On Monday I sent out an update to all Labour members across our local Labour Party in NE Bedfordshire. I realised that our day to day lives had changed monumentally since I previously sent out an update – just five weeks earlier. Further, and although seeming almost trivial in comparison to drama and tragedy of the Coronavirus pandemic, a new Leader and new Deputy Leader of the Labour Party had been elected. In addition to this an internal Labour Party report was leaked, which many of you will be aware of. Just below is the update sent on Monday and below that (in bold) is a statement on the importance of inclusion that I sent to all members in July 2018. Bearing in mind some of the issues arising from the leaked report it seems relevant today. I’ve re-read it and, although I may have re-worded it slightly if I wrote it now, I still hold the same views. It will be for others to say if I have held to the spirit of the statement!
“Since I last emailed on 15th March our world has changed immeasurably. Many of you will know people who have passed away due to Covid-19 and for some tragedy will be very close to home. For those that have lost loved ones, on behalf of NE Bedfordshire Labour Party I send our deepest condolences.
If any of our members need any assistance, please do get in touch as we have volunteers across the constituency who will be happy to help. If any good has come out of these terrible times it is the incredible community spirit shown across our villages and towns, which I hope will last long past the time we get through this.
I would also like to pay tribute, not only to our amazing NHS and care workers, but also firefighters, the police, shop workers, pharmacists, teachers, utility and refuse workers, who have done such vital work to keep us safe and keep at least some semblance of normality. To all key workers, a massive thank you on behalf of NE Beds CLP.
During these exceptional times, as a local Labour Party we wanted to assist those across our constituency who are carrying out vital work supporting the most vulnerable in our community. Yesterday we transferred donations to a number of local community projects.
Of course many of you will have views on how the government have reacted to the pandemic, I know I have, particularly on the provision of PPE for key workers, but this is for another discussion at another time.
While other issues pale into insignificance compared to the Coronavirus pandemic I’ll cover them very briefly below.
As you will know Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner were elected Leader and Deputy Leader respectively, in what was in my view a ridiculously long contest. The results are below. Some of you will be delighted, some of you will be unhappy, some will have more pressing issues at this time. Following on from this of course many of you will have seen the leaked anti-Semitism report, or at least seen excerpts of it. I know this has caused a lot of anger among the membership, with a number of you considering resigning.
As I’ve said previously whatever shade of red you are, you will be warmly welcomed within NE Beds Labour Party. I have little or no time for factionalism – and it is a luxury we cannot afford if we want to make progress nationally. Whatever the rights and wrongs of what has gone on, we must learn from it – and then move on. You can’t influence this from outside the tent. Of course I can’t make anyone stay, but I can assure you I’m not going anywhere!
We must not have ‘Austerity 2’ when this is over. The financial burden which will no doubt follow must this time be shared on the shoulders of those who can carry it most. We face challenging times ahead. I’m up for it, I hope you are too!”
Julian 20th April 2020
Chair’s Statement on Inclusion within NE Beds CLP – July 2018
“As the Chair of this CLP I’m determined that the many strands of the Labour Party are made to feel welcome within our local Labour Party. From a personal perspective my campaign team during last year’s election covered a broad range of different views within the umbrella of the Labour Party and this team was able to work in a collaborative and productive way.
Again, on a personal level, while I lean to the left of the Labour Party and voted for Jeremy Corbyn in both leadership elections, I have not joined ‘Momentum’ as I’m not in favour of factions within a political party, although I fully respect a member’s decision to do so. I believe it can be unhealthy just to listen to people that agree with you and we can learn a great deal from listening to those that have different opinions to ours, both from within and outside of the party.
While of course labels are sometimes hard to avoid we should be very cautious in how we use them and ensure they are not used in a derogatory manner as that may create an unwelcoming atmosphere within the Constituency Labour Party. Different views within the party should be able to be expressed freely in a respectful environment.
Our local Labour Party meetings should be conducted in a manner where all members feel able to air their views and take a full part in the meeting. As Chair this is my responsibility in the meeting and I will do all I can to make sure this takes place.
While we have achieved a great deal, we must always be aiming to improve and it is in this spirit that I help guide the CLP for the benefit of its members and the Labour Party as a whole. Working together there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
Chair NE BEDS CLP
31st July 2018
Stay safe and if you can, stay home!
Julian Vaughan 22nd April 2020