I had originally intended to stay quiet on this until after the May council elections. Partly because I have friends still in Labour who are doing a good job for their local communities and partly because I didn’t want this to be just another bit of noise in an already crowded political scene. But as ever in politics, events can change things quickly.
So it seems appropriate to simply publish the main text from the letter I have sent to the Labour Party Membership Department resigning from the party. I’m sure there will be comments. But I would hope after 32 years of active campaigning for the party people will respect the fact that this has been a very difficult decision to make, even if I now think it was an essential one to take.
The main text of my letter of resignation follows:
“It has become increasingly clear over the last 2 years that the Labour Party both nationally and locally is no longer a broad church party welcoming and listening to all views from left of centre politics but is driven solely by a desire for conformity to a single doctrinal position. This is continually evidenced by the repeated demand for loyalty to the leader above commitment to the values and standards of the party. This is not healthy for debate, for inclusion, nor for the future of the party. The consistent belief that this has somehow attracted record numbers of people to the party and therefore of the public to vote for the party will mean that Labour will continue to let down the people it is most meant to represent.
It is this continually growing grip from a single viewpoint that sees the expulsion of dissent as a defining position that has allowed and is continuing to allow anti-Semitism to not only exist but become institutionalised in the Labour Party. When the Leader’s office, despite denials to the contrary, are demonstrably shown to have interfered in cases of anti-Semitism to prevent the suspension of members it is undeniable that the party simply does not understand this issue and is now incapable of resolving it. Hence we now have the embarrassment of an EHRC investigation in to racism in the Labour Party.
Add to this the pitiful leadership shown on Brexit, the most important issue facing the country in a generation, then there is no case for Labour to become the next government. A party which says it must take a narrow line to support Brexit in case it loses support from people who voted leave in the 2016 referendum is a party that is taking for granted the support of those people who voted remain in that same referendum. An overwhelming majority of Labour members and supporters voted remain in 2016 and want a second referendum now. Despite a conference policy designed to provide a route to that referendum the leadership continues to insist there should not be one, its leading spokespeople say there should not be one and this from a leadership that promised that the members would direct policy.
There are other growing points of departure for me from Labour under this leadership. My values have not changed but it is clear that the values underpinning Labour today are not the same. It is increasingly clear that the world view of the party leadership is one I neither share nor wish to support.
I joined the Labour Party in 1987 to make a difference.
I was proud to be a Labour Councillor between 1989 and 2013. Proud to be the Deputy Leader of a Labour council making a difference and Leader of a Labour Group continuing to do so from opposition.
I was proud to be a Labour Parliamentary candidate three times in 1992, 2001, and 2005 supporting a successful Labour government. A Labour government however that brought in the minimum wage, rebuilt the National Health Service, invested in our schools and our children, a government that successfully took tens thousands of families and children out of poverty. A Labour government now decried by an increasing number of members for being right wing, red Tory and ‘neo-liberal’.
After moving to Leeds in 2012 I was more than happy to be a Labour candidate for the city council in a Conservative held ward and increase the Labour vote and support in 2014, 2015, 2016.
In 2017 as a candidate in the same ward I became aware of the animosity to Labour from parts of the community as a result of the anti-Semitism scandal. It hasn’t gone away and has only grown. This and the failure to lead for the country but simply for narrow political advantage means I would now be ashamed to campaign for Labour.
As a result I have concluded I must resign my membership.”