Some Issues In Our Party Need Addressing.

Vindicated is how I’m told I should feel, but I don’t. Vindication implies that I was proven right, I already knew I was right – others now telling me I am doesn’t change how I feel because I never needed affirmation. I, like thousands of others are secure enough to be comfortable with our own belief without approval from others and that was tested time and time again over the past 24 months.

Twitter is now littered with people saying “I’m glad Jeremy proved me wrong”, like seeking to prove something to these people was his objective. Like they were silent observers who gave him a fair ride. Like he has achieved something by meeting their approval.

Words are important, and one word very few of them are using is ‘sorry’.

It has been two years of constant attacks and abuse, which caused distressed, distraction and damage to our members and thus our party. As we celebrate, let us not forget but ensure we get full acknowledgement and the changes we demand to ensure the last two years never happen again.

We saw MP’s use their position of profile to obtain access to the media to attack ordinary members and call them names like ‘dogs, trots and rabble’ without any remorse. These are members who paid to be part of our party and cleared our debts.  Some who found it hard to make ends meet but gave that £4 a month as they wanted and sometimes needed to feel they could be part of a movement that would help them become agents of their own struggle.

They were branded ‘cult members’, as ‘behaving like petulant children’ because they wanted to democratically choose an MP to be leader of a party proclaiming to be for the ordinary people and they dared to believe in a Politician who was interested in listening to their hardship. Jeremy was admired not by people who were stupid or brainwashed but because he was rare and they believed in the alternative he offered.

They were told  they were too lazy to campaign and put in the hard work, yet they came out in their thousands. In my CLP it was 2:1 new members who came out and our EC is now 50% made up of new members. They work their arses off.

They were branded naïve, patronised and condescended because they refused to believe that the party were not going to win UKIP voters if we didn’t bash immigrants like Stephen Kinnock or accuse Muslims of not assimilating and push the UKIP enlarging narrative of parallel lives.

They had to be taken to court because they joined a party that proclaimed to fight for their futures, and that court case was funded by their own subscription fees without any consultation with the membership on how our money would be used.

They were accused of throwing a brick through a window or spitting on college caretaker without any evidence and had to prove innocence after being called guilty by a right wing media presumably briefed by our party. Many of these accusations damaged the reputations, employment opportunities and lives of people who volunteered in our party and give so much. Yet not one apology has been provided. Yet not one person who spread such malicious lies has been reprimanded.

There have been members reported to their workplaces for expressing political views in support of Jeremy. There have been members with disabilities reported to the DWP for welfare fraud as they use social media to support our party. The threat to these people’s financial survival threatened in the name of democratic socialism.

They were suspended for merely liking a tweet from the Green party 3 years ago whilst MPs and others holding public office openly took to social media, print media, TV and radio to bring our party into disrepute with impunity. And continue to do so.

Even in the last days of the campaign candidates were undermining all the hard work of members by running to the media to attack Jeremy and one even wrote a letter to voters – yet no consequences as different rules apply if you’re disloyal to a twice elected leader from the left of the party. And calls for unity are used as tools to manipulate the course of justice to plant the idea we are the ones who are unreasonable, sectarian and not interested in our parties future.

Our amazing front bench were regularly attacked, publicly and disgracefully. Jess Philips openly telling the first Black woman MP to ‘fuck off’ with pride before she performed a coup on Dawn Butler another Black woman to obtain the position of Chair of Women’s PLP. This under the guise of Feminism! Yet we take the Black vote for granted in dozens of our constituencies including mine.

We saw 18 Jeremy supporting members in Ealing crowd-funding to legally challenge our party for barring them from standing as candidates in local elections. We saw young members in Harrow needing to go to court over their expulsions. Yet we’re expecting to believe these same people are going to pursue a manifesto on worker’s rights?

We saw Labour run councils push policies of social cleansing, demolishing of council homes, closing of services and cut the pay of teaching assistants with pride.

On our own ship we had our own people play the role of Judas better than the original. With passive aggressive attacks through social media guised as ‘expressions of concern’ or ‘advice’ they could easily have texted to Jeremy instead of writing about in The Guardian or on Twitter to 250,000+ people.

Rather than show some self awareness, they try and fool us by dumping the role of Judas rewrite history by painting themselves as leaders of a people led movement that gave us these gains by campaigning for the very MPs who have treated our members with contempt and with one asking for a fucking knighthood!

Without any shame, they’re now inviting MPs from the right to return to the front bench without asking anyone who fought this struggle daily if we’re OK with that. Who are they replacing exactly? Do you think we have your Judas genetics that we’re happy to dump the likes of Diane, John, Angela, Richard, Sarah, Cat, Rebecca, Kate, Barry, Emily et al who faced our struggle with us for who? For what position?

