The Labour Party is bent on destroying itself

Stephen Smith campaigning successfully for election as a Labour councillor. The membership card he is holding will now be in pieces or the bin. Image: Skwawkbox

JVL Introduction

Skwawkbox carries this story on the eve of Labour Party Conference.

Stephen Smith is a lifelong and active anti racist, a socialist most of his adult life, NASUWT’s Principal Officer for Equality for 7 years – and Wantage CLP Policy Officer, Executive Committee member and Conference delegate.

Or rather, was.

He has just received an administrative suspension 3 days before Conference.

He has responded with outrage in a letter to Keir Starmer, taking great exception to the insinuation that he is in any way a racist or an antisemite.

For him it is the final straw in an ongoing pricess of disillusionment since Starmer was elected Party leader

Read more below.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Fri 24 Sep 2021. Read the original here.

Councillor and delegate’s blistering resignation letter lists Starmer’s crimes against Labour, democracy and the people

‘I at least expected the most basic standards of honesty and integrity. How naive… You can’t even lie competently… How f***ing dare you?!’ Councillor resigns membership and all party offices and tells Keir Starmer he is putting ‘insatiable factionalism’ above the needs of the country

Faringdon town councillor and Labour conference delegate Stephen Smith has resigned from his party membership and all his positions in the local party after being targeted for suspension as part of the Labour right’s attempt to protect Keir Starmer’s acting general secretary from democracy – he has yet to decide whether he will remain a councillor – and has sent a searing letter to Starmer to inform him.
Smith’s letter lists Starmer’s offences against party members, against democracy and against the people of the UK and is full of righteous indignation at a ‘leader’ who ‘can’t even lie competently’ about his intentions and has allowed right-wing racism free rein in the party. It is reproduced in full, with some emphases/notes/links added, below:

My resignation from the Labour Party.

Sir Keir Starmer MP
Leader of the Labour Party
21 September 2021

Dear Keir,

I write to resign membership of the Labour Party and consequently my elected offices as Wantage CLP Policy Officer, Executive Committee member and Conference delegate. I will ask members of the Faringdon Labour Party branch for their view of my continued membership of Faringdon town council; but even if they wish me to continue, will no longer serve as a Labour Party councillor.

I do so reluctantly, having been a Labour Party member for many years, under 5 different Leaders. I am 58, a lifelong and active anti racist, a socialist most of my adult life and take the greatest possible exception to your insinuation I am in any way a racist or an anti-Semite. I cannot in all conscience remain a member of an organisation that would even consider this to be possible.

I am an elected Labour councillor. I am a solidarity member of Jewish Voice for Labour. I was a judge for the Ann Frank Awards in 2009. I visited Israel in Easter 2018 and prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I am a Grade 2 Krav Maga [Israeli martial art] practitioner. I was NASUWT’s Principal Officer for Equality for 7 years.

A ‘racist’? An ’anti-semite’? How fucking dare you?! How dare you preside over this McCarthyism and establish a Stalinist bureaucracy where lifelong anti-racists like me are being witch-hunted for entirely sectarian political reasons? How dare you allow the cancer of anti-semitism to be weaponised and trivialised for factional disputes – then look at yourself in a mirror when Jewish members are being suspended, expelled and disciplined in unprecedented numbers? It is beyond shameful.

Last week I answered spurious allegations made about me in full. That response has neither been considered nor evaluated – instead, exactly the same material has been used to ‘justify’ an administrative suspension 3 days before Conference. I understand from NEC member Mish Rahman that this has happened to hundreds of Conference delegates. It is a blatantly dishonest, anti-democratic and factional abuse of process and I will have nothing more to do with a Party prepared to plumb such depths.

How can you possibly allow tens of thousands of members to simply drift away from Labour, disheartened your leadership team’s abject failure to oppose the most incompetent and vicious Tory Government in living memory?

