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

20.3.2020
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: https://www.medialens.org/2020/for-unknown-reasons-they-waited-and-watched-lancet-editor-exposes-devastating-government-failure-on-coronavirus/

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

Una Doyle – Women’s Officer

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.

Una Doyle stood for Women’s Officer. She is a long-standing politics teacher and active NEU Trade Unionist. Here is her speech. She wasn’t voted in, her votes were similar to all other votes.

“Actions speak louder than words. That was a realisation I came to at 18 when I saw that it was the strikes and actions of women that brought about change.i really thought that women had achieved equal pay and the end of sexual discrimination. How naive!

Being a delegate to LESE TUC puts this into sharp perspective today. It is the negotiations and actions of workers that bring about change. We need to see the approach replicated in the Labour Party. We need to be welcoming and inclusive. 

The account of a young woman train driver really brought home the importance of this. An incident she dealt with where she was in charge of a train full of drunken revellers and someone jumped in front of the train. Thankfully this did not make her unable to do her job. Her union had ensured that counselling and support was in place. They achieved this through careful evidence gathering, negotiation and union action.

We need women like her active in the Labour Party, after all we have 3 major stations in the CLP. Deeds not words is as important today as they were a century ago.”

Paul Renny – Treasurer

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.

Paul Renny was stood for Treasurer. He was not elected to the post. Paul Renny has been a Trade Union Activist and Labour Party member since his early 20s, though he left the Labour Party after the Iraq War and rejoined when Corbyn became leader. He is a working-class voice on our GC. Here is his speech.

“I am an Officer of Highgate and a Unison delegate, trade unionist and an elected Unison Convenor. I have extensive experience of dealing with finances within the Trade Union movement. I would challenge any unnecessary overspending of members’ money and would seek the best quotes for any works undertaken for the CLP. As treasurer I would attempt to make funds available to enable the CLP to take up its full delegation at conferences. I would also ask that any members who donate money to our MP to attend Conference, think about helping ordinary members attend conference instead.

When I attended my first GC in 2016, two of the leading members of this CLP attacked the Party Leader Corbyn in a most sectarian and abusive way. This carried on in meetings, in the local press and social media and included the exclusion of and hostility towards the left members of the CLP who supported the National Leadership or who had valid critisms of Council Policy.

I am unity candidate but I will not have lectures from members who have acted in a sectarian way, spending 5 years attacking the Labour Leadership, the left, generally and deliberately damaging Labour’s electoral fortunes.
We need look outside our London bubble.

Finally, as an officer I would be campaigning and voting for the first woman Leader of the Party Rebecca Long-Bailey; (ran out of time) a new generation, socialist voice from the North who is committed to radical policies.”

Vice-Chair Campaigns – Harriet Evans

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.

Harriet at a New Daughter’s of Africa event

Harriet Evans stood for Vice-Chair Campaigns. She was not elected to the post. “As Campaigns Officer I would be committed to launching a series of grassroots campaigns to reach out to our local communities whose lives have been most affected by the effects of austerity policies in the past few years.” Harriet has been Vice-Chair of her Branch for the past three years and has been involved in various branch-led events and campaigns. Here is her speech.

“My statement notes the kind of campaigns I would like to get off the ground. The question is how to do this. To start with , we need street stalls, socials, open mike sessions, banners and publicity, to appeal to local communities and particularly young people. A grassroots kind of campaigning has to start outside the Labour Party to draw new people in.

We have no shortage of people with ideas and energy to get things going. But at branch level, we need permission from the CLP to launch them. But instead of encouraging our initiatives, we have been thwarted time and again, in Highgate and in other branches. Motions worthy of debate have been pushed to the back of the agenda and some never see the light of day.

We need to have proper discussions about the campaigns and publicity we want, but when we try to raise our voices in GC to say something useful about this we are ignored or shouted down, and sometimes verbally and even physically abused. This is not the kind of behaviour a democratic socialist party can be proud of.

It has to stop. We need to change how this GC operates by voting in officers who can contribute their political imagination in properly democratic debate that cuts across our different political positions, rather than embed them. This has to happen if we are to follow through with our commitment to socialist principles by reaching out to those who would most benefit from them.”

Vice Chair Membership – Pete Bond

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.

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.

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

Pete Bond was stood for Vice-Chair Membership. He was the first candidate to be able to say his speech with the ‘common thread’ in full. There was silence in the room when he spoke. The rest of us carried on the thread successfully with only one of us being heckled.

Pete Bond belongs to a working-class Kentish Town family with close links to politics in the London region and the Labour Party leadership as well as being active in his local Unite Union. Here is his speech. He got 38 for, 91 against votes which wasn’t very different to all other votes.

