Democratic Socialist Party | @srcav

cavStephen Cavadino is a maths teacher (and fanatic) from Leeds. He is a member of the Labour party. You can read of his musings on maths, teaching and life at cavmaths.wordpress.com . When he isn’t teaching; writing about, or doing maths he spends the majority of his time with his family, watching rugby (both codes) and playing guitar.

Labour is a Democratic Socialist Party. It says so on my membership card. It’s a party built on an internal democracy. Historically, policy decisions have been made by the membership, rather than the small proportion of that membership who sit in the commons. We have the national policy forum and we have policy decisions made at conference. Parliamentary candidates are selected by the membership, democratically, before they stand for election.

I know all this, but recently I read this piece from Tarjinder Gill (@teach_well) who was arguing that these things actually make the Labour party less democratic. I read this albeit well written piece with a bit of bemusement. The argument was that actually these PLP members have been elected by the general public in an election and as such have more of a mandate to set policy than the wider membership, and more than our democratically elected leader.

I feel that this is a twisted an flawed logic. Granted they have been elected by the populous, but there are many reasons why the logic is flawed. Firstly, the majority of these MPs were elected more because they were standing for the Labour party rather than their own personal policy views. I believe that these MPs who have been so outspoken against the leadership understand this, or they’d be able to break away safe in the knowledge that they would be returned as independents, or members of an alternative party, in 2020. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they should, I feel there’s room in the party for all the views and that we can look to work together, I do think that some of them need to stop writing vile horrible things about their leader and members though.

When it comes to policy decisions one wonders why these PLP members are so scared about the membership having a say. Surely if they believed their policies were best they’d be able to stand by them in a debate and get across to members why they should side with them? These are the members who selected them to run in the first place after all.

The article, and many of the things we have seen in other media written by Corbyn’s detractors, tries to conjure up an idea of him as a Stalinist, a totalitarian of the hard left. He’s not, he’s a democratic, keen to make the democracy even more democratic by removing the unelected elements we still have and keen to make his party even more democratic. He’s also not “hard left”, he’s further left than any leader recently,  and is further left than the other main parties (and so the labour leader should be!) But he’s not hard left. In the party of Bevan, of Atlee, of Keir Hardie, he’d have been considered a moderate.

The internal democracy within the Labour party is a strength, not a weakness. Policy decisions, selection decisions and other decisions can be made together, through discussion and debate. That’s what Corbyn wants, a party that works together to build a better future for all. I just wish that everyone within the party would get behind him and engage with these debates to ensure their view is heard and the policies are the best for all. This would be much better than the vile attacks we are seeing on our leader and his supporters, and the equally vile retorts that some of his supporters feel the need to issue.

3 thoughts on “Democratic Socialist Party | @srcav

  1. I cannot get behind the ‘curious’ rag bag of misogynists, anti-feminists, xenophobes and anti-Semitites he seems to find acceptable both abroad and in this country. Time to decide that we link up with progressives and democratic socialists around the world who are our natural allies.

  2. Wow – ok.

    For a start the votes of the electorate do count for more than those of the membership. Internal democracy in a party is no equivalent to, you know, actual democracy where people choose who they vote for. Apart from their constituents, no one voted for Corbyn or McDonnells, or knew about their ideas. Without a new election or a by-election in every seat, there is no knowing completely how the Labour electorate (rather than membership) would have voted.

    It is precisely the claims that internal democracy counts for more than the electorate and what they think which put the Labour party on the far left. That is a communist idea. To refer to democratically elected MPs just as ‘PLP’ members diminishes their unique position in Labour as those who have been elected, in many cases, in the last election,with even bigger majorities (a trend in many safe seats). A maths teacher ought to know that less than 1% who voted for Corbyn is not the same as the 30% who voted for Labour. And all the polls that demonstrate that Corbyn is hugely unpopular with the wider electorate can not simply be dismissed, especially as polls traditionally have tended to underestimate the strength of the Conservative electorate.

    Secondly, it is completely false to say that people have voted Labour so ip so facto will agree with the current leader’s policy. The people who voted for Labour in May, like myself, did not know what would happen subsequently. We voted for MP’s under the leadership of Ed Miliband who was not a communist quoting, anti-Trident, anti-all things West and considered the establishment. Neither did he need to set up an organisation outside of the party to threaten deselection. You can state that Jeremy Corbyn has a mandate internally but he is not behind the mandate given to Labour MPs, it was a different Labour party and leader that stood in the elections 6 months ago.

    It is clear that the current leadership are utterly deluded about their ability to be elected as they seek the votes of the non-voters and see the current Labour electorate as expendable. Except that the most comprehensive survey into voter and non-voter views, conducted by the TUC no less so hardly bias against the Labour Party, demonstrated clearly that non-voters had views incredibly similar to voters. Why is this still being ignored? Because it is inconvenient.

    The appeal to Bevan, Attlee and Hardie are utterly false. Attlee would have been considered a war monger who, under the current leadership, would have been threatened with deselection for suggesting that a) Hitler was a threat, b) Britain needed to rearm itself and c) for agreeing with a Conservative like Churchill. He didn’t hesitate to adopt what was a liberal reform policy blueprint, which by today’s standards would have been considered ‘centrist’ and not going far enough.

    Finally, the PLP are not ‘scared’ of the members having a say. They are right to be concerned about the infiltration of the party from the precise elements that led to the trashing of the party’s reputation in the early 1980s. Why is Momentum allowing members of Militant and the Socialist Worker Party to openly leaflet at their meetings, in favour of deselecting a sitting MP? Also why should people who voted for and stood no less for other parties have the same say as Labour MPs and the electorate who voted for them?

    I call BS on the whole charade that Labour’s internal democracy is somehow valid as a measure of the actual views of the people in this country. That’s what the general election was for. If your going to peddle quasi-communist ideas and ideology then expect to be called on it. The reason we have never had a dictatorship in this country is because we have always had people who argue against the totalitarian instincts demonstrated by leaders/parties, etc and call it what it is.

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