Labour is consistently struggling in opinion polls despite hundreds of thousands of unnecessary Covid deaths; leaving the European Union without a feasible deal; threats to peace in Northern Ireland; actively destroying the goodwill of our European neighbours; the Tories breaking election promises unchallenged; and an unprecedented and growing gap between rich and poor. It is an abject failure to offer a credible, coherent, principled alternative and an appalling indictment that you and this Party are consistently trailing in opinion polls and losing safe seats like Hartlepool. The record of the Labour Party under your stewardship is unprincipled, incompetent and abject:

Refusing to oppose the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, which gave state agents legal immunity for murder, rape, torture and kidnapping.
– Appointing David Evans, a man on record as opposed to the very concept of party democracy, as our General Secretary. A man chosen ahead of two more suitable women, and a Blairite dinosaur with a record of cronyism in Croydon, happily presiding over the McCarthyism destroying Labour’s integrity.
– Sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey on a pathetic pretext and for entirely sectarian political advantage; yet turning Nelson’s eye to Barry Sheerman and Steven Reed’s prima facie anti-Semitism. This was nauseating hypocrisy.
– Ignoring the genuine concerns of teaching and education unions in favour of your data-free and evidence-free grandstanding about ‘keeping schools open’, despite them being (and remaining) hotbeds of Covid infection.
– Undermining the findings of Labour’s own NEC by withdrawing the Parliamentary whip from Jeremy Corbyn: then lying about it by saying it was done by the General Secretary – then subsequently admitting on Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio programme that it was in fact your decision. You can’t even lie competently!
Burying the Forde Report, when the despicable behaviour, racism, bullying and destructive acts of Ian MacNicol [sic], Emilie Oldknow and other staffers should have been exposed and been grounds for disciplinary and legal action. (In short, people who actively worked AGAINST the interests of our Party were protected, for factional reasons) You have as a result undermined the standing of this Party amongst black and minority ethnic communities: it is indefensible.
Refusing to defend Liverpool Labour council from a political takeover by a hard-right Conservative government: in fact, acquiescing in it. This was both shameful and spineless.
Making even the discussion of Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension, grounds for suspension.
– Making CLP or Branch motions of confidence, in either you or David Evans, grounds for suspension. Portraying all of the above as, somehow, ‘anti-Semitic’.
– Calling for the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon – subsequently found not to have breached the Ministerial Code – yet refusing to do the same for Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson, Robert Jenrick, Priti Patel and Michael Gove, all of whom HAVE breached the Ministerial Code.
– Not calling for the resignation of Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, after the violent conduct of Met Police officers breaking up a peaceful women’s demonstration in Battersea.
Reinstating staff named in ‘Labour Leaks’ documents, including those who – I can hardly believe I have to say this – actively campaigned AGAINST the Labour Party until 2019 and were involved in bullying, racism, misogyny and helping journalists hostile to the Labour Party, including being complicit in the shameful bullying of Diane Abbott.
Interfering in the selection of Liverpool Mayoral candidates and sabotaging a shortlist of 3 women, all of whom held senior office within the City council – again for sectarian political reasons.
Presiding over a Hartlepool ‘selection’ exercise which produced a shortlist (sic) of one white man, an apologist for the barbaric Saudi Arabian regime, who used social media posts to talk about ’Tory MILFs’ and was entirely unsuitable to contest the seat – a seat then lost to the Conservatives for the first time since it was created.
– Then saying you’d accept responsibility for that by-election result – but failing to do so and throwing Angela Rayner under the bus, sacking her from the Party Chair role.
Proscribing 3 organisations simply for being critical of the current direction (sic) of the Labour Party leadership. This is pathetic, Poundland McCarthyism at the very time when this Government has presided over 150,000 excess deaths, allowing C-19 to rip through the population for the fourth time.
– Doing literally nothing when Labour (sic) MP Neil Coyle called for the mass expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour – an organisation of exclusively Jewish Labour members! (If that doesn’t meet the most basic definition of anti-semitism, I’m not sure what does…..)

And even today, as I write this, your pre-Conference manoeuvre to tear up something as fundamental as ‘one person one vote’, in favour of a system giving an MP a thousand votes against the one that ‘ordinary’ Party members have. That is laughably undemocratic.

I could go on at length, but will save us both the time and heartache. Under your stewardship, and to the detriment of the people we seek to represent, I see no prospect of Labour being back in government. You made ten ‘pledges’ during the last Leadership election and have already broken each and every one.

You were therefore elected on an entirely false premise and while I did not vote for you, I at least expected the most basic standards of honesty and integrity. How naive…

Instead, you and the dinosaurs who ‘advise’ you have given life again to the notion that ‘all politicians are the same’ and can’t be trusted. There is no future in ‘split the difference’ politics, pandering to right wing media and re-heated Blairism. It is a political cul-de-sac. When a mainstream, experienced member of Labour like myself – a councillor, CLP office holder and a career trade union officer – struggles to offer credible reasons to vote Labour, what chance do other Labour members across the country have trying to enthuse people?

