Momentum South Birmingham unconditionally condemns the appalling “administrative suspension” of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party, the suspension of Angela Eagle’s CLP, Wallasey, the NEC’s decision to effectively close down party democracy for the duration of the leadership campaign, whilst simultaneously preventing many of our members from voting in that contest.
In Brighton recently a new pro-Corbyn leadership structure took office in a free and fair election after winning a huge majority and a tripling of local party membership in the last year. This is democracy in action, a principle that the Labour Party should, inherently, hold dear.
The accusation that the result was somehow the work of “entryists” from other leftwing parties, as alleged by some critics within and outside our party, is patently ludicrous. If these groups, most of whom have a stated project of standing candidates against Labour, had the sort of numbers required to take over local branches, constituencies and entire districts, it is difficult to comprehend why they would they need to even bother “infiltrating”.
On the contrary, in Brighton we have seen a perfect example of the enthusiasm that Jeremy Corbyn’s project has generated amongst ordinary activists and former party members; they have joined and re-joined the party in their droves since he became leader.
And in Wallasey whilst the CLP has been suspended due to accusations of “intimidation”, the real motive is crystal clear: the membership there had the temerity to make clear their support for Jeremy Corbyn and oppose the contemptible attempts by their MP Angela Eagle to undermine him. Eagle seems more motivated by personal ambition than principle and a desire to oppose the Tories. But then again maybe the nuances of modern political life are lost on the members of Wallasey Labour Party and South Birmingham Momentum.
We demand that these outrageous decisions are reversed immediately and that those responsible reflect on the damage caused to the party they claim to serve. It is not acceptable for the party bureaucracy to simply annul a democratic result because they don’t like it. Complaints about bullying and threats are spurious as both the meeting in Brighton and the vote of support for Corbyn in Wallasey were conducted in a perfectly democratic manner; there is no proof of intimidation and infiltration, merely rumour, innuendo and anonymous briefing. The stated grounds for these decisions mask the true agenda being relentlessly pursued by the right wing of our party.
This agenda amounts to little more than a war of attrition on the part of some in the Labour Party to prevent the growth of a mass socialist movement. This policy has been aggressively and persistently pursued since the day that Corbyn was elected.
And, as ever, this is presented as the democratic and moderate voice of the party. Labour’s bureaucracy shuts down opposition and support for Corbyn and his socialist policies using authoritarian means as they cannot win democratically.
The decision by the National Executive Committee to suspend most meetings of local parties for the duration of the leadership campaign and, retrospectively, impose a list of restrictions to prevent an overwhelming Corbyn victory is Kafkaesque in the extreme. Whilst we hope that the 183,000 newly registered supporters will go some way to circumvent that, it shouldn’t have come to this. Retrospectively preventing people from voting and making the cost prohibitively high to many who wish to register as supporters, and doing so simply because they are going to support our current leader, is quite frankly obscene.
The only conclusion to be drawn is that the right of the NEC prefer to suffocate the grassroots movement in our attempt to breathe life into CLPs and wards, and allow the latter, in many areas, to continue to rot.
We need to be clear that the civil war currently raging in the party is the result of one thing, the inability of 172 MPs and a large number of party officials and “grandees” to reconcile themselves to the democratic choice of their members and get over their loathing of Corbyn’s policies and agenda.
We know that this isn’t about “electability”, Corbyn’s leadership style, oratory, dress sense or performance at PMQs. They object to him and his ideas per se and do not want a left-wing, socialist Labour government at the head of a mass movement for political change. Some of them claim that they were ‘willing to give Corbyn time’ but now they have ‘run out of patience’. This is a lie. They never accepted the leadership result. And they are clearly not concerned about electability when they choose the most destructive moment possible to launch their coup against our leadership.
Our party belongs to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary members, a majority of whom have either joined or re-joined since Corbyn was elected leader in a landslide last year.
The Parliamentary Party Labour Party and the individuals on the NEC who voted for and instigated these disgraceful and undemocratic attacks would do very well to remember that.