I think that your letter on an “organised plan by a particular group to “take over control” of our constituency party” was unhelpful.
When dealing with contentious issues we all have to exercise the utmost care to avoid descending in to vague allusions to shadowy enemies with outrageous views. It is therefore to be regretted that you did not see fit to give the source of your information. Who sent the email to which you refer? What was its purpose? For whom was it intended? Without such information we are just dealing with political noise. Can you not agree that this is not the right way to debate political differences?
Personally, I would not use language like “taking over control” but I would say that there is nothing wrong with people putting themselves forward in order to win support for their particular vision of what the party should be like. Different groups of people have been doing that ever since the Labour Party was created. In fact it is difficult to imagine politics without it. You must know that since you also act with others who are a subset of the party i.e. in groups (locally, nationally and in Parliament) to win influence with the aim of getting the party to adopt a point of view you favour. I see nothing wrong with that in principle. All I want is that when people do that they do it openly.
I guess that the “particular group” you name is Hounslow Momentum since they advertised a public meeting the publicity for which I am told (I haven’t been able to check) uses the phrase you quoted. But note that this was done in the open. I attended that meeting. There was nothing secretive about it and the speaker explained how in her CLP Momentum activists had secured sufficient support to be elected to the majority of officer positions and perhaps a majority on the GC (I can’t remember the details). What’s the problem with that?
You say that this is against the party rules but you don’t say which rule. That, I suggest, is because there isn’t one.
The Labour Party and virtually everyone active in it would be in great difficulty if there were such a rule. Those in organisations like Momentum on the left of the Party would be in difficulty as would those working with Progress on the right of the the Party.
Finally, I found your argument contrary to your own actions.
(1) Nationally, you participate in the activities of Progress which is clearly designed (with the help until recently of a very rich backer) to achieve the dominance of a certain (Blairite) version of Labour politics.
(2) You have worked with groups in Parliament to publicly undermine the party leader. This led, among other things to you participating in the attempted public humiliation of the party leader with a vote of no confidence. Most of those voting for the motion were convinced that electoral advance was impossible under Corbyn. How wrong they turned out to be.
(3) Your email to all members indicates a readiness to work against groups you disagree with in the local party. The problem is that you do so with dark references to an unnamed group and unsubstantiated claims about its aims.
It is not exactly a secret that the Labour Party is and always has been riddled with factions on all sides. Labour tends not only to be tribal with regard to non-Labour politics but even within the party. That is one of the things I dislike most about the organisation. But let’s be grown up about it. Everyone has the right to fight for what they believe (and without doubt the same thing goes on in all major political parties.) But we should demand that they do so openly.
On that I can only say that the actions of Momentum in organising a public meeting on how to win positions and increase influence/control in the party was rather more open than some of the factional organising that you have not chosen to criticise.
I wish that the bitter factionalism within the party could stop but until it learns to debate politics in an informed way (something Labour has very little experience) I expect that it will continue.
Which takes me to my last point. I wrote to you again and again on your position on Brexit. I put some very specific questions about the ESM (e.g. I asked your opinion about the free movement of capital). After your reply to me I still don’t have the slightest idea what your view is on that issue since you don’t mention it. It is not as if this was an obscure point of internal party debate. This is a major political issue on which it is reasonable to expect clear public responses to questions. So far therefore, your response falls some way short of what I would call a contribution to informed debate.
My view is that is is the lack of informed debate that foments ridiculous squabbling between factions. and so long as responsible politicians treat genuine questions in that off hand manner we must expect the awful squabbling in the LP to continue. I think that your role should be to build bridges and raise the level of debate and not side with this or that faction.
David Pavett, Osterley and Spring Grove Branch