If you’ve not learnt when to shut your mouth now, you never will and you’ll continue to be a liability with your flimsy loyalty to any cause. To leave us when the going got tough, to step on our heads and pushing us deeper under water, you really believe you have a right to be on this ship rebuilt and held together with our blood, sweat and tears? More astonishingly, you actually have such a deep sense of misguided entitlement you have already unpacked your stuff in the first class suites and are trying to get your hands on the helm.

Incredulous!

We have MPs on the right stating they’re happy to return, as if they were aiding Jeremy to do a better job? As if they’re entitled? As if they would have the capability to produce such a manifesto? As if they weren’t part of the problem pre-Corbyn that saw us lose so many seats, sell immigration mugs, promise to be tougher than Tories on welfare and create the work capability assessment that has bought misery to so many?

Do you think the public want us to return to this? Have you not learnt anything?

Why do we need these people? What delusions do they have about their own ability? Why should anyone trust these MPs who took positions previously only to use it as a weapon against Corbyn resigning when they want to water down a policy that should benefit working class people. Even after the manifesto was launched they still had no understanding of what this meant to millions of people who are struggling in our communities.

Our current Shadow Cabinet have done amazingly well, they outperformed their predecessors and they gave us a manifesto we would never have had created by others. They were not seat warmers waiting to be returned to sitting on the floor now the self-proclaimed, self righteous would like to play again. They are intelligent, capable, talented assets to our party who have earned their right to retain and embed themselves in their roles.

Until this party addresses the the fact our policies are not being put into practice by Labour local government and a national local government manifesto is now needed – nothing has changed.

Until there is an acknowledgement of how our members were treated and assurances that such attacks from MPs to our members will be acted upon with disciplinary action – nothing has really changed.

I’m surprised many of our new members continued to stay with us and even more surprised they showed such loyalty to our party that they, the “dogs, trots and rabble” campaigned to help the MPs who attacked them so badly. For all they went through and to still have the humility and passion for our party, they deserve respect and protection. They deserve an apology.

Until people in our party who spent two years damaging our party by attacking our twice democratically elected leader and our members take responsibility and accept the role they played that led to us losing votes that could have been crucial – nothing has changed.

Until our current Shadow Cabinet are acknowledged with the respect and permanency they deserve and praised for their achievements, loyalty and resilience – nothing has changed.

Until the party see such behaviour from MPs, Councillors and Assembly Members and Mayors as something that requires managing and a robust disciplinary process – nothing has changed.

None of us could behave like this in any work situation, to bring your organisation in disrepute in such a vile, aggressive and personal way and get away with it. This is not Stalinism, it is basic rules most of us live our professional lives by.

Mandelson has already penned his cat-stroking instructions to his personality cult in the Mail on Sunday and Leslie already shown he a food allergy to humble pie. Round 3 has only just begun.

We cannot offer unity without having our demands met or the last two years have been wasted and we will find ourselves soon returning back to a place of abuse.

There have been some good that has come from this, we saw what class and calibre looked like when we saw John Prescott in action. John regularly gave many of us a voice and protection when we needed it. He did so by not taking sides, but by being the voice of reason that echoed what many of us wanted.

We realised exactly how low, vile, nasty and dirty people in our party are prepared to go. They chucked it all at us and we’re still standing. Our resilience built, our naivety quashed, our strength realised and loyalty tested. We now need to be confident in our own power and never sell ourselves short.

We learnt the strength, loyalty and talent of people like Rebecca Long Bailey, Cat Smith, Barry Gardner, Diane Abbott, Kate Osamor, Graham Morris, Andrew Gywnne, Debbie Abrahams, Andy McDonald, Ian Lavery, Emily Thornberry, Sarah Champion, Richard Burgon, John McDonnell, Angela Rayner, who stepped up against all the pressure and did the job, but also done it way better than we have seen in a long time.

We owe so much to their ability and strength to resist the temptation to join the bullies in the school toilets.

We learnt what strong and stable actually meant. There were many times Jeremy could have walked away but didn’t despite all they threw at him, despite the PLP meetings of group lynchings and constant cowardly bullying by a bunch of talentless morons (their word not mine), he got on with the job. Truly inspirational and it was this that won the hearts of so many and why he has been rewarded by our loyalty from day one.

The ball is now in Jeremy’s court – he can decide to build and change our movement for the better by using the position we placed him for real long lasting change. Or he can take us back without any change or lessons learnt and leave us all vulnerable to living in hope that the spots have really changed on those leopards, always sleeping with one eye open and hoping the public believe these people are genuine that they trust them enough to vote for us again.

If Jeremy does not take this opportunity to address some serious problems with our party they’ll still exist and we’ll not get to the destination we have stayed on this bumpy ride to reach. That would be a travesty.

