Regular readers of this blog, and those I socialise with would acknowledge I hope, that I am very "up front" with my views and opinions and rarely if ever do I feel the need to hold back on the truth or water down my true feelings. And those who have been here on this blog from the start will also know that I have had in recent years an ongoing love hate relationship with the Labour Party. To catch up on how it all began just click here
The Labour Party is of course a number of different entities these days National, Regional and Local and it wouldn't surprise many that individual members at National and Local level who we're my friends pre expulsion remain my friends to this day. I intend this week to go down to Parliament to meet up with old acquaintances, Others however within the party treat me post 2007 with a mixture of either unnecessary fear and/or unexplainable indifference. I have become the family member who left home under a cloud and who nobody now is allowed to mention! I sometimes wonder, can I really after all be that bad a person? I am not "anti" Labour in any way, I actually believe that Andy Sawford will be a very good MP for Corby and I wish him well in his election campaign, if his values are anything like his fathers then Corby and the Labour Party have everything to gain. Equally Sally Keebles reselection as Candidate for Northampton North leaves me cold and asking "Will they never learn?"
Anyhow despite the views of others and much I am sure to the annoyance of some local members I have now decided to come clean on the recent events and attempts to woo me back to into the fold and to rejoin the party I left 5 years ago, and I will also try to explain to you all how difficult a decision it has been to make, being asked to put all the past to one side in exchange for a "lets move on" reconciliation.
Being expelled from the Labour Party in 2007 hurt me very deeply, I had given over twenty years to the movement and I represented them at all levels all the way up to Westminster, so to be treated in such a crass and unfair fashion by the very people you considered to be on your side, and seeing people you considered to be friends reluctant to stand by you in case they themselves were targeted left some very deep and open wounds. Of course the expulsions didn't just end with yours truly, they extended beyond any sensible trawl for supposed trouble makers and led to many good innocent people being wrongly judged and punished. Indeed whenever asked about rejoining I have always made it clear that if I ever said yes then those expelled would walk back in together rather than special favours been offered to individuals.
For the record my expulsion was automatic, having stood as an Independent candidate in the Borough Council elections in 2007, but that decision was only taken after the party had lied, cheated, abused it's own rules and accused good people of wrongful intent. And it is also worth remembering that when the Labour Party instructed me not to submit my nomination papers as a Labour candidate on the nomination day for the Borough Council elections, that I was a fully endorsed candidate, one of three fully endorsed candidates for two seats in Castle Ward for that election!
But now I still find myself in a period of indifference towards not just a party but towards a whole political system I find myself unable to make a final decision which I am comfortable with owning, so I am doing what I always do, taking council, asking for views, trying to explain my dilemma and then using the exercise to help form a decision.
But to offer advice, you the readers of this blog will need to know exactly what has been occurring, and also to understand my thinking, to understand what I feel is still wrong within the party and also share my discomfort that it's issues are still left undealt with, after all it is easy to make a flash judgement which could then have a heavy cost for many people if not thought through fully, why bother rejoining if I find myself expelled again with weeks by saying something others think is best left unsaid?
The case made for my rejoining is made mostly but not exclusively in Castle Ward by normal electors and party members alike who tell me that they want me to continue as their Cllr, they care not if I am Independent or Labour, both suit them, they say that with the vote being split between Labour and Independent that they risk losing my input unnecessarily. They believe that at a time of real need in the area that we need strong representatives who will bury past differences to collectively fight against continued cut backs and attacks on the vulnerable, their case is a compelling one.
In the opposite corner are those from a much wider base than just Castle Ward who have completely lost all faith with the political system and judge all party's to be as one, and as bad as each other, they wish me to contine to carry a torch for Independence and in doing so help lead the way to a different political future altogether. Again all well considered and intelligent expressions, after all membership of political parties and trust in the same is now at an all time low
The third factor, if I am allowed' is a personal one, do I really want back in? And at what cost to my reputation? If I went back in to fight the battle from the inside how long would I last? And what would I do about all of those open faultlines laying within, I couldn't bite my tongue and to be a member of an orginasition in which you knew wrongdoing was present but didn't act, that would be totally immoral. So what are the facts and how do we separate the individual from the plural? How do we encourage those inside to help with any subsequent cleansing and just what is my best individual course of action?
