Posts Tagged ‘Dorse’

Private Eye on Starmer’s Nobbling of Labour Democracy

October 27, 2021

Keir Starmer’s assault on democracy within the Labour party and his purging of the left has become so blatant that even the determinedly anti-Corbyn Private Eye has been forced to take notice and publish something reasonably critical. It has published two pieces about it in this fortnight’s ‘H.P. Sauce’ column, for 29th October to 11th November 2021. One is about the purges, while the other is about Starmer’s recruitment of people, who tried to found an anti-Labour party and worked for Tweezer. The article on the purges runs

Uncontrollable Purges

Although it is 22 years since David Evans, general secretary of the Labour party, first presented a plan to overhaul the running of the party to Tony Blair, it is under Keir Starmer’s leadership that Evans has finally been given the chance to put his ideas for purging the left into practice.

In his paper to Blair, Evans described constituency Labour parties as “dysfunctional” and claimed “the majority of local Labour parties are more like Trotters Independent Traders than Marks & Spencer”. (An amusing reference to the then-popular TV comedy Only Fools and Horse, m’lud). Central to the plan, as chaaracterised by Phil Gaskin, regional director of Labour South West, is to remove members’ say on the policies outlined in the leaflets they stuff through letterboxes.

The party is in a precarious state. Since December 2019 it has lost 150,000 members. it is pending more on legal costs than campaigning. Its funding has been cut by trade unions, and it lost £1.2m of the taxpayer funding based on MP numbers following the net loss of 59 seats in 2019.

Starmer may have promised to put an end to years of internecine warfare, but that did not mean extending an olive branch to the left. Evans’ plans are aimed at keeping opponents of Starmer quiet – those, that is, who escape being forced out or choose not to quit. Changes include abolishing the membership fee and replacing members with “supporters”; meanwhile, policy will be determined by the leadership.

Since Starmer took office there have been hundreds of suspensions directed from the office of the general secretary. For his part, Gaskin has suspended more than half the constituencies in the south-west region for alleged antisemitism or for demanding “democracy”. He also prevented the Bath CLP from donating £3,600 from its £1.3m funds to food banks shortly before Christmas 2020, on grounds that this was not “campaigning”. It was also Gaskin who led the case against film director Ken Loach, expelled from the party in August.

Prohibited from CLP agendas in the south-west region, which covers Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and half of Dorset, is any mention of support for ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn and any debate or motion on the subject of, er, free speech.

This shows just how far back the Blairite contempt for democracy, socialism and traditional Labour values goes. It also names Gaskin as one of the chief instigators of the attack on democracy, particularly in the south west. I’ve had emails from the south-west regional office asking me to join their conference or respond to various initiatives. I shall now have to think very carefully about them and especially about whether my local party has also been muzzled by this dicta.

And how utterly, utterly contemptible of Gaskin to ban Bath from supporting a food bank!