Demo in the Heath

No New Nukes!

On a windy Sunday morning, a group of local activists led a protest on Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath to oppose the plans of the Government to increase the Nuclear Warhead arsenal of the UK.

Camden Peace Campaign

At 9.20am, Sunday 18 April, this group of 20 locals spoke about their concerns. A submarine with 180 warheads was on show in Hampstead Heath. 80 additional warheads were added to the submarine by people representing Boris Johnson (in Boris masks). There were speeches by peace activists and input (to boos) from Mini Boris on the Heath. The group was supported by about 20 others who brought home-made placards, cheered and joined in the speeches with their personal stories. Others who happened to be on the Heath, running, or on a walk, joined in and voiced their support for this important issue.

The demo on the heath was the brain-child of Paul Renny, Lucy Moy-Thomas and Pete Wickenden. Paul had the initial vision of a protest in the Hampstead Heath as lockdown was easing. At the time there were so many different issues going on that the government plan to increase nuclear weapons by 40% was at risk of going unmarked by local activists. Peter, who is active against the arms trade came up with the vision of a theatrical protest and the blue-print for the demo. Lucy made the banners, Pete the submarine and missiles. Lots of others came forward to help us bring our vision to life. We all had to work separately (Lucy was miles away, in Wales) but meet regularly over Zoom to organise all the details of the action. Huge thanks to Jack for creating the CPC logo, Dinny for being mini-Boris, Conor for filming and editing the event, and Pete R for helping with the props and all the others who supported us in making the vision a possibility.

Watch the film below of the event. Please share widely and oppose this unnecessary and dangerous nuclear arms race.

Video Recording of the Demo

Statement 1: Peter Wickenden

Last month, the government revealed plans for a 40% increase in Britain’s nuclear arsenal. Today the arsenal stands at 180 Trident missile nuclear warheads. Each is about eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb which killed over 200,000 people. That’s a killing capacity of hundreds of millions, yet the government proposes to add a further 80 warheads. No New Nukes!

Statement 2: Shezan Renny

Camden Peace Campaign was formed in response to this wasteful and ominous proposal. We organised this demonstration to call attention to this increase in the nuclear arsenal and bring together all those in the local community who wish to campaign against policies that promote a new nuclear arms race. No New Nukes!

Statement 3: Nick Weaver

The plan to raise the Trident nuclear stockpile to 260 warheads is a very dangerous and immensely costly return to cold war thinking. Trident is dependant entirely on US technology and is not relevant to Britain’s defence. The expense is huge and the utility non-existent in terms of military use. Now Boris Johnson wants to boost his ‘global Britain’ stance by investing in more weapons of mass destruction. No New Nukes!

Statement 4: Lucy Moy-Thomas

This is illegal and immoral. Increasing Britain’s nuclear arsenal contravenes our legal obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty requires countries that have nuclear weapons to disarm. Increasing a nuclear arsenal is not legitimate under the Treaty. But it’s not just new warheads that are illegal, it’s the whole Trident replacement project as well. The Treaty requires ‘each of the parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.’ So not only are additional warheads illegal, but Trident replacement is illegal, and the failure to disarm our existing nuclear weapons contravenes the Treaty. No New Nukes!

Statement 5: Paul Renny

This total disregard of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by Britain, USA and other nuclear-armed states means that non-nuclear states can conclude there is no justification for preventing them develop nuclear weapons. The Trident replacement programme will cost us over 205 billion pounds. This money could be well spent on our Covid recovery, the NHS or reducing child/ food/ housing poverty prevalent in the UK today. Let’s come together to say No to Nuclear Weapons – No New Nukes!

Gareth Murphy, whose father-n-law was a youngster in the outskirts of Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped, spoke movingly for nuclear disarmament.

Special Guest – Mini Boris on the Heath

Yes, hello and welcome. Welcome to Hampstead Heath. Although I don’t welcome these Peace loving hippies who want to ruin my blissful Sunday morning brunch it gets me away from my kids.
Yes, it’s me, your very own Prime Minister talking to you. Why, why, you may ask, why, why do you, Boris want to talk to us in the Heath. It’s quite simple really, because people share this in common, everybody loves the destruction, the blowing up, the blasts. Every one will feel safer with 80 more warheads, each with 8 times the more destructive power than the Hiroshima bomb.
Just think how wonderful, how powerful, that destruction would be. People ask me
Why are you not spending this on the NHS, Boris?
Why are you not spending this on jobs, Boris?
Why are you not spending this on houses, Boris?
And I say ‘Why would I do this, when I can make Britain great again by building lots more bombs!
Anyways, must go now. I have lots more contracts to hand out to my mates and my old school pal, David Cameron has asked me to get him out of a sticky wicket.
So boo to Camden Peace Campaign and boo to Peace

Contact for more info.

