Party must have a united front

In Parliament last Wednesday night our representatives made the momentous decision to extend our involvement in the conflict in the Middle East to Syria in the form of airstrikes.

All parties had members voting for or against the motion according to their conscience.

The media to some extent over shadowed the issues raised in Syria by its concentration on the divisions of opinion in the Labour Party.

In summing up the debate the shadow foreign secretary made a speech, to great acclaim, arguing the opposite to the case presented by his party’s leader some hours earlier.

It should be noted that this would not have been possible had the Labour leader not granted a free vote to his members.

As on other issues currently in the Labour Party there are now worrying signs that some factions of the membership are not prepared to accept diversity in the party and are attacking some members who voted against the leader in a nasty and vicious manner.

Stella Creasy has in particular, but she is not alone, been subject to such attacks, which are outrageous and not what the Labour Party should be about.

By the same token members of parliament are not entitled to defy the leader willy nilly given that he has a substantial mandate from the membership as a whole.

Meanwhile, in Bexhill, while the above mentioned debate was taking place the local Labour Party were engaged in a special general meeting to discuss the unjustified decision to bar a long-standing member of the party (though lapsed at the time and now re-instated) and active trade unionist from voting in the leadership election.

This decision had been made by the National Party, it emerged at the meeting, on the advice of the local party secretary, though any involvement in this decision had previously been denied by the local executive.

The motion debated simply demanded an acceptance that the action had been wrong and that an apology should be made for the stress caused to the member concerned.

Despite the motion gaining the overwhelming support of the members present, it was narrowly defeated by the effective ‘block vote’ of the local party officers present.

The injustice, therefore, remains. Both the action against Stella Creasy and other MPs and the action taken by the local party executive in Bexhill need to stop to enable the party to present a united face to the electorate and involve all members who share labour values.

Only then will more results like the recent by-election victory in Oldham be achievable.

Neil Woodroffe

Chichester Close


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