Delivering his speech at the opening session of the party’s conference in Gothenburg on Thursday, the Left Party leader said that certain members “have a plan B to permanently split the party.”
“There are those who want to damage the Left Party. The way they do this is to pretend that the Left Party has in some fundamental way changed its focus, and describe us as a party without credibility, responsibility and realism.”
Ohly was applauded when he told these critics to leave the party, which is a key ally of the ruling Social Democrats.
“When our conferences are described by party members as stage-managed performances or where democratic elections are described as coups, then these members exceeded the boundaries of what is acceptable in a political party.”
The party leader confirmed that those who were uncertain about how they would vote in the next election, or who thought that a new party was needed, would not be given any position of responsibility in the Left Party.
And in a clear address to figures such as former party leader Gudrun Schyman, who started the Feminist Initiative, he said that they should “have the backbone to leave all their positions.” Schyman has retained the parliamentary seat she won as a Left Party candidate at the last election, despite founding her new party.
The speech caused consternation among party modernisers, who said they could not understand why Ohly chose to talk of their “secret plan B”.
“It’s incredible that so much emphasis was put on that. Nothing was said about the wrong political decisions that could explain the problem” said regional party official Carina Åström.
“The voters see us as split, so everything is going downhill.”
Åström says she feels hurt and singled out by Ohly’s attack.
“It’s almost like saying we can go to hell. It’s the usual scapegoat mentality – it’s pathetic,” she continued.
Ohly’s talk of a plan B has its origins in an article published at the time of last year’s conference in the newspaper Flamman, which sympathises with the Left Party. Flamman claimed that party rebels had a secret plan B to create their own party.
A number of Left Party members have demanded tougher action against the rebels and have warned that plan B was being carried out. Ohly, however, has until now been more guarded, saying that the rebels were small in number.
The rebels, or modernisers, want the party to revert to the less left-wing brand of politics that Schyman represented, and argue that the current leadership is too communist and dogmatic.