Rock bottom and going down

Thangam Debbonaire MP for Bristol West

Thangam Debbonaire
MP for Bristol West

One advantage of being at rock bottom is that things can’t get any worse. Another week in the Labour Party has proved that this not to be the case. Two pieces of news illustrate the point.

The first is the general communication that all members have received from the Labour Party General Secretary, Iain McNicol. This states that all local Party Meetings are to be suspended until the completion of the Leadership Election, since, and I quote, “In recent months there has been a marked increase in reports of intimidation and threatening behaviour taking place at party meetings. Whilst the NEC recognises that the majority of our members hold vigorous yet collegiate meetings, the NEC has a duty of care for individuals who feel that their safety is threatened.” Look behind the careful wording and what we have is an admission that we have attracted an element whose behaviour is akin to bunch of football hooligans.

Such mindless aggression makes moderate MPs cautious but some have shown great courage. One is Thangam Debbonaire, who is the Labour MP for Bristol West. I have never met her but she serves as an example of what is at stake and why the Labour Party is worth saving.

While receiving treatment for breast cancer, Thangam Debbonaire was appointed as shadow arts and culture minister without being asked. She was only contacted six weeks later by the Labour leader’s office, who then told her the announcement had been a mistake. Later the Leader’s office told her that it was true, and that Jeremy Corbyn would be in touch. “But he didn’t ring me and continued not to ring me.” She subsequently resigned.

Anyone who is at all sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn should read the full story at: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/18/jeremy-corbyn-labour-mp-had-to-wait-six-weeks-to-find-she-did-not-have-shadow-cabinet-role

No-one reading this story could fail to admire the sheer guts of Thangam Debbonaire in making public these exchanges. She left Twitter after one Corbyn supporter compared her time off for cancer treatment to Corbyn’s week-long holiday during the EU referendum campaign. Again to quote “If you say anything in public that could even be perceived to be a criticism of Jeremy, they pile in.”

One exception to the ‘no meetings during the Leadership Election’ rule is that an event can be held ‘solely for the purpose of making a supporting nomination in the leadership contest’. Ours in North Norfolk will be held on August 4th. In many ways it is a pointless occasion since nominations will not make the slightest difference to any candidate; all will be determined by individuals on a one-member one-vote basis   Neither will any individual votes be changed – everyone attending will have already made up their mind. Weeks earlier they will have decided either to support Jeremy Corbyn or to support any other credible candidate – and Owen Smith more than meets the bill.

However Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters will insist on having the supporting nomination meeting; they love a rally and a demonstration. In fairness the North Norfolk Corbynistas don’t hurl abuse at their opponents – they merely bore with their repetitive 1980s slogans. I shall therefore attend on August 4th in what will I fear be the next skirmish in a very long civil war.

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8 thoughts on “Rock bottom and going down

  1. In fairness Martyn the whole party doesn’t come out of this well. Lies and smears on both sides, two pointless organisations in momentum and saving labour (progress).

    All this has brought up is that and many of our PLP wouldnt have made it onto any shortlist between 1945 – 79. The quality in depth isn’t there – the real failure of the Blair/Brown years was the lack of preparing for the next generation of mps outside of the spad range. The fact that the alternative was originally a choice between Eagle and Smith speaks volumes.

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  2. Yesterday on TV Jeremy Corbyn said of Thangam Debbonaire:
    “It was not, I admit, well handled … Unfortunately my wish to appoint her as one of her arts spokespersons was informed to her when it shouldn’t have been … I had a very long conversation with her and of course I apologised to her for that.”

    My view is that sorry is not good enough.

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    • “… sorry is not good enough”

      But what would be “enough” for you leftyoldman?

      It is similar to the orchestrated chant that Jeremy Corbyn has not “done enough” to stop the abuse and misbehaviour of various unspecified people. If Jeremy Corbyn could stop abuse on Twitter he would be a miracle worker.

      This just looks like setting impossible expectations of him and then holding him to account for not not meeting these impossible expectations. It would be a bit more credible if you specified what he can do more than say sorry. As well as specify what he should be saying sorry for, <b?exactly. And the people who want him to halt abuse should specify exactly what they would do in that situation. Perhaps they might be putting themselves in the position of being a little bit accountable then. It would also be helpful if they recognised their share and responsibility in stirring up this discontent. It is not something that happens unbidden and in a vaccuum.

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  3. I don’t necessarily disagree. My thoughts are that a pattern of behaviour is being orchestrated across the party and disingenuous for either side to claim any hughground.

    The party is the most polarised I can remember in 30 years of membership. From neo-conservative orange bookers through to pseudo swp members. I never supported entrism by militant nor support former sdp, tories or lib dems joining in the early Blair years.

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      • Yes, I agree James Brown. Any objective person reading both sides of the story would be unable to get to the bottom of it on the information available. That does not seem to stop people trying to squeeze as much mileage out of it as possible.

        The same with the link above in the James Brown post to a very unbalanced blog that just appears full of innuendo. I notice the frequent reference to “decent” people. The obvious implication being …

        😦

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