I hope, even now, you will consider your position and put the interests of the country and ordinary people before the insatiable factionalism of the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party. That you will either undertake to lead on the basis of your ‘promises’ and Party policies, or make way for someone with the courage and principle to speak up for our Party and our people.

Until that happens, I will remain an ex-member of the once-great Party, a Party you have already shown you are entirely unfit to lead.

Yours,Cllr. Stephen Smith
(ex) Policy Officer and Executive Committee member, Wantage Constituency Labour Party
cc: Chair, Wantage CLP; Executive Committee, Wantage CLP; Faringdon Branch Labour Party, members and officers.

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Comments (25)

  • Jacob Ecclestone says:

    Thank you Stephen Smith…… for your courage and for setting out with such passion the moral and political corruption which has engulfed the Labour Party.

    I am delighted that JVL has published your letter. You have drawn up a formidable indictment of a man who has, by his actions over the last 18 months, shown that he is not only politically inept but that he epitomises why the public at large has such utter contempt for politicians: a person who will say whatever he thinks will serve his personal political interests.

    Keir Starmer has shown himself to be a racist – both by his persecution of Jewish members who are socialists and by his failure to stand up for the rights of British Muslims. His ignorance of – or contempt for – the democratic process means that he poses a threat to the future of the Labour Party.

    Let us hope that the trade union representatives and constituency delegates in Brighton this weekend show the same courage as Stephen Smith

  • Jan Brooker says:

    I wonder how many delegates are going to find at the Registration desk that they have been sent a letter or email suspending them [that hadn’t arrived before they left to attend Conference]? Watch some space, or other?

  • Peter St. Clair says:

    You’re best out of this ROTTEN repugnant party, I left in 1996 after 20 years. I knew then that it was travelling rapidly to the right but I never expected it to have a leader who openly supports Zionism, apartheid and racism!

    The Labour Party is finished and I can’t see any way back to anything resembling a Socialist Party, it’s been packed with right wing MPs and indeed members for decades. How the Trade Union Movement has allowed this to happen is a complete mystery and I can only come to the conclusion that they’re happy with the situation. Best wishes for the future.

  • John Noble says:

    Starmer must be a traitor to the cause, a man whose allegiance is undoubtedly for the enemy’s of Socialism.

  • John Bowley says:

    Starmer is indeed a vile all-round disgrace. Thank you, Stephen and JVL, for listing the multiple examples of Sir Keir’s evil, much of which I was aware of.

    One of my CLP’s Conference Delegates, chosen by us at a proper meeting, has just been removed by the dictate of Starmer’s creeps for no reason other than to stop her speaking or voting at the Labour Party Conference.

  • John Coates says:

    Stephen Smith’s excellent letter detailing Starmer’s crimes against the Labour Party, its members and the UK should be printed off and a copy handed out to every delegate and visitor to the Labour Party Conference.
    I wish that I had Stephen’s way with words.
    But – What could I add to his conclusions !!

  • Martin Kilkie says:

    The question is where do we go?

  • George Peel says:

    Now, that was an essay worth reading.

    Thank you, Stephen Smith.


  • Martin Read says:

    Yet still, the majority of the electorate appear completely unaware that this McCarthyism it’s going on at all. It’s not being reported upon by the BBC, Channel 4, Guardian (ha ha) or any of the obvious ‘news’ outlets.

    I think that the suppression of the Forde Report might once, before the BBC was filleted, have squeaked onto the news. Now, every day, it is possible to read, on any non-corporate news site, about yet more and grander scale dictatorial manoeuvring on the parts of Starmer and Evans. The current cabal are dangerous and quite evil but it’s the MSM that greases the wheels.

    Are there any plans to stage a pro-democracy demo outside the conference?

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    The TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. A magnificent piece by a colleague in the NASUWT. I am proud of you!

  • Doug says:

    Sorry Stephen
    But this was not a time for a completely futile gesture, I care not a jot how you feel, it will have slightly less than zero effect and is precisely what they want you to do
    This is why the Left are their own worst enemy, if you were serious you would have at least waited until after conference and then we all could have coordinated our response to maximum effect
    No matter, it is what it is now
    From what I’m reading the fight back has started, let’s hope it’s decisive
    Regards comrade
    See you when we get our party back

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    Martin Kilkie, that is indeed the question. The way I see it, Stephen Smith and others in his position have 3 choices:

    1) Join the Green Party. A lot of ex-Labour people do this and it’s probably true to say that Labour (under Starmer) is a lot further away from the concerns and ideals of left-wingers than the Green Party. Not something you could have said about Labour under Corbyn, but that’s where we are.
    2) Serve as an Independent for the rest of his term and then maybe stand as one.
    3) Retire from politics, either after serving the remainder his term as an Independent or straight away

    I think we can all agree that none of these are satisfactory. The Green Party, whilst perhaps closer to his ideals than Starmer’s Labour, is nevertheless not a Socialist Party by any stretch of the imagination. Independents tend to be right wing and he isn’t. And I’m guessing he doesn’t want to retire from politics.

