On Disagreement in the Labour Party

I wrote this article while sat in Conway Hall at the Special General Meeting of the Labour Representation Committee. This is part of my own personal political education process. In some ways, I admire young members who have decided on their political position but, despite having been a Labour member for 7 years now, that is not where I am yet. I believe that the country does better when we have a Labour government rather than a Conservative government and I am proud of much of what the last Labour Government achieved but I’m grown up enough to recognise that the wider electoral, political and economic situation has changed, not just since the Great Recession but even since May last year and that what worked in 1997 might not work today. In short, I am neither wholly left or wholly right but am listening to the arguments and trying to make up my own mind.

Being at this conference has been a great way to challenge and develop my views. I have, however, just listened to one woman speaker (reference to the sex of the speaker is only to facilitate pronouns) deliver a tirade against Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Progress. I do not believe I can place any weight put on her views. This is despite me agreeing with much of what she said in terms of policy- on housing, on Trade Unions, on anti austerity economics. The reason? Not because of her opinion on Blair or Brown or Progress she can have her own views on those issues. The reason I can’t agree with this particular speaker, although she is now a member of the Labour party, tore up her membership card 15 years ago.

How does anyone who set down tools and gave up the fight for a Labour victory- the only viable vehicle to deliver a better, fairer society and help those who need government’s help most- have any right to talk about how Labour let people down? All of us have different views and it is right to say, although it has been said to death, that the Labour party is a broad church. This means that we can and will have disagreements about policy but the bottom line is, however you feel about Blair or Brown or Miliband or Corbyn, when you sign up to the Labour party you are asked to sign up to the values of the party, summed up in Clause 4 of the Party Rule Book. This statement of values hasn’t changed since 1994. If this particular member tore up her membership card 15 years ago. That means she supported the values of the party for 7 years but then decided that they weren’t her values anymore.

I should be clear with what I mean here, I am not against new members being in the party nor am I saying that people should have their views silenced if they are new- I hope that I have shown this by starting this blog. Nor am I advocating that views that are different to mine do not matter. My point is only that if you have made an active decision in the past that our values weren’t your values anymore- and coincidentally, in the case of this particular speaker, supported candidates who stood against the Labour Party- so who is she to say that a betrayal has taken place? So by all means let’s have different opinions, let’s have disagreements but if you buy into Labour’s values then you should be in, and stay in, the party regardless of who the leader is otherwise your view is going to be of no worth to anyone. Just ask Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Outcard Photo
Alex Graham- Editor


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