Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rude Labour?

You do feel like holding your head in your hands when you read such accounts of how long standing Labour Party members, who actually decide to tip up to a local Party meeting, feel they are received. 

If an Assistant General Secretary of one of the world's largest trade unions feels he is treated in such a way by his local Party, then imagine how a new member turning up for the first time may feel?

They just had to be of course discussing "Refounding Labour" at the meeting.


bob smith said...

John Roger McKenzie's experience reminds me more of the reception I get when I visit a new church for the first time. I suspect its more to do with British reserve than anything else.

My experience in Plaistow North Labour Party Branch when I started to attend meetings after a very long break was the opposite - very welcoming and far from patronising.

The real trouble with going to local Labour Party meetings in Newham is that you have little say, as decisions are made by the Mayor. The LGC is dormant, the CLP is overuled by an unconstitutional Newham Labour Party, and rules are changed to perpetuate the central control. Complaints are ignored by Region, and the slate for local candidates is seemingly fixed.

If Labour is to refound itself, and get people like me to rejoin, it needs to go back to its democratic campaigning roots. It needs to stop power being concentrated in a few hands. And it needs to really listen to its members and reflect what it is told, rather than spin ideas into meaningless management consultant jargon.

Having said all that, I'm very glad I don't live in Oxford!

Robert said...

My local party has written to Miliband to stop messing with the party and to remember the party is socialist, then this week we hear Milibands speech on welfare and a few words on bankers.

Thank god I walked away. then I hear the GMB which is right wing anyway had gone into business with an American company which is supply workfare, OK after a barrage of letters they say they have decided to end this association, it just shows how far Unions are going to the right.

John Gray said...

Hi Bob

Sorry but as you know I don't share some of your views. The wards I live and serve are very independent and vibrant, as is our CLP, which has not been in dispute with region for donkey years. Is everything perfect? No. But the Party is growing and becoming more active and organised. It had the best election result in the Country. There is a problem of engagement and grass roots involvement. But this is a problem in our wider society as well (including church attendance and participation?).

I think it is important that the Party does look at itself properly and change but we should not be fighting amongst ourselves when we have this Tory led coalition to defeat.

Hi Robert

Ed's speech was superb. Great stuff. Look forward to have staff reps on management boards?

So are you in the Party or not?

Don't believe this utter rubbish about the GMB. Much of it put out by the splitters and wreakers who want to destroy. Now, while it hasn't always been my favourite union (sorry Nick) those people who have been deliberately spreading what they know to be lies are in my opinion simply doing the job of the Tories for them.

bob smith said...


Not agreeing with me doesn't stop me from being right. The latest proof of what I have said to you in the past is my contention that the break up and privatisation of the NHS was started by the last Labour Government is confirmed by no lesser person than Alan Milburn in his Daily Telegraph piece this morning.

The Labour Party will only be able to fight the Tories if it rediscovers its integrity, and that means admitting its past mistakes, such as waging war in the middle east, eroding Trade Union rights, and begining the privatisation of our Health Service.

Having such debates is not fighting amongst ourselves but part of a healthy democracy. However, debates on local issues, such as the Stadium bid, are supressed and stifled and even where debates happen in the small number of active Branches such as yours and Plaistow North, the outcomes are dismissed and ignored by the ruling power.

That's not healthy or welcome, and I think you run the risk of starting to take the Robin Wales line of "if you don't agree with me then you are against me". I hope I am wrong.

John Gray said...

Hi Bob
Equally you not agreeing with me doesn’t make me automatically wrong?

I think the words “Alan Milburn in his Daily Telegraph piece” explains a lot.

Yes, there needs to be a debate’s on the Labour Party past and future (Refounding Labour is a good start – I have now been to several meetings on responses to this).

In my experience I simply do recognise your portrayal of local politics and I think you are being unfair to the Party and activists.

You haven’t been a member of the Party for a while now and I suggest before you move you rejoin and see for yourself.

bob smith said...


I only left the Party a year ago. Unlike you and most of the local Party I have lived in the area for all of my life, and was a Labour Party member for 35 years so I have a very good idea on what is happening and understand the history of it far more than most. You don't have to be a member of the party to socialise with its members and hear whats going on.

Dismissing what Milburn says because its in the Torygraph is pathetic - he is a long time member of the Labour Party and the former Secretary of State for Health so what he says carries weight irrespective of where he writes it.

As for rejoining the Party before I move, I might if the constituency secretary ever has the decency to contact me as he promised to do, and Region deal with the serious complaints I made.

You like to bang on about splitters and wreckers, but I was never one of them and worked tirelessly for Labour in ways that will never be known or recognised by many. We don't all publicise our good works.

The Party locally has changed beyond recognition and for the worse, and I am one of many who have become disillusioned through the way it ignores different opinions, seemingly rigs selection processes and rewards lobby fodder councillors with increased allowances at a time the rest of the public sector suffers from pay freezes.

I think, having met you, there is far more we agree on than disagree on, but we will just have to agree to disagree on the state of the Labour Party in West Ham and more worryingly in East Ham.

I remain committed to the socialist principles of the Labour Party.

John Gray said...

Crikey Bob, I know this post is about "rude Labour" but calling someone a pathetic self publicist because he does not agree with you is a tad OTT? Even for Newham politics. You been socialising too much with big bad Mikey methinks.

The thing about Milburn is that he is no longer a force in the Party since he cannot get support for his views. That is why he has to go to the right wing press to be noticed.

bob smith said...


I haven't seen or heard from Mike in months, and haven't called you a self publicist. Indeed I respect the way you allow criticism by having a blog.

Milburn is still a force in politics and his views on the NHS are relevant, particularly as he criticises the coalition for their ideas and actions. To dismiss his views because they are published in th Torygraph is pathetic and you should not conflate that view with the other opinions I express. A classic example of spin.

However, Milburn rather gives away the open secret that Labour under Blair started the privatisation of the NHS, and if Labour is to be "refounded" then it must acknowledge that openly and allow a proper debate. I voted for Miliband (Ed) so I hope he is going to let that debate happen.

I urge you to read what Milburn said. The NHS is a very complex organisation and few understand it. Having worked in it for 12 years and the Department of Health before that for 20 years I think I do understand it and the way in which its founding principles have been betrayed since Thatcher swept to power.

Perhaps what you see as OTT comments are just a reaction to being patronised and told I have been out of the Party for too long to understand. I appreciate the oportunity to vent!

John Gray said...

Hi Bob

I assume you mean this one http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8578022/David-Camerons-NHS-reforms-are-now-a-car-crash-says-Alan-Milburn.html

Well, no great surprise. This is what Milburn believes in and frankly probably always has done.
The Labour Party is a broad church. Blair was quite openly the most centre right Labour Leader the party has ever had and whenever possible he appointed political allies such as Milburn.

The key lesson from to me from this is that he Milburn failed (mostly) – to do what he wanted thanks to others in the Party (such as Brown) arguing against and blocking him. Blair had his famous scars on his back.

Milburn I think accepts that he is out of tune with the Party and stepped down as a MP.

He lost.

Now he has to express his views to his new home – as you yourself call it - the Torygraph.

Ps Despite your explanation I still don’t understand why you left the Party after so many years - and at that point in time?

John Gray said...

Hi Bob

Thank you for your honest reply.

Once again, good luck with your new life and you can always email me john.m.gray(at)ntlworld(dot)com