    But the sane alternative – stand as a Socialist, maybe with other people in the same situation – is impossible under FPTP. As a councillor, it might be just possible to get elected as a non-major party candidate, though it’s still horrendously difficult (even for the Green Party, were he to choose option 1). But anything higher than a local council is impossible under FPTP.

    Make no mistake, FPTP drives this purge. It’s only possible to harry people like this if they have nowhere else to go. Which, under FPTP, is true.

  • mary Geffen says:

    Thank you for existing and doing what you do.

  • Bernard Grant says:

    Another excellent resignation letter. What is so frustrating and seriously annoying is, that it has to be written in the first place. Picking out just one undemocratic and corrupt action by Starmer and Evans was to wait to see who were chosen as delegates (almost certainly with a ready made list of Left members) then suspending them, giving Starmer and the Right an advantage at every vote and as I write these comments, they’ve voted to keep Evans as the General Secretary.
    The only thing that has a remote chance of turning things around is a Leadership challenge.

  • Bernard Grant says:

    Is this resignation letter allowed to be shared?

    JVL web: we’ve just done so! Help yourself!

  • Doug says:

    Governments lose GE’s through apathy, their base stay at home
    The stench from the Tory party will only get worse each day, it will be matched by Red Tories in Labour
    Which means a third force could easily take advantage of winner takes all under FPTP
    A reverse takeover of Green party would be one way of shifting the balance of power

  • Bob Knowles says:

    Thanks, Stephen Smith, for revealing the depths to which the leadership of the party I’ve been a member of for 50+ years has sunk in its desperate bid to regain power by eliminating real socialists like yourself ! Messrs Starmer and Evans are obviously terrified of you.
    But even I, a modestly active member of my CLP for the last 40 years, received one of Mr Evans’ menacing notes last year from his Kafkaesque- sounding “Governance and Legal Unit”. Why? Because I’d been informed on – anonymously – by a couple of members of my CLP with whom I have extremely lttle in common for supposedly breaking Party rules.
    Anybody who hasn’t received one of these spiteful vehicles of Stasi-type menace should apply to Mr Evans for an example. (NB. The G&LU say they will always be glad to take and ‘honour’ the anonymous ‘evidence’ they are sent…)
    I was exculpated from the flimsy charge against me the very day the G&LU received the letter from my solicitors. I’m proud to be an associate (non-Jewish) member of JVL, who offered to defend me.
    PS. I strongly recommend watching Ken Loach’s current broadside against Starmer and his ilk on Youtube.

  • Ed Fredenburgh says:

    So many contributors to this and many other WhatsApp discussions offer answers to the key question: what is to be done? We need to set up a new party; we should join the Greens; we should stay and fight for Labour Party democracy and justice; we should crowdfund legal challenges to the Party.
    Ken Loach, in his passionate condemnation of Starmer/Evans and the press and BBC, argues wisely that any attempt to launch a new party would be at this stage suicidal. Labour is so corrupt and its right wing so ruthless, resourced and connected to the neoliberal establishment that of course we need, he says, a new party; but not now, not without the unions, and not without a careful process of dealing with our own left factionalism. In the current stage we need to develop a mass organisation that clearly aims to link the left inside and outside the Labour Party, to learn how to work together on the key issues, to build support and collaboration with the unions, to look away from obsessive parliamentarianism to the creative efforts of local communities, and particularly the movement for ecosocialism.
    Ken Loach is on the same page as Tony Greenstein, who put a similar proposal to Labour Against the Witchhunt. The fact that it was narrowly voted down shows the size of the task ahead and not that the vision is wrong.

