Ian Austin Quits Labour Party. Will he give us a vote?

February 24, 2019

On 22nd February, Ian Austin (Dudley North) became the latest MP to leave the Labour Party. Blaming leader Jeremy Corbyn for “creating a culture of extremism and intolerance”, he has since denied any plans to join the new anti-Brexit centrist Independent Group. In January, Austin was part of the three Labour MPs to vote for PM May’s Brexit deal.

Austin accused the party of being taken over by the hard-left and “being harder on people who complain about anti-Semitism than it is on racists” (never mind his own record of saying Labour should be tougher on immigration and asylum seekers). In a rare candid statement, he states that he “could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.”

Austin’s dislike for socialists, especially the Socialist Party’s predecessor Militant, has never been a secret. He launched a splenetic attack on John McDonnell for speaking approvingly of Marx (if only John McD applied Marx’s ideas more consistently!) When Corbyn spoke out against the Iraq war, Austin shouted at him to “sit down and shut up!”

Austin’s defection is proof of contempt for workers and young people in Dudley North, many of who voted for him in 2017 on the expectation that it would increase the chances of a Corbyn government coming to power on an anti-cuts, pro-worker programme. His departure sticks two fingers up in particular at those new Corbynista who went out to canvass for him.

This episode shows the burning need for mandatory reselection of sitting Labour MPs by their local parties before each election. Without this vital measure, pro capitalist Blairite retreads such as Austin will continue to undermine Corbyn’s attempts to introduce policies that benefit ordinary people and hurt the super rich, inside or outside the Labour party itself.

Comrades campaigning for a by-election in Dudley High Street

Wolverhampton and Black Country Socialist Party took to Dudley High Street the day after Austin announced his resignation from the Labour Party. We called upon the people of Dudley North to petition for a by-election, as well as emphasising the need to get the Tories out of government and the Blairites out of Labour.

However, just like the other MPs who left their parties this week, he has denied any intention to put himself before the voters. Dudley News recently held a online poll asking it’s readers if they think Austin should contest his seat – at the time of writing 63% thought he should!

Wolverhampton and Black Country Socialists will continue the fight to force Austin to contest his seat against a candidate that will stand for the working-class people, and to assist those working to create a fighting, anti austerity Labour party. If Austin is so confident in his position, then there should be nothing for him to worry about.