Fighting for Labour victories in Hounslow

Jeremy Corbyn’s view that the result of the general election is not a foregone conclusion was explicitly echoed by Labour’s Ruth Cadbury and and Shadow Housing Minister John Healey at a launch rally for Ruth’s campaign to regain the parliamentary seat for Brentford and Isleworth.

The meeting, for Labour Party members, was attended by around 100 people keen to see a Labour victory. Both Ruth and John recognised that there are many different views within Labour, but argued that this was the time for everyone in the party to come together whether right or left, Progress or Momentum, young or old to get Ruth re-elected.

This view was endorsed by the meeting and Momentum members were among the first to turn up for the election work at Brentford & Isleworth Labour HQ (367 Chiswick High Road).

Much has happened since Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as Labour leader in June 2015. In terms of internal Labour politics a great deal of this has been very unedifying and not at all what anyone taking Labour’s self-designation as a democratic socialist party seriously might expect.

The vilification of the press was predictable. Ed Miliband was given a hard time by the press (remember the Daily Mail’s attempt to portray his father, a refugee from Nazi oppression, as a traitor to Briton), but this was stepped up beyond recognition for Jeremy Corbyn. There have been daily assaults and accusations without the slightest effort to base stories on the facts.

What was perhaps slightly less expected was the ganging up of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) against Jeremy Corbyn, with the majority of the PLP clearly believing that they should have some kind of veto over membership decisions as to who should be party leader.

And then there was, and is, the problem of the Labour organisational apparatus. Elected politicians, full-time workers and advisers who felt that the election of Corbyn had turned their world upside down were, and are, keen to restore ‘normal order’ and have acted as a block to attempt to move the party machine in the direction of involving the members in informed debate about Labour policy and organisation.

So here we are. We rarely operate in conditions of our own choosing and try to make the best of what we have to work with.

If you are a Momentum member or supporter reading this blog then we cannot emphasise too much the importance of giving whatever time you can to the hard slog of election work to ensure that Ruth Cadbury and Seema Malhotra are returned. In Ruth Cadbury’s case the situation is particularly critical since she only had a majority of 465 in the last general election. That was a victory against the general trend. We need to repeat that achievement.

The Tory Candidate then was Mary Macleod who managed to alienate a fair number of Tory voters by her various interventions in Hounslow politics. So it is a good thing that she has been chosen to stand again for the Tories. We need to capitalise on her supine attitude to such things as the third runway as Heathrow, which she says she opposes but mounts no substantial arguments against it (somewhat reminiscent of former Labour MP Ann Kean who eventually reversed her opposition and supported expansion). Macleod supports free schools and removing schools from a local authority framework, Ruth Cadbury does not.

We must wait to see what is in the Labour manifesto but if what John Healey said at the rally is anything to go by Labour will commit to a massive expansion of social housing. His view is that the current housing crisis cannot be resolved by the market and that at least half of new housing should be for the socially rented sector. Mary Macleod, on the other hand, persists in the belief that the market in private housing is the best way forward despite the experience of past decades to the contrary and despite the absurdly inflated house prices in London and other big cities.

So it is vital that everyone who can, contributes something, however large or small, to Ruth Cadbury’s re-election campaign. The party needs help with office tasks (e.g. stuffing envelopes, canvassing, delivering leaflets). Everyone can contribute something. The party also needs financial contributions for the production of materials. We cannot match the Tories in financial terms but, if all members and supporters become active we can more than match them in terms of activity on the ground. It depends on us. We understand that different people have different constraints but if it is at all possible please get stuck in.

All contributions big and small will be vital to stopping the Tories from recapturing Brentford & Isleworth. Contact jack_price@labour.org.uk

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