#whynotjointheLabourparty

If you want to change the Labour party then join us and change it from within.

This has been the call over the past decade or so from those still within the party responding to the fall out over the Nu Labour years.

Well guess what?

When you actually follow their advice, they don’t want to change the old power structures.

The Labour party is still a lumpen beast of a machine that still doesn’t understand that real change only comes from the bottom up.

I have followed the Labour leadership contest with great interest. At first I thought it was just another cosmetic beauty contest to carry on with the old guard.

Back in the summer of 2010 I attended the Brixton hustings for the Gang of Five. It was clear then that the message of change was still a long way off.

Like many people, I initially dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s involvement as a token gesture from the right of the party to appear to be democratic. At least he appeared to be a credible alternative to fill the comedy seat sat in by Diane Abbott back in 2010.

But then as the campaign started to develop, the credibility of Corbyn started to rise. He spoke about the type of Labour values that I have always held.

It’s too simplistic to sum this up as a grass roots movement. But anything that supports a shift away from the careerist crowd that has come to control the political circles that I observe, has to be a good thing.

And so if you want to change the Labour party, then change it from within.

I bought into the message. Having long since resigned my Labour party membership, I decided that I was now ready to enter the fold once again.

I registered to become an official supporter of the Labour party as there was finally a candidate that believed in the same values that I have always held.

Plus I was becoming increasingly interested in what Christian Wolmar had to say as part of his campaign to become the Labour candidate for the Mayor of London.

I’ve listened to Wolmar speak at meetings and have been impressed with his level of understanding when it comes to cycling in the capital.

I was ready to help change the party from within, and to campaign to kick out a Tory government and a Tory Mayor of London.

And then this morning I heard:

“We have reason to believe you not support the aims and values of the Labour Party or you are a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party.”

It has taken me a long, hard personal process to resolve that the Labour party is once again an organisation that I can campaign for. It took a quick email this morning to reverse that belief.

My application has been rejected. No specific reasons have been given, no right of reply.

It has led me to question: what exactly is a Labour party value in 2015?

For a party that was rejected on a mass scale at the ballot box only three months ago, you would have hoped that a Labour value is something different to what the dogmatic party machine has been pushing out for the past couple of decades.

My own involvement with the Labour movement started over thirty years ago back in Nottingham. Perhaps I should have seen then that my support for the miners wasn’t exactly a Labour value.

But I stuck with the cause, and the party. I campaigned for Labour in the 1987 General Election.

I attended rallies and admit to even having a bit of an “Well ALLRIGHTTTTT!!!!!” moment when listening to Glenys Kinnock.

The ’87 defeat was a crushing blow for my young idealism. I carried on supporting the Labour party throughout college and University, being a Labour rep on the NUS whilst studying for my ‘A’ Levels, and then being a party member at the very active Essex University branch.

Along came Mr Tony soon after, and my Labour values didn’t appear to chime with his. I carried on supporting the party in name, but not in membership.

The move to South London came in 1995. I voted for the party locally, but soon became aware that it was controlled by the extreme right wing of the Labour movement.

And that has pretty much been the Me and the Labour Party story for the past two decades.

Lambeth is a special case when it comes to Labour party politics. From the outside the misguided tag of Loony Lambeth still sticks. The harsh reality is that all three CLP’s are tightly controlled by the right wing Progress group.

For many people locally, it still is very much Loony Lambeth, albeit at the other extreme of the political spectrum.

It has become a breeding ground for right wing twonks, keen to pass the work experience test at the Town Hall, and then feel entitled to a seat in nearby Westminster.

It worked for the Progress MP for Lambeth South / Croydon North. There is no shortage of other political careerists queuing up to play out their political fantasies in Lambeth, in the hope of the larger political prize.

Meanwhile it is some of the poorest residents in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country that suffer.

Six estates are being ‘regenerated.’ At Cressingham Gardens this means that we have a Labour party being able to boast that is can deliver new housing where 15% will be available at council rent, compared to a whopping 60% for the private sector.

We have a ‘Co-operative Council‘ that wants to close two libraries and stop funding three others whilst passing on the responsibility to residents.

Local people have been asked to find £9m for the parks budget. An optimistic crowd-funding route has been suggested by the Labour group.

If you dare to question any of these ultra-Blairite policies then the standard line of “Conservative cuts” comes back at you. The real looney legacy in Lambeth is that the local Tories are often left speechless at the actions of the right wing agenda of the local Labour party.