“I would make an excellent Vice Chair Membership, it will be easy, but I dread the thought of working with such a divided group of people who will probably get elected, not that I expect more than just a few votes from the delegates I consider comrades.

This CLP in many member’s views, does not recognise, or allow for, any diversity of political opinion in its leadership, elections or officers reports, which has a detrimental effect on the well being of our Labour Party, our community and local residents, who we are meant to be supporting. “That is the polite version of my view.”

I’m going to take this, probably my last, opportunity to add that Jeremy Corbyn does not have, and has never had, an anti-Semitic bone or thought in his mind, soul or body. I will stand 100%, completely and unconditionally behind Jeremy Corbyn always, as I did for years before he was famous. 

One word of warning to you, Mr Starmer, the people who put you where you are today will not be pleased with you using the term socialist for too long, they banned it’s use, a friend of yours, and mine (he described our friendship as personal, not political, in his book, I’m grateful for that), he actually removed the word socialism from many a speech. 

Thank you.

“chucki au law”.”

“Tiocfaidh Ar La” (Irish, revolutionary, Republican slogan meaning “Our day will come”)

Diane Pearson – Secretary

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

Diane Pearson, with her husband and son are long-standing active members of their local branch and GC delegate for about 10 years to Holborn & St Pancras CLP. Here is her speech…

I have been involved in Cantelows branch since 2010 when the branch was almost dormant. I was Secretary in the branch for one year and with the other branch officers built it up to its current strength. I am an active member of my trade union branch, which I represent on the General Committee, however I have been a GC branch delegate prior to that for 8 years.

I therefore have the skills and experience to serve the CLP as its Secretary, and look forward to receiving your support to do that.

I am standing as secretary as someone who is good at meeting deadlines, precise and thorough, professional communications and inclusive

I want to see the constitueuncy unified with a diversity of comrades in our officers positions, so that the officers represent the consituency membership.

It would be beneficial for us and for democracy to operate in the manner that was our custom when Frank Dobson was our MP, when no one faction sought to block out the other in the branches or the constituency and I will encourage that.

Vote for a unifying candidate, vote Diane!

Gareth Murphy’s Speech – Chair

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.

Gareth is a well known and respected activist of Holborn. He is an officer in Camden Unite Community and is often seen on picket lines and demos, supporting causes around the Constituency. He stood as Chair at the recent CLP AGM. Here is his speech.

The election results were obviously terrible. The campaign itself was good and bad. One big positive was large numbers of young people got involved, inspired by exciting policies such as Green New Deal, £10 minimum wage, and the hope of a home. Big ambitious answers to the questions people, especially the young are facing.

But, to be effective, our CLP needs to reflect and empower the diversity of our borough more. Brilliant as our EC and GC are, we might not be the best people to understand the issues large sections are facing.

Looking around, majority of us are not young and facing perpetual housing issues, low wages, precarious work, against a background of austerity, debt and climate change, so how would we know without asking them? You can add to that list, worried about mental health issues, and worried if the services will be there to help them if needed.

We need to hear from these people and groups in our meetings. Real experts, workers, the young, people from trade unions, disability groups, tenants associations, and so on.

Why the focus on the young? If only the under-25s voted, the map would be red. We have to welcome these young people, who come from all parts of the community, and we are the only party to address the problems they’ll face. (Gareth ran out of time at this point so could not complete the rest of his speech)

Our officers and committees need to work towards creating an environment where members from all backgrounds feel welcome, where bullying and abuse by any member is not tolerated, and to focus on serving and facilitating, rather than frustrating the members.

We must be a member led, bottom up organisation, and always work to reach more sections of our community. That way, we will increase our strength and relevance in the community.

Gareth lost the election. All officers standing on the left slate got almost the same number of votes for and against. Voting was based on the politics of the candidate, not their suitability to the post.

Keir Starmer at the Roundhouse

16 Feb 2020: Written by Gareth Murphy, an Activist, member of Unite Community Camden and GC delegate to Holborn & St Pancras.

Keir Starmer was on at The Roundhouse on Sunday afternoon. I live locally, so booked a ticket.
The event was advertised for 4pm, I’d heard it was actually going to start at 5, so got there just before that.

There was a good size crowd when I arrived, which grew steadily. They’d had to open some of the upstairs area as some people weren’t able to cope with a standing only venue. At the height, maybe there were 800 people, which isn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon.

The people that were there seemed to be enjoying themselves. The bar was open, and people were in a good mood. I was surprised alcohol was being served, as I’m not used to that at political events, certainly not during them, but I suppose the organisers knew their audience.

The audience themselves weren’t very diverse, a bit like a People’s Vote march crowd. All very nice, if you like that sort of thing.