After all doing absolutely nothing and sitting back and taking a rest from the whole cabana is an equally if not far more attractive alternative option.
So in this and a couple of other posts I will outline all the facts, warts and all as usual, and let you have your say, I will tell you things you never knew, draw venom from those who would prefer everything kept swept under an ever growing hump under the red carpet, and then I will make a decision.
So to start, and to set tongues wagging, I should reveal that the latest invitation to rejoin the party came as recently as December 2011 came via the County Council Labour Group who amazingly offered me instant party membership (meaning a guaranteed lifting of my then still in place expulsion) if I would consider being the Party's candidate for the forthcoming Police Commissionaire elections. A high prize indeed, but not necessarily an attractive one, and I also couldn't help draw a comparison with my reasons for expulsion (The Party fixing candidate selections in their favour) and my invite back (The Party fixing a candidate selection in my favour!) Will they never learn? Of course they are not alone, all three party's play the same game, open selection where it suits them, or a fixed coronation of the favoured son/daughter when it is more useful to their cause.
Needless to say the invite was not accepted and I was pleased to note that an open selection did indeed thereafter take place and a candidate was chosen fairly. The other irony being that if I had said yes I would have had to then withdraw Simon Weston style due to a conviction during my misspent youth, I can stand for Parliament, become an MP, and of course serve as a Police Officer for 4 and a half years in the Special Constabulary, but the crazy rules on this election bar all but those who are squeaky squeaky clean.
But even after this prize had been offered and rejected the opportunity to rejoin the party still remained, and it was a tempting one in part because the County Council Labour Group are a thoroughly decent group of people, they are as a party group well organised, and well disciplined, they campaign effectively and more than hold their own in full Council meetings, they seem to work hard both collectively and in their respective divisions, they are also as individuals very nice people. No my problem doesn't lie with the County Labour group. it lies elsewhere, not too far away in fact just a few yards over the road at the Town Hall.
You see I have always been a "Borough" man, when elected to the County in 2009 BBC Northampton asked me what my hopes were for the 4 year term ahead and I replied "I hope the County Council gets abolished" I still feel the same way, our two tier system of local government in Northampton serves none of us well, apart from of course the Tories, who will if they get their way turn into a three tier system propped up by Parish Councils across the town providing services only to those who can afford them. To me a Unitary Northampton Council has always been the end game and any future Unitary Council will need strong local representatives to lead it, and that is where I see the labour Party failing at present.
In fact is is not just failing, it is irrelevant, and it is in my opinion corrupt, all the fault lines are there for all to see and all of the complaints and attempts to challenge any wrongdoing have been ignored, and for me or for that matter anyone else to wanting to join or rejoin the Labour Party in Northampton we would need to be assured that these underlying faults are being addressed before we put our names on any membership list.
Some good new Councillors were elected to the group in 2011 (others not so good) but the old guard are still holding sway and I am sure I am the last person in the world who they would want to walk back in. Sometimes you have to shake the tree if you are to allow new fruit to bud, sometimes you have to clear out the old in order to make room for the new. And sometimes you need to do nothing more than be prepared to tell the truth in order to start the cleansing.
And so in my next three posts, I will tell you of three separate incidents. I will fairly explore the internal allegations made regarding three of Northampton Borough Labour Cllrs, one who we are told lied to a court and also committed what the judge concluded to be a forgery, one who allegedly feels that the cost of political support equates to sexual favours in return, and a third who we are understand thinks that it is perfectly reasonable to use their Council position to bolster their own private income. I will be fair to all of them and stay firmly within the law, I will stick to facts and not rely on simply here say, I will not judge them, others in some cases already have done, but I will only reveal what has already been revealed both to me and to the party's whips and then leave others to question why in some cases no action has been taken, and in others why the victims rather than the perpetrators feel that they have been punished rather than the alleged wrongdoers, I will also, for now refrain from naming any of them.
It was Groucho Marx who most famously said "I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member" For me it is more of question of not wanting to be member of any party who preaches equality fairness and justice whilst presiding over an internal executive system which denies all three to its own members who have made complaints. And of course let no one think that the Labour Party are alone in Northamptonshire in buying ever more wardrobes to host an ever growing clutter of skeletons!
As always your comments will be very much welcomed.
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