I want to play my part in helping to challenge these policies. By nature I am not a Conservative. I want to change these policies from within.

I have never been a member of a political party other than the Labour party. I now find that at a time when it appears that the party is actually open to change and opening up the rigid party structure, then apparently I don’t support Labour party values.

Of course I have been dobbed in by my Progress controlled local ward. Remember what Comrade Kinnock had to say about a ‘party within a party?’

Thankfully not everyone within my CLP is so resistant to change and new ideas. My local MP Kate Hoey has very kindly contacted Harriet Harman on my behalf:

“Jason is exactly the kind of person on we need in the Labour Party and I can only agree with him that perhaps because he has made an enemy in a senior Lambeth Councillor he is being unfairly victimised. I want to place on record my deep concern at his exclusion and believe that it should be challenged.”

You can change the Labour party from within, but only if the limits of change are tightly controlled by the parameters of the right wing of the party. I’m not sure if I want to be part of such an obsessive organisation to be honest.

How did a political movement founded on the values of equality become so paranoid about participation? Who does it represent? The members and supporters, or the Progress mob who are desperately hanging on for power?

I spent a decade fighting Thatcherism. I now find myself still carrying on that fight, only the real Enemy Within is the right wing of my political party that refuses to accept change.

Plus do I get my £3 back please?

#whynotjointheLabourparty etc

8 thoughts on “#whynotjointheLabourparty

  1. Not true, Jason.

    I reported my concerns because you talk openly on twitter about being “the enemy within” and that the Labour Party is “an agent of social cleansing” and “kicking out the Progress careerists”.

    See: https://twitter.com/alexbigham/status/634401865246068736

    It worries me that your motivation is merely to damage the party, attack it from within and purge moderates.

    Just trying to uphold our rules and values, comrade.

    Incidentally, I reported my concerns about you 9 days before you wrote your blog.
    (which does contain some pretty disgusting comments about me that I note the website moderators have not deleted).

  2. So, Alex, in response to someone expressing, in perhaps unpleasant terms, a desire to weaken the right of tthe party, you take steps to… weaken the left of the party?

  3. “I started a petition because I think we should take time to weed out entryists. Result – hard left threatening to deselect me!”

    What a stunning lack of awareness an perspective! Forgive me if I set aside your characterisation of these anonymous folk as ‘hard left’, but I doubt your sufficiently objective and humble enough to accurately place anybody on the right-left spectrum. Three things here though:

    1) You apparently make a very real, and in hindsight materiel threat to report and disenfranchise Labour supporters, and they or members acting in their defence (and Labours interests and honour) respond with immaterial threats of possible de-selection. You don’t see the hypocrisy and dis-proportionality at play here?

    2) You’re aware that de-selection is a relatively onerous task to undertake. One member alone cannot undertake your de-sellection, and as far as I can tell supporters get no say in such matters. Unless you’ve managed to draw the ire of most of your CLP (just how many are you reporting!), I doubt you’ll have a problem.

    and 3) De-selection is a natural part of any truly democratic process. In fact, it is all too rare that we see this process triggered! If the spectre of de-selection raises it’s head in your manor, rally your supporters and argue your case. If the majority vote to de-select you, accept and respect the democratic will of you r CLP and slink off quietly.

    The bottom line is this; you partook in a peevish witch hunt,the consequences of which were at least one supporter has been rejected. In contrast, the subjects of said witch hunt flung around empty threats , and you’re now no closer to de-selletion. Get a grip man!

    “It worries me that your motivation is merely to damage the party”
    It really is stunning Alex that you can’t comprehend that many true labourites have come to see you and your ilk as the electoral liability. Their aim in side-lining Progress careerists isn’t to ‘damage’ the party, but rather to save it from your brand of managerialism, spin and vapid politics of triangulation, and to restore some sense of grass roots engagement and popular democracy!

    “attack it from within and purge moderates.”

    Wow! You really believe you’re a moderate don’t. It’s your camp threatening a split, coups, internecine conflict and briefings against Corbyn should he win! You want to talk of entryism? About damaging the party within? You lot are the ultimate entryists; the all too shrewd/cowardly sons of the SDA, who succeeded were the the SDP did not. Safe in you evacuated ideological bubble, your place in the party secured by the anti-democratic top down reforms and managerialism of the Kinnock and Blair years, you’ve continued your drift to the right. You’re now indistinguishable from authoritarian liberals; democratic socialists in name only. Even the SDP didn’t dream of such a swing to the right, and the rump of the old Liberal party looks positively marxist in contrast to your lot (http://www.liberal.org.uk/).

