My letter to Louise Haigh MP re Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Chilcot Report, and everything else.

Dear Louise

I have received two emails from you recently and I am disappointed by both of them. Please don’t take this too personally because I still hope that I can have faith in you as my MP (Sheffield Heeley), although I am appalled by what is happening more broadly in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

In the first email dated 3rd July 2016 (attached below), about your statement of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader, you say:

“we must have a leadership election, under the quickest possible timescale from which everyone must unite and abide by its result.”

We already did that.

Actually, you did but I didn’t. Because, despite being an associate member at the time, I was purged. I joined as a full member after Corbyn was elected leader (without my help), and I genuinely thought that it was the beginning of a return to proper democratic socialism. However, it seems that democracy and socialism are abundant in the membership but in short supply in the PLP.

I understand that there might be a concern that recently-joined members are joining to influence the result but without holding true to the values of the Labour Party. But charging newly-joined members an extra £25 is grotesquely cynical. I wonder how they are going to purge me this time. Maybe when this letter is published online, that will do the trick.

I know that us “Corbynistas” are often painted by the media as personality-cultists, but I had never even heard of Jeremy Corbyn until he was nominated in the leadership election, and the reason I supported him is that I discovered that there are still MPs in the Labour Party that embody the values that I have.

I was present on 31st March 2016 at the evening meeting where you and John Healey MP (Wentworth & Dearne) spoke at the Harland Café in Sheffield and I was appalled by how Healey finished his speech by imploring us “make sure you vote for us in 2020”. I’m afraid 2020 is going to be too late. MPs like him represent the permanent political class that could not care less if they achieve anything or not, whether or not they are being an effective opposition, as long as they keep their jobs. Even if he does not get re-elected, £74,962 per year (plus expenses) for the next four years is not too shabby when some of the people sleeping rough in Sheffield (or Wentworth and the Dearne) will not survive that long.

I have lived most of my life in this area, but have never seen such levels of homelessness and begging. Vulnerable and disenfrachised people need help now, not in 2020 or 2025, or whenever the Labour Party can manage to get elected again. In the meantime, the London-centric political games within the PLP achieve nothing for these people.

The Labour Party, in coalition with other left-leaning parties, should be pushing for a General Election now.

Your second email (attached below) of 14th July 2016 concerned the Chilcot Report.
I am concerned by the use of the phrase “learn lessons”. We heard that phrase used about the un-prosecuted paedophiles protected by Margaret Thatcher and other government ministers and civil servants. We also heard that phrase being used to excuse MPs for their extravagant expenses claims, rather than prosecuting them for fraud.

Sure, we need to learn lessons, but we have already had every opportunity to learn the lesson about getting involved in interventional foreign wars already. It’s almost as if John Pilger had never spoken about it, or Tony Benn, or Robin Cook, or Jeremy Corbyn.

When are these lessons going to be learned?

I hope your use of that phrase is not a veiled reference to you not supporting any motion in Parliament to condemn and possibly prosecute Tony Blair for his complicity with the United States in their pursuit of war for profit in Iraq. MPs and PMs have an exceptional responsibility due to the influence they exert over the citizens of their own country, as well as a million un-named men, women and children in Iraq, or the desperate refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea to escape US & UK-sponsored anarchy and war in Libya and Syria.

I do not advocate punitive measures for the sake of it, but Blair should be prosecuted, both as punishment and deterrent, for his callous disregard of the consequences of his actions, especially in the light of a protest of millions, and ignoring the now-vindicated counsel within his own party.

British politics is a circus of corruption, greed and incompetence, but these days there seems to be no responsibility taken by those who destroy lives and livelihoods.

I was delighted when you were elected MP for Sheffield Heeley, and that you seemed to support Jeremy Corbyn and traditional left-wring values, and hope you will continue to do so.

We face imminent, catastrophic and existential threats; climate change, the destruction of our ecosystem, unregulated property & financial speculation, and the proliferation of war. We currently have a government whose actions are actively contributing to all of them. The only hope we have is a coalition of the Left, but that requires solidarity within parties and unity between the parties, against the Conservatives. Whilst the PLP is squabbling amongst themselves, the Tories are stealing public property, turning our schools into profit centres for corporations and sending our fellow citizens to kill or be killed in foreign lands.

We can’t wait until 2020, we can’t wait another minute.

Richard Bolam
Sheffield Heeley CLP – Member L1428585

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Email from  Louise Haigh – louise@louisehaigh.org.uk – 3/7/16
Dear Richard,
I’m writing obviously in response to the events of the last 10 days. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve received many hundreds of emails about the current issues in the Labour Party on all sides of the debate, all of which i have taken time to consider very carefully. Over the last week I have resisted all media calls to comment on the deepening crisis; I have always refused to provide a running commentary on internal Labour matters as I believe our grievances should be discussed privately. I appreciate, however, that everyone is very anxious about the current state of affairs and keen to know my thoughts so I want to be completely honest with you about where I think we are now.

Last Friday at our monthly CLP we had a discussion around the EU referendum campaign and the impending motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. Here, in our bit of Sheffield, local members ran a fantastic campaign on Europe but sadly the result was very disappointing.  Nationally, I do not believe that Jeremy and his team were particularly committed to the campaign and on some occasions they actively obstructed it but I do not believe we can lay the blame for the vote with Jeremy.  My experience in that campaign was of many people in areas such as Arbourthorne, Gleadless Valley and Jordanthorpe who felt alienated and disenfranchised from the political establishment and who  voted to Leave. No one person could have turned the tide on that wave of resentment that has been growing in these communities, like so many similar communities around the country, over the last 15-plus years.  However, I did make clear at that meeting that I had concerns around the competency of the current leadership and Jeremy’s wider team.
I strongly believe that the motion of no confidence was brought forward at the wrong time – when the country had just taken a huge and potentially catastrophic decision, when the Tories were in meltdown and when we had a very serious job to do as an opposition. However, over the weekend and on Monday the sacking and resignations of so many of the frontbench team left the situation untenable. Consequently, on Tuesday when I was asked ‘do you have confidence in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn?’ I couldn’t honestly say that I did, as I could not see any way that this situation could continue.
This was an incredibly difficult decision as I have been totally supportive of Jeremy since his election, I voted with him against the Welfare Bill, I oppose the renewal of Trident and I know we need an end to austerity. I have served, and continue to serve, on his front bench and I have only ever been positive in the media and in public about him. Any concerns I’ve had have always been raised privately. Yet now I really believe that we cannot continue as we are. We are currently not able to fulfil the very basic, day-to-day operation as the Official Opposition in Parliament, which now more than ever is vital as we enter Brexit negotiations.
This has been an incredibly hard two weeks. I am so sorry that it has come to this. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the country faces its biggest challenge since World War Two. It is now our duty, first and foremost, to hold the Leave campaign to account and to offer a new radicalism to the British people. And I do not think we are currently capable of that. I completely respect the mandate Jeremy has from the membership, but in order to lead Labour in Westminster he has to have a parliamentary mandate too.
I think it’s right that colleagues currently in the Shadow Cabinet have called for a period of calm so that everyone can take a breath and look at where we are. If there is any way to find a solution, to bring unity and to get on with opposing the government, I will support that. If that doesn’t happen, then we must have a leadership election, under the quickest possible timescale from which everyone must unite and abide by its result.
I just want to reiterate how difficult and unpleasant this has all been. I take absolutely no joy in any of it; I feel desperately sorry that we have all let down those who supported Jeremy, but I am afraid we are now at an impasse and, with a General Election potentially looming, I believe we cannot continue as we currently are.
As ever, please do email or call if you want to raise any further thoughts or suggestions with me.
All the best,
Louise
—–
Email from  Louise Haigh – louise@louisehaigh.org.uk – 14/7/16
Dear Richard —
Last week the Chilcot Report revealed the scale of the catastrophic mistake which was the Iraq War. For the families of service personnel killed and those injured and for millions of Iraqis the consequences of that war are something they will live with for the rest of their lives.
As a member of our local Party I wanted to write to you following the debate on the report which has just taken place in the House of Commons.  For many of us the Iraq War was a bitter moment, one that defined our politics and one that needed answers.

Today, in the House of Commons, was a moment for truth.
I was fifteen when we shamefully went to war in Iraq but I remember very clearly the powerlessness I and millions felt as the Prime Minister chose war in the teeth of fierce domestic and international opposition. 

Some thirteen years later, Chilcot has been very clear that the US were desperate to force regime change and that the UK Government promised in a private memo to follow them “whatever”.
The failure to properly challenge intelligence which was described as “flawed”, the failure to adequately scruitinise the case for war, the failure of the top intelligence committee to even entertain the idea Iraq didn’t have WMD, the failiure to exhaust all diplomatic avenues and the failiure in post-war planning stemmed from that determination to go to war.
Millions who marched in the build-up to war, and our very own Robin Cook who made an historic speech, saw then what we know now. A passage from the speech given by Robin Cook on the 18th March 2003 was telling:

“What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.”
What is vital now though is that we learn lessons that are still relevant from this conflict.
That military timetables should not consume the diplomatic avenue, the Cabinet should be properly consulted and the way in which facts and knowledge on the one hand and opinion, judgement and belief on the other are presented should never be allowed to become blurred as the case for war is made.
Above all else what this Inquiry has confirmed is that those voices not backed by the powerful or vested interests have once again been vindicated. While government was taking us to war on “flawed intelligence and assessment” which was not properly challenged, while the media were not adequately scrutinising the case and indeed demonised those who argued against war, millions of people were saying that this was wrong. History has proven that they were right. That is the vital lesson of Chilcot and let’s never forget it.
Yours ever,
Louise

My letter to Harriet Harman, Acting Leader of the Labour Party #JezWeCan #Corbyn4Leader #LabourLeadership #LabourPurge

Letter Harriet Harman Acting Leader of the Labout Party v3

Harriet Harman MP
Acting Leader of The Labour Party
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Harriet,

I am one of the many people who have been “purged” from the members and supporters of the UK Labour Party and denied a vote in the leadership election.

On 19th August 2015 I received an email that said:

“We have reason to believe that you do not support the aims and values of the Labour Party or you are a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party”.

Neither statement is true. I don’t know what those stated reasons might be but if you have people scanning my political memberships and/or social media channels, it is abundantly clear that I am a traditional Labour voter and a committed socialist.

In 1997 I was delighted by the landslide victory of Labour, and what seemed to be a promise of a new Labour that was less in thrall to the unions and would represent those of us who considered ourselves to be socialists, but certainly not “hard left”.

Unfortunately, this new Labour party turned out to be New Labour who went on to continue and implement deeply unpopular and unwise policies and actions such as the Private Finance Initiative, student loans and the Iraq war amongst many others. New Labour transformed the Labour Party into something barely distinguishable from its traditional nemesis, the Conservative Party. I did not vote again until 2015.

I started voting again because cynicism and apathy have demonstrably failed, so I decided to try optimism and activism instead. I joined the Green Party in order to be part of the “green surge” but I voted Labour to contribute towards maintaining a majority in the safe seat where I live in Sheffield Heeley. I also joined the Stop The War Coalition at the same time.

Local Labour Party activists came canvassing during this year’s general election campaign and I told them I would be voting Labour but had joined the Green Party because New Labour was no longer a socialist party.

As a Green Party member, I did not expect to be able to sign up as a supporter of the Labour Party, but the online form that I filled in said nothing about members of other parties being excluded from the election. So I paid £3 and joined as a supporter for the sole purpose of voting for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election, the only candidate that represents traditional Labour values.

