My inbox often contains unexpected communications: on Monday I received two bizarre emails from the Labour Party.
My guess both is that both were sent as a result of repeated public complaints that many members, particularly those who joined recently, have not received ballot papers for the leadership election. However, I responded immediately to these two most friendly overtures; it would be impolite to do otherwise. Below is the reply I sent to the General Secretary:
Dear Jennie Formby
It is always a pleasure to hear from the central administration of the Labour Party and I was delighted, if a little surprised, to be the recipient of two emails on 10th March.
The first, which arrived just before four p.m. from the Regional Office, was a most pleasant welcome to the party (we are delighted to have you as part of our movement). The second, two hours later, was sent by the National Party (reply to Jeremy Corbyn) and began: Now you’ve had a chance to settle in, we would love to know more about what motivated you to become a member of the Labour Party.
For the record I joined the Party in Cardiff on my sixteenth birthday, fifty-seven years ago, and have remained in continuous and unbroken membership since then. This, I may add, contrasts with many of the controlling clique in the North Norfolk Labour Party (NNLP), some of whom have displayed the political consistency of the figures in an Alpine Weather House*. In fact, June 18th this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the first time that I stood for office as a Labour Candidate (in the 1970 General Election). Turning to the question asked in the second email, I joined because I believed in the promotion of social justice, the elimination of poverty, and the protection of the less able. These values have stayed with me throughout, but, over time, I have come to realise that delivery is more important than slogans and rhetoric. This last is a view that has dropped out of fashion in the Corbyn era.
It is evident that both the emails I received were intended for new members rather than the old guard. Could I ask you to investigate what has happened? To assist, could I offer two possible explanations.
You will be aware that central Labour Party Departments have acquired the reputation for tardy action – this has been particularly pronounced in the appalling way that a backlog of complaints over antisemitism has been allowed to accumulate. Could it be that, under our current leadership, a decision has been made to write a welcome all members and the process has now reached those who joined in 1962?
A second and more likely explanation concerns the well-publicised fact that significant numbers of new members have not received ballot papers for the leadership. Given this, as a result of over-enthusiasm or ineptitude, someone in the database team either chose to play safe or simply pressed the wrong button and a sent a ‘new member’ email to a batch of long-standing members. I cannot believe that I alone have been selected for this treatment, and I know that at least one other NNLP member has erroneously received these emails.
Whatever the explanation, it does not reflect well on the Labour Party as an organisation. Looking forward I can only take comfort in the fact that Keir Starmer for five years led a high-profile organisation, the Crown Prosecution Service, where this sort of cock-up would not be tolerated and the circumstances that led to such a mistake thoroughly investigated.
I hope that you will agree that I am right to draw this matter to your attention and wish you well.
*In an Alpine Weather House, male and female figures ride on a balance bar, which is suspended by a piece of catgut or hair. The action swings one figure or the other out of the house depending on the humidity
Leftyoldman is taking a break from regular blogging until the shape of left of centre politics becomes clearer – though, as on this occasion, I will continue to make the odd incursion when I have something to say. If you would like to receive email notification of future leftyoldman blogs, please press the ‘follow leftyoldman’ button on the left-hand side above.