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Response to Stephen Kinnock MP

Dear Mr Kinnock,

Following your Tweet to me, I wanted to respond but 140 characters was not enough and I doubt we frequent the same curry houses to have this conversation face to face.

As a ‘BAME’ member of the Labour party from a family who have voted Labour for over five decades, I find the recent dangerous race-based rhetoric from you (and some others in Labour) deeply offensive.

Since you made the statements (which I have also listened to so was not based upon a tweet), you wrote an article which you invited me to read. Unfortunately, in this article, whilst you acknowledged your comments caused a reaction, you failed to understand why and made the assumption people misunderstood you, only to confirm the reason many were so frustrated and vexed by your comments to begin with were right to be so. It even at one stage had the ‘I’m not a racist, I have Black friends’ insinuation, where you spoke of your school days.

I truly believe the reaction you got has surprised you, I even believe it has upset you. But it has upset me too and yet again, as a BAME member of this party I have to feel undervalued and have to defend my right to have the needs and issues faced by people from my background heard. BAME members of the Labour party are not here to make our leaflets look colourful, we are here because Labour is a social mobility movement based upon the values of equality and we are facing inequality. We are here because via Parliamentary power, we can make steps towards equality. Our progress as a party in achieving steps towards equality is not our weakness, it is our strength and should not be halted to stop further damage.

There is so much wrong with what you have said and continue to state it is hard to pick just one. So I’ll narrow it to six points;

Firstly, your comments confirmed for me no matter how loyal ethnic minorities in the UK are to Labour, they’ll always be given up for a public flogging to falsely reassure some sections in society they are being protected when really they are being deceived by the creation of a faux social construct of an imaginary sub-class which enable those at the bottom to believe there is another group of people below them are after what they have.

Immigrants as scapegoats has long been the shield of choice of failing politicians who wish to hide their inability to solve many of the issues facing society and to divert attention that those failures have been intentionally or incompetently created by them.

Ethnic minorities in the UK clean our streets, nurse in our hospitals, drive our buses and look after our elderly. Ethnic minorities in the UK teach in our schools, are Doctors in our NHS, are Solicitors in our criminal justice system, are Journalists on our news channels. Ethnic minorities are even MP in our Parliament, sit on our front bench and are in the Lords. We contribute, we earn our keep, we pay our taxes and still we can never be equal but you call for ‘assimilation’.

Secondly, it unclear about who it is you are talking about when you speak of ‘immigrants’, it covers such a broad category of people. Do you mean people like me, born here but the daughter of immigrants? Do you mean refugees and asylum seekers? Do you mean people here who from the EU? Do you mean those who come here to study? Do you mean the hundreds of thousands here from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? Do you mean the non-EU immigrants predominately (according to Home Office stats) from India, Nigeria and Pakistan?

Who do you mean?

Despite the hundreds of thousands of American, New Zealander, Canadian immigrants in the UK, the culture with people from these countries (due to colonisation) are already assimilated in ‘western culture’ – so there is a calculated assumption you are referring specifically to immigrants with cultural differences or your calls for assimilation would make little sense.

This highlights that your concerns about immigration stem further than just economic, but also encompasses cultural fears that is the basis of Xenophobia.

Sadly it makes no difference who you meant – because as the comments in response to your Labour List article demonstrate; when my brother gets bottled in the back of his head for being an immigrant – they thought you meant him. When my aunt is spat on the street for being an immigrant – the thought you meant her. When my neighbour has her hijab ripped off her head – they thought you meant her. When my local Mosque gets sent white powder through the post as a death threat – they thought you meant them. When young men like Ricky Reel, Stephen Lawrence and Arkadiusz Jóźwik get killed on our streets – they thought you meant them.

The comments in response to your Labour List article are vile – but that is the door you opened.

I am deeply sorry that you lost your dear friend Jo Cox – she sounded like an amazing woman. This is probably what has angered me the most, that you lost someone close to you after they were killed by a neo-Nazi fascist, and the danger of anti-immigrant sentiment did not make think twice about the impact you could have. Discussing immigration, race and identity should not be a no-go area, but it should be done with some degree of capability.

The threat of neo-Nazi, far right and fascist attacks is something most Black and Asian people have to think about every-day, it’s a natural instinct built in our sub-conscious so deep, it has become a normal part of our psychology. When I go to a new place, I recognise straight away if I am the only non-White person. When I walk into a pub and see the England or Union Jack flag, I have search the room for any other person of colour to confirm I am in a safe space – once seeing a picture of Bob Marley on the wall gave me a sense of security. I’ve never been racially attacked – but I am aware I could be, because it happens daily to people of my skin tone.

What you do, as an MP when you position immigrants as the cause of the socio-economic problems many people are facing is you channel their hate and anger toward people like me, they go into a fight mode for survival as you have confirmed or reaffirmed immigrants are the threat. You legitimise and add creditability to the myth that immigrants are to blame, and you mainstream such views making them acceptable views to hold in our society.