Camden Campaign Strike

The Launch

Join us to launch the Camden Campaign Strike Launch via zoom.

Sunday March 28th, 2:00-3:30pm

Free – public event

Register on Eventbrite

The Launch follows the motion passed unanimously at the Camden Momentum meeting earlier in March 2021.

Speakers include:

  • Graham Bash (JVL Political Education) speaking in a personal capacity.
  • Ekua Bayunu – Labour Black Socialists
  • Andrea Gilbert – Labour Black Socialists
  • Reederwan Craayastein – Labour Black Socialists
  • Luke Smith – Labour GRT (Gypsy, Roma & Traveller)

The meeting will be hosted and chaired by Shezan Renny.

Motion passed by Camden Momentum:

Camden Momentum stands in solidarity with Labour Black Socialists and black members in boycotting Labour election campaigns whilst the racism within the party is tolerated. The barring of a Black Female Socialist candidate for Liverpool Mayor further demonstrates the failure to confront racism and white privilege within the party.

We accept LBS’s assertion that the Labour leadership has failed in their duty to tackle anti Black racism and Islamophobia, or to develop systems of natural justice within the disciplinary process to tackle anti Black racism and Islamophobia.

We too will actively campaign only for Labour Party candidates who have proven their commitment to tackle anti-Black racism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination routinely faced by Black, Asian and Ethnic communities heritage members.

Furthermore the suspension of the whip to the anti racist Jeremy Corbyn and the unwarranted suspension of socialists within Party have signalled an ongoing war against socialism within Labour.

Consequently Camden Momentum will be on a campaign strike of any Labour candidate that does not signal that they oppose the undemocratic sectarian aggression against socialists by the Labour Leadership.

Starmerism: What it is and where it’s taking us

Highgate Left Political Education discussion

Wednesday 7th April

Our speaker is Phil Burton-Cartledge – an academic, Labour Party activist, and a long-time blogger at All that is Solid.

He has written extensively on “Starmerism” and how its present flags ‘n’ family strategy misreads both the “new” working class and the voters lost in the so-called red wall, as well as the electoral peril his internal crackdown on the left poses for the party’s chances of winning office at the next election. In other words, Keir and his leadership is demobilising and disassembling the coalition of voters Corbyn brought together in 2017 and largely held onto in 2019.

On top of this, Phil says he has developed an unhealthy interest in the politics and trajectory of the Conservatives. His first book, Falling Down: Parliamentary Conservatism and the Decline of the Tory Party is out this September from Verso.

Here are a couple of recent blog posts you might like to look at before the talk Applauding Failure and The Myth of the Vaccine Bounce.

Please register in advance at

Momentum Camden Calls for NEC Motion of No Confidence in Keir Starmer

Posted on behalf of Camden Momentum Steering Committee.

Motion passed at the Camden Momentum meeting – July 2020

As the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer worked closely with the police in prosecuting and convicting people who were overwhelmingly working class and disproportionately people of colour. As he said recently, “Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police… I’ve worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police is very strong.” While failing to hold the police accountable for deaths in police custody, he did little against corporate corruption but encouraged longer and tougher sentences for “benefit fraud”, and ordered the fast-tracking of extradition of Julian Assange. Assange, who is an award-winning journalist and publisher, is being persecuted for revealing US war crimes overwhelmingly against people of colour.

