Mark Ferguson at LabourList hits the nail on the head… the Labour Party is addicted to fixing.
And as Mark writes, this very much isn’t just a London problem!
In my own CLP as I have written on here before, it seems joining the Labour Party is almost impossible, unless, that is, someone wants to fast track a ‘friend’ on to the panel of candidates.
My own Ward is one of the most active in Sandwell. We have monthly branch meetings (some branches are lucky if they even have an AGM), we get anything up to 30 activists out in an election campaign, and successfully return three hard working local councillors. We are known as a branch in the Ward, putting out newsletters, monthly e-bulletins and with a blog with gets anything up to 10,000 visits each month. We have never had a single complaint from anyone at Regional, Constituency or Branch level about our activities!
Yet in the last 12 months we have managed to recruit a solitary new member of the Party. Heaven knows how he slipped through the net, he must be well connected!!!
It hasn’t been for lack of trying. I know of at least three applicants who have said it is easier to escape from Devil’s Island than to join the Labour Party in Warley! They are the ones who told me they gave up trying.
Some apparently mutter darkly in corners that we are in Special Measures, but frankly, I think that’s just crap! Surely if we were in Special Measures some pen pushing bureaucrat would have told us what the measures were, what was special about them, and why.
You may say, as I am sure some will, this is just airing our dirty washing in public. Yes, it is, but all attempts to even get a civil answer have met with a wall of secrecy.
I wrote to Luke Akehurst, an NEC candidate again this year I see, and Special Measures was the best excuse he could come up with. But at least he had the courtesy to reply. I asked Regional Office and for six months they didnt even reply. I wrote to Tom Watson, a very important person now… and he referred me to Regional Office. At least then they were
embarrassed kind enough to reply with some vague promise of a meeting sometime in the future ‘to discuss the issue’. I wrote to the Leader of our Council, himself a Warley CLP member but just heard back through a third party some waffly rot about ‘protecting the Party’.
So, for our members, who work bloody hard to return Labour candidates, there is nothing we can tell them when they see the membership reports month on month as natural wastage is not refreshed by new members. All we can do is speculate. Speculate that somewhere, deep in the murky bowels of the Party, there is either a stunning degree of incompetence, or a fear that somewhere there is a plot to unseat our MP. Therefore either those close to the MP, or those close to the plotters, are trying to block new members because they fear it will harm their chances.
If that is the case, frankly, my dear, we don’t give a damn. The people I am talking about are Labour Party members to try to do the best for the people in our neighbourhoods, not to feather the nest of cliques trying to promote their own self interest and careerist ambitions.
As Mark Ferguson writes:
…to be crude, it doesn’t pass the sniff test. Right now – in terms of internal democracy – the Labour Party still doesn’t smell right.
Because at the moment, some of the actions that go on in our supposedly democratic party would shame a low grade banana republic.