Thirdly, in your speech, responses and article you offered no solution, and this makes your rhetoric even more dangerous and reckless. Simply stating you understand their perception that ‘we’re ignoring them [the majority]’ and that we need to be ‘patriotic’ is not a solution.

Calling UKIP “Isolationists” and “Nationalists” is not going to resonate with people who are facing deep socio-economic challenges – UKIP are blaming the same people you are, but they are giving solid solutions, the problem with those solutions are they are, like Trump’s solutions, drastic, discriminatory and fascist.

When you deceive people into believing they are hungry, they want food. When all you can offer is words (even on a mug) and others are offering burgers, you cannot compete until you are prepared to feed the hunger. Trump seems prepared to feed the hunger he deceived people into believing they had – in fact most fascist dictators have been prepared to.

Fourthly, in your Progress speech you spoke about not being listened to on the doorstep when you speak about the benefits of immigration and this confused me. The benefits of immigration to the UK economy are proven fact – it feels like you’re suggesting that we must be complicit in the deception that this is not the case, so we can be listened to?

It reminded me greatly of the 1980s when section 28 came into force, but my local education authority defied it, and not only continued to teach the existence of homosexuality but went further to promote it. At my school we had protests outside with people leafleting that homosexuals were ‘perverts’. This was not true. This has never been true. It was a perception that a lot of people believed in and we, as a Labour council fought for what was right. That is what Labour does. That is why we are a progressive movement. We do not indulge in injustice just because it is popular. We are prepared to put in the hard work to create the fair and equal society we believe is best for our country.

Your role as a Labour MP is not to echo misinformation and scapegoatism developed to distract the failure of politics. Your role is not to mislead desperate and vulnerable people that ‘clampdowns’ on immigration will improve their homes, job possibilities, income and public services. Your role is not to stir racial tensions in areas that require solutions not additional burdens of social disorder. Your role is promote our vision of an equal, productive and cohesive society where we aspire to eradicate inequality and achieve social mobility.

Fifthly, in your article you spoke of your travelling around various countries and how you assimilated into the cultures of the countries you were in (you did not state which). As a White male, your acceptance and presence in most countries is welcomed, people of my skin tone are not as easily accepted and are not often as welcomed. You can travel anywhere in the world you wish, I have to Google to see if the country has a far-right government, to check what the experiences of other Asian people has been, read the security codes on my boarding pass, shave my legs just before I get on a plane just in-case I am strip searched at the airport.

You cannot have assimilation without ensuring that people of my skin tone are treated with the privileges people of your skin tone have. This is not ‘ignoring the majority’ – this is how you ensure people from whatever background feel part of our society and how you get cohesion and integration.

You have ‘White privilege’ and it enables you to have a different definition to migration and immigration. There are many different types of immigrants, I seriously doubt you went to work and live abroad because you were being persecuted in the UK and had to leave, or that the UK’s economic situation meant you could not find a job or feed your family.

Informing us of your ability to assimilate without acknowledging your privilege cannot be the basis of a truthful debate and only when we agree that there are fundamental differences in experiences of immigrants based on race and country of origin, can we even begin to have the honest debate.

My final point is around this ‘honest debate’ that you [and many other politicians] want to keep having on immigration. There are many Black and Asian people like me awaiting this ‘honest debate’ – we have been waiting for a very long time.

If you want an ‘honest debate’ about immigration, then the debate needs to feature truths about immigration. This is where your speech, subsequent article and entire argument fell short, so short it almost removed the ability to call it a debate on immigration.

I do not expect you do not have to experience immigration from the viewpoint of someone who is Black or Asian to understand it, I do not expect you should be omitted from the ‘debate’ because you have not experienced prejudice from the economic or immigration system – but what makes us Labour is our ability to empathise and fight for the inequality and injustices other are facing.

When I hear Labour MPs talking about ‘controls on immigration’, ‘having a clampdown on immigration’ or ‘tougher on immigration’ – I wonder where the Labour ability to empathise and fight for inequality has gone.

When Asian women came to Britain in the 1970s, they were subjected to virginity testing. Their vaginas were entered to ascertain whether their hymens were still intact, sometimes by male doctors. Did your Dane wife have men insert into her vagina when you married her so she could enter this country? I guess you find this question offensive.

In 1993, when I was 14, Joy Gardner was killed in my hometown, during an immigration raid that saw officers restrain her with cuffs and leather belts, and then gagged her with 13 feet of tape around her head. She died of brain damage after suffocating. This happened in front of her 3 year old son. This sent a clear message that immigration controls for non-White people is similar to pest control.