As leader of the Labour Party, Starmer:

  1. Took no immediate action against those former staff members whose racism, sexism, and ableism was exposed in the leaked report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
  2. Reversed the overwhelming vote at Conference against the occupation of Kashmir, giving free reign to Prime Minister Modi’s imposition of martial law and spreading persecution of Muslims in India.
  3. Downplayed the international Black Lives Matter movement as “a moment”, and labelled as “nonsense” the demand to defund the police in favour of greater community investment.
  4. Kept in his Cabinet Rachel Reeves who joined Boris Johnson and other Tories in praising Lady Astor, a well-known Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite, while firing Rebecca Long-Bailey for retweeting a reference to Israeli training of US police – a fact which he described as an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”.
  5. Said he “supports Zionism without qualification” and called attacks on Apartheid Israel “antisemitic”. In so doing he links all Jewish people with the crimes of a particular state – the very essence of antisemitism.
  6. Refused to hold this Tory government accountable for its handling of the pandemic, making Labour complicit in a per capita death rate which is the second highest in the world and which has disproportionately affected people of colour.

Starmer’s statement that he needs “unconscious bias” training, is both an admission and misdirection: His racism has been conscious and consistent and has no place in an antiracist party. In the process he makes racism a personal psychological problem and not a systemic social disaster.  He has brought the Labour Party into disrepute with some of its most loyal supporters, BAME communities.

Therefore Momentum Camden calls on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party to pass a motion of “No Confidence” in Keir Starmer. 

We also call on Momentum’s National Coordinating Group to support this demand and publicise its support to all local Momentum groups.

The Sacking of RLB

Marie Lynam, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP

I have a friend who did not wish to sign the Rebecca Long-Bailey (RLB) petition due to what my friend saw as RLB having rather fallen on her sword.

But I think the instinct of all those who signed the petition is good. The 10,000 signatures in 2 days make a Big Noise at this Right Time.
Very useful also to note that, in sacking RLB, Keir Starmer has put firmly his right-wing cards on the table.

Photo by Rwendland – Own work

Unlike what Starmer is pretexting, no conspiracy theory is involved. It is now publicly documented that at least 12 US police forces have been trained, both in the US and in Israel, by Israeli law enforcement officials; and that the latter use the choke-hold method ‘with the knee’, as demonstrated this very month of June by the three Israeli guards who pounced upon Arab Bedouin Ishmael Khaldi at Jerusalem Central Bus Station because he was filming their antics.
This matter is opening a debate (blocked up to now) in all in the CLPs – a debate that K Starmer and the Labour right wanted to keep shut.

I am quite sure that the sacking of RBL is going to be a boomerang for Starmer. Not that RLB will have anything much to add, perhaps, but that Israel and the Jewish people are increasingly perceived as distinct entities, and not to be confused with each other.

My CLP has had 2 informal Zoom gatherings (the secretary cleverly asked Tulip and the NEC – and these were granted).
Before the last Zoom, someone was insistent in having an item on the Agenda demanding to know why our CLP never discussed their resolution about the lack of space for Jewish people in our Party. As the Zoom meeting drew closer, the insistence waned. Things worked as if a big event had turned this thing around. I am quite sure that the big event is Black Lives Matter. Suddenly, there were forces in our CLP demanding to know why our CLP never had space for the Black and BAME comrades.

Owen Jones likes to fish in confused waters to make a name for himself. But he did say that RLB should not have been sacked, or something approaching this. Had the political wind been blowing from the right, he would have gone along with the sacking. And so I say, the sacking has not stopped the political wind blowing from the left in the Labour Party.

Jones and Lansman are weather vanes that show you where the wind blows from. To my mind, it is still blowing from the left, and stronger, because all sorts of centrists have taken RLB’s defence instead of keeping silent. On the Labour right, they should be screaming ‘conspiracy theory!’ over the rooftops, but they don’t. They must be worried about Starmer holding up their fake-cards in the face of the world – cards that they had only created for the private use of Labour’s disciplinary.

John McDonald says he stands “in solidarity” with RLB. Surely J Corbyn agrees with this. This goes quite a long way. John would not say this if he had swallowed the conspiracy theory. I hope these two comrades return to give a hand to help draw rallying conclusions.
Two immediate conclusions come to my mind:

One is: to unite the British working class of all colours behind social equality and human justice. The working class, Black and White, is the one that “cannot breathe”. It wants equality and justice: equality against the 1% obscenity, and human justice in society.
But let me tell you: None of these two things are in the power of capitalism!

The other conclusion is: Why are the police forces of our settler colonial countries (i.e. the Western capitalist countries we live in, as well as Australia, Canada, NZ, etc) – why are their polices (and their armies to be sure) becoming counter-insurgency forces?

