Penny Mordaunt’s appointment as Secretary of State for International Development – replacing the ousted Priti Patel – has been the unfolding drama dominating political headlines over the past few days. The Tories have hogged the media limelight, with two Secretaries of State quitting their respective posts in seven days. And yet, under the radar, Labour have delivered an incredibly worrying story to further muddy the political waters.
The name Marsha-Jane Thompson probably means little to most people. She was, until a few days ago, the relatively low profile head of Momentum’s social media and campaigning. But as of yesterday, she has found herself in a rather elevated position within the party.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, recently critical of May’s crumbling cabinet, whilst doing his best to ignore the issues in his own office, has appointed Marsha-Jane to a new post in his parliamentary office. She now holds the official title of campaign manager for the Labour Party, working in Corbyn’s suite of offices in Westminster.
What is alarming about this appointment is that not only is Marsha-Jane a key Momentum figure, she is also a convicted felon, for voter fraud. For members of society who hold criminal convictions, meaningful employment should not be denied in any way, unless their conviction makes it inappropriate. But such a conviction for Marsha-Jane clearly ought to exclude her from holding a post of campaign manager for one of the two biggest parties in the country. Back in 2006, she pled guilty to convictions of fraud and false accounting, and served 100 hours of community service. Her crime was filling in 100 voter registration forms herself, in an attempt to impact the result of local elections in Newham. What is more worrying than her appointment in and of itself, is that Corbyn thinks this is an appropriate appointment to be making when the political world is facing a time of unparalleled scrutiny into behavior and practice. Evidently this is an ill-thought through appointment, designed to curry further favour with Momentum, the hard-left youth wing of the Labour party in which Thompson holds significant standing.
Hard-left activist Marsha-Jane Thompson who now works in Jeremy Corbyn’s Parliamentary office
What this move shows is a Labour party further slipping into Momentums’ grasp. For the central or leftist Labour voter, their party continues to slide alarmingly to the extreme left. Labour is in danger of no longer representing the socialist left it claims to uphold, as more and more Corbyn drags the party into Momentum’s clutches.
Over the past 12 months, Corbyn has slowly crept the party into the clutches of the hard-left Momentum group. I wrote some months ago about his attempts to do exactly this, and sadly it looks as though the official opposition is sleepwalking into a socialism many of its members simply do not embrace. Corbyn’s Labour is not a party building on the ideologies of the success of Blair, or learning from the mistakes (and successes) of Brown and Miliband, it is a party being blindly led to its own demise. Marsha-Jane’s appointment is not the result of this continued degradation into Corbyn’s hard-left socialism, it is a symptom of a party unwittingly being swamped by an ideology that it is yet to recognise is choking traditional Labour values out of the policy and practice of the Labour party.
Corbyn is still riding the successes of his electoral gains this summer, and as long as he continues to make movements towards overhauling the Tories, MPs and members of the party who disagree with his ideology will turn a blind eye to his political leanings. For those at odds with Corbyn’s ever leftward direction for the party, they must either begin to plan for it all to come crashing down around them, or else pray that they can ride the Momentum wave to a General Election success, without utterly losing the character of the party to which they signed on.