And Jeremy Is An Honourable Man
I’ve been umming and ahhing about this since Friday evening. And with a hangover caused by the events of Friday night, that’s not been easy. I have no doubt that a few people will tell the another. All I can say is that the following is what happened. If others disagree, well, I guess you’ll have to choose to take their word for it or mine. And here’s mine.
I went to my CLP, delivered a speech, was shouted down half way through with the tacit approval of the Chair who jabbed his finger at me, was ruled out of order, called a traitor, and heard sexist and misogynistic remarks throughout. The End.
Oh, you want more details? All right, then.
Friday night, 8th July, I attended my CLP meeting. I’d submitted – as have others in many CLPs around the country, and indeed the Parliamentary Labour Party, a motion of ‘No Confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’. I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous. It’s fair to say it wasn’t greeted by the CLP with unalloyed joy, and two other members had submitted one of confidence in Jeremy’s leadership.
This was going to be… interesting.
Just before going in to the meeting, the Chair of the CLP walked over, thrusted a copy of Chapter 15 of the Labour Party Rulebook into my hands and strode off without a word. Ok… He’d indicated with large X’s the paragraphs in relation to submitting motions. Due to timings, neither of the motions had been submitted via a branch and I guess he figured this was the most convenient way out of it for him. I grabbed one of the few seats remaining (the room rapidly became standing room only) and yes, it was great to have so many people there.
And then the Chair decided that as neither motion had been submitted via a branch, there would be a debate on whether Jeremy Corbyn should remain leader of the party, after other CLP matters had been dealt with. He incorrectly identified only some of the CLP delegates supporting one or other of the motions but that could have been a genuine error, I guess.
Oh, that chapter I was handed; specifically said the motions could be submitted as Emergency Motions; it wasn’t allowed.
Jo Cox was remembered and the usual CLP matters dealt with: membership, reports, etc.
Then the debate.
A very passionate speech from our MP which paid tribute to Jo Cox and went on to explain why we so desperately need a strong leadership to get back in power and to help those who need a Labour government.
The Chair then said he would make a list of people who wished to speak, and announced that due to the amount of people this would be limited to 2 minutes per speaker. This didn’t thrill me as I’d already prepared a speech of about five minutes. With a little help, I condensed it down to two minutes on my phone and read it from there.
And that’s when an already tense meeting turned… unpleasant.
Here’s the full 5 minute speech; I’ll put the the condensed version – or at least as I got before I was shouted down and instructed to sit down – immediately afterwards…
Let me say upfront that every person in this room who voted, less than a year ago, for the leader of our party, did so from the best of motives; I have no doubt about that. The election was fair and the result was decisive. Jeremy Corbyn had a huge mandate, both personally and for the policies he espoused.
He had a mandate. As did every other leader this party elected, some with bigger mandates than Jeremy, some with smaller. Neil Kinnock was elected by a higher percentage of the vote, Tony Blair with more absolute votes. Whilst I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader I of course respected the result as I hoped that any concerns I had about his potential leadership would lessen over time, as he put the Tories on the run, and inspired the membership, the PLP and the country. You know, what his supporters promised would happen. And as he said he would. And Jeremy is an honourable man.
Everything I’ve seen from Mr Corbyn, and his acolytes, since he was elected has confirmed again and again what I thought during the leadership campaign: that he does not possess the qualities, personal nor political, to lead this party to electoral success.
Any personal mandate he won in 2015 has been betrayed time and time again by his actions, behaviour and lack of political nous while in office. If any of us here had shown his incompetence doing our first 10 months in the job we would’ve been sacked or at least have to explain ourselves with more than “you never wanted me in the job anyway so yah boo sucks to you”. If the Executive Committee of a CLP voted by 4:1 they had no confidence in the Chair, there’s not a CLP chair in the land who wouldn’t resign as the honourable thing to do. And Jeremy, as we all know, is an honourable man.
A man who fought apartheid at a time when our current Prime Minister’s biggest struggle was getting the Bullingdon Club menu completed on time. (Pork, obviously.) A man whose fight against racism is matter of record… Apart, oddly, from any word of criticism against anti-semitism before 2015. A decent honourable man who apparently didn’t know until last Monday’s select committee appearance that wanting to kill Jews is anti-Semitic. An honourable man who repeatedly lied to the Select Committee.
An honourable leader who didn’t contact Ruth Smeeth MP for four days after she left a meeting in tears, the same meeting in which, moments after Jeremy decried the anti-Semitic trope of Jews controlling the media, Miss Smith was subject to that very attack yards away from him. In a room hardly any bigger than this one, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing. And continued doing nothing for four days.
We have been told by all sides of the labour movement that we should focus on attacking The Tories. Great idea; it’s a pity that our leader doesn’t share it. The architect of the most brutal hammering of the welfare system since Thatcher resigns; With a level of audacity that’s breathtaking, he hypocritically says he’s done it because the crackdown is too harsh. And Jeremy decides “it’s not really up to him” to say anything about it… Maybe he thought it would be dishonourable to kick a man when he’s down. And as we know… Jeremy is an honourable man.