Like many others, I am appalled by the way the Labour Party establishment and the other leadership candidates have conducted themselves during this campaign. You are witnessing a huge popular movement that you should be listening to rather than attempting to silence. The New Labour experiment is over and it has been shown to be, not only a huge failure, but also deeply unpopular amongst traditional Labour voters.

I would like to urgently insist that you reinstate my right to vote in the leadership election and review all the applications of other members and supporters who have been excluded.

I have sent copies of this letter to Louise Haigh MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Bolam

The Labour Party won’t let me vote for the new leader & now I want my £3 back. #VotePleb #VoteCorbyn #JezWeCan #LabourLeadership

Vote pleb graphics v2.155

Today, I received this email from The Labour Party.

“Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your recent application to become an Affiliated/a Registered Supporter of the Labour Party.

As part of the process to sign up as an Affiliated/a Registered Supporter all applicants are asked to confirm the following statement;  I support the aims and values of the Labour Party, and I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.

We have reason to believe that you do not support the aims and values of the Labour Party or you are a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party and therefore we are rejecting your application.

Although you may have received or may still receive a ballot paper, it will not work and if you do vote it will not be counted.

Should you wish to dispute rejection by the Labour Party you would have to submit and pursue an application to join Labour as a full member.

Kind Regards

The Labour Party

Sent by email from the Labour Party and promoted by Iain McNicol on behalf of The Labour Party, both at One Brewers Green, London SW1H 0RH.

Website: labour.org.uk.  To join or renew call 0845 092 2299.”

I guess they found out that I’m a member of The Green Party and apparently I am “a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party”.

Wrong, you fucking dimwits.

To paraphrase what Mhairi Black MP (SNP) said in her maiden speech to the House of Commons, it is The Labour Party that left me rather than the other way around, and it is the leftover Blairite neoliberal parasites that are opposed to the values of the Labour Party, not me.

In the 1980s I would never have been considered “hard left”, although I have always been a Labour voter. These days, Labour has become so infected by the freeloading, neoliberal apologist career-politicians that now I am almost indistinguishable from Karl Marx himself.

Certainly not my first choice, but better at least than Thatcher, Cameron, Pinochet, Netanyahu, Bush, Hitler, Pol Pot or the Royal House of Saud. However, these days I count as a “hard-left infiltrator” because I want the Labour Party to be a socialist party and represent the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/labour-leadership-race-should-halted-6140226

During the 2015 pre-general-election campaign, Local Labour Party activists came knocking on my door and asked me who I would be voting for. I told them I would be voting Labour (they nodded approvingly) because I live in Sheffield Heeley, a safe Labour seat, but I had joined the Greens because Labour was not left enough for me (no eye contact). They were visibly disappointed but could understand my concerns. Every one of them spat when I mentioned Tony Blair and I kept them talking so long that one of them looked at his watch and said “we’ve got to go”. I’ll try that on the Jovies next time.

I was already a member of the Stop The War Coalition (for whom Corbyn is chair) when I heard he would be running for Labour leader, and I did consider resigning my membership of the Greens and joining Labour, but the terms and conditions did not exclude members of other political parties becoming a supporter, so I paid my £3 just to vote for him.
http://www.stopwar.org.uk/

So fuck the Labour Party generally, but here in Sheffield Heeley we have Louise Haigh who, like Corbyn, voted against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015, so I still have hope, locally if not nationally.

What’s more I have successfully infiltrated my mum, dad, sister and wife, all who have joined the Labour Party despite having never been members of any political party before, and all so that they can vote for Jeremy Corbyn. If the Labour establishment wants to defeat Corbyn’s leadership bid, it might be more wise to publicly distance themselves from war criminal Tony Blair, professional liar Alistair Campbell and neoliberal apologist Gordon Brown rather than antagonising us traditional Labour voters.

So Liz Kendall, Andy Burnam and Yvette Cooper, fuck you and I want my £3 back.