Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Lunacy Of Talk About Banning Factionalism

Are we looking at the end of the Labour Party as we know it?

Today, a Labour blogger named Emma Burnell has written about the possibility of a GMB motion to Conference which will, essentially, 'outlaw' the Labour lobby-group 'Progress' which, they claimed, is guilty of 'factional activity'

The Resolution on Banning Factions
Of course there is a precedent for banning factionalism.  It was Resolution 12 of the Tenth Party Congress of the Bolshevik Party in March 1921.  And the person whom Lenin chose as 'Gensek' to enforce the purge was ... Josef Stalin!
It strikes me that the cure is worse than the disease, here.

I do have reservations about Progress - the main one being that, by being - in essence - the rich man's wing of the Labour Party, it absorbs all the rich men's funding.  So we have a Labour Party which is desperately in debt, and a lobby-group within the Party which is awash with money.

However, whatever you think of their political beliefs, the grassroots members of Progress such as Luke Akehurst are totally-Labour, and for Labour to consider outlawing them would be tantamount to cutting off your arms because they don't look like your legs.

I'm not particularly in tune with Progress policy-proposals, but any attempt to expel them would have even me swinging round onto their side.

A move which will split the Party
I don't know Paul Kenny, but this is a stupid move.  It begins to look for all the world like an attempted Trade Union coup.  If successful, it will split and destroy the Party, because it will involve expelling a large number of the Party's most senior politicians, and leaving a rump of pro-unionists whose public perception will be at the mercy of the right-wing press.

Typical Labour Party - just as we've got the enemy on the run, some idiot gets us all fighting amongst ourselves again.

Hopefully, it'll all turn out to be a storm in a teacup - a bit of tub-thumping connected to this designed to focus the Shadow Cabinet's minds - and we can get on with unseating the Tories.

The whole point of Labour
The whole point of the Labour Party is that it is a tension between centrist pragmatism and left-wing idealism.  What Mr Kenny needs to appreciate is that this polarity exists within each member, as much as across the two wings of the Party.  It needs debate, understanding and compromise, and it cannot be solved by explusion.


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  2. As much as it pains me that Lord Sainsbury is footing the Bill for "Progress" and stopped funding the Labour Party "centrally" from exactly the time that Ed rather than David won the leadership. I agree with you whole heartedly. I am Labour but not a member of the Party. Going on from the banning of "Progress" the next move will be to rid the Party of ALL other viewpoints. Save for those views espoused by the GMB Union. Which will inevitably include non Party members, yet life long supporters such as myself. I mean, if paid up members are going to be banned. I might as well give up my twitter activity now. And not bother doing anything to help in the elections as I have been doing. As it is now, I feel I can contribute, distribute and agitate in the community for Labour as a whole; not bits of it. Incidentally who pays the wages of these Union leader/bosses/organisers?

    Progress is clever and credible take a look at the Elected MPs on the Board here http://www.progressonline.org.uk/about-progress/chair-patrons/ and see if you can spot an MP south of Leicester!

    Then take a look at the comments on the funding of "Progress" here: http://www.leftfutures.org/2011/09/labours-party-within-a-party-latest-funding-figures/ it is all very interesting. And for some it will be a tad irksome that the wealthy and well heeled are funding a club that promotes their own "interests". Yet what I feel should be done is to engage them, challenge them, convince them; that Labour more broadly is about the whole of society and NOT a discrete section of it. Some might call them the 1%. Labour needs now more than ever the likes of the wonderful Lord Sainsbury to come back to funding the Party Centrally.

    Attempting to ban Progress will do what exactly? It will, in my view, only give the right wing press a field day on how the labour Party has lurched to the left. Then the media story will change. Then the ground that has been hard fought by Labour will start to fade. And of course the likes of Lord Sainsbury will up sticks completely.

  3. Similar sentiments from Philip Collins: http://timesopinion.tumblr.com/post/25019707045/outlawing-progress-philip-collins

  4. I've discussed some of the issues here: