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Why I Left Labour

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When one writes about leaving the Labour Party, as my good friend Kate (The Redsistance Movement) shows, one should ensure not to "pull a Bozier", aptly defined as "verb; to act like a pretentious and self-righteous wanker upon the leaving of a political party entirely for personal gain".

So, in this criticism of the free market party, I will endeavour to criticise the party and its views, and not do so in such a way to augment my own significance. To say I act as a voice for socialists and Marxists would be pretentious, but I would say my views represent the principles of a silent majority.

The Labour Party is broken. Completely and utterly broken. There are no two ways about it. The trade unionist and socialist principles that the party was built on, and improved upon by a lineage of politicians (Attlee, Bevan, Benn, Foot, to name a few) no longer exist. The generic argument for this, especially by socialists but also by sarcastic hyperbolic right-wingers, is to criticise the philosophy of 'New Labour'. I refute this. One should remember that even if New Labour were capitalistic (which I obviously disagree with) they were at least socially radical and invested highly in public services. Either way, New Labour is dead within the party. What has broken what was once a great party is the party élite, the leadership; and the democratic deficit that is only becoming more and more apparent within the party. A party cannot govern a country if it cannot govern itself. A party cannot say it supports democracy if it is not democratic itself.

The most obvious expression of this democratic deficit is the uneven weighting in party elections; most importantly the leadership elections. Miliband has regularly been criticised for only becoming a leader as a result of the "union vote", but the significance of a vote from a union member or an ordinary party member is so tiny in comparison to the weighting of an MP's vote that it is completely vacuous to say that me paying membership fees a month is actually worth anything. I can be annoyed at Labour without being part of Labour. I joined Labour thinking I could help change it. When the vote of 200 (or so) MPs have infinitely more power than party members and trade unionists, you question the point of being there. When 200 people hold 33% of power in the party, but the 100,000-200,000 members and 1,000,000+ trade unionists hold only 66% of power, you can see there is an inherent flaw within the party. I will not join Labour again until this is remedied. I will not even comment on Labour Students as the faction is so wholly undemocratic that I'm surprised they even pretend to hold elections.

Policy is a matter for the élite, not for the members. The powers of the NEC are unjustifiable and the hold they have over policing the party is nearly unforgivable. This was greatest expressed under Kinnock's leadership, when many Militant tendency members were, in true Stalinist fashion, purged from the party in an act of ideological cleansing. Although the NEC does not generally act so rashly these days, their tactics are those of a capitalist party, not of a socialist party. The benefits cap, the reluctancy to talk about even moderate social-democratic issues such as rail nationalisation, and Ed Balls's economic betrayal are not a representation of the will of the members but the will of the party élite, the will of those who know they can come out with any old "reform" to the party, pretend to forget our past, turn our country increasingly into a two-party system with a unifying neoliberal ideology. I oppose this government, and therefore joined the Labour Party, to oppose it, not to support it! Even the grassroots who disagree do not disagree too loudly; firstly in fear of expulsion, secondly, to paraphrase Mill "better to be in a workers party I hate with than in a bourgeois party I hate". I wasn't sure there was much difference.

I refuse to be part of this organization any longer. You are not the party of Bevan, Attlee, Wilson, Foot, and Benn. You are not even the party of Blair. We need a party, much like the Socialist Left in Norway, for it is that party who would represent Labour's past. All that is left of Labour is a remnant of the past, an old historical artefact slowly degrading, a corpse ready to be cremated. I may rejoin Labour in the future, but Labour in its current state? I may as well have just gone out and bought a Conservative membership card.