Sometimes you have to say No…

JVL Introduction

Fed up with bans, proscriptions, suspension, notices of investigation, auto exclusions and the like?

Just don’t play ball is the advice from this ordinary member of the Labour Party in Cambridge.

As the letter below makes clear, people need to be motivated to work for a political party, doing the voluntary, day-to-day work required to make it a living presence on the ground and in the community.

They have to believe in the general direction of the party, the broad thrust of its politics, the commitment and good intentions of its leadership, the honesty and integrity of the party structures and those who’re paid to run it.

Sometimes it’s hard, but we still carry on.

Sometimes enough really is enough…


Dear Branch Officer responsible for deliveries

Your leafleting request last week has reminded me it’s time to make a decision, which is – please would you remove my name from your list of deliverers.

The reason is what would be called in Cambridge ‘national issues’, which of course are reflected here too. I refer to the slew of suspensions and expulsions which have reached epidemic levels and are widely reported. We cannot continue to put our heads in the sand and pretend that this has nothing to do with us in Cambridge. It is time our elected representatives and officers challenged and spoke-out, we are at the point where their silence in effect becomes complicity.

The disciplinary process has gone way beyond parody to verging on insanity. The Labour Party has become monumentally corrupt, elevating both faux and real ineptitude to a fine art form. What electors would want as a minimum from a prospective government is a functioning civil service and a fair and just legal system. Oh, and democracy. The Labour Party is currently unable to offer the equivalents of even these things to its own members. The legal gymnastics that were required to apply our new rules retrospectively makes criticism of the Tories for similar ring somewhat hollow. The catch-all phrase of ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ has become even more meaningless, as it is already in widespread disrepute, it is not called ‘the Stasi’ for nothing.

I was dismayed earlier this year when our MP explained why he had taken no notice of the many letters written to him about one of the government’s police bills, because they were all written by Labour members (not including me in this instance). He was much more interested in non-members he said, who on this occasion apparently didn’t write, though he didn’t make clear how he knew what their thoughts were. Are members a kind of subordinate group within constituents? I still cannot forget them being disparagingly referred to locally as ‘every Tom Dick and Harry’.

I am an associate member of Jewish Voice for Labour and am appalled at the way many of their officers have been treated. These are people I have met and known over a number of years (I worked with some of them in concert with Professor Hawking’s office over his cancellation of a visit to Israel for the Presidential conference in 2013), they are among the most knowledgeable, accomplished, kind, good-humoured, honourable, positive, active, good people you could possibly wish to meet. Jewish members are now almost five times more likely to face antisemitism charges than non-Jewish members (see JVL submission to the EHRC), what’s going on here?

It goes on. Now we have the misuse of Robert Cohen’s writing to discipline even more people. He has written to Keir Starmer insisting he cease making accusations of antisemitism based on members sharing his words, and is considering legal action on the grounds of public defamation . I met and hosted Robert Cohen when he came to speak in Cambridge four years ago. It is staggering that the Labour Party has the gall and ignorance to treat an established writer in this way purely as a thoughtless by-product of their current obsessions.

Do feel free to share this note with any colleagues and associates who may be interested.

Comments (27)

  • Doug says:

    A coordinated response would be
    Skip 2 generations and select one of the rising stars, bame and female, a history maker to challenge Temporary Embarrassment
    Draw up a list of 70 PLP members from the left, write to them and say enough is enough, support the campaign or we walk
    For every other PLP member don’t bother writing just walk

  • Miriam Yagud says:

    Nice idea Doug.
    But I have a feeling that threatening to walk is what the leadership hope for. Losing 50 – 60% of the membership seems to be part of their strategy to be leaner, meaner and in hock to the millionaires.

  • keith russell says:

    Well said time for direct action

  • Linda says:

    A splendid letter …

    I agree, everyone with a part to play (however small) in protecting what is good and decent against behaviour that is neither MUST do so. “If not you, then who?” is still a question worth asking (and answering).

  • James Gillray says:

    It’s all so tedious a contrivance for certain types to lobby their way into Labours entrails so as to control what goes into Labour’s mouth and what is shited or farted out at the other end. Be done with it and form a proper new Labour Party ~ aye?

  • Hilary De Santos says:

    Here in London we’ve been bombarded with requests to find 250 activists to help Labour in the by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup. Here are my replies to London Team:

    17.11.21
    Why is Labour short of activists? What’s happened to them? Can you throw any light on the matter for me?

    22.11.21
    As I already asked you last time you wrote, why can’t you find 250 activists when we had thousands? Have they all been suspended, expelled or auto-excluded without justification? What is the message you want to give the voters?

    Perhaps someone could answer me. I am very disconcerted and confused.

    2.1.21
    So this is my third reply about your search for activists. Which part of my first two replies did you not understand? If the leadership hadn’t expelled so many activists, instead ‘taking the fight to the Tories’, you wouldn’t be short of activists.

    Enough already,

  • John Noble says:

    Reading what James Gillray has just written I have to say I echo that, we need a new proper LP. Starmer is proving to be poisonous.

