WestEndExtra

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Comrades on the left should be careful what they wish for

06 December, 2018

Inside Labour’s private meeting in St Pancras Church

• IT’S a shame you couldn’t be a little more accurate and a little less misleading in your reporting of the debate in Holborn and St Pancras Labour Party on internal structures, (Labour members vote against removing delegate system, November 29).

In the opening paragraph you write: “hundreds of Labour card-carriers turned out on Tuesday evening to block changes to the party’s structure that would have handed all members a vote at its meetings”. But anyone with the slightest knowledge of how the Labour Party works know that all members already have a vote at meetings.

The argument is over whether the meetings at which all members have a vote – branch meetings – should elect delegates to attend constituency-wide meetings on their behalf, or whether all members should vote at those constituency meetings, requiring the hiring of such large venues every month.

It is a further shame that you choose to repeat the myth that the change away from a delegate structure is driven by Momentum, repeating such insulting phrase as “mob rule” along the way. But your reporters know from neighbouring Hampstead & Kilburn Constituency Labour Party that much of the opposition to moving away from a delegate structure there was from many of us on the left, Momentum members.

As the lead speaker against the move away from a delegate structure in H & K, I believe comrades who took the opposite view in Holborn & St Pancras were mistaken. For me there is an overriding political principle of wanting to keep proper representation of the trade unions through delegates, something which is seriously diluted by any move to all-member constituency meetings.

While there is sometimes an issue as to how that link is exercised, we have to work to change that, but it won’t be done by throwing out the baby with the bath water. That link with the unions at every level is central to the nature of the Labour Party. Something New Labour recognised when it took steps to weaken that link at national level. Comrades on the left should be careful what they wish for.

PETE FIRMIN
Member Hampstead & Kilburn Labour Party

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