The Lewisham branch of the controversial new left-wing group loyal to Jeremy Corbyn has denied claims it is involved in a plot to ‘purge’ two of Lewisham’s Labour MPs.
The Telegraph newspaper alleged that Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West and Deptford’s Vicky Foxcroft MP, are the subjects of a de-selection plot due to their “moderate views”.
Sacha Ismail, a member of Lewisham for Corbyn – Momentum, which was formed from the campaign that helped the left-wing Islington North MP win leadership of the party, denied the claims: “[The] right-wing press wants to cook up ideas of fragmentation. These de-selection claims are nonsense.”
Despite the denial, Ismail, a member of Dowd’s Lewisham West and Penge constituency party, conceded there were differences of opinion. ”Jim Dowd is on the right wing of the party, we’re on the left”, he said.
The nationwide Momentum movement has attracted criticism that it is a party within a party.
Ismail claimed the differences in political views within the Labour Party are all part of a healthy debate.
“What’s changed now is that people are willing to have more constructive conversations about our differences.” He later said: “Far from conspiring about [their de-selection], we haven’t discussed it at all.”
Although representing Lewisham for Corbyn – Momentum, he acknowledged that he could not speak for everyone in the branch.
Advocating for “a new kind of politics”, it aims to “continue the energy and enthusiasm of Jeremy’s campaign, and is one of many local Momentum support hubs around the country.
During the Labour leadership contest, Dowd voted for Blairite candidate, Liz Kendall. Although Foxcroft voted for centrist Yvette Cooper, Ismail said she maintains a friendly relationship with Lewisham for Corbyn – Momentum.
The third Lewisham MP, Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, was appointed to Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet as shadow Health Secretary in September.
By Isabel Togoh