  • Barrie Lambert says:

    [This comment far exceeeds our normal limit of 300 words, but we’re making an exception for it. An impassioned statement, it draws its conviction from the history it describes and would doubless lose much of its force if drastically cut back – JVL web]

    I think Doug’s comment makes sense, but it assumes the Labour Party will survive its Darkness at Noon moment and that there is a very large group of Rubashovs out there who think as we think. I’ve not had any contact with my local constituency party since the Labour Right used every effort to turn us into a Remain Party and supported the Zionist attacks against Jeremy and others who have given so much to the Labour movement and have done so much for the people they served so long and so well.

    I still find it hard to comprehend that Ken Livingstone was forced out of his party position just because he has never been the favourite son of the Board of Deputies and had the misfortune to voice his awareness of the Haavara Agreement and imply that Naziism and Zionism come from the same Middle European racist intellectual sewer and shared the same visionary impulse provided by the American genocides as the white man moved West. Which, of course, is the case.

    As a boy and teenager, I saw members of the Labour party, many in official positions in both the party and their unions, decide to sit on their hands rather than encourage people to vote for a Labour party lead by Hugh Gaitskell, truly the most disastrous leader we ever had, and whose rabid factionalism lives on in the Starmer/Blairite wing of the party.

    I have spoken to Labour members and ex-members in the other parts of the country I was active in before I retired and the same feeling exists among us as it did among my father’s friends in 1955 and 1959. No one had any inclination to help bring Starmer to office, not least because a politician who wins a party leadership election on one platform and then immediately jettisons it and embarks on a frenzied witch hunt like a pound shop Stalin declaring that Jews who disagree with him are antisemitic and in effect, have become Labour’s very own Jewish Problem. They’re not just self-hating Jews but also Jew hating Jews as well, it seems, because they feel free to criticise Israel. Those who remain silent might be able to stay in the party, and some will, but those who are not silent will be removed from membership based on whatever nonsense takes the party’s witchhunting apparatchiks fancy at the time.

    I suppose the best which can be hoped for is that the Tories realise what a danger Boris is to their survival and de-thrones him el quicko, replacing him with a right-pleasing but left-leaning Tory who will flesh out Boris’s green ejaculations and effectively begin to systematically put in place and implement the 2019 Labour Manifesto because to get the kind of growth we need after the pandemic it’s the only workable and, with a few workarounds, internally coherent set of plans we’ve got for this country’s economy.

    And the Tories will win the next election on that basis. Starmer with many of his pals and, I’m afraid, some of our friends, will be pushed into the particular dustbin of history which houses a special place in hell for those who helped destroy the possibility of a Labour government in 2017 and in 2019.

    Unfortunately, that will leave in place a PLP still weighted down by Starmer placemen (I include women in that term) the vast majority of whom will be willing members of the Labour Friends of Israel and ally with the very real antisemitic thrust of the Labour party. And where is the future in that?

    I think I will quietly let my membership lapse next year because at the next election I don’t just want to sit on my hands. I want to support a leader I can trust offering the policies I care about most deeply and who is most likely to make a real fist of delivering on his or her promises. And somehow, after the re-shuffle, I don’t think I’ll get anything like that from Labour.

  • John Bowley says:

    The Labour Party bosses despise and oppress Party activists, yet hypocritically, or stupidly, expect entitlement to the activists’ voluntary labour and funding.

  • Linda says:

    Hilary – love your persistence! Actions have consequences. The whole human race knows that … so how come Starmer and Evans “forgot” it???

  • Margaret West says:

    In answer to Doug – I would suggest Dawn Butler – female
    and BAME and not afraid to speak up.

  • ellie gates says:

    This is a wonderful response, unfortunately we are not dealing with rational people. They have set their path and will continue. This week’s cabinet reshuffle of Bliarites is the last straw, until the next last straw which will probably be tomorrow or the next day. And so the madness continues.

  • Derek Evans says:

    I wanted to register my support for you and many like you/us.

    I relinquished my membership in November 2020. I was under investigation (support for Palestine) but had had enough anyway.

    I was never persuaded by those who wanted to stay in and fight when I felt my mental health was suffering. The hateful manner in which the right took over my CLP was deplorable and the right has cemented their hold on the party organisation.

    I don’t have an answer. Graham Bash has always said any movement needs parliamentary expression but what do we do in the meantime?

  • Jennifer Joy-Matthews says:

    I agree with the letter and the comments. There seems to be a collective madness in the Labour Party. How can they expect people to deliver leaflets etc when they have been treated so badly? I, too, am an associate member of JVL and have been horrified at the way JVL members have been treated.

  • Teresa Grover says:

    Starmer is the Trojan Horse he has allowed Zionism to take over a working people’s party, which had a selection of trades, people, religions & races seeking justice in housing, education & health.
    How difficult is THAT for Starmer?
    If he was genuine he would scrap his confirmation of being a Zionist & concentrate on being a human being without antisemitic, islaophobic & racist behaviour. Plus remembering the Labour Party’s words
    To support the oppressed & NOT THE OPPRESSOR.

