Emily Thornberry’s support for Labour Party Democracy

Quote

Posted below is the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry’s letter to her constituents which paints a very different picture to that presented by former members of the shadow cabinet who took part in the staged walkout of the coup.  The most significant aspect is her disgust at the way that the party hierarchy have done their best to stop Jeremy – first from getting on the ballot, then by excluding 130k new members from voting and then by the £25 ‘voting tax’ for supporters.  It is so heartening to know that some MPs have a sense of what is democratic … and are prepared to stand up for what is morally ‘right’ not what is (apparently) politically expedient.

Emily is absolutely on the money with her plea:

‘I do not understand why anyone in the Labour party would want to turn their back on that membership, in the way that the party hierarchy have tried to do this summer.

Instead, it is time to unite as a party – the membership and the elected representatives alike – and together take our fight into the only contest that matters: getting this dreadful Tory government out of office, and punishing them for the mess into which they have plunged our country.

That is what we should have spent our summer doing – uniting, facing outwards, taking on the Tories, and energising the public to our cause – and that is again why I regret so much the chaos and distraction that this attempted coup against Jeremy has caused.’

Emily Thornberry’s full letter to her constituents:

What had begun as the necessary modernisation of the Labour party in 1994, showing how a belief in a dynamic market economy could be combined with the drive for social justice and the transformation of public services, had become distorted into an agenda where the test of every new policy from the leadership was how much it would antagonise the Labour party’s core membership.

Tuition fees, the attempt to marketise the NHS, the careless disregard of long cherished civil liberties and the drive to war in Iraq were being imposed by a leadership who convinced themselves that, if the members hated it, they were doing something right.

When I walked through the voting lobbies against the attempt to impose 90 days’ detention without charge in 2005, Tom Watson –then one of Tony Blair’s whips – growled at me that I was a ‘traitor’. But a traitor to who?

Not to the country, when this was a draconian measure designed to look tough on terrorism, but one that would undermine the cohesion of communities like ours, alienate people and actually undermine our security. My members knew this and I remember when Compass polled party members – at my instigation – it was clear this was the national view as well.

So who exactly was I betraying? Just a party hierarchy and a party leadership who were trying to shore up their relationship with the right-wing press by ‘taking on’ their members, and trying to out-flank the Tories on security.

When Jeremy stood for the leadership after the disaster of the 2015 election, the difference was palpable. Here finally was a candidate interested in listening to the party’s members, reflecting their views, and promising to represent them. As a result, hundreds of thousands more joined, including huge numbers who had left because of Iraq, tuition fees, and other issues.

Here we are now, less than a year after Jeremy’s overwhelming victory, and the party hierarchy – through decisions of the National Executive Committee – is attempting to overturn that result, quash Jeremy’s mandate, and put the party’s members back in their box. And they are doing so in the most naked way.

I was disgusted to see the attempts to try to stop Jeremy from getting on the ballot. And then, if that wasn’t bad enough, hundreds of thousands of fully paid-up Labour party members were excluded from taking part in the election, having been told the opposite when they joined. Third, your membership fees were spent on securing that decision through the courts. And then lastly, registered supporters, who had been told they could be involved in the Leadership election, were then told that they must increase their donation to £25 within two days to remain eligible for a vote.

Indeed, you should probably know that even to put on the social events we have held for local members in the last two months – occasions that have been really important to welcome in our new members – we have been forced to seek permission for each event from the party hierarchy.

In short, some people have done their level best to deny the party’s full membership a fair and equal vote in this contest, or even the chance to make their voices heard. Instead of welcoming the enthusiasm of our new members, instead of celebrating the strength of our mass membership, they have been behaving as if it is something to be afraid of.

As someone who spent nearly 30 years as a grass roots activist before becoming your MP, I cannot accept this.

But even more important, as someone who believes our party and our country are best served when our elected representatives and the party membership work together, I fundamentally disagree with this attempt to take us back to the years when our members were deliberately antagonised, alienated and ignored by the people who they helped to put in power.

Islington South and Finsbury Labour Party has a proud reputation for being one of the great campaigning local parties and our election results in the past 11 years have shown what can be done when the membership and its elected representatives work together with respect.

We now have the potential to replicate this success across the country, creating a national activist base that could be unlike anything else in modern British politics, taking our message into the street and onto the doorstep, and turning the activism of thousands into the support of millions.

I do not understand why anyone in the Labour party would want to turn their back on that membership, in the way that the party hierarchy have tried to do this summer.

Instead, it is time to unite as a party – the membership and the elected representatives alike – and together take our fight into the only contest that matters: getting this dreadful Tory government out of office, and punishing them for the mess into which they have plunged our country.

That is what we should have spent our summer doing – uniting, facing outwards, taking on the Tories, and energising the public to our cause – and that is again why I regret so much the chaos and distraction that this attempted coup against Jeremy has caused.

So my plea to all members, and one I will make to my fellow MPs, is this: whatever the outcome of this leadership election, we should stop the internal division, unite as a party, and take the fight to the Tories together.

And I would like my local party to know that I will remain totally loyal to the leader of our party, whoever he shall be.

In the meantime, you all know that I have a very full in-tray with constituency business, and with representing the party on Brexit, foreign affairs, and – together with Clive Lewis – our future defence policies.

I will be concentrating on this vital work in the run up to 24 September, rather than this unnecessary and divisive leadership contest. And when that is over, I hope we can all start focusing on those bigger issues on which Britain needs an effective, united opposition.