Here’s a hypothetical for those of you who maintain that, whatever else his arguable faults, whatever else he hasn’t got exactly right, “But… Tories…”… Take a right wing MP, say, proud to be on the rockhard right of the Tory party. This man – let’s face it, it’s usually men – never makes a racist statement himself, but platform shares with overt racists, hosts them in parliament, says it’s his “pleasure” and his “honour” to host his friends and he thinks it’s a pity the government banned the other white pride racists he invited (he thinks that’ll be seen as a big mistake). He gives television interviews to affiliates of white power organisations, and defends white pride people as “honoured citizens” “dedicated to peace and justice”.
This man on the hard right of the Tory party makes statements against racism, but only ever in the abstract, condemning lynchings but never criticising those who carry them out; the closest he ever comes is saying in interviews that he doesn’t always agree with them. This right wing Tory MP says a man who wrote that “blacks are racially inferior and want to take over the white race” is an honourable man and he looks forward to having him for tea at the Commons.
What would you say of this right wing Tory? Racist or no?
Hamas and Hezbollah are overtly anti-Semitic organisations who want to kill all Jews around the world. But Jeremy calls them ‘dedicated to peace’, and Jeremy is an honourable man.
Jeremy attended events commemorating those in the IRA who died killing British citizens, but Jeremy says he never actively supported the IRA. And Jeremy is an honourable man.
After appearing on Russia Today and taking £20,000 from Iran to appear on Press TV, but Jeremy criticises others who take money from sources he considers abhorrent. And he should know what is abhorrent, for Jeremy is an honourable man.
Jeremy calls for loyalty from the Parliamentary Labour Party, despite showing no loyalty to any previous party leader during his time in Parliament, and voting against the party whip over 500 times. An honourable position, surely, for as we know, Jeremy is an honourable man.
This party cannot achieve government while Jeremy Corbyn is leader. But Jeremy says he always puts the party first, and Jeremy is an honourable man.
This party needs a leader of genuine honour, a leader of political skill, and a leader who can convince people who voted for other parties in the past to vote us into government. Jeremy Corbyn is none of those. I have no confidence in him as leader, and I ask you to show that you have none either.
And this is the condensed two minute version, at least as far as I got. You’ll see where I was shouted down and told to retract what I had said. Which I would not.
Every person in this room who voted for the leader of our party, did so from the best of motives in a fair election; I have no doubt about that. Jeremy Corbyn had a huge mandate, both personally and for the policies he espoused.
He had a mandate. As did every other leader this party elected, some with bigger mandates than Jeremy; Kinnock won with higher percentage, Blair with more votes.
And though I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader I respected the result, hoping any concerns I had about his leadership would lessen over time, as he put the Tories on the run, and inspired the membership, the PLP and the country. You know, what his supporters promised would happen. And as he said he would. And Jeremy is an honourable man.
But since the election, Jeremy has repeatedly shown that he does not possess the qualities, personal or political, to lead this party to electoral success.
He has betrayed any mandate he received by his actions, behaviour and lack of political nous and justified criticisms are met by “you never wanted me in the job anyway so yah boo sucks to you”. If the Executive Committee of a CLP voted by 4:1 they had no confidence in the Chair, there’s not a CLP chair in the land who wouldn’t resign as the honourable thing to do. And Jeremy, as we all know, is an honourable man.
A man whose fight against racism is matter of record… Apart any word of criticism of anti-semitism before 2015. An honourable man who apparently didn’t know until last Monday that wanting to kill Jews is anti-Semitic and who repeatedly lied to the Select…
———–AND JUST HERE IS WHERE I WAS SHOUTED DOWN, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE CHAIR WHO TOLD ME I COULD NOT CONTINUE —————–
Yes, of course I knew what I was saying was controversial. Unfortunately, it was nothing but the truth, unlike Jeremy Corbyn’s testimony to the Select Committee.
He lied. The Leader of our Party, the Leader of the Labour Party… lied.
Jeremy said – as has said on other occasions – that after Paul Eisen came out as a holocaust denier [in 2007] he never attended any more of his events. There’s photo evidence of him there in 2013. That’s a lie. He said Paul Flynn’s ‘dual loyalty’ slur on a Jew as a British ambassador was about politics. That’s a lie. Everyone said at the time it was about the ambassador being a Jew and besides, the dual loyalty thing is an anti-semitic trope going back centuries.
Had I been a new member I would have been disgusted at the way the Chair stood up, pointed his finger at me and told me to take it back. Interesting sense of priorities, our Chair has; wants the truth left unspoken and, five minutes earlier, chose to allow a sexist comment about our MP.
And that’s what happened.
One final point: one thing identified and condemned in the Chakrabarti Report was that people who raised concerns about anti-semitism in the party are often shouted down and also that any seasoned activist who says they have never witnessed anti-Semitic discourse within the Labour Party”must be wholly insensitive or completely in denial”. I’ll let that sink in and leave you to judge which applies.
Anyway, how was your Friday?