The event was introduced and compered by Sally Phillips the TV and film actor who was in Bridget Jones. She made a joke about Keir being Mark Darcy, which got a good laugh. It was very good humoured, and she was funny. To her credit, when one person shouted out ‘Thank God that Corbyn’s gone’, she didn’t rise to it, but said ‘I didn’t hear that’, and just carried on with what she was saying. Political was the one thing it absolutely wasn’t. I just remembered, I think she said ‘Keirfest’ as well, so she loses some credit for that.

Local council leader Georgia Gould was next. She spoke of how closely they’d worked, how he was a good local MP, and how he’d been involved in all the local efforts to address knife crime, and played a full part in answering to and supporting bereaved families.

As Georgia decided to mention that Keir had stood up against anti-semitism in Camden, to large cheers from a section of the crowd, it’s only fair to say that she didn’t mention how closely they’d worked on the People’s Vote campaign that was ultimately so ruinous.

Aneira Thomas, the first baby born under the NHS was on next. I’ve seen her speak before at NHS events, and she was good. She said she was supporting Keir, he was the man to take things forward, but didn’t really give any reasons why.

One of the local Youth Ambassadors spoke of how Keir was involved in the local community, which is good, but not really something to distinguish him from the other candidates.

Doreen Lawrence spoke, and it was easy to see the affection, gratitude and respect she feels towards Keir.

So then we were all set up for Keir. They got us to watch a short film of why people are phonebanking, ‘Calling For Keir’. David Lammy got the biggest cheer from the audience when his face appeared, because of his involvement in Remain campaigns I’m guessing.
So eventually Keir came out. The event was supposed to finish at 6, but he only started about 10 before that. The Roundhouse had built a special catwalk into the crowd and Keir stood at the end of that, and spoke. He spoke about social care I think, and I’m not really sure what else. It was so bland and meaningless most of it just didn’t register. His audience lapped it up, but there will be much more difficult ones if he becomes leader. Altogether he spoke for less than 15 minutes. One reason for this is his fence sitting, and way of using a lot of words to say nothing, and another is another of his problems, which is that he’s quite boring, which even his allies admit. He’s quite difficult to listen to, as he doesn’t say anything, and it isn’t like he’s passionate or anything.

Thinking about it, the setup is quite presidential, maybe a bit like Obama. People were waving 2 different placards, one said ‘unity’, the other ‘leadership’, and people from Keir’s campaign were coordinating and telling people when to wave them and hold them up. Am I the first person to call them Keirleaders?

The Obama comparison is a good one I think. Say nothing, have a couple of catchphrases or slogans, and be all things to all people. He’s a bloke in a suit, and does have good hair, so subconsciously, to a lot of people this does mean electability. If there was any political analysis today of the reasons for the election defeat I missed it. On policy, he’s a blank slate, a space where his various backers and supporters can project their own fantasies. This worked for Obama, and David Cameron, so why shouldn’t it work for Starmer?

One of the big things Starmer is being sold on is ‘electability’. Just examining this notion for one minute shows how foolish it is. A common theme from anti-Corbyn MPs after the election was the need to ‘listen to the voters’. So why doesn’t anyone listen to the redwall voters and ask them why Labour lost their vote? Fair enough if Starmer owned the 2nd ref/People’s Vote policy and the consequences of it in the 60+ leave-voting seats that Labour lost, but nobody is even asking what his strategy is to regain these voters, beyond a couple of slogans. They just ignore it. It’s almost as if his team thinks that if they say electablilty and unity enough times, they will become true.

Starmer has to remain a policy free zone as much as he can so as not to alienate any of the contradictory components in the unstable coalition that he hopes will see him elected as leader. His support ranges from misguided supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who believe what he says about retaining the 2019 manifesto policies, to people joining to push to rejoin the EU, to people like Progress and Labour First on the right of the Labour Party, deeply dedicated to top down rule, where members are essentially a PLP fan club.

Any bold policy will alienate the PLP component of this coalition. He agreed with the Nationalisation pledges a day after the other candidates, but no way would his PLP backers allow him to support Open Selection. There are the Remainers who joined to vote for him, acting as sleeper agents, planning to elect him, and dictate policy. And then there are the right of the Labour Party, who see in him somebody who will purge the left, and return ‘their party’ to them.

So his event and the blandness of it reflected the man and his policy very well. It made a lot of noise and said nothing. If he becomes leader, his electoral coalition will immediately collapse, as he won’t be needing the members any longer. Right wing commentators like Ayesha Hazarika speak openly of this being Starmer’s strategy.

The similarities to the People’s Vote campaign scream out, not surprising as some of the same people are probably involved. People’s Vote mobilised well meaning people who wanted to stay in the EU, with the real, unspoken aim of damaging Corbyn and Labour. Starmer’s campaign can’t work without him taking in similar well meaning people who think Starmer’s goal is beating the Tories, when actually it’s beating the Left.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.