I know that not everyone will agree with the conclusions I have reached, but I am completely confident that in Islington South and Finsbury, we will continue to debate this and other issues in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

Best wishes, and please as ever, let me know your views. Looking forward to seeing you on a doorstep with me soon!

Emily

There are two Labour parties now. The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

Quote

The Great Ron Rafferty says*:

A brief history of the world …. From the time of Kinnock, there was an ever-increasing vetting procedure of new Labour candidates.  That started off from a relatively weak administrative point from the Central Office perspective, but it quickly became more and more controlling over the past 30 years, and what better cover than deciding that only people from certain groups could stand as candidates.  So we ended up with a massive percentage of “on-message” MPs.

Now fast forward to last summer, and the sudden realisation by the on-message ones, that they were no longer on message with the people they claimed to represent.  Their own manifesto demonstrated this.  As the media had tried to paint Ed Miliband as Red Ed, the Labour Party machine moved forever towards the right until in several aspects it WAS to the right of the Tories!  This is the “being in power” bollocks that is constantly uttered.  Being in power …. for what?  If being in power is to be worse than the Tories, then it IS actually better having the Tories FFS!

The election of Corbyn, who, despite efforts to paint him almost as a communist (the new Red Ed) was centre-left, saw a whole cadre of the Labour machine rejecting him, and rejecting their membership.

He was never ever given a chance to be a leader.  Sniping from the Coup-ers** NEVER stopped.  They used social media to keep in contact with the mainstream media (oh, how hollow their protests now sound about others using social media …..), placed anti-Corbyn stories, and the continuing line that only the coup-ers were true Labour, not their leader, and certainly not their membership!

Planning for a coup for 10 months.  No principles.  But the membership – now there’s a bit of a problem!

The coup, which was intended to psychologically attack the leader failed, because he stood up to the outrageous deceit and bullying.  (In any other context on earth, the Guardian would have railed against the bullies, and quite rightly!).  But Corbyn wasn’t broken.  Did the coup members bother that this was anti-democratic?  Did they bother that it was against their memberships expressed wishes?  Did they bother that it was against the wishes of most CLPs?

As that didn’t work …. over to the NEC, and the same coup-ers not quite in charge of things.  Sob stories about representatives being threatened (a bizarre bit of histrionics compared to what they had attempted on Corbyn!).  No sticking to the normal rules of committees, and what is the solution to the membership “problem?”  Cut off as many members as possible!  Stop the membership meeting in the CLPs!

This is NOT a group of people trying to “save” the Labour Party.  This is a group of people who believe they OWN the Labour Party, and will do precisely what they want.  It is a right-wing takeover.  And the people hark back to the days of Blair where they say one thing, and mean another, where war is good, where the class from which their members are taken is good as cannon fodder without equipment, where a useless and expensive piece of nuclear gear is more important than ships that work, and where those same poor folk will continue to pay for the errors of the rich.

But, there again, time after time, it is the rich who pay for their coup “friends.”  A few millions promised here, a few hundreds of thousands there, a “helpful” but restricted legal challenge (that’ll do nicely).

There are TWO Labour parties now.  The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

Whose side are you on?

 

*Comments thread https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/15/labour-death-spite-bullying-working-class-base

**coup plotters

NB This is important

Wise words – ‘Keep Calm and Support Corbyn’

‘The last thing anyone on the Left must do in response to these outrages is to be outraged however. There will be more to come.

More members will be suspended. Applicants for registered supporter status will be excluded – even in some cases if they have been accepted as Labour Party members (after the January cut off date). Other local parties will face unjustified administrative sanctions.

All of this has a dual purpose. First – and vitally – to diminish Corbyn’s support in the election. Secondly – and this is not unimportant – in the hope of provoking an angry response which can feed the narrative that the left are vile bullies.’

jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/…/keep-calm-and-support-corbyn…

Corbyn Coup #StayPut This is now about LP Democracy

Quote

13502870_10154263065244344_3215269863295523536_o

 

It’s all going to according to the plan that Richard Burgon MP outlined on Labour List:

 

Just this afternoon a Labour member asked me “Why do these MPs who want to remove Jeremy want a Leadership election when the outcome of a Leadership election would be Jeremy being re-elected?”. The truth is, there are some MPs who either want to install a new leader without a leadership election or get a new leader through a Leadership Election in which Jeremy is prevented from taking part.

Outrageous? Anti-democratic? Offensive to ordinary Party members? That’s exactly the point. I’ve seen quite a few Labour activists on social media declaring that if a ‘coup’ takes place, they will leave the Labour Party in disgust. That’s exactly what those plotting to scrub out the Party’s democratic decision last summer want to happen. For some, a much smaller and less active Labour Party is a price worth paying for a return to the status quo that they’re comfortable with – a status quo which lost Labour 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010, saw Labour decimated in Scotland and saw Labour end up as being viewed as part of a political establishment that’s not to be trusted. For some, the plan is to reconfigure the Labour Party’s membership to one at ease with their Blair-inspired politics through the tactic of disrespecting members and the democratic process to such an extent that members resign in droves. Don’t discount a strategy of trying to impose some sort of “caretaker leader” for a year or two until enough members have resigned in disgust to mean that a leadership election can then take place in which a candidate with Blair-inspired politics has a decent chance of winning.

 

http://labourlist.org/2016/06/the-plot-to-oust-corbyn-is-anti-democratic-and-offensive-to-labour-members/