Amir Siman-Tov; Thomas Kirungi; Pinakin Patel; Rubel Ahmed; Christine Case; Tahir Mehmood; Khalid Shahzad; Prince Kwabena Fosu; Ianos Dragutan; Brian Dalrymple; Muhammed Shuket;  Eliud Nguli Nyenze;  Bereket Yohannes;  Manuel Bravo;  Ramazan Kumluca; Kenny Peter; Tran Quang Tung;  Sergey Barnuyck; Kabeya Dimuka-Bijoux;  Elmas Ozmico;  Olga Blaskevica; Mikhail Bognarchuk; Robertas Grabys; Kimpua Nsimba and Siho Iyiguveni are amongst the names of the 43 [predominately Black and Asian] people who have died in Immigration Removal & Detention Centres (IRCs/IDCs) or deaths of immigration detainees in prisons (England and Wales) from 2004 (Inquest Feb 2016) – less people have been reported to have died in Guantanamo bay in the same period.

In Aug 2015, Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that Yarl’s Wood detention centre was a ‘place of national concern’, in April 2014 the government refused to let the UN in Yarl’s Wood to investigate violence against women and in June this year the Government refused to disclose how many women had been sexually assaulted or raped inside Yarl’s Wood as “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests”. Currently there are 3 men on trial for alleged rape of a detainee in Yarl’s Wood. Your MP colleague Kate Osamor visited Yarl’s Wood in Dec 2015 and spoke in detail about what she had witnessed. Your colleague Catherine West MP was denied entry into Yarl’s Wood in Feb 2016.

Sadly nowhere in the ‘honest debates’ about immigration have you acknowledged these facts. Pretending the immigration experiences of Black and Asian people  do not exist is never, ever an ‘honest debate’.

The Labour party cannot continue to take the votes of BAME voters for granted and also ignore the discrimination they face and refuse to stand up for them. Some of us are not just voters, we are also members and we are here to stay – that means trivialising the immigration debate to be about people being unable to speak English, when people are dying in state run facilities will never go unchallenged in our Labour movement. It means when Labour MPs know people are losing their lives both due to immigration in this country and in wider EU still calling for ‘tougher’, ‘tighter’ and ‘stricter’ controls also will never go unchallenged in our Labour movement.

I watched as many people challenged your comments, including people who I would say I don’t agree with normally in Labour politics. I was approached by some people within Progress [albeit privately] who wished for me to know that they disagreed with you and that Progress as an organisation distances itself from your comments – you were only a panelist and not representative of their views. I witnessed people of all classes, backgrounds and from across the UK react to you with a mix of discomfort and anger.

What it told me was, you have misunderstood the very Britishness you suggested we had lost understanding of. British people are tolerant, compassionate and good people – they won’t be manipulated, they will vote for a Black Mayor in Bristol despite the slavery history of their city. They’ll vote for a Muslim Mayor when Islamophobia is at its highest. These are British values and what makes us a nation and a party we can all be proud of.

There is nothing Labour about dumping our values to be more like UKIP. There is nothing ‘patriotic’ about representing British people as Xenophobes.

Maybe it is you that needs assimilating into British culture and values.

Best wishes,

Seema

Ps: Do I need to translate this into Welsh too…?

Full Guardian Survey/Interview

The following was my responses to questions asked by the Guardian, of which only a paragraph was used. I gave this opinion in a personal capacity, however I do think people in my CLP should see what I said given I was quoted as being the CLP Secretary so here it is. 

Roughly, how does the membership divide its support between Jeremy Corbyn and those who want to see him replaced as Labour leader?

To respond I wish to highlight the following factual information:

  • Jeremy won by 59.5% of the Labour wide membership vote. 40% voted for someone else.
  • The data of how many of those 40% voted gave Jeremy their second preference is not known.
  • Our CLP in July 2015 did hold a Leadership Nominations ballot – Jeremy won 76% of the vote. Our membership at this time was about 900 members of which 200 were new and joined after Corbyn announced he was standing.
  • Since Jeremy became Leader our membership rose to 1700 (almost double) from Sept 12th – early Oct.
  • In the last two weeks, our membership has risen a further by 700+ members (however they will not get a vote given current rules).
  • At the end of June 2016, the local party did have a motion supporting Jeremy Corbyn, this was voted upon at our General Committee. It was passed with 90% of the vote.

With this in light, the response to your question is as follows:

We are yet to hold a Leadership nominations meeting for me to respond factually to this question. What I can say is Tottenham CLP does pride itself on being a ‘broad church party’ and there are of course people who did not and will not vote for Corbyn.

However there is no growth from what I can see in the numbers of members who have and always had this view.

Where the change has been is in the quantity of members compared last year and an assumption those who joined in Sept joined because Corbyn became Leader. They are able to now vote. This is the statistic that is important in my opinion.

