Wednesday 13 July 2016

Why are the Labour Party establishment so terrified of democracy?

Since Jeremy Corbyn became the star of the Labour leadership contest back in the summer of 2015 the Labour Party has experienced an unprecedented surge in membership to well over half a million members. This massive increase in membership means that Labour has more members than the next five biggest parties combined*.

Politicians representing any other party would surely be absolutely delighted by such a huge increase in party membership, but the majority of Labour MPs seem utterly terrified by it, many of them slurring new members as "entryists", "trots", "dogs" and the like.

The anti-democratic sentiments of many in the Labour Party became absolutely clear when they used the referendum result as an excuse to launch their pre-planned coup to try to bully Jeremy Corbyn into resignation, but Corbyn stood firm and declared that anyone challenging him for the Labour leadership would have to do it in a democratic leadership election.

When their efforts to bully Jeremy Corbyn into resignation failed they then launched an anti-democratic backroom plot to try to exclude Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership contest, but that failed too because the rules clearly stated that the incumbent leader gets an automatic place on the ballot.

The next move of the Anyone But Corbyn camp was to instigate a series of utterly bizarre and ill-considered changes to the leadership election rules, which included stripping over 100,000+ Labour Party members who joined in the last six months of their right to vote, and the introduction of a loophole to allow well-to-do people to buy the right to vote in the leadership election for £25.

Elements of the Labour Party are clearly so terrified of democracy that they introduced a load of knee-jerk anti-democratic rule changes in the desperate hope of stemming the massive and still growing tide of public support for Jeremy Corbyn.

One of the big problems with these hastily concocted anti-democratic rule changes is that they barred loads of existing members from voting in the leadership election, but didn't bar people from signing up to vote in other ways. This means that people who want to vote can just sign up to join affiliated trade unions like Unite, or join Labour Party affiliated societies (like LGBT Labour, Scientists for Labour or BAME Labour).

The Anyone But Corbyn coup plotters decided to disenfranchise over 100,000 existing Labour voters, and in doing so deliberately destroy the incentive for people to join the Labour Party was bizarre enough, but to leave a load of loopholes open so that people can easily bypass their anti-democratic efforts by registering to vote without becoming an actual member of the party is remarkably amateurish. If this abject nonsense is not a brazen display of anti-democratic ineptitude, then I don't know what is!

What kind of organisation would be so afraid of democracy that they'd openly discriminate against existing members (by treating them as second class citizens if they hadn't joined by an arbitrary date) and create a massive disincentive for people to join the party directly (by allowing members of other organisations like the affiliated trade union Unite to bypass their absurd disenfranchisement rules)?

If it wasn't clear before, then surely it should be now. The effort to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn is about more than his personality or leadership qualities, it's about his policy of democratising the Labour Party and giving ordinary people more say in how the party is run, and in the wider political system.

The majority of Labour MPs are clearly terrified of actually being held to account by their constituents, because they know that democratisation of the party would threaten their lifetime tickets to ride the Westminster establishment gravy train (especially if they're the kind of Blairite who routinely ignores the needs and opinions of their constituents in order to continue pushing hard-right Thatcherite economic dogma).

These self-serving politicians are terrified of Jeremy Corbyn because of his efforts to turn Labour into a grass roots bottom-up party that listens to its members, rather than the top-down party that had been driving away members (and voters) in droves since 1997, until Corbyn came onto the scene and reversed the trend.

The Labour coup plotters are terrified of democracy, and they've tried using all kinds of absurdly anti-democratic measures to fight it.

This appalling behaviour, and the disgustingly contemptuous attitudes of several Labour politicians towards the people they're supposed to represent prove that the upcoming Labour leadership election is going to be a battle to save the party from the anti-democratic forces who despise democracy. The Labour Party establishment resent the membership surge and wish to disenfranchise them and disincentivise other people from joining the Labour Party because they see it as their own plaything, rather than a means of representing the interests of the members and activists who helped them get elected in the first place, and the constituents they are supposed to represent.

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* = 
1st Labour: 515,000 (and growing rapidly until the stupid rule changes)
2nd Conservatives: 150,000
3rd SNP: 116,000
4th Lib-Dems: 74,000
5th Greens: 70,000 (combined total of the three British green parties)
6th UKIP: 47,000 

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