Laura Pidcock: working class hero?

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On 11 August the new MP for North-West Durham, Laura Pidcock, made headlines for saying that she could never be friends with a Tory. In an effort to placate Labour right-wingers who had told her to ‘grow up’, she later added that she ‘would work with a Tory if it is going to benefit the people in my constituency’ but reiterated her ‘disgust for people who are ambivalent to the suffering of my constituents’.

If only she had felt so strongly when, as a councillor in February 2017, she voted in favour of £6m worth of cuts to the 2017/18 budget for Northumberland County Council and a further £36m of cuts for 2017-20. Due to economic growth, £10m has come off that figure. Nevertheless budgets for fire services, social care and education will all be affected. In the council's minutes from 22 February, Pidcock is recorded as stating her concern that the public would feel that the cuts were too deep. Her primary worry was that Labour could lose votes.

Actions speak louder than words. Voting for austerity budgets is nothing short of collaboration, showing that, indeed, Pidcock is willing to work with the Tories, who rely on Labour councils across the country to enforce their brutal austerity measures on the ground. Evidently, doing so has furthered her career. As an MP she will earn £70k a year, putting her close to the country’s top 5% of earners. Yet among Corbyn supporters she has been hailed as some kind of working class hero. The Morning Star has described her as ‘an outstanding MP’ while fellow Labour MP Richard Burgon has called her ‘an inspiring socialist’ and 'a champion of the 99%'. Ellie Mae O'Hagan, who writes on the trade unions for The Guardian, claimed that Pidcock 'is not only working class, but class conscious'.

When RCG supporters pointed out Pidcock’s record as a councillor at a People’s Assembly rally in Newcastle on 24 June, they were accused of being ‘scabs’ by members of Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party, along with three Labour councillors. These ‘socialists’ are only interested in covering up the anti-working class practices of Labour MPs in order to protect their own privilege.

Far from transforming the Labour Party into any kind of progressive force, new pro-Corbyn MPs such as Pidcock are doing what the left of the party has always done: talking a good game, while in practice providing no effective opposition to the ruling class and toeing the line at the expense of the working class.