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Today I was lucky enogth to attend a meeting which ended up discussing an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while, are “marginalised only” groups useful?
The meeting was on the German socialist women’s movement of the 19th-20th century (never let it be said I don’t live a fun and exciting life), but for me one of the most important questions raised was when does ( Women | BMEA | LQBT+ | disabled ) caucus play a positive role and when do they play a negative one?
On the left we tend to fetishistic caucuses, and assume they always play a positive role however one of the speakers pointed out something I’ve noticed before.
Before I go into the negative, it would be worth stating the positive. Caucuses can play an extremely important role. Often members of marginalised groups have difficulty having their voices heard by the wider organization (party or union etc) for a number of reasons, firstly they tend to be smaller in number then the rest of the party and secondly often they are less confident in speaking. Caucuses can allow marginalized members to gain the confidence that the issues they as individuals face a also faced by other members, that by discussing them they can come to an agreed way to campaign on throes issues which helps give individual members the power to speak out.
However this only works if throes take their campaign forward. It is all to easy for them to become, as one comrade said “A therapy session” where we all sit around and moan how bad the world is treating us, rather then have a plan to fight for their needs within the wider organization.
It was refreshing to hear throes on the left critic ideas that other feel are sacrosanct.
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I am no fan of Alastair Campbell; I became active in politics in 2001 and one of the first times I was invited to speak was over the Dodgy Dossier. I joined the Labour Party thanks to the push to the left which elected Jeremy Corbyn leader. Why then to I oppose his expulsion?
Mr Campbell broke the rules. Everyone agrees that, nobody is disputing that fact. On May the 24th he admitted that the day before he voted for the Lib Dems in the Euro elections. The Labour parties’ rules are very clear, you may not vote for another party. I not only voted for the Labour Party I overcame my fear and actively campaigned for the party I am proud to be a member of, so why then to I oppose his expulsion?
My concern is with the process, not the outcome. Mr Campbell is far from the first high profile member of the party to be expelled, in 2003 the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Kelvin, George Galloway was expelled for inciting troops to defy orders. Mr Galloway made the comments for which he was expelled on a TV interview on the 28th Of March, he was expelled on the 22nd of October, almost seven months after his comments.
In April 2016 Ken Livingstone was accused of “bringing the party into disrepute” after a radio interview where he made antisemitic comments. He was suspended as a result of the comments, a year later a National Executive Committee (NEC) internal inquiry; determined that he did being the party into disrepute and ordered his suspension continue for another year. Finally, on the 21st of May 2018, over two years after his initial comment, Livingstone resigned from the party.
To me, it is very worrying that in some cases the leading bodies of the party are committed to full investigations while Mr Campbell was expelled, seemingly without any investigation whatsoever. Alastair Campbell should indeed have been suspended, and a full investigation into his actions mounted, however this is not what happened. How can the left claim the moral high ground, the ground we well and truly should own, when we act like the worst extremes of the right of the party? After the Euro elections more than ever, we need to show people the Labour Party speaks for the many and not one side of the party or the other.