Labour’s Stella Creasy has launched a blistering attack on the “toxic” left-wing Momentum group, calling on moderates in her party to “take back control of socialism”.
In a fiery address at a Progress rally on the fringes of the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, the MP for Walthamstow implored moderates not to desert the party.
“There is no cavalry coming, there is only us to stand up for what we believe in,” she said.
“I’m not asking you to stay put in Labour, I’m asking you to stand proud in Labour.
“Comrades, let’s take back control of socialism.”
Ms Creasy told the audience: “If you think being political means sitting in meetings or shouting ‘Red Tory’ at people who think differently from you, you can do one.
“Socialism isn’t a scout badge you get for going on a protest march and trolling some MPs on Twitter.”
Ms Creasy asked: “Two years on, what has Momentum actually achieved? To what single cause can they lay claim?
“They find time to try to deselect me, but not to take a stand against being in the same lobby as the likes of [Conservative MP] Jacob Rees-Mogg.
“Absolute boys? Absolute melts!”
Momentum is a grassroots activist group supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and was established in the weeks after his successful run for the top job in 2015.
Critics have accused it of encouraging the deselection of Labour MPs deemed to be disloyal to Mr Corbyn, although the group argues it is helping move the party closer to its members.
Amid reports about the prospect of a breakaway party being formed by Labour and Conservative MPs disillusioned with their respective parties’ handling of Brexit, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said such a course of action would be foolish.
He said this would represent a “road to nowhere” and that Labour remained the only means for realising progressive goals.
But he cautioned that the “introspection” and disputes over internal party procedures seen at the conference were “killing the promise and hope of our party and keeping this Tory government in power”.
Mr Streeting urged moderates to “stand up for the proud centre-left tradition in our party” and “take on the toxic political culture that calls us Red Tories and shouts ‘shame’ at trade unionists on the conference floor” .
He said: “We stay and we stand up for what we believe in.”
Mr Streeting also attacked shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler, who sparked a row by praising Liverpool’s Militant-dominated council for setting an illegal budget in the 1980s.
He said Militant’s record was “not something to celebrate on the platform of a Labour conference”.
Wirral South MP Alison McGovern said she had found life within Labour recently “far from easy”, adding: I know that sometimes the behaviour of those on the hard left who think they act on behalf of the leadership can cause us distress.”
But she said she would not be leaving the party and would remain to fight for its goal of handing power to working people.
However, she added: “At times recently, we have seen the Labour movement at its worst.
“A party that cannot demonstrate it can deal with vile anti-Semitism can’t govern and nor will it deserve to.”
Luciana Berger, parliamentary chairwoman of the Jewish Labour Movement, was given a rousing reception when she got on stage to speak.
The MP for Liverpool Wavertree MP said Labour was being held back by the “tsunami of anti-Semitic hate” that had been seen recently.
She said: “If we have to spend another six months like we have spent the last six months, patiently explaining to new Labour Party members – and some old ones – that Hitler didn’t want to help the Jews, or that the Rothschilds don’t run the world banking system, or that the Jews didn’t finance the slave trade or that me and other Jewish MPs are not Mossad operatives, or that it’s not cool to desecrate the mass grave of the Warsaw ghetto with ‘woke’ slogans, we will be no further forward.”