Marie Lynam, individual initiative – 26.6.2020

Labour will defend labour, or it will have no role:

Marie Lynam, joint-Political Officer Camden-Momentum.
Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, individual initiative

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Trump’s administration has promised a $600 billion kind of bailout to the top North American companies. It plans to distribute $250 billion between the North American workers – each to receive $1,000. But what is $1,000 if it is only once, or even twice? The Trump government also arranged for the Fed to be able to buy ‘commercial paper’ to the amount of 4 trillion, this sum to be injected into the stock exchange. At the news, the markets rose by 5%.

‘Commercial paper’ is ‘a money-market security’ (google says), i.e. a promissory note sold by large corporations or banks to obtain emergency funds to meet exceptional needs. It is an unsecured short-term debt. It will be repaid at agreed future dates and at a fixed rate of interest (presumably the very low current one). Be all this as it may, it represents vast sums suddenly available to salvage the operations of capital and all its works.

One article I saw said that these trillions could have served to cancel all the US students’ loans and the debt of every US citizen as well. The trillions could have bought – or got manufactured – millions of masks, test kits, gowns, ventilators, ICU beds, new hospitals, etc.

In the UK, the British government found also great surpluses of money to deal with the virus crisis. Perhaps influenced by the Corbyn-McDonnell electoral campaign, and certainly short of better ideas, the Johnson-Sunak budget will pump £330 billion is loan schemes “to support business”. Showing by the way that Tory austerity had always only been a stick to beat the workers with. Beyond the possibility of an eventual £1,000 cheque for those losing their jobs, Rishi Sunak did not have much else on offer for the workers. The 5 million low-paid, part-time, zero-hour and self-employed UK workers were not mentioned in the budget. If they were vaguely mentioned afterwards, it was to calm all the unions’ protests and the growing panic.

UK government officials warn that the elderly are in the firing line of the coronavirus, but the budget made no mention of the state of social care for the elderly. And if the promised £6 billion new funding for the NHS does materialise, what help will this be when the hospitals had an ‘overspend’ of £141 billion at the end of 2019?

I don’t think the top capitalists would be so concerned about the virus if they did not foresee extremely big economic and social trouble to come. Imperial College has produced a study along those lines. But for the capitalists, the major concern is for themselves. When Boris Johnson warned that: ‘many more families should expect to lose loved ones’, he may have thought that he did his job. But he did not. His first plan to allow the coronavirus to spread with up to 60% of the population becoming infected (for it to acquire ‘herd immunity’) was suddenly replaced by a policy of “social distancing” without having first procured the test-kits through which to pilot future controls. This empiricism due to egoism and arrogance is already costing lives. But ‘who cares’ Boris Johnson will say, as long as the money-making machine is being spared?

I have every certainty that the working class is organising industrially and politically against this new crime; and that our Labour Party will defend this working class, or that it will have no role.

Related Article:

Disability Officer – Ruth Appleton

We decided to stand candidates for all posts. We would state our arguments for why we suited the post in our statements, but would use our speeches to give voice to the factionalism in our CLP. For the first time in a while we could say how we felt without being silenced.

Our speeches would be an opportunity for the left to articulate the experience of being in Holborn & St Pancras CLP, controlled by a right-wing anti-Corbyn faction endorsed by Keir Starmer.

Holborn Left

At the end a member who is loosely tied to the right-wing faction commented on how he could have predicted how every vote would go before it happened. He had listened to us and taken on board what we said. Only time will tell whether others have too.

Ruth Appleton stood for Disability Officer. Ruth is a highly experienced Unison delegate, on the EC and activist. She is the founder and Project Coordinator of the Sante Refugee Project. She lost the vote, the result wasn’t very different to all other votes. Here is her speech.

Ruth Appleton speaks at Labour Party Conference 2019

“Throughout my attendance at both EC and GC meetings there have never been induction loop facilities provided though members have indeed asked for this. I would if elected make sure facilities enable everyone to participate and I would not tolerate any discriminatory chairing of meetings where speakers are called on an arbitrary selection criterion. Speakers should be called in order of their indicating their wish to speak as this ensures equal participation.

If a disability officer is elected they should be allowed to take office fully, not kept at arms length with no access to the membership list. This is discriminatory and prevents the office being fulfilled. Disabilities are bad enough without the Party reinforcing social stigma. If elected I would embark on Training by people with disabilities for the benefit of Cllrs and other officers.

