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Red or Not ?

Now then, I wrote last week that I would take seven days to consider my future in the Labour Party. No small thing to me this. I have always been a socialist at heart. Growing up in a northern working class town (Warrington) it was never going to be any other way. As a teenager I was introduced into the harsh and often dangerous environment of a steel rolling mill. Believe me you grew up quickly in there. Hard dirty work for good money. Life was generally good. I also learned all about the importance of trades unions. Weekly subs to the Labour Party were just the norm, and back then MPs were actually people who were looked up to. Left wing politics came naturally to me.

This was back in the late 70s. How things have changed eh?


Wars have come and gone (I lost a son in Iraq), Thatcher did so much to kill off Unions, Poll Tax riots, London burning, Green Godess machines trundling along roads on the way to house fires, the miners strike, the print unions strikes in Winwick in Warrington,

all imprinted upon my mind that the only way was the Labour way.


Being a union member was something to be proud of and to encourage others to do.

I still do not understand why this is not so today. Any self respecting Labour MP should be shouting this from the rooftops. If the current party is to keep me on board then this needs to start happening. I think it will not.


Labour dropped the ball massively when they opted not to make the GE the NHS GE.

Every leaflet should have had the NHS plastered all over it. The Tories made it the Brexit election, it worked. At the moment we are all occupied with staying alive and our NHS is a very hot topic. Talking directly about it's under funding and the effects that is having has become the new anti semitism. This is a huge opening for the Tories to be exposed for what they really are. The NHS should therefore be the new Labour battle ground.


If there is one thing that Starmer can do to reassure me it is speak out in support of Palestine. It demoralises me every single day that Israel, the vicious apartheid regime that it is, is allowed to get away with the appalling atrocities that it carries out with enthusiasm. These are serious human rights violations. The people of both Israel and Palestine warrant the close attention of the rest of the world. The problems there need to stop or failing that be stopped. Poisoned water supplies, unarmed medics shot in the back, dumdum bullets, etc etc. I can actually see Starmer doing the exact opposite.

He has already written a grovelling letter to the British Board of Deputies, this is a group that represents some Jews. Fact is , Labour should, if it is true to its socialist soul, be steadfastly supporting all Jews.


That site at conference of all those banners and scarves etc being raised in support of Palestine truly was a site to behold. At the moment Labour members like me expect notification of suspension or expulsion every time the postie walks down the path.

Put simply, the centrists and others, are using A/S as a way to purge the Left. I raised this with a local councillor last week and got smugly told that the process is as it should be. These anti Left people do not want the possibility of any investigations of cases, put simply, if you are accused of A/S then out of the party you go. Starmer has a huge onus to all those members who have been purged.


If the party under Starmer wants rid of the Left, fair enough, get on with that. Why is it necessary to tarnish so many people as racist because they dislike unbridled large scale brutality ? The entire planet knows that Corbyn does not have a racist bone in his body.

It also knows that the whole A/S nightmare was carefully constructed to wreck a GE effort. An effort that was carried out by the likes of me, during a harsh winter, miles and miles up hills and down dales. Thousands of conversations and leaflets.


Starmer can bridge this gaping chasm by simply speaking out in support of Palestine. To be honest here, I doubt he will do it. At all levels of the party people will be scheming away to remove the Left by any means possible. this I could accept if it was done by fair means. It clearly will not be. The make up of the Shadow Cabinet offers me very little encouragement. Alan Johnson raised his head over the weekend and ranted about ridding the party of "this cult that brought A/S with it" sure enough he is a dinosaur, a relic from yesteryear, his words though illuminate graphically the mindset that will take over the party. That smug councillor also is a good indicator.


So, reasons to stay, on a childish level frustrating the likes of councillor smug would be good fun. It is not a good validation though. I'm 60 now and just can't be bothered being like that with people. The issues at stake do not warrant a flippant approach. Seriously, there is much work to be done. Our country is in a huge mess and is being run by by an ultra hard right group of cash hungry individuals. As usual it is the ones at the wrong end of the social scale who are being hammered. At the moment the only credible way to help them is by being in the Labour Party. A good point was raised recently that we have a duty to stick around on behalf of future generations of socialists. This a very good point. Thing is, for me personally this would require me to abandon certain principles, eg the Palestine thing. The scales are tipping against Labour in my minds eye at the minute. If Starmer does not fence in the BoD and the like they may as well rename themselves the Labour Friends of Israel Party. He would be well advised to realise that they will NEVER go away. The Starmer vision will be hounded to death.


With an apology to all those fine and wonderful people I had the pleasure of meeting on the GE trail, they restored my faith in massive amounts, to our brilliant young candidate Sophie Wilson, to everyone who made me smile in the rain, and actually to Mr Jeremy Corbyn, I have to say this - the Labour Party principles have changed, mine have not.


Today is Wednesday, those seven days expire on Saturday, unless Starmer speaks up, so will my long treasured party membership. I hope he does.


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Society not Economy.



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© 2020 Bill Stewardson