I am standing for election as Secretary of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party; I’d like to thank the five branches and two union branches that nominated me.
1 have been fighting for a fairer society, in the Labour Party since 1974, for 42 years, sometime with some influence and sometimes with very little.
A militant trade unionist (once upon a time)
As a voluntary Civil Service Trade Union official in the 70’s & 80’s I led a branch with a majority female membership reflecting the Union’s national membership; the branch, in Central London, also had a significant BAME membership.
I left the Civil Service with numerous letters of displeasure for leading strike action in support of pay, recognition at GCHQ and the TUC day of action for Nurses pay. I had a special one of my one for being rude about Norman Tebbit and was one of many who were served a life time ban on receiving honours, knighthoods or peerages.
One of the critical issues facing the Labour Party today is that of its own democracy, because in the 90’s as New Labour rose to power, the party turned off its democracy and created a system where the leadership wrote policy, consulting with non-member focus groups; and it reduced the power of Conference and the membership. It eventually led to the mistakes of the second term because there was no safety net and they’d lost contact with the party and its voters. We need to put this right.
A community activist & broad campaigns
I came to Deptford in 2010; I have been active in two Branches, serving as Secretary for both Brockley and New Cross branches, as well as Secretary of the Constituency in 2015.
The needed Left turn and the emphasis on broad campaigns or social movements is often falsely contrasted with the need to win elections and there remains an arrogance in our local Party; it fails to recognise the massive impact that our extra-Party non election campaigning influence has. The SaveLewishamA+E campaign shows the Labour Party at its best, reaching out to the community, organising on-line and on the street and a Labour Council via a crowd sourcing scheme, again engaging the community, funded and directed the legal action which halted Hunt and his appointed Commissioners. The other campaign which possibly we all take for granted is saving the New Cross Library. It’s a massive campaigning success and we should thank those Labour Party members and our allies who had the belief and put the work in. Deptford and New Cross would be a poorer place without it. These are true community campaigns as are the parent led campaigns opposing the academisation of Deptford’s schools.
We need to ensure that these and other local campaigns are supported.
A Left-wing Labour Government
Now, nationally post 2015, we need to win people back on four dimensions, from the Greens, SNP, UKIP and the Right.
Jeremy Corbyn has won the Leadership twice because his platform and electoral strategy are the only options for doing this and the only options that can possibly win back the voters we have lost in the 21 years of the New Labour ascendency. We need to address the needs and issues of the young and post 2008 situation. The platform is anti-austerity, and anti-war, The strategy is to win back voters from UKIP, the Greens, the Lib Dems, non-involvement and the Tories.
Standing up for the Membership
In my previous period as Secretary, the most asked question I was asked was how can I make a difference, how can I make sure my ideas are heard. I ensured that the members voice was expressed and heard, I defended purged members, and ensured that all members meetings were held to participate in the Leadership election. I will continue to ensure our growing membership’s voice is heard.
I welcome new members because of their campaigning record, recognising we should believe them when they say they share Labour’s values. I have and will continue to fight for a disciplinary system that accords with the principals of natural justice. I oppose the witch-hunting and cheating going on.
This is because as a Party, we come together on values, agree a programme, and manifesto; then and only then we choose candidates, win elections (hopefully) and then hold our public officials accountable to the promises they made. I will work to hold our elected officials to account, to make them keep the promises they made to both the Party and to the electorate.