At Labour’s conference, the Left won policy, the right won the card votes, famously in the case of re-writing the Leadership election rules, by getting Unison to break its mandate; it’s not the first time, a Union has broken its mandate at Conference; see Unite in 2018, MSF in 1993, and the AEUW in 1968, the first and last being to sink open selection and mandatory reselection, same thing, different names.

Some good radical policy was passed, a Green New Deal, with public ownership at its centre, a £15 minimum wage, day one employment rights and sick pay, and positive policy on immigration albeit mainly and necessarily focused on asylum seekers and the Tories Nationality and Borders Bill. Sadly Proportional Representation was sunk, with ~80% of CLPs supporting and over 90% of the Unions opposing. On rules reform, which seems permanent, the Leadership rules were reformed to increase the PLP support required, reform of trigger ballots to make deselecting MPs (much) harder, and the vengeful abolishing of the registered supporters characterised as £3 entryists.

I only attended one session of the conference, the Sunday afternoon rules debate and the atmosphere was quite unpleasant with the usual right-wing aggressive cheering surrounding me. The chairing of the Conference was the usual combination of oppressive bullying and arrogance. The video “The hunt for the NEC report” catalogues a number of these Chair’s interventions as they sought to ensure that no vote took place on the NEC report to ensure no debate took place on the new proscriptions system.

A couple of left wing and new delegates have written diary blog articles. Elise Marie Lally, a delegate from Liverpool Walton, writes here, and an anonymous blog is published on “Creating Socialism”, which documents the chilling effect of the arbitrary proscription programme. Another 1st time delegate said to me,

Conference is a disgrace. And it’s not a political party but a fan club

Another anonymous delegate

The elephant in the room remains the near silence of the Party leadership on the UK’s continual leadership on the impact of coronavirus on our society; that leadership shows itself in wage growth it seems.  [ A wage growth caused by the low paid stopping work and the mathematical nature of averages.]

What must be disappointing for the Leadership is that Raphael Behr and Owen Jones have written Starmer off. Behr, an unlikely hostile observer, in an article entitled “Labour looks aimless because it’s already searching for Starmer’s replacement” and Owen Jones, again not necessarily the first person to take this point of view, in an article titled, “Breaking promises won’t get Keir Starmer into power”, contains vitriolic attacks on his strategy advisors, describing them as maniacs and incompetent; he summarises Starmer’s offer to the party in contrast to Blair’s as,

While the pact New Labour made with the party’s grassroots was that they would have to abandon many of their principles in exchange for power, the Starmer promise goes like this: renounce both your principles and any shot at power.

Owen Jones

 The truth of which, may be part of why Simon Fletcher published an apology for supporting him and running his campaign for Leader.

The last word in this blog, goes to Phil BC, who in his blog article where he examines the genisis of the playbook of fighting the left, and then concludes,

Starmer’s opposition is proving ineffective and goes unnoticed by those who only look at politics askance because he’s done no opposing. The idea Mandelson’s “millions of voters” are going to suddenly take notice of Starmer’s prioritising of inner party wrangling when Starmer hasn’t bothered addressing their concerns and interests is wishful thinking. …. His [Starmer’s] first proper party conference has announced to the world that he’s on course to lose the next general election. Only a set of unforeseen circumstances, somehow more spectacular and/or devastating than anything we’ve seen this last 18 months could possibly turn his fortunes around.

pHil burton-cartledge

A brief look at the post conference polls, suggest that he and Labour are down, losing their 2019 vote and the Greens are up, and that the country’s youth are relearning to disassociate.

But the arrogance of Luke Akehurst and the entitlement of the PLP, as expressed by Margaret Beckett in the Chair and Shabana Mahmood from the platform has re-inspired me to get stuck in and continue to fight for socialist politics in the UK and the Labour Party.

Arrogance and Bullying
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2 thoughts on “Arrogance and Bullying

  • 4th October 2021 at 11:39 pm

    While doing some reading, I discovered that John Smith’s great reform, the introduction of OMOV voting ,as opposed to delegates voting at the GC, for parliamentary selections was equally won by strong arming MSF into voting for it. I have added to the list of events that should have taught us and linked to a Guardian article that describes the Conference.

  • 5th October 2021 at 10:57 am

    Another aspect of the arrogance, is the way in which Starmer loyalists repudiate conference policy, most loudly on the question of public ownership of the commanding heights of the energy sector.

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