Reasons for leaving

Dear …

I am writing out of courtesy to advise you that I am resigning from the Labour Party with immediate effect – direct debits and the standing order for the monthly draw cancelled!

I wanted to offer a word of explanation (which you are welcome to ignore) but I thought you might be interested in which particular straw it was that broke this camel’s back.

It wasn’t the anti-semitism stuff. A lot (not all) of the complaints about Corbyn himself do seem overstated – sometimes wildly – and I think Corbyn could make a very credible case for his actions in support of the Palestinian cause if he wished. I’d honour him for it.

It isn’t the Brexit stuff either. I can see why a party might equivocate – the people have spoken etc. – although I do deplore the lack of an authoritative, accessible critique of what the government are attempting and there is a desperate need for a post Brexit vision that is not based on the worst of neo-conservatism.

No, what’s finished it for me is this, from the LGA (Local Government Association) Labour Group:

“The LGA Labour Group is hugely disappointed by the initial report of the Labour Party Democracy Review. We had made a serious and detailed submission to the Review, a few parts of which appear to have been accepted, but the general tone of the Review in relation to local government betrays a general lack of understanding of local government, and an astonishing lack of respect towards Labour Party members who serve as councillors. Given that the original remit of the Democracy Review was to ‘develop the accountability of Labour local authority elected members’, there is no recognition within the document of the current legal and financial frameworks that councillors operate within, nor the fact that councillors are the most accountable – both to the party and to their local community – of all elected representatives. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the significant role that Labour councillors have fulfilled in protecting communities from the worst of austerity, and how Labour in local government will be an essential part of delivering the policy programme of an incoming Labour Government.

The biggest concern is that the Review proposes to ban all councillors from serving on Local Government Committees – effectively downgrading councillors to second-class membership, with no say over decisions relating to local government policy development and campaigning, and excluding those party members who have the deepest knowledge, experience, and responsibilities towards local government, not to mention breadth of campaigning expertise and financial commitment.”

For me Corbyn represented a chance to reset the centre of politics in Britain after the Osborn years. I wanted to resist that rightwards drag that had seemed to suck the Labour Party along with it. I wanted change. Naively perhaps, I wasn’t expecting that his election would open the floodgates to all the purists I’d last come across in the eighties. On top of that I am a local government man through and through and it depresses me beyond measure that the Party, instead of welcoming the best of local action and initiative, seems to be set on denying and disabling it.

We are making ourselves as stupid as the Tories. It’s an achievement of sorts – but not one I am proud of and I have decided to step outside of the party and look around a little to see if there is any one out there who I can support.

Reasons for leaving

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