

  2. Barry, I left the Labour Party a good few years ago, and it hasn’t improved in that time. What is going on is a great shame. It would seem only the Blairite old guard and the new austerity gung ho lot think should lead.
    The sad truth is that none of these candidates can—–
    A. Unite the party.
    B. Articulate a program that would win an election.
    I think Labour has struggled for years to build a core belief that all could rally under.
    I now doubt that the present Labour Party can remain united, even though we are faced with the most right wing government imaginable.
    Yet all Labour can do is to squable like children!

  3. John McTernan’s track record is unique. As Jim Murphy’s Chief of Staff he managed to lose 40 of Labour’s 41 seats in Scotland. His insulting approach will probably cost Corbyn’s opponents votes.

    1. Is McTernan still an employee of Scottish Labour?
      If he is, are his opinions a reflection of Scottish Labours opinions ?
      Is he in breech of his terms of contract ?
      He is not elected to any position of authority, yet he seems to think himself important, and wishes to manipulate the Party toward a position he holds.

  4. Hi gavin

    Thanks for the comments. You raise some important points can I ask are you now an snp supporter.

    1. Hi Barry. Sorry to be a bit slow to respond, big family birthday party.
      Supporter is the wrong term to use for me, but I did vote for them last time, and will do so again.
      If there is to be another referendum, then I will vote for Scotland to be a self-governing country—-just like Keir Hardie who wished Scotland to have Dominium status, same as Canada, Australia etc.
      We have lots in common with England, but they are now on a different political journey from us, and while I wish them well, I want Scotland to be more egalitarian than the prospect now in view.

  5. Barrie, you state “One of the things I love about the Labour Party is that we are a democratic party that encourages an open debate between its members even if we disagree.”

    That’s patently not true, your own article even points out the problems. If you were a party who encourages open debate why did Tony Blair say what he said? Why have all the prospective candidates disparaged and discouraged JC at every turn? Why have the other candidates refused to even countenance that JC has something useful to say with their sneers that they’d never work for or with him. Ultimately why the need to write this missive if the party is so democratic and open?

    I’ve no doubt that the Labour Party you talk about is the organisation that you want it to be, it clearly isn’t and your own words and pleading prove that to be true.

  6. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the comments. Firstly we are a democratic party that encourages open debate by virtue of the fact that we can have different opinions and not be afraid to air those opinions publicly perhaps we will introduce a gagging clause like the SNP??

    We have to recognise that there are two competing ideologies within the party. On the right you have those who identify with new labour as being the blueprint for electoral success given we had 13 years of power and on the lift you have those who identify with socialist principles and who are very true to their roots and believe we can win from a leftist platform. I’m not advocating either side as the way forward but I do believe that we are at our strongest when we reach out but still work on the basis of our core beliefs.

    I do believe that if the leadership contest was not as drawn out as it is this would also help and the two sides will come to an understanding for te sake of the party. Perhaps now is the time to build a movement again.

    1. “Thanks for the comments. Firstly we are a democratic party that encourages open debate by virtue of the fact that we can have different opinions and not be afraid to air those opinions publicly perhaps we will introduce a gagging clause like the SNP??”

      Something you need to talk to Duncan about. Do you think he allows every reasonable comment through his personal censorship?

      1. We do indeed allow every reasonable comment through. You are particularly prone to unreasonable comments, Mike.

  7. Fair play, if anybody questions anything they must be in the SNP.
    Labour attacked it’s own voters now it attacking the membership.
    Keep it up.
    At this rate there won’t be any Labour reps left in Scotland.
    Btw, how do you think a right wing Labour Party will go down in Coatbrigde or Cranhill.
    Get real comrades, if the Daily Record are giving you it tight it should tell you something.
    Progress, Compass and the other various rightists destroyed the Scottish Labour Party.

  8. Barrie, good to see you putting McTernan in his place. He is blatantly fifth column. A spinning Janus. Blair continues to be a star-spangled hood-winking puppet.

    There’s a sense of an approaching crossroads in your writing. Your obvious decency will take you onto the principled socialist path.

  9. Thanks Barrie, before I go further I want to clarify that I’m not an SNP voter.

    I don’t think the Labour Party does encourage debate, what Tony Blair said wasn’t an attempt to encourage debate it was quite the opposite, he wanted to stifle it and make anyone who had a different set of ideas feel stupid and out of date. To my mind that’s the exact opposite of what a democratic party stands for.

    Are John Mann’s latest witterings an example of an open and democratic party? His complaints about entryism are the whining of a sore loser and his calls to scrap the election process, because his side don’t appear to be winning, doesn’t in any way point to open and democratic.

    What about Jamie Reed, are his recent musings really an attempt to encourage constructive debate? I’m sorry but I don’t see it.

    I would come back to the Labour Party in a minute if JC was elected but it’s not going to happen, the PLP won’t allow it. I foresee extensive machinations by the powers that be to ensure that JC won’t hold any power and I fear the machinations will be so clumsy and obvious that huges swathes of labour voters will turn their backs on the party forever.

  10. Sorry Barrie but one more thing… If the Labour Party is open and democratic why the overly fastidious moderation on this board? Does every commentator have to wait for there comments to be moderated or only those who are critical of the direction the party are heading?

    1. This site is not run by the Labour Party. Every comment is moderated. Most are allowed through. Comments which add nothing to the debate will sometimes be refused.

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