As the other candidate(s) are yet to be decided (as they have yet to be given the nominations by the PLP) – I cannot say whether members are shifting there support elsewhere as that destination is yet to be offered.

Has that opinion changed in the wake of the Brexit vote? 

Again there is no official measurement that members are ‘blaming Corbyn’ for the results of the referendum.

Most members actually agree with Tony Blair’s analysis from 2-3 weeks ago on a Sunday morning politics show that the EU result we saw could be the same in the other 27 member states if they also held a referendum. Anti EU feeling is deeply entrenched in many communities across Europe and was never going to be untangled in such a short campaign.

In my experience, the party membership has never been in so much agreement about Tony Blair’s words – but we live in strange times.

Those who are using the narrative that Corbyn is to blame for Brexit are mainly from people who did not vote for him last time. Within that are a handful of members who did not assist in the EU Remain campaign and this can dilute the seriousness of their opinion, but it is their view and that has to be respected.

However, in answer to your question, I do not feel the Brexit vote has changed people’s minds about Corbyn either way.

Have there been discussions in your local party about a split in the party, if yes what do people think? 

No discussions of this nature have taken place.

Has the tone of your local membership meetings changed in the last few months?

Yes.

There is a great sense of pride and energy that so many Tottenham residents have decided to join the Labour party and our family.

There has been both an excitement to campaign for Sadiq Khan and also a great sense of pride that members from all or no sides of the party, old and new worked hard to give us the result we celebrate.

There was huge enthusiasm for the EU Referendum campaign, which was resourced by members time of which 70% were members who had been with us for under a year.

There is obviously disappointment and sadness that the country decided to vote out of the EU.

There is delight that so many members turned up to our 9 Branch AGMs held on 6th July and also that members both old and new were nominated to positions on the Executive Committee giving us both stability and new skills/energy to grow our party.

We are currently focused on the by-election in Tottenham and we have a fantastic candidate which members are out campaigning for every day.

I would say that the press and criticism (especially from MPs) that new members are getting is grossly unfair. Prior to Jeremy Corbyn standing, I would say 20-30 of our members out of the 700 were ‘active’, now I would say about 120-150 are (based on members in May/June of 1700). So our membership doubled and our activity tripled.

There are members who  have been with us for 10-20 years that I  have never seen or even got an email from. This illusion we had 100% activeness from older members and all of these new members do not contribute is a myth and is totally disrespectful to people who pay to be part of our party.

Members are people, they need to be welcomed, made to feel valued and also encouraged to take part. We put a lot of effort to do this, from social events to our Facebook group, but we realise we need to do more and are ready for that challenge. If new members are not engaging its for the party to change not the members.

Locally, what does the future look for Labour?

Tottenham has a Labour MP, all 9 wards have 3 Labour Councillors within them, our Assembly Member is Labour and our Mayor is Labour.

Tottenham is one of the most deprived areas in London and the UK with many other social issues that also require political attention. Locally, the future for Labour in Tottenham is to continue to make an impact on the residents who voted for us to tackle many of the social issues we face as a community.

Labour in Tottenham is in power and with that power comes responsibility and it’s a responsibility the Council Leader, The MP and the Assembly Member, regardless of what wing of the party they are from, take extremely seriously. Our residents have no time for us to be messing around with this internal battle, I am not sure where other MPs find the time, but our MP seems to be focused on the job.

When do you think Labour will next form a government? 

My understanding is the next election is not until 2020. I have every faith that if the party, especially the PLP focus we will win in 2020. We are a party, we all have responsibilities to make the Labour case in our constituencies and communities, it is all of our faults if we fail and to all of our credit when we succeed.

If we have a genuine concern about taking government at the next election, then our attention needs to be on Scotland. We cannot absolve Dugdale of responsibility claiming she needs more time following such a worrying losses in Scotland as she needs to tackle a problem 20 years in the making, but when it comes to Corbyn, who has stemmed the flow and we have won back City Hall, suddenly be the problem for us winning in 2020.

It gives the impression that some are not sincere about winning in 2020 when they distract us from where our real challenges lie.

This navel-gazing self-inflicted battle is not what we need and it is most certainly not what most members and voters want. The last 9 months of members of the PLP heavily talking down the party, is a luxury our voters and country cannot afford. However despite it, we still made gains and it raises the question of how powerful we could be if the PLP fully supported Corbyn if his Leadership, despite such public criticism did not wipe us out in May.

I do not accept that Jeremy Corbyn is ‘unelectable’. People said Boris would be ‘unelectable’ they were wrong. They then said he would become Prime Minister, thankfully they were wrong again. They also told us that Sadiq would lose as people would not vote for a Muslim in this climate, they were wrong. They told us that Zac Goldsmith would be the biggest threat to us winning City Hall, they were wrong – he turned out to be our biggest asset.

