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Why I’ve Left the Labour Party

June 28, 2020

I have been very public about when and why I joined the Labour Party and so I feel it is only right to be public about when and why I have left.

I left last Wednesday 24th June, the day before the Rebecca Long-Bailey sacking by Keir Starmer hit the newsstands, so that had nothing to do with my decision.

I had qualms for some time but wanted to give the new leadership a chance to prove himself.  I am on the left whereas Labour is now centre-left as opposed to the socialist-leaning principles that Jeremy Corbyn (and the actual Party when it was formed) had.  Socialist is still a term used by the Labour Party when describing its formation.

Like every organisation the Labour Party contains within it systemic bigotry.  That’s not an accusation, that is a fact.  However, as a left-leaning organisation built on the idea of equality and fairness for all, it is the responsibility of the Labour Party to be transparent and proactive in fighting bigotry.  The Party is different in that all those who are paid members of the Party have a say in how the party is to be run and what the policies of the party should be.

When I joined in 2015 it was because of Jeremy Corbyn winning the leadership election, but please do not think that means I joined because of personality or fandom.  I joined because the Labour Party most represented my belief system and because I wanted a politician who was not all image and soundbites.  I joined because of what his political beliefs meant for the party that had slowly drifted so far right it was no longer distinguishable from the Liberal Democrats or the more centrist Conservatives.  The Blair years, whilst extremely successful for many, did not do anything for minorities, disabled people, or many of those stuck in poverty, and was a supporter of the Iraq War with along with POTUS George W Bush.  He was not my Labour leader.

Corbyn could have been, but ultimately proved unsuccessful for myriad reasons.  So, onto Keir Starmer who, whilst more right-leaning than I would wish for, still might have been good.

I was also a member of Disability Labour.  I became the Disability Officer of my ward at their request and on the strict condition that it would become a shared post and I would be put in contact with those who identified as disabled within the ward so I could get a better idea of what was needed.  That never happened, although I was assured by the secretary the emails were sent (I never received one, which as a disabled member I should have done).  I explained what would be needed to ensure a person with disabilities could fulfil the role (minimum of two weeks’ notice of meetings, ample time to read documentation, accessible meeting sites, online access to watch meetings, online voting etc.) but never received any support or assistance nor contact from other disabled members (one of whom is a friend who never received an email) and in the end I resigned.  I was asked to remain in name only for a further five months which I agreed to.

Since this time, the position for disabled members has not improved, and the pandemic has thrown that into sharp relief.  At the moment Zoom meetings are allowed due to social distancing, which has increased access to so many disabled members, and it felt as if our contributions and requirements are actually being thought of for once.  We hoped, we believed, that it may continue after the pandemic ended.

But no, already the National Executive Committee has confirmed that the annual policy decision-making meetings cannot be attended virtually and that voting must be done in person.  Leadership elections are held online.  Disability Labour will keep fighting for true accessibility, but over my five years of membership I have seen no sign that disabled people are listened to, nor their needs considered.

Further, since the leak of the report into the systemic racism and antisemitism within the Labour Party last April (https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/leaked-labour-report-sees-black-voters-quit-party-over-final-straw_uk_5ea70e55c5b6a30004e62cc0), MPs and more particularly the administrative staff employed by the Party, there has been no transparency or discussion about what is going to done about the racism.  There has been discussion about an investigation into how the report leaked.

I have written to my MP and to Keir Starmer several times since the report leaked and not received an acknowledgement of my enquiries let alone any form of answer.  I no longer expect to receive one; it’s been over two months now and I’m still waiting.

The pandemic has already affected my financial situation.  It only costs £5 per month to be a member, but I tend to vote with my money and fund causes I truly believe in.  Until the Party properly deals with its ableism, racism and antisemitism in the same way it tries to with homophobia and transphobia, I do not want to provide money to it.  I still support the Party and believe my MP, Vicky Foxcroft, is doing a very good job as Shadow Minister for Disabled people, but I cannot give money to a party that treats its own MPs and members of colour, religion and/or disability with such disregard.

The Labour Party talks the talk for the country in general, but if it won’t walk the walk internally I’m not sure I can trust it to do so for the UK.

On the other hand, the Conservative Party is far, far worse.  I’d rather have a choice between zenith and nadir, than the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea that we have.  I guess I’ll just have to put my swimming costume on and ignore the sewage in the water.

One Comment
  1. True, socialist Labour died with John Smith.
    Best regards,
    Rob [Ex-Morrigan 🙂 ]

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