    “Just trying to uphold our rules and values, comrade. ”

    That’d be the rules and values most aptly summed up as ‘ensure that only those precisely like me can wield power and influence within the party, whilst offering scant and superficial lip service to Labour’s so called broad church’. You and yours have had the perfect opportunity to bail-in principled lefties such as Jason(?) and myself, to have these debates in good faith and humour, to hammer a new kind of politics and a new consensus for the twenty first century, but you blew it. Instead you patronised us; dismissed our idea(l)s out of hand as ‘impractical’, ‘unrealistic’ and ‘old fashioned; refused to debate the issues, rather preferring spin and ‘new speak’ to subdtantial criticism; denigrated and defamed as as ‘morons’, cooks, ‘self-indulgent children’ and now anti-Semites; misinterpreted our intentions and projected your own narrow views and interests onto the general public; and now the phoney cries of ‘infiltrator!’, ‘entryist!’ and ‘infamy! Infamy! they’ve all got it in for me!’!

    “Incidentally, I reported my concerns about you 9 days before you wrote your blog.”

    The wheels and cogs of the ministry of alteration do turn slowly. I’m not sure if timing is strictly relevant though; you Do appear to have informed on Jason on the flimsiest of pretext – name personal if robust personal disagreements over policy. Would you care to inform on me too? That’s me real name up there, I am registered in Welwyn Hatfield CLP’s territory and whilst I’ve already been rejected* I’m sure they’ll happily add to my ‘file’ whatever ‘evidence’ you can muster and subsequently twist and spin.

    * On what grounds I do not know; that I self-style as a libertarian socialist? That I’m a sarky git at times, to wit this comment? That I own and operate my own beard? We’ll probably never know, given the LPHQ mob’s love of opacity.

  4. I wasn’t expecting to read this point of principle back story but having done so feel even more galvanised to be counted one way or another as I identify with past shared familiar hopes & values over time ending in disillusionment and despair. I have never been a member of any party, which I view as technically a floored perception as they certainly didn’t discard my (post 2002) labour election votes at the ballots back then!! viewed as a legitimate supporter back then I see, no need to double check or question my support for that I see but they see fit to manipulate the rules (rules they made & promoted on soapboxes) then when it’s looking like an unfavourable result they discard any point of principles by pathetically reworking the rules on a worthless document and vetting votes or memberships with arrogant distain for even the basic levels of voting legitimacy that would draw even the most of accommodating of U.N voting observers to cry “foul play” in any part of our world … I thought days of kings shooting the messenger for displeasing news was gone? …but no…it is what’s happening here and there are thousands of messengers being culled on mass …shambles at best more like, laughable to think that in changing their own rules so blatantly they succeed only in reinforcing peoples perception of untrustworthy and deceitful many public still view politicians and worst still any credibility of trust clawed back, that’s gone as the word on the street will echo…”told ya so, Labour can trust em…”
    I’ll vote labour again if Corbyn becomes leader and follows through with intention that resonate as it’s only actions not just words that earns my vote nowadays…I suspect the final count however will be closely contested (read be a white wash) lets face it… this cats out of the bag and being paraded for all to see before returning.
    Paul Greenwich​

  5. Hi, I am a life-long member of the Norwegian Labour party. Not quite the same thing as the British I know, but I would argue that the core values are still the same. What I am trying to convey is that I honestly want what is best for the British Labour Party. And right now I am starting to think that it is for noone to vote for it! Labour needs real wake up call.

    When new members are flocking to the party out of enthusiasm for one of its candidates the proper response would be one of glee and excitement, not of fear and ridicoulus purges. Labour has realized the need for cooperation and compromise with conservative elements in society but, for some inexplicable reason, it seems to have lost the ability to even consider a compromise with the leftist elements in society. I understand the desire to see your favorite candidate, or the candidate you think is the best bet for the general election get the leadership, but there is a pretty clear process in place. Why on earth some people see the need for extraordinary measures that can only be described as extremely petty is beyond me and will not only lead to interal fights whithin the party but will also lose the party support in the general elections as voters lose trust in the candidate. Who would want to vote for people who resort to such petty tactics over what is after all a regular process of electing a leadership. The leadership does not own the party. These new members should be welcomed with open arms and those who want to avoid Corbyn as leader should argue for why there are better alternatives rather than act like petty children.

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