We’ve all read the story. It makes excellent copy for a local newspaper. A teenage boy or girl takes advantage of their parents’ absence on holiday and holds a party to celebrate the end of exams. Foolishly they put the details on Facebook. Hundreds of young people turn up and cause a disturbance in the street; neighbours ring the police; there is some minor damage to the neighbours’ gardens and rather more to the host’s house. The parents return and are furious with their offspring. All involved have their pictures in the newspaper. After a week they make it up and the story runs out of momentum. Relations with the neighbours are strained in the short-term but even that is forgotten over time.
It would be nice if our Labour Party’s open invitation were to have such limited long-term consequences. However, quite apart from the strong possibility of a wholly unsuitable leader, the rise in numbers is bound to have an effect, but this is far less predictable.
As is happening elsewhere our numbers in North Norfolk have risen threefold – if we include new members, affiliates and registered supporters. We have been invited by our national headquarters to inspect the list and return with the names of any those who we believe do not share Labours’ values. We are not equipped to undertake such a vacuous task but will do our best. What can we expect? My initial thoughts are as follows.
The number of outright entryists or saboteurs will be negligible. We are not an area where militant adherents of the far left are likely to congregate and our local Tories are stupid rather than devious. My guess is that the upsurge will be drawn from three categories.
The first will be people who were Labour Party supporters at some stage or other but felt they were let down by Blair, particularly over Iraq. The second will be young people who are enjoying the feeling that they are part of the vanguard of change. The third will be those who have some political interest but vaguely feel that he existing party system is no longer appropriate – these are the people who voted SNP in Scotland.
Now none of these groups comprise bad or destructive people. They are the equivalent of the teenager who turned up the party for a night out, but would not destroy the neighbours’ gardens or the host’s property. However, and here is my main worry, they are likely to have little if any commitment or appetite for rebuilding a credible Labour Party in the long term. I am the local Party Treasurer and, when things have settled, will write out asking for donations to help fund our activities. It will be interesting to see how much comes back from the £3 registered supporters.
Labour’s failure and my small part in it: a memoir for my grandchildren Martyn Sloman
Download here Labour’s failure and my small part in it
This short book is based on experiences of 50 year’s activism, despair about the current state of the Labour Party, and the steps that are needed to regain credibility. It is available free of charge as a download on this blog site (above) and on a personal website http://www.martynsloman.co.uk. A Kindle edition, priced 99p., the minimum permissible by the publisher, is also available (details on the personal website).