I am part of Labour because I believe politics has the solutions to the issues people face in society, if I wanted to be part of a fortune tellers society I would have joined the Mystic Meg fan-club.

Shadow Minister for Perfect Eyebrows Resigns

Jeremy

It’s with a heavy heart I write to you to tender my resignation as Shadow Minster for Perfect Eyebrows. This of course will not be a surprise as we have been planning this for months regardless of the EU Referendum outcome but Hilary Benn cocked it up
and let you know before we could surprise you.

As you heard me say on Sky News last night, I simply do not think you are the Leader who has the abilities to take us forward because [AWAIT TEXT FOR REASONS WHY FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS PRIVATE CORPORATION FUNDING]. I had to go on Sky News as I wanted Alan Johnson to know I blame you, not him for his badly run campaign. However, no one has seen Alan for about 6 weeks but hope wherever he is, he has a TV.

Its been tough having you as a Leader, I found it hard to tell many of my golf club friends I supported social housing. I thought you meant councils would be giving the ‘riff-raff’ a tent, I had already accepted a £10,000 donation from a Tent Manufacturing company. Imagine how embarrassed I feel now he tells me you meant you wanted Labour to build homes for these working class people, if that was not bad enough Jeremy, you wanted these homes with water and electricity! You demonstrated by that one action how out of touch you are!

Your support for Trade Unions is a disgrace, how can we support such organisations who demand rights and minimum wage for cleaners and other servant type people. Who in their right mind would think voters would support such policies? Trade Unions contribute nothing to this party except millions of pounds. I bet they even think they created this party!

But the final nail in the coffin for me was you welcoming immigrants, to the UK. I am not a racist, I have a Polish Cleaner, a Slovakian Au-Pair and even get my takeaway curry from an Indian guy. But can you really want these immigrants here for more than cleaning and cooking? Apart from keeping our NHS alive, contributing billions to our economy and keeping our vital transport/public services going, what have the immigrants done for Labour or the UK? Our core voters are leaving to live in Spain, Portugal and South of France because they are sick of immigration!

Again, you’re out of touch with our voters (except the 3 million BAME voters and 20 million non racist voters).

We cannot win with you as our Leader, you are better suited to lead a democratic socialist party where members can elect you democratically through a vote. Maybe we should for a laugh try this democracy malarkey, you should stand, I’d be surprised if any party member would vote for you, you might be lucky to get 4.5%!

Anyway, must rush, I’m due back on Sky News in 20 minutes, hope they don’t ask me anything about the EU, I didn’t even go canvassing for the referendum, although I am enjoying the football, I put money on Canada to win!

Best wishes

Seema Chandwani MP

Ps: this is just a resignation of my shadow cabinet position, not as an MP – I enjoy my salary too much.

Ensuring NEC nominations are fair.

So I am at work casually searching my filing cabinet for chocolate supplies when I am informed Luke Akehurst has complimented me in Labour List. Oddly, I read the article earlier on the way to work, but half way through a survey appeared, which I couldn’t get rid of so I missed my Warhol moment (PS: Labourlist sort out those survey’s – they are annoying!).

I was curious. Luke and I have a strange relationship. I find Tweeting him a really good way to deal with my PMT every month and he finds Tweeting like he has PMT all month a good thing. We are definitely not two people who could survive being trapped in a lift together.

Jokes aside I really appreciated Luke’s kind words, even if they have scared the fucking shit out of me and I now have left-wingers looking at me like I’m some right-wing infiltrator.  However, I do feel I need to respond, as even though the intention was nice, I don’t feel they reflected what he wanted to say….. or what I wanted him to say.

Whilst I did feel the part where Luke highlighted what could have happened in Walthamstow with Bex Bailey as a bad thing, but his failing to acknowledge that what did happen to Rhea Wolfson was the same thing, contradictory and hypocritical, the rest of the article about CLP nominations actually mirrored exactly what I wrote to Iain McNicol and Jeremy Corbyn in my letter to them two weeks ago and was spot on.

Except one small thing that I couldn’t let go…. I don’t believe the process in Tottenham was down to me being a ‘perfectionist’, you can be unfair perfectly (as Luke well knows) – the process used in Tottenham was about fairness and transparency. Luke highlighted a lot of practices in his article that I too have heard, for example only one ‘slates’ statements being given to members or the vote elected in ‘slates’ rather than individuals.

Although I consider myself as a ‘lefty’ and some of the practices described above may have equally benefitted the left as-well as the right wings of the party, it makes my stomach turn every-time I hear such practices take place. But what angers me is that the party have for years ignored the fact that a lack of standardised processes leave the whole system open to abuse and manipulation.