I would engage members of this constituency who have disabilities in running the training and consult on which programme is best for the term of office. This is long overdue. Our CLP is behind in implementing the DDA in its activities and I would change that.”

Trade Union Liason Officer – Sarah Friday

We decided to stand candidates for all posts. We would state our arguments for why we suited the post in our statements, but would use our speeches to give voice to the factionalism in our CLP. For the first time in a while we could say how we felt without being silenced.

Our speeches would be an opportunity for the left to articulate the experience of being in Holborn & St Pancras CLP, controlled by a right-wing anti-Corbyn faction endorsed by Keir Starmer.

Holborn Left

At the end a member who is loosely tied to the right-wing faction commented on how he could have predicted how every vote would go before it happened. He had listened to us and taken on board what we said. Only time will tell whether others have too.

Sarah Friday stood for Trade Union Liason Officer. Sarah was TULO of the CLP before the take-over by the right wing faction of the CLP. She lost the vote, the result wasn’t very different to all other votes. Sarah was jeered and heckled towards the end of her speech when she mentioned Keir Starmer. Here is her speech.

“I am currently a UNITE delegate to our General and Executive Committees. In this capacity I have done the following since our last constituency AGM to argue for greater transparency and fairness in our local party

  • I asked for the list of names of GC delegates to be shared with all those on this committee
  • I also asked that trade union delegates only elect the union rep on the Local Campaign Forum

I asked that we set time aside at the GC to support the Camden UNISON traffic wardens who were on strike at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019 – these were a group of low paid, largely BME workers employed on one of Camden Councils out sourced services. Unfortunately time was not set aside to discuss and support their dispute.

I have written letters to the Camden New Journal, in May following the elections to the EU Parliament I wrote to support a statement made by my General Secretary, Unite’s Len McCluskey, after he criticised those Labour Party leaders who were supporting a second EU referendum – he said they had “no interest in a Labour victory at the next general election”.

I wrote in the same letter :

We must show to Labour party supporters who voted to leave the EU in 2016 that we will honour the referendum result and that we have a positive vision for life outside of the EU that will rebuild their communities. Only by doing this can we win the next General Election.

Unfortunately we didn’t do this – and consequently we lost the General Election. My prediction is that if we elect Keir Starmer – the architect of our disastrous Brexit policy – as our party leader. We will also lose the next General Election.”

BAME Officer – Shezan Renny

We decided to stand candidates for all posts. We would state our arguments for why we suited the post in our statements, but would use our speeches to give voice to the factionalism in our CLP. For the first time in a while we could say how we felt without being silenced.

Our speeches would be an opportunity for the left to articulate the experience of being in Holborn & St Pancras CLP, controlled by a right-wing anti-Corbyn faction endorsed by Keir Starmer.

Holborn Left

At the end a member who is loosely tied to the right-wing faction commented on how he could have predicted how every vote would go before it happened. He had listened to us and taken on board what we said. Only time will tell whether others have too.

Shezan Renny stood for BAME Officer. She and her family have been active in Labour Party politics especially since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. She was BAME Officer in her Branch for a few years and organised a well attended Windrush Event in that capacity. She is now Campaign’s Officer of her Branch. She lost the election, her votes were similar to all the other votes on the night. Here is her speech.

Shezan at a New Daughter’s of Africa event

“Hi, I am Shezan Renny, I was BAME Officer of Highgate and am now the Campaigns Officer

I will make every effort to listen to the voice of the grassroots and reflect this through my actions. I have attended GC meetings for the last 4 years and have seen my Comrades and I being silenced and sidelined more and more each year. We are not ‘Trots’, ‘the loony left’, ‘the disrupters’ or ‘the less desirable elements’. We are ‘normal’ members who supported the popularly elected leader of our party and his foreign and national policies based on human rights for all. Corbyn was the true ‘unity candidate’ that many of our MPs unfortunately did not unite behind – this led to our defeat at the polls.

I was a single mother, homeless, lived in a refuge, known real poverty. I understand what Camden’s disadvantaged BAME women, are going through as I’ve experienced it.

A maths teacher – teaching bottom sets in Tottenham engaging, inclusive and accessible lessons. I’ll use these skills, to make our CLP a welcoming place for all members.

