I left the Labour Party last year. They had the audacity to suspend our elected delegate mid-conference. It was one of those ‘retrospective suspensions’, where they’d suddenly make a rule against something, then suspend someone for having done that thing before they made the rule. For that reason, I resigned retrospectively.
It wasn’t just because they suspended our delegate — that was just the point where I was too fed up of paying to be taken for an idiot. I have not missed being in the party – there are bags of ways of doing politics that don’t involve helping to fund corrupt political parties but I do still have links with people who stayed in the party for one reason or another, and so I felt for my local contacts this week, as the last possible reason for being a member of Hastings and Rye Labour Party came crashing down.
It’s possible that the woman who’s been “elected” as my constituency’s next parliamentary candidate is a good person. I’m not saying she’s not. She might even take Hastings and Rye at the next election, and be less awful than the current incumbent. I can categorically say, though, that she should not be the candidate and, once she realises that, it’s going to be very hard for her to be a nice person.
Who Hastings Labour Party really voted for
It was obvious Hastings and Rye Labour Party chose Maya Evans as their candidate. I don’t know why – they are dreamers, I suppose. She’s popular, and she’s the deputy leader of the council but, because she was the activist who read out the names of the Iraqi dead at the Cenotaph all those years ago, and because the suits that really run the Labour Party never, ever forgive anyone who exposes them to that kind of reality, it was obvious they would disallow her. Also, Hastings and Rye Labour Party had a reputation the suits would never accept – a reputation for leftiness and activism, which Evans’ track record is far too closely associated with.
What selection process?
At some point – it would seem even local members don’t quite know when, the Party took over the selection of the town’s candidate and started operating over the heads of local officers. The only relevant, local candidate who got onto the list was Chris Bayliss. She’s not lefty enough for Hastings really, but we do know her, and she has campaigned locally with Labour since forever, so those with the patience (or capacity for fantasising) to still be in the party seemed to be forming up around the idea of complaining to the party about the selection process, but supporting Chris on the grounds that their complaint would obviously be ignored.
Patty won, fair and square?
We all know that the Labour Party is heading for a number of dramatic legal clashes over their repeated and brazen (alleged!) data breaches. Like most of the people who were ever in the party, I don’t need ask if it’s true, only whether it’s utter ineptitude or evil design, because I constantly get emails from the party — asking for money usually, but also sending me information on, for example, their favoured candidates for things … and I know I was far from the only non-member who was offered a postal vote for that hustings they had today.
So the poor, innocent remainder of the membership went along to the hustings, confident that they were for Chris, and would be in a majority, all trying to be unaware that the party was not above sending electioneering materials about, and opportunities to vote for, their preferred candidate to absolutely anyone they’d ever got hold of the email or postal address of.
Sure, just allegations but I’ve lost count of the number of ex members who’ve told me they’ve received all that stuff. Some, knowing I was a constituency officer when it was worth being in the party, even asked me who they should vote for.
Rules? Oh, those rules
Sure, it’s all against the rules. Sure, the local party will have written to the National Exec Committee to complain. It’s all a game, you must know that by now! The rule book exists purely as a tool the party can use to find official-sounding reasons for kicking out any groups or members who start acting too political.
I’m not saying they were all illegitimate votes
There are also of course, all those peripheral members – the ones who never campaign, and never come to meetings, never turn up to picket lines or on demos, but are paid up members none the less. They get all their politics from the telly, the papers and of course, the Party. I remember them all turning up during the Labour Leadership contest a couple of years back to tell us we’ve got it all wrong, those of us who merely knew what was going on in the party. They came to tell us Starmer was ‘electable’, and that that was more important than being honest, or being a halfway capable politician.
Those people would no doubt have read everything the Labour Party emailed or posted to them, they may even have had some nice phone calls, and they will have made up the bulk of those who voted for Parachute Patty.
Fight the Tories!
That’s what the suits always tell us, when we criticise the Labour Party. They don’t seem to realise that unlike them, and unlike Starmer, socialist activists have been fighting the Tories all along. That’s what all those picket lines and demos and conference motions were about.
Don’t worry if you’re now giving up and leaving Labour. You can still fight the Tories, and you can also still organise, and put pressure on MPs of all the parties, to get them to do what we need doing. Once you get used to the idea, it’s really great not being in a political party and therefore not being ripped off, misled and generally infuriated all the time.
Agitate, educate, organise
And please remember what our most important job is, we non-party activists. Our good ol’ lefty CLP has gone, for now. Those non-activist members, the ones who obediently turn up to vote for who they’ve been told to like, will be in the majority in all the parties for a while and the wheels will keep pointlessly turning — but you know, those obedient watchers of tellies and readers of papers are only like that because they aren’t involved, they aren’t engaged, they’ve had no political education. We can change that, by taking our politics everywhere we go, and making it real for people, until there are more of us than there are people who’re daft enough to just turn up to vote for who they’ve been told they like.
See you on the streets, in those campaign meetings, on those picket lines!
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