Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Opening up the Labour Party

The latest Labour leadership wheeze is to open important party decisions to non-party members, including the election of party leaders. It's a plot to stop the unions having a strong influence on the results.

I have two problems with this:
1. Affiliated trades unions (of which mine isn't one, thankfully) not only founded the Labour Party, they continue to fund it. Why shouldn't they, as the representatives of a large section of the working population, receive representation in proportion to donation?

(Don't write in: I know the answer. The hysterical, hypocritical baying mob of the collected ranks of the rightwing press. Those newspapers which are all owned by tax-evading, offshore-domiciled Tory donors. I don't think anyone at the top of the Party has ever asked him or herself whether they actually believe anything: they just ask what the Daily Mail will say about it).

2. I just don't think that anyone who wants to have a go deserves to get a vote. Political parties aren't drop-in centres for anyone with a point of view. They're formal organisations to which like-minded people subscribe. I'm a member of the Labour Party, despite being a socialist. I share a high degree of ideological perspectives with my fellow members and I pay to propagate these ideas. The idea that people who are too lazy, indifferent or hostile to my party should be encouraged to affect our internal decisions is offensive.

It implies that the Labour Party hierarchy believes that its own members are too weird to be trusted, too weird to represent the population at large. It also implies that it doesn't believe the general population has the backbone and commitment to join a party.

I have another idea: formulate a decent, coherent set of political positions of which you can be proud. Then go out there and proselytise for them, rather than tremblingly triangulate your every utterance with reference to the worst newspapers on the planet. Let's not cravenly chip away at our core beliefs in deference to a public which has been misled and abused by the right: let's get out there and actually try to persuade them that we're right about things. Is that too revolutionary? It might be difficult, but it's better than surrendering.

The Party conference used to end with a rendition of the Red Flag: let's return to the days of having some backbone. The third verse I quote is particularly relevant to Miliband, Balls and Co.
Then raise the scarlet standard high.Within its shade we'll live and die,Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,We'll keep the red flag flying here.
It waved above our infant might,When all ahead seemed dark as night;It witnessed many a deed and vow,We must not change its colour now. 
It suits today the weak and base,Whose minds are fixed on pelf and placeTo cringe before the rich man's frown,And haul the sacred emblem down. 

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