  • I will support BAME campaigns , organise and host events (even though this CLP found reason to criticise my Windrush event and would not congratulate me).
  • I will set up a BAME forum.
  • I will work to protect the status of BAME officers in all branches and shall lobby for the BAME Officer Post to be reinstated in the branch where it was abolished.

Please vote for me as your BAME Officer.“

Something Rotten in Starmer’s CLP

This is a personal account of my experiences at Holborn & St Pancras CLP where Keir Starmer is MP. I hope it will explain why some members of his CLP disagree with his narrative that his CLP is inclusive and non-factional. Keir Starmer is not our ‘Unity Candidate’. #CamdenAgainstStarmer

I first started attending our CLP meetings about 4 years ago. I was new to party politics and knew nothing about structures within the party. My husband was a returnee member (had joined as a Young Socialist, had left after the Iraq War and rejoined after Corbyn was elected the first time). The second branch meeting we attended was our AGM and my husband, knowing the importance of GC, stood for and became a GC Delegate. I accompanied him to GC meeting, quietly learning and absorbing.

It was almost 6 months before I had the courage to speak up, and it was to support a comrade who was trying to move a motion that elections should be held on weekends to make them more accessible. The arguments against it were contradictory and illogical so I just had to speak up, and I haven’t stopped since. At the time I didn’t know the politics of the comrade. He and his parents seemed to know everyone and be on good terms with them but now that he wanted to move this motion, he was under attack and people seemed to be quite upset at what he was proposing. I did not understand the politics behind it. It was only later I found out that he and his parents were left wing Corbyn supporters, but it all seemed unfair that this young person with clear disabilities was being treated in this off-hand dismissive manner.

I now realise that at that time we had a small handful of left-wing councillors and a few left-wing Officers in the CLP, not in high posts, but we still had a voice and were allowed to use it (to an extent). During the year, the Chair from Highgate (my branch) had resigned and became Chair of the CLP. Though not seen as left-wing, we knew him as a fair Chair and supported the move. He appointed a temp chair in our branch and our branch became a shouty place where we felt unwelcome. That should have given us a clue of where things were going.

The next year (2016) I stood as GC delegate and was voted in. We were fairly well represented in the CLP and passed motions, made our points and life went on fairly smoothly in CLP meetings. Then, during the coup against the leader, Keir announced he was resigning from the Cabinet, could no longer support the leadership, and would be supporting Owen Smith. He spoke at a branch social soon after that a small group of us lefties attended, explained his reasoning, when we questioned him not supporting the leader we had elected, we were surrounded by some councillors and senior members and asked to leave, which we refused to do. And that is when we started feeling we were longer welcome at that social, or even in the party. The same speech and behaviour was repeated at our CLP meeting.

With Comrades at Kentish Town 2017

In 2017, CLP meetings started to get quite heated, where we (and Corbyn) were called ‘the loony left’ by a young person who later stood and became our Youth Officer. The chairing of the Meetings became more biased and unfair, a group of mainly young members were allowed to regularly abuse us and Corbyn. At one meeting an officer got upset about an amendment to her motion that the CLP had just passed. She ran out of the meeting shouting ‘bunch of bastards’ about us. After a member who was bullied at a branch (the TULO, on the left) put a complaint in the branch, an opposing group in the branch put in a manufactured counter-complaint. This matter was brought to the CLP with the intention of disciplining the member who had been bullied. This was when we realised we had to organise. We quickly learnt who our allies were and successfully argued for the case to be returned to the branch to be dealt with there rather than at CLP and regional level.

At the CLP AGM, we stood for posts but none of us were elected. The votes were quite close and so we thought it was only temporary. During the year, the post of Disability Officer came up and Luke, the comrade whose motion made me speak up the first time, was the only person to stand so was elected. He was not allowed access to the list of disabled members during his time in post. He was told that another officer would write his Officer’s report as he was not considered capable of writing a report. He was undermined through the year.

At the branch AGMs, we were taken by surprise. Almost all branch meetings were packed and almost all our GC delegates, and branch officers were voted out. Some of them had been active in posts for years and had been on good terms with their right-wing branch members, who were suddenly verbally attacking them and being quite nasty.

2018 saw us effectively sidelined, with very few GC delegates and no Officer posts. We now has a new chair and younger, more diverse Officers, which should have been a good thing, but wasn’t. These officers had little knowledge/ understanding of the rule book and this was reflected in how the CLP meetings was run. The meetings became very heated, with regular intervention from the regional offices. As the Labour Party was recommending power to grassroots members, our EC was becoming more authoritarian. All Public events now had to be approved by the EC.

