Friday 12 August 2016

Stoke Central CLP Nomination Meeting

46 people turned up for tonight's nomination meeting which, thanks to the Appeal Court ruling earlier today, depressed the numbers we were otherwise expecting. Indeed, two people that hadn't heard about the upholding of the NEC's decision had to be turned away. I do hope that isn't the last we see of them.

Looking around the meeting before it properly started, apart from a few folks away on holiday (which, in case you were wondering, included our MP) nearly all the stalwarts who attended religiously during the quiet times turned out. But there were a good chunk of newer members who had joined before the cut-off date. It's a bit weird not knowing everyone in the room any more, but a good weird. Also, I'd decided before the meeting not to say anything and give people who don't normally speak more of a chance. It seemed most of the regulars had taken the same view.

Anyway, as per the meeting running order handed down from on high, assembled members had 10 minutes to read the statements supplied by Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn, as well as have a bit of a catch up. Once sorted the speakers were called. The format was to be one Jeremy, one Owen, and on until the end of the meeting. Unfortunately, there proved to be a bit of a problem - only one person was willing to speak for Owen.

After the introductory remarks from one of the newer comrades, who noted Jeremy was a rarity in that he cared about the problems disabled people faced, our Owen Smith speaker spoke about the despair she felt about the state of the party. Having voted Jeremy last time thinking he'd be a breath of fresh air, she believes he has taken the party to the edge of the abyss, and it's possible it might not even survive the next few months. On electability, she was convinced we cannot win with him and he is driving voters away from us. Owen isn't ideal, but he is an interim answer to the danger facing us. She also expressed doubts whether the broad church would continue.

Member A's response was a broad church is fine, but when you have a prominent member calling on the Tories to crush a rail union that founded Labour, there are limits to how far this should stretch. He spoke with some anger about the misrepresentation of Corbyn and his positions in the media, an observation now backed up by two academic studies. He also noted how Owen was running with policies previously regarded as "unelectable" just to try and get elected, concluding he was a weather vein and not a leader. Member B focused on Jeremy's character as honest and caring, but the main reason he was supporting Corbyn was because he understood that party members need a proper input, not just the MPs. He was also against the constant sniping of the leader by the PLP and didn't believe getting into power to behave like the Conservatives was something worth working towards.

Member C echoed these comments saying we should be more than a pale blue opposition, and Jeremy was the man taking us where we needed to go. Member D was a bit more sceptical of Jeremy and said she wanted to vote for Owen, but feels like he can't be trusted. She was disgusted with the behaviour of the shadow cabinet (as was), and only someone like Corbyn can get Labour back to the kind of politics it should be espousing. Member E added that the party's achievements of the last nine months were purposely underplayed, while sedition has undermined Jeremy's position and masses of Labour supporters vilified. He noted there were people in the PLP who would rather see the party split than a socialist Labour government come to power. It's time for a new politics. Member F challenged the notion that Corbyn supporters are uninterested in winning elections - he's supporting him because there is no one better. The danger with Owen Smith winning is he would demobilise the huge interest in the Labour Party and take it back to where it's come from. Member G, a union rep in his warehouse, was keen to emphasise that Corbynism can win over workers when it gets a fair hearing. To illustrate, his workplace alone has 20 party members. Member H attacked the PLP for betraying the membership and not allowing their choice have the chance he should expect and deserve. He also cast doubt on Owen's candidacy, asking whether he was the best or the only candidate they could find. He was allowed to run precisely because there was no chance of him winning. Lastly, Member I said she was neither a Trot nor a Corbynista, but just wanted someone she could trust and had the right politics.

With the half hour over and no signs of abuse or uncomradely behaviour, we totted up the votes taken by secret ballot. As one of the tellers, even before counting started it was clear Jeremy had won by a landslide. The final result was two spoiled ballot papers, four votes for Owen, and 40 votes for Jeremy, making our existing leader Stoke Central CLP's nominee.


Unknown said...

Phil, the only 'abuse' came from the Chair at the beginning of meeting who's welcome included a snide comment referring to people turning up to vote at this meeting and not coming to other meetings. A fine way to welcome people to their first CLP meeting.

Nickoli said...

As a new member, I received four emails mentioning last night's meeting. Two invited me to it, two said I couldn't attend. It was starting to feel like I was doing the okey-cokey.

The political leadership of the party is continuing to attack the Conservative government, as it should, but the administrative leadership seems even more shambolic and dedicated to infighting now I'm looking at it from the inside than it did from the outside before I joined.

I joined on 3 July. The first chance I will get to actually be involved and attend a meeting is 7 October - just over three months later.

Somewhat ironically, I wanted to attend partly because I thought it was my best chance at giving Owen Smith a fair hearing, but it appears to be his supporters who have kept me out.

Unknown said...

Agree with Andrew. The Chair was not welcoming at all

Igor Belanov said...

'when you have a prominent member calling on the Tories to crush a rail union that founded Labour'

Who on earth was that??!!!!!

Baden said...

I agree. It was embarrassing and belittling.

Anonymous said...

>46 people turned up ... two people ... turned away.
>four votes for Owen, and 40 votes for Jeremy

I assume that 44 comrades could vote and that there were no spoilt ballots or abstainers.

Excellent report. I guess your chair is an Smith supporter :P

Phil said...

