We can no longer remain in the Labour Party and we need an alternative to Bexhill’s Tories

From: Ruairi McCourt, Mitch Smith, Tim Macpherson, Frickley Lane, Catsfield

Friday, 15th March 2019, 8:56 am
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 9:01 am
Jeremy Corbyn

This letter is written with a deep sense of regret.

We have each been active members of the Labour Party locally and nationally, two of us for over 30 years. In that time we have been activists, councillors, CLP officers, council candidates and Parliamentary candidates.

We got involved, like so many others in the 80s, because of the devastation Mrs Thatcher and her Tory party was wreaking on the country and felt that rather than just sitting around complaining we should get out and do something about it.

Neil Kinnock’s efforts to rid the party of militants and make us electable once more in the 80s was an inspiration to all in the movement. He started us on that road which culminated in Tony Blair’s landslide election win in 1997 – a win that allowed us to transform the country.

We’ve always believed the party to be a broad church which accommodated views from across the spectrum of the left – and attempted to attract voters from all parts of society. But we now find ourselves increasingly alienated by a party which was once inclusive and welcoming, almost like a family.

Despite our reservations about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership when he was elected in 2015, we have continued to campaign for Labour candidates in local and national elections. We have always been happy to keep contributing and working in our local area to help elect Labour councillors and Members of Parliament hoping the party could make something work.

The direction the current leadership seems to want to take the party has now made that impossible. We are wholehearted supporters of our membership of the European Union, believing it is the best and only way of maintaining future prosperity for the people we seek to help in society. We campaigned for Remain and continue to do so.

Brexit is the biggest national crisis since the Second World War, but the leadership seems determined to use this crisis to play politics in some misguided belief that they can inherit a Tory created wasteland which will facilitate some kind of quasi socialist revolution – playing politics with the lives of the very voters we seek to serve. We believe this is a misguided, dangerous, strategy. The recent particle conversion to support for a Peoples Vote, while very welcome, is a desperate attempt to stop more people from leaving the party.

Then there is anti-Semitism. Our opposition to any sort of racism and the promotion of equality in all its forms is central to Labour values but the inept handling of the anti-Semitism crisis, and the leadership’s wilful refusal to face up to it, has reduced that opposition to tokenism and has driven many voters to think we’re an anti-Semitic party.

This is an intolerable situation and until the party deals with this head on it will not change this perception.

There are many who are leaving the party, both in Rother and across the country for the same reasons as we are, being driven away, some never to return, and I believe the party will come to regret this.

We are all desperate for the people of Rother to have a local alternative to the destructive policies of the current Tory administration by electing Labour councillors in the coming District Council Elections.

We wish our former colleagues in the local Labour Party well and hope they can provide some opposition in the council chamber by winning seats in Bexhill, but we can take no part in that campaign while the national party is mired in anti-Semitism and appears willing to facilitate a Tory-inspired Brexit.