Well, that didn’t last long. The uneasy peace between the Blairites and the Corbynites since the snap election has come to an abrupt end. At today’s Progress conference, Paul Mason sat on a panel chaired by Progress’s Richard Angell, alongside fellow Corbynite Emily Thornberry and centrist MPs Wes Streeting and Liz Kendall. The guests attempted to discuss – in a comradely manner – how best to build on Labour’s snap election result and win the next election.
However, things soon struck a sour note when an audience member challenged Mason over a tweet he had sent claiming Labour could have won if it wasn’t for the moderates running a defensive campaign. It’s fair to say that his comments went down like a lead balloon with guests at the Blairite think tank event:
‘The question for people in this room is: it is now a left-wing Labour party. It is a Labour party led by a man vilified in the Daily Mail and the Sun as a terrorist sympathiser and we got 13million votes. Do you want to be part of it or not?
Because there is an alternative. There could be a British Macron. ‘
At which point, the crowd started to boo Mason.
PM: Yeah, go on, keep going. There could be a British Macron, you could have a British end Brexit second referendum party – run with it. It could do much better than the Lib Dems did. Now’s the time.
RA: But when you did your politics outside the Labour party, you got very small numbers of people voting for you. You did it by entering the Labour party and doing it behind Jeremy Corbyn.
PM: Why do you accuse me of entering the Labour party. I joined it at age 19, my grandfather was that generation which founded the Labour party. I’m not a Marxist, but real Marxists have a place inside Labour and always did have.
RA: But so does everyone else in this room.
PM: Good. So, do you want to be part of this party or not?
Mason finished by telling the audience they should look elsewhere if they are intent of being a part of a party that’s ‘in favour of illegal war’:
‘If you want a centrist party this is not going to be it for the next ten years. if it’s really important to you to have a pro-Remain party that’s in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation, form your own party and get on with it!’
So much for offering an olive branch to moderates…