Friday, August 21, 2015

The Labour Right - not purging but drowning?

I'm inclined to accept the analysis in the New Statesman above, and to accept that the so-called "#LabourPurge" is neither intended nor likely to alter the outcome of the leadership election at a national level (albeit some individual disqualifications of particular would-be supporters arise from the initiative of local activists who would wish that it might do both).

Those of us who want to see a Corbyn victory - and beyond that a thorough transformation of the Labour Party into an effective voice for working people - should be careful about lending further credence to criticisms of the electoral system which we hope will deliver that victory.

As a Labour Party member in Brighton I know many good socialists, who share the true Labour values of Jeremy Corbyn, but who have supported the Greens locally (and in Brighton Pavilion) in recent years. Such has been the bad blood between Green and Labour activists in the town that it is hardly surprising if local Labour activists have highlighted high profile local Greens registering as Labour supporters (whose registrations will not then have been accepted).

As a trade unionist in Lambeth (where, if Liz Kendall's rightly doomed campaign still had a beating heart it might quite likely be located) I know many good socialists who also share the true Labour values of Jeremy Corbyn, many of whom have (mistakenly in my view) supported foolish electoral challenges to Labour from the left. Again, it is not surprising if local Labour Party members have highlighted applications to register as supporters from those supporting candidates against Labour candidates in the recent past.

In each locality, and wherever good comrades are denied a voice, this injustice will understandably be provoking anger. I am angry at some of the cases of which I have heard.

I don't think any of this is right (though as a lifelong Labour leftwinger I never supported the introduction of the category of "registered supporters" nor the new Collins-inspired election rules which, at a stroke, have disenfranchised millions of trade unionists). However, the electoral system we are stuck with was agreed properly and constitutionally at last year's Special Conference, and what the Party is doing is operating th‎at agreed system.

In order to get beyond the injustice of selective disqualification of registered supporters we need a positive transformation of the Labour Party, of which the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader is the next crucial step. Then we can build a Party into which left wingers disillusioned over the long years of right wing hegemony can be welcomed, not just as supporters‎ but as members of a Party which we will democratise from top to bottom.
Comrades who have been disqualified should inform the Corbyn campaign and then find out how they can help the campaign reach and persuaded the thousands in the electorate who have yet to vote. The more fuss is made now about a "purge" the more we fashion yet another stick with which opponents can try to beat the Leader we are electing.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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