It also leaves CLP Secretaries open to allegation, sometimes publicly via social media. They may have picked up how to do NEC nominations from previous CLP Secretaries or even just made it up. CLP Secretaries are volunteers and procedures should ensure they are protected. That said it was only until the Rhea Wolfson case I found out that the way I done the NEC meeting was not standard process. I thought it was until I read what other members said online about what happened at their meeting. It appears I made it up!

Tottenham CLP did vote for the ‘left slate’ and I am confident they did so because they made a democratic decision. All of the statements I received were put on our website, with the link circulated to members and NEC candidates with the notice of the meeting. Limited copies of all statements were available at the meeting. All of the candidates were on the ballot paper with 2 empty spaces for people to state if anyone was missing or for members to put themselves forward.

Yes we did have ballot papers (on coloured paper as I’ve seen the ‘bring spare plain paper to meetings’ trick before where there are more votes than people in the room!) The count was conducted by two non-voters and they had to sign the count sheet.The whole meeting collectively did a roll-call and counted the people in the room, so we all knew the amount of papers expected back.

It is not being a perfectionist – it is being transparent and electoral transparency comes with ballot papers, count sheets and verification. We would not accept anything less in public elections. So my only gripe from Luke’s piece is, transparency should not be seen as perfection, it should be standard because we are dealing with people’s right to vote and if we as a political party cannot get that right, something is wrong.

I’m glad that even though Luke did not get the Tottenham nomination, the transparent process made him confident it was not because I stitched it up. As a ‘lefty’ of course I am pleased the ‘left-slate’ received the nomination, but I am pleased because the left candidates won the nomination on merit not manipulation. Two years ago, Luke got the Tottenham nomination, it was nauseating for me, however, he won in a fair democratic process.

There are many CLP Secretaries who have carried out this role with fairness (and probably better than I did), but I am flattered Luke chose to single me out. (Although, the last time Luke singled me out, was a bit more fun if I am being honest!) However, it shouldn’t be a choice to be fair – the party need to ensure fairness, transparency and openness by having proper accountable processes. It should not be a postcode lottery for members to have access to democracy. Luke’s (and other NEC candidates) national insight should not be lost as this needs to be addressed.

So I agree with Luke’s recommendations (as it’s what most of us as CLP Secretaries do anyway) but would like to add some:

  • I know many Secretaries who get emails after their nominations meetings of new candidates and who do feel bad that they weren’t entered into the ballot. So a cut off date needs to be applied for those wishing to stand.
  • I do think CLP Secretaries should send their results to Region (like with the London Mayoral) and it should be signed so someone is overseeing it.
  • I also think the party should email all members letting them know they can stand for NEC and how to put themselves forward
  • Lastly, I think the nominations should count as a short-listing method like the Mayoral election candidates in London, not an ego boost, and that they should be mandatory for all CLPs to conduct.

I do find the ‘home nomination’ requirement completely stupid. We didn’t need it for the Leadership or Mayoral nominations. I have no idea why we need it for NEC nominations. Luke’s merit list was not enough to change my mind, Rhea Wolfson is a very active activist and was still denied, so they fact she has moved and is now eligible seems like great news as members can democratically choose to have her or not.

As for Luke commenting on ‘appealing across factional lines’, it’s a bit like Bernard Matthew promoting vegetarianism!

Anyway, thanks again Luke for your kind words, I’ll put it on my statement when I re-stand as CLP Secretary just to make our CLP AGM much more amusing – besides it could increase my share of the votes by 4.5%.

Sexism is not merely foolish behaviour

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

The debate on whether what Danczuk has been accused of (accurately or otherwise) is worthy of suspension [and investigation] is a worrying one for a party that proclaims to be progressive. There appears to be, in some quarters, no real understanding of what the concern is.

Two examples of this can be found firstly in Danczuk’s apology where he states “there is no fool like an old fool”. And later in the John Stapleton LBC interview with Ken Livingstone, where John talks about Danczuk “being a much older man who has just fallen for a ‘nice pair of ankles’” (whatever that means?) he then went on to ask Livingstone “is it really justifiable to suspend him from the Labour party, we’ve all done daft things”.

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Immigrants Saved The NHS Long Before Burnham – It Is Time For Respect

By Seema Chandwani | Twitter @SeemaChandwani

After the election we find ourselves in the position of finding a new leader. But for a lot of ordinary members the choice is very difficult. Some members are even calling for MPs barely a week old to put themselves forward. It feels for many that we’re judging an ‘Eric Pickles lookalike bikini competition’ – no one contestant is turning us on.

The usual Labour demarcation lines of ‘left vs right’ are also not providing the ‘comfort zone guide’ some members rely on. For ‘the right’, they have many options at this stage to choose from – which is not the best place to be. For ‘the left’ however, we seem to be in a strange position, who are we backing? Are we resorting to backing the one who appears to have the least support from the ‘right’?

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