Monday, April 20, 2009

Alice Where Art Thou ?

Four Year Past This Even,
And Thou Wert By My Side

-Rebelling Against New Labour.

Alice Mahon and I were both Labour MPs from 1987 to 2005. We were both members of the Socialist Campaign Group. We are both over three score years and ten. We have both held Labour Party Membership Cards for 50 years or more. She has just resigned from the Labour Party. I disagree with what she has done. Here is why -

1. Socialists Politicos need to be in a political party.

2. In current British circumstances there is no feasible alternative party for them apart from Labour.

3. The argument that the Labour leadership is wrong is no reason for resigning. It was wrong when I joined it in 1957 and has tended to be so ever since.

4. Labour still has the bulk of the Trade Unions affiliated to it. An avenue to developing a consciousness of socialism is via trade union consciousness.

5. Why desert your comrades, most of whom are still pursuing the type of tasks they plugged away at in the past?

6. Rebels should rebel and not give up.

7. You might start a trend and leave those who remain even more isolated.

8. Those of us who took the King's shilling under Kinnock and Blair have already sold out. We can't put the clock back.

9. It is much more fun to be expelled from an organisation on an issue of principle, than just to pack it in.

10. It is difficult for those over three-score-years-and-ten to learn new tricks.


MatGB said...

Harry, do you not think her final reason for leaving was the most important?

Cherie Blair's step mother has been selected as PPC in the neighbouring seat (where I live), after the initial selectee, who is I'm told a friend and ally of Alice's, was rejected by the NEC on what appear to be insubstantial grounds.

I think that was the proverbial straw, and the concentration on national issues and policy deflects from what appears to be a growing concern with the PPC selection process.

Andy Howell said...

To be fair Mat this hasn't been mentioned.

I can understand Alice's disappointments but I think Harry is right. This is the time to stay and be ready for the fight that will come soon enough.

MatGB said...

Mentioned where Andy? It was the biggest single reason she cited in her resignation letter, and she's a close friend of both the defeated potential candidates.

Harry Barnes said...

MatGB: You will see from my first comment on the link below that I had also come to a similar conclusion to your own as to the main motivation behind Alice's resignation. I have myself decided to keep away from what I call politicking, which includes pushing for individuals to get positions. I opted instead for a "political education" role, as I view ideas to be more subversive that placing hopes in individuals.
See -

Andy : Thanks for the support. Alice has two PPC points at the end of her resignation letter and has caste doubts on the 97 postal votes used to get Cherie Blair's step mother selected. See near the close of the video here -

MatGB said...

Ooh, I hadn't actually noticed the video on the news report, serves me right for blocking flash I suppose.

Thanks for that, and the other link—and yes, I agree, I've never been that hot on individuals except as a means to an end, and the way selections and similar can at times get so very personal is annoying.

The video does make it clear that the selection was a big influence on the decision, I think more a concern over internal party democracy than that her two friends had been marginalised, although from what I've seen as a local outsider, the way Oosthuysen was treated really did stink.

Robert said...

I doubt she will be the last to leave after the next election, Brown will step down hopefully and then a fight for the seat will be which Blairite takes over and the Third way becomes the fourth way, New labour might even wheel out Thatcher as the figure head.

Harry Barnes said...

Robert : In politics always expect the unexpected.

susan press said...

Alice stood down in the end because she thought all the avenues of democracy had been closed down for the left.At this stage, and declaring an interest as one of the two left-wingers who tried to get selected in Calder Valley, I can't say I disagree. I respect and understand her decision and to be frank we're running out of reasons to stay.

Harry Barnes said...

Susan : You confirm as I speculated above that the catalyst for Alice's resignation was the selection problems in your area. The other reasons she gave were either old hat or part of the pattern of events we have got used to at least since Blair became leader. I respect Alice, but feel that this is wrong. I gave ten reasons why. Even if some are more serious than others. I have opted to keep out of politicking and to engage in a more subversive activity - political education. One aspect of it can be viewed here -