Igor, it was our friend John McTernan. Look up his recent piece in the Daily Telegraph.

Anonymous said...

Member G said he had recruited 20 new members in his workplace on the back of Corbyn being leader

julian1649 said...

In my occasional role as your sub, may I say it's 'vane' not 'vein'. Great article because it have a properly fine-grained account of the various motivations of Corbyn supporters. I'm more of a classic older Corbynite, returning to the party after many years. My wife is more of a mainstream Labour supporter, who rejoined the day after the GE. When JC was nominated, she said "I don't want *Jeremy Corbyn* as leader". But she listened to the other candidates and voted for him as the only hope for any change. Then she was enraged by the chicken coup and Ian Austen etc. And by being suspended after queuing politely at the Brighton and Hove AGM. I'm not sure if JC is going to win, but I'm sure that any challenger would have had a better chance if their team's tactics hadn't, to coin a phrase, been fucking useless. But their tactics came from their absence of strategy: how to accommodate to a shift to the left.

Phil said...

Oh FFS. It'll have to stay because I can't find it!

paulocanning said...

So the grassroots mostly think it's everybody's fault but Jez's. M'kay.

Just on that 'academic study' you link to about the evil media and their bias that seems to be being held up, talisman like, everywhere. It's discredited because those who did it have a vested interest in the result they claimed they got. Look them up. See their priors. They clearly created it to 'prove' something they already believed.

jim mclean said...

"Leaders" scare me because all sorts gather round them, I rejoined Labour the day after the General Election, not sure I'll bother voting this time, do not like either of them, don't expect to see Labour in power for a decade if it lasts that long, at 65 I will probably not see them in power again. sad really.

BCFG said...

Yes, what appears to be lost in all the entryism claims and the sneering about never turning up to meetings is that for many of us Labour was effectively hijacked by the establishment when Blair became leader. And because we have self respect we had to leave.

The day Blair became leader is the day I stopped supporting the Labour party, and I was well aware at the time what Blair represented.

Ultimately he represented the victory of Thatcherism and neo-liberalism, turning democracy into a technocracy, I would have said he turned us into a US style system where both parties quite explicitly represent the ruling class, except that in the USA they really do have a bottom up political culture at the local level. So as usual the UK has the worst of both worlds, the worst aspects of the US combined with the worst aspects of the old world (Europe).

Many of us who did not support Labour during the blood soaked Blair years were supporting Labour when those regular attendees were voting for Thatcher or before they were born!

Corbyn has meant thousands of Labour supporters now see a chance that they at last have a political choice, at last they can come home. And the Labour party can be more than giving the children of the Middle classes a £70k a year job.

But unless Corbyn can drive out the Blairites while he is leader he must realise that ultimately the party will be lost forever. because one thing is certain if when Corbyn leaves he hasn't made fundamental changes to labour party democracy and its rules the PLP will never ever allow another soft social democrat to become leader ever again and the Labour party will be forever more a technocracy and a career path for an ambitious young Middle class climber, whose ultimate destination could be earning millions from a directorship or offering advice to crooks.

On media bias and proving something you already believe. This is how science actually proceeds. The idea, the mental logic, tends to come before the empirical evidence and you set out to prove your idea, your proposition from the empirical evidence. So for example the proof of the existence of the Higgs boson was proof of something scientists already believed. Proof of the bias of the media started from the idea that the media is hopelessly bias, we should not be surprised that the empirical evidence backs it up. Actually where media bias is concerned only a total dishonest and corrupt individual would conclude anything else.

Lidl_Janus said...

"And because we have self respect we had to leave."

No, that isn't it. I'm pretty sure it's because the likes of you and Corbyn are just as Manichean as Blair, probably more so, similarly lacking in introspection, and would cause similar chaos in power, just even less to the nation's benefit.

paulocanning said...

"Actually where media bias is concerned only a total dishonest and corrupt individual would conclude anything else."

Attitudes like this is why we can't have nice things.

BCFG said...

Well, Paul Canning accuses those people who say the media is bias of being corrupt, that they dishonestly invented the empirical evidence, that they corrupted academic research and he has the front to claim I have an attitude!

This is the thing with the likes of Paul Canning, they fail to judge themselves by the standards they set for others.

paulocanning said...

I did not say they were corrupt, I said there was clear evidence of their bias, which is not declared by them. If you do not know who they are, their history and activities, then you cannot fairly judge their work.

David Parry said...


How would Corbyn cause chaos in power?

BCFG said...

Canning is playing with words. He said the study was discredited, even though it proceeds along the lines of most academic studies, i.e. it starts with a proposition, in this case the media is bias, and sets out to prove it, or disprove it, depending on the evidence. The evidence shows the media is bias and therefore the proposition is confirmed. To say the study is discredited implies some corruption on the part of those carrying out the study. This was clearly implied in your first comment. You literally accused those of carrying out the study of fraud and deception, what else are we meant to infer from what you said?

The point that we need to know the background of who commissioned a study or report to fully understand it is obvious and totally irrelevant to what you said, which is that those carrying out the study corruptly claimed something that wasn't entirely true.

As I said, Canning cannot apply to himself the standards he sets for others.

SimonB said...

This could be the same as my CLP meeting. I'm sure this describes what's been happening throughout the country.