I have suspected for a while that some Labour MPs would eventually make a stand to urge the Party to return to it’s traditional values.
In an open letter released yesterday some 40 Labour MPs have urged the party to adopt a range of principles.
Read the letter and then my comments below it
In order to mobilise the maximum number of Labour voters in preparation for the next election, we believe that Labour should now focus its campaigning around the following key principles:
A. The recession should be tackled not with cuts in essential public spending, but by massive public investment in house-building, infrastructure and the de-carbonisation of the economy.
B. Banks should be split up with their casino investment arms hived off. Publicly-owned retail banks should be required to meet new social and community objectives and support manufacturing, with lending to businesses and homeowners restored to 2007 levels. Pay and bonuses should be tightly regulated.
C. A clean break must be made with market fundamentalism ““ deregulation and privatisation. Public provision should be expanded ““ in health care, education, housing, pensions, energy and transport. Royal Mail must remain wholly in the public sector.
D. In the face of huge and unacceptable growth of inequality, a big redistribution programme must swing resources away from the rich to provide sizeable increases in pensions, the minimum wage, the lowest benefit levels, and to fund job creation and improved public services. Union rights must be restored ““ it is in economic crisis that workers are most in need of that protection.
E. To achieve the 80% carbon emission reduction target by 2050, renewable sources of energy should be promoted on a far bigger scale, industry (including airlines) should be required to reduce its climate change emissions by at least 3% per year, household carbon allowances should be introduced, and the UK targets should be fully met by domestic action and not by carbon offsetting abroad.
We also believe that if Labour is to revive its membership in numbers and activity, it must fully restore its internal democratic procedures so that the voice of its individual and affiliated members is listened to and taken account of. This process has begun with the adoption of all-member voting rights for the National Policy Forum.
But we believe that several further reforms are needed, in particular to restore to the elected NEC full supervision and control over the party’s operation and finances, to introduce a charter of members’ rights and a Party Ombudsman to enforce them, and to renew for all party employees the core civil service values of impartiality, integrity, honesty and objectivity in the development of party policy and selection of party candidates.
As you can see, 2 of the signatories are Stoke North MP Joan Walley and Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher.
It is the last two paragraphs that are probably the most telling though. I have been getting reports from both inside the City of Stoke-on-Trent and outside that grass root Labour Party members are becoming increasingly angry and frustrated and the ongoing bastardisation of the Party’s rules, aims and core values.
The party is torn apart by continual accusations that certain members are being kept off candidate lists and that all woman short lists are being used as a tool to achieve this aim.
How insulting to the articulate and intelligent ladies of the Labour Party that they are being used in this way and prevented from winning selection by fair means against their male counterparts. Selection should be based solely on ability, no other criteria should be acceptable.
Regional officers are being accused of keeping members who’s faces don’t fit off any candidate lists in favour of those who they have deemed as ‘progressives’.
The party seems as if it wants to ride rough shod over the core beliefs that endeared it to the working masses of a by-gone age.
No longer do the party hierarchy both locally and nationally appear ‘of’ the people. They come across as being ‘over’ the people, which clearly offends the hard working grass roots members who give up their free time to campaign and serve the party they love.
One grass roots member from Lancashire said to me in a recent email that he felt that his local party’s ‘management’ and paid regional officers patronised the hard core party membership and in so doing compromised his basic socialist principles.
The Labour Party membership is at an all time low. The much publicised flawed selection process and regional interference is hardly going to bring new members into the fold. More likely the opposite will be true, members will just drift away because their opinions are not valued and they have no say in the decision making process.
This open letter sends a clear message to the party’s national executive to return the power back to local members at branch level.
It also clearly hits out at those paid regional officers that have been so successful at ostracising the party faithful. The call for the return of ‘impartiality, integrity, honesty and objectivity in the development of party policy and selection of party candidates’, clearly hints at the difficulties witnessed here in Stoke-on-Trent.
Local members that have been victims in the party’s friendly fire incidents will be given heart by the contents of this open letter. Those who are seeking justice through legal challenges will see this as a boost.
While all the in-fighting continues, we are no nearer the announcement of the full candidates list or indeed the policies on which they will fight.
Will those who are working on their own agenda and are set is dissolving local power and imposing their criteria, now rethink their strategy?
No way, their ego’s will not allow it.
Someone, preferably Party Chair Harriet Harman, need to intervene quickly so that the party can return to the battle of defeating the opposition instead of turning on themselves and imploding into oblivion.