In my capacity as Branch BAME Officer, I was organising my first event, ‘Let’s Talk About Windrush’. A number of well-known BAME activists agreed to be speakers at the event. Five days before the event, the EC met and raised questions that one speaker, Hugo Pierre, Camden Unison had belonged to another party in the past. The meeting was eventually approved and turned out to be quite a success with about 100 attendees and mention in the local press. After the event, Officers had more criticisms of it and initially refused to pay for the hall hire (a local food bank) or acknowledge it was a Labour Party event. Eventually, after an investigation, they agreed to approve the event but still would not congratulate me for it. Watch the video of the event here.

With Hugo Pierre (Camden Unison), Michael Braithwaite (Windrush survivor, speaking) at the ‘Let’s Talk About Windrush’ Event

During the year, my daughter, an active member and GC delegate for 3 years, was elected Women’s Officer/ Vice Chair of London Young Labour. Not only wasn’t she congratulated at our CLP meeting, but when my husband suggested that it was an oversight, there was general jeering and someone said “great!” that she hadn’t been congratulated.

High profile members of Holborn & St Pancras, have regularly posted sectrarian abuse and made blanket accusations that they know are untrue. Tweets have gone out before meetings, such as one from the Youth Officer at the time saying “How long will it take for an angry old antisemite to bring up ‘smears’ about my CLP tonight? I’m going for 20 mins in.” Members on the left of the CLP have been physically and verbally attacked, threatened, called racist, homophobic, antisemitic at meetings, old to ‘shut up and sit down’ or ‘put up or shut up’ when speaking to motions.

Since 2018, the number of left delegates in the CLP has reduced persistently each year, and we have not been elected to a single officer’s post. The only representation we have had at EC has been the Trade Union EC Delegates. By contrast, the left in my branch has gained more and more Officer posts in the last few years. Our meetings are calm and friendly and we make an effort to be fair and inclusive. This is the same in all branches when left are in charge or have a fairer share of Officer posts.

Now we have very few GC Delegates, no Officer posts and will probably have few, if any Trade Union EC Delegates. More and more left-wing people are resigning from posts and refusing to go to branch and CLP meetings as they find the atmosphere toxic. When Keir Starmer stood for leader as The Unity Candidate, which we knew to be untrue as he has stood by during all the factionalism in our CLP, which started and has grown since he became our MP, we decided to start speaking up. A group of us would stand for Officer posts, knowing full well we would not be voted in. We would give our suitability for the job in our statements but our speeches would contain a common thread of the state of our CLP. We would then share our speeches so others could see that Keir’s claim that his CLP was united, and that he was the Unity Candidate were untrue.

If things were so bad when Sir Keir wanted to be leader of the Labour Party, I worry how bad they will get if he does indeed become leader. I will be voting and canvassing for Rebecca Long-Bailey to be our next leader and I hope she succeeds. #RLB4Leader

Shezan Renny

Sandrine & I meeting our hero, Jeremy Corbyn 2019

People may wonder why I am still in the party if I have such negative experiences. The negative experiences have only been in the CLP. In my branch and my local area, I have grown as an activist. I started off shy and quiet. I am one of the leading members in my branch where I have introduced and led on various initiatives to make the branch more inclusive and encourage grassroots involvement such as weekend meetings, welcoming snacks at meeting, multi-language communication leaflets. I have chaired a number of BAME events on Windrush and for the launch of the book ‘New Daughter’s of Africa’, all of which were covered positively in the local press. I am a key member in Camden Momentum, Highgate-Left and Holborn-Left and grassroots groups within the area such as ‘Women 4 Change’ and ‘Camden Mums Concerned’. I owe this political growth and enlightenment to my husband and daughter and to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell for showing me that another world is possible in a party led by politicians who see politics as a vocation, not a career. I have met some marvellous comrades on my journey who have encouraged me and taught me so much. This is how grassroots activists are born, and I am proud to be a part of the Labour Party.

This is an account of my experiences at my CLP written in my capacity as an ordinary member and GC delegate. These are my views as I saw things and others may disagree. Any slight errors in dates or memory are unintentional. Shezan Renny, Highgate Branch, Holborn & St Pancras CLP