  • John Coates says:

    The writer makes excellent points in calling out the chicanery and corruption that passes for leadership and competence in the Labour Party.
    The vindictive dishonesty, the blatant disregard of members’ rights and the ongoing undermining of the Party’s democracy continue to disgust me on a daily basis.
    Like the writer – I have become very-selective in what I will now do to support the Party.
    My heart used to be in it – – – That is no longer true.

  • The real question is whether or not there is a future for socialists in the Labour Party. It is clear that Keith and Evans are doing their best to purge anyone with independence of mind.

    If Daniel Zeichner refuses to listen to your comments on the Police Bill and if he supports this attack on basic democratic rights then he should be told that you won’t be bothering to vote for him next time as it’s clear to you that a genuine Tory is no different from a substitute one!

    As Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour in Exile Network merge you can come and join us. The debate about whether there is a future for the left in the Labour Party is a real and ongoing one

  • John W says:

    We need to destroy the Tweedledee/ Tweedledum nature of British politics in which – as a result of the first past the post system – both parties commit themselves to a raft of common beliefs. To one degree or another they support the status quo domestically and also share a ‘common’ foreign policy. We need to destroy the two party system. PR is the way to do it. That’s why Starmer will never go along with it. Just setting up another party will get nowhere under first past the post.

  • Malcolm Ede says:

    I too am having difficulty with my membership of the Labour Party. I am also a “solidarity” member of JVL and would echo the comments made about the Jewish JVL members made above.
    At present I am not undertaking any campaigning for the LP and am thinking that this will remain the case unless and until the Labour Whip is restored to Jeremy Corbyn.
    Malcolm Ede.

  • Izzy Cooke says:

    I would like CLP members to welcome in any suspended members; and I would like those members to present themselves at their CLP meetings and dare them to let them in. If challenged, ask them their understanding of democracy and justice. Ask them if they believe in retrospective justice. Ask them if they’ve heard of Spartacus.
    If Labour members don’t stand up for democracy, what are they playing at being in a ‘democratic socialist’ party? Do they enjoy being manipulated? What do they get out of it? Is it an ego thing?

  • John Noble says:

    It is refreshing to read such as is published here, trust in the LP must be very low if my feelings are anything to go by, I thank the writers who have commented here for lifting my spirits, I saw the writing on the wall shortly after the election but in my wildest dreams never envisaged what has happened, one has to ask where will it end.

  • Gillian de Wolf says:

    The situation makes me alternately angry and sad. The Labour Party is committing suicide by alienating, suspending and expelling loyal, hardworking members. It is nothing less than heartbreaking to watch this happen, when our energy should be being used to stop the Tories dismantling the welfare state.

  • Anna Glass says:

    I have to say that Izzy Cooke has hit the nail on the head when she says members should challenge the remaining members of their CLP from which they have been thrown and turn up and ask them about democracy . In other words do not go quietly. The important words in her comments are “challenge” and “democracy”. Accepting undemocratic behaviour is at the same time denying us our right to act democratically .

  • June says:

    This sums it up well, I can not understand why any true Labour members are still members giving succour to this disgusting display of hypocrisy.

  • Colin Watson says:

    I fully agree. You are slightly more fortunate than me (expelled with false allegations, appeal not acknowledged, no explanation) in that you have a branch officer to contact. My CLP and branch haven’t existed as functioning units since May of this year. No communication regarding the situation with members, no information about selections. Well, no need to really, regional officers make all the decisions here. I would like to add my own thanks to JVL officers who have gave advice throughout my suspension. They have shown the integrity and clear purpose that is so sadly lacking in those currently running the Labour Party.

  • Margaret Baluta says:

    Why did it take till now for people to see what was happening? You all hung JC and others out to dry for a JUDAS type STARMER! At age 59 and lifelong Labour with 40 year NHS BACKGROUND. I knew by instinct he was a vile human. I’d rather vote Tory before Labour and I can only say this was because of the shocking situation in STARMERS camp! I left immediately when he betrayed the left

  • Hugh Roper says:

    Comment on Hilary De Santos (2nd December): some Labour leadership loyalists were pleased by the Bexley byelection result: ‘Fantastic 10.3 swing to Labour’, tweeted Lewisham MP Ellie Reeves. That’s strictly true, but still a bad result for Labour. With turnout more than halved from December 2019 and 5 parties standing, Party A to Party B swing tells one little about the real voting trends. The Tories lost more than 20,000 votes as compared with 2019: where did those votes go? Not to Labour, whose own total dropped from 10,834 in 2019 to 6711 this time, that’s 38% down. And that was with tacit support for Labour from the LibDems, whose own total dropped by 83%, from 3822 to 647.
    This was the lowest Labour vote in the Old Bexley & Sidcup constituency since 1983, when Thatcher was at her post-Falklands peak of popularity and the electorate was about 20% smaller. Hilary’s comment, reading between the lines, points to one reason: there was an acute shortage of people willing to stuff envelopes or canvass the streets of Bexley and Sidcup for Labour. We’ve seen that happen in the Hartlepool and Chesham & Amersham by-elections. Will this trend continue?

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