Can Labour Survive?

report of the public meeting in Hebden Bridge

Friday, 25 September 2009

Those attending the public meeting to discuss the future of the Labour Party yesterday evening were disappointed to learn that Alice Mahon was unable to attend for health reasons. Also noticeably absent from this public meeting about the future of Labour was the current Parliamentary candidate, Steph Booth.

Cllrs Susan Press and Janet Oosthuysen led the discussion.

Susan Press reminded those present that Alice Mahon had taken the decision to leave the Labour Party in April but had always been very supportive her and Janet in their attempts to be selected as Labour Party candidate.

The meeting was told that the local Labour Party had lost a lot of members because of discontent and unhappiness over the recent selection process. Many of those who remain will, come the General Election, probably decide to put their energies into supporting Labour candidates in neighbouring constituencies.

Janet Oosthuysen said that the response to the question “Can Labour survive?” was “Of course it will!” She joined when she was 18 and observed that the further Labour moves from its working class roots the more trouble it will have. Janet pointed out that there isn’t apathy but people are currently far more interested and enthusiasm in political issues than in parties and manifestos.

While those attending the meeting included some Labour Party members, many of those present were not Labour members. Points made during the good-natured discussion included:

  • The elephant in the room - most of those present felt it would not be fruitful to spend the meeting discussing the current Parliamentary candidate, Steph Booth. However, frustration was expressed by some who suggested it was the most important issue of the moment.

  • The Calder Valley constituency is not the only local party facing problems. Seven members of the Rochdale Labour Party - the Rochdale Seven - have been either expelled or suspended from the Party following calls for an investigation into allegations of domestic violence by Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) Simon Danczuk. (Rochdale Online)

  • A candidate of the left could actually be successful.

  • Support was needed for local trade unionists. The bin workers’ strike in Leeds has wide support among the public, as did the striking journalists from Johnsons Press. Local postal workers should be supported if and when they go on strike following the imminent ballot.

  • Democracy in the Labour Party has been whittled away. It is now very hard for grass-root members to have any influence over national party policy.

  • Trade unionists should be encouraged to join their local Labour Party.

  • Approval from many present was given to the recent TUC vote to adopt the People’s Charter

  • It was pointed out that most of the people in the room would support 90% of Green Party policies. The same could not be said of Labour.

  • A non partisan group of the left should be created in Hebden Bridge

See also

Hebweb News: Alice Mahon to join local Labour left activists at public debate in Hebden Bridge


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