  • Kuhnberg says:

    I understand that Leah Levine, joint chair of JVL, has been expelled overnight and that the police (!) were called in to make sure that she did not attend the party conference. One abuse after another – Starmer and those around him have no shame. And to involve the police as well, as if they were the proper authority to enforce an internal matter of Labour Party discipline!. No doubt they also furnished her with the telephone number of the Samaritans,

    Hard to know how to react to any of this. Stephen Smith’s resignation letter is a passionate and just response, but it won’t cut any ice with its recipients. Will the traditional media – the BBC, the Guardian, etc, – report what is going on? I doubt it.

  • Adrian Scandrett says:

    What a shame Stephen has left the party! The Labour Party needs people like him NOW, MORE THAN EVER!

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    Doug, I think that 2015 and 2019 show between them that if any “third force” takes advantage of the disarray in both the Tories and Labour to edge a victory using FPTP, it’ll be UKIP (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days). After all, they nearly did so in 2015 – they had their first MP elected and looked to be on the verge of an SNP-in-Scotland moment, where they would suddenly sweep loads of seats, at the expense of the Tories. The Tories were certainly worried about this and it was the main reason they held the Brexit referendum and, upon losing it, adopted most of UKIP’s policies, becoming “UKIP-lite” and expelling those members and MPs who disagreed.

    But note that in the middle of all this, in 2019, when it looked possible that Corbyn’s Labour party might win at least a coalition, the Brexit party formed an electoral alliance with the Tories which, probably more than anything else, sealed their victory. A disunited Left will always lose to a united Right under FPTP. And the Right will always unify when presented with a credible threat. Unlike the Left.

    So, I’m not hopeful about a new, left wing third force sweeping the board, using FPTP against itself, so to speak. Like I say, if any third force does that it’ll likely be UKIP. Note that both UKIP and the SNP spent decades, literally generations, getting to the point where they were in a position to do this. As did Labour, way back when, for that matter. FPTP retards change quite effectively.

  • Alexander Gavin says:

    With due respect to the writer of this article, Starmer and his parasites couldn’t give a monkey’s, they seem to have all the levers of power in the party. The left have gone from having a prime minister to getting kicked out of their own conference. Labour is dead as a means of improving working peoples’ lives, it will never be elected to power in the foreseeable future which suits Starmer and his parasites as they enjoy the gravy train.

  • Alexander Gavin says:

    Stephen Flaherty, I agree mostly with what you said above but would point out that the SNP were once called “the tartan Tory’s”. When Blair moved labour to the right he made space for a left of centre party. Alex Salmond, call him what you will, saw the open goal and the Scottish Labour Party vote collapsed as voters moved to them. Labour relied on a lot of seats in Scotland, they are gone, I think for good and there is no way will labour make up for their loss by getting more English seats. Labour is dead.

  • Doug says:

    Stephen Flaherty
    JC created a Munchian scream in this country by creating clear Red Water for the country and party, they finally had a choice
    99.9% of new parties dont last 5 minutes, unless its a single issue election
    Now either we get our party back or we all jump en masse, unions, members and supporters and merge with the Greens, under FPTP its a winner takes all system, you split Labour, Tory, Brexit and SNP votes

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    Doug, you seem to be making my point for me. As you say, under FPTP it’s a winner take all system and a divided party—or a divided wing of the electorate (the Left, Progressives, whatever you want to call them) will lose.

    I think it’s reasonably clear that there’s not quite enough support for a left wing party to win an election under FPTP. Hence the need for “Broad Church” parties, like Labour and the Tories (and the LibDems, to some extent). We can’t win an election on our own, hence the need to form a party with people who call themselves Centrists. However, they have decided that, as Mandleson said twenty years ago, that they can harry us because left wing people have “nowhere to go”. It’s quite likely that this will lose them the next election and the one after, but they obviously don’t care about that.

    Under FPTP, our responses are limited. Splitting the party will either see us go the way of Respect and all the other parties that have tried this before or it will guarantee a Tory victory as the Progressive vote is further split.

    Your Green Party idea is interesting but flawed. Firstly, the Green Party would likely not be too amenable to this – they do have a Radical wing, true, but they have Centrists of their own. But, perhaps more importantly, it’d have to be more-or-less unanimous – anything else would just be splitting the party which, under FPTP, would doom us to Tory rule for decades.

    I can’t see it being unanimous, or even close. Even after the Bakers’ Union decision.

    Understand, this is of personal interest to me. After Leah Levane’s expulsion and various other happenings at Conference, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay in the party any longer. It’s reached the point where I can’t justify it to myself any more (It didn’t help that the PR motion—you might have noticed that I’m interested in PR—was also voted down). But, as Mandleson said, I have nowhere else to go.

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