Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/882/21889

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2015

A week in Walthamstow: Campaigning against our pro-war MP

Nancy Taaffe, Walthamstow

The drama that has played out in the community of Walthamstow, east London, in the last week is a sign of the fault lines which could affect Labour MPs everywhere. In the absence of Corbyn whipping his MPs, the struggle to compel them to vote against bombing Syria instead took to the streets and working class communities.

Many Walthamstow residents thought their letter writing campaign to local Labour MP Stella Creasy meant her 'no' vote was in the bag.

But as Sunday slipped into Monday and the vote loomed on the Wednesday, no news came from Stella that she was definitely going to vote against war. Like the sudden realisation that a love affair may be ending, the posts, tweets and discussions became more and more frantic and desperate.

On the Tuesday a vigil/demo was organised by Labour Party members and other local people. We marched from a local mosque to the Labour Party office. Children held candles in jam jars. The chanting varied from demands for peace, to a call for Stella to vote no. It was a completely peaceful local event.

Jam jars

As the debate began in Parliament on Wednesday morning, press reports began to emerge that the demo had marched to Stella's house. Other reports tried to suggest that jam jar-shaking kids were terrorising Stella's staff (who, it emerged, weren't even in the building). Stella didn't make any clear statement that this was not the case until three days later.

When her vote in favour of war was finally cast, a sense of bewilderment seemed to set in. Despair turned to anger and anger to rage.

Over a thousand people left messages on her Twitter and Facebook - including people who had voted and campaigned for her saying they could never do so again. Over 500 wrote emails - the vast majority to complain or ask questions.

On the Thursday I appeared on the Daily Politics show to counter some of the lies that had been told about the demo, and also to argue that the helplessness felt by this betrayal could be rectified if mandatory re-selection (see page 8) was reintroduced into the Labour Party.

This would make it much easier for the community, in this 'safe' Labour seat, to attempt to remove Stella as their MP and to ensure that she never did this to them again.

Suddenly a tiny number of abusive messages and even death threats - which are wrong and have no place in our movement - were being conflated with threats of re-selection.

We had to argue that, even though the threat of losing their cushy lifestyles and their peerages may feel like death, it is not a death threat - it is a democratic right.

Similarly we have the right to argue for this, whether we are in the Labour Party or not. Socialist Party members are pointing out the process of democratisation that would be necessary to transform the Labour Party into the anti-war, anti-cuts one urgently needed by the working class.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, appeared in the media to threaten Labour Party members who organise demos like the one in Walthamstow with investigation. There were echoes of suspension and expulsion.

The Socialist Party answered the lies and bullying tactics of the Labour right wing - a right wing which was furious with the mobilisation of pressure exerted from inside and outside of the Labour Party.

Like the movement to elect Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-air strikes movement did not bother to ask itself whether it was a card-carrying member of the Labour Party before getting organised.

Community

Such was the anger that engulfed the community, Stella was forced to organise a 'public' meeting. Everyone who wanted to go had to apply beforehand with full name and address to be checked against the electoral roll. Then they were supposedly at capacity so started turning people down.

And the venue was only announced one hour before the meeting was due to start - like a 90s rave. It was promised to be a 'central Walthamstow location' but ended up being in a school a 26 minute walk away from the station. How people with disabilities or the elderly were meant to get there is beyond me.

Scandalously her email responding to those requesting attendance said that this 'security' was because of: "the ongoing possibility of alternative political party representatives and campaign organisations from outside our community stating their intentions to disrupt this event".

It became clear this was directed at me and the Socialist Party when I arrived, despite an email telling me I wasn't welcome, and they tried to keep me out - including by physically resisting me entering the building.

My supposed threat to disrupt the event was that we intended to move a motion to the audience at the meeting.

Apologise

This called for Stella to apologise, issue a statement against bombing, get behind Jeremy Corbyn and if she refused, that we would call a vote of no confidence in her as our MP.

I eventually got into the meeting. And despite all those who were excluded, around 200 other people turned up - really impressive considering the clandestine conditions. I sat for an hour with my hand up and never got called in to speak or move our motion - despite other people in the room calling for me to be allowed to.

As the Socialist Party has explained, unless we can hold our political representatives to account in between elections, then they are free to betray us again and again. The Walthamstow community learnt something this week.

The Socialist Party was bold under pressure and steadfast in our politics. There will be political ramifications of this vote and we will play our part in struggling for a mass workers' party which has the right, not only to re-selection of candidates at election time, but to recall its MPs at any time.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 9 December 2015:


What we think

How can Corbyn and the left win in the Labour Party?

International Brigades fought against capitalism, not for


Socialist Party news and analysis

Defending the right to deselect warmongers

Young people accused of extremism

Rail fares and profits rise as service suffers

Tax-dodging drug firm shuts research facility

Them & Us

Quiz of the year


International socialist news and analysis

French elections - Le Pen's far-right FN surges

Venezuela elections

Northern Ireland: movement needed for abortion rights

Ireland - defend the Jobstown protesters

Sweden - public housing victory

Belgium - party congress success


Socialist Party feature

Floods reveal effect of government cuts

Carlisle - lives and livelihoods devastated

Capitalism's climate change policy failure


War and terrorism

A week of anti-war campaigning in Walthamstow


Workplace news and analysis

Interview with new RMT president

Unison general secretary election in crisis

Trade unions must join the fight for steel nationalisation

Strike in support of suspended headteacher

NSSN action in the North East

Workplace news in brief

Readers' comments and reviews

Eleanor Marx: A life of struggle, solidarity and socialism


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

TV review: Tomorrow's Food

Letters


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to save our NHS

Thousands march around the country against the bombing of Syria

Confronting the far right in Derby

Subs campaign: have you increased yours yet?

North West fighting fund week of action!

The Socialist Christmas schedule

Socialist Party national committee meeting


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 December 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Labour Party:

triangleLessons from the Corbyn experience

triangleHull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

triangleTrades council debates workers' political representation

triangleThe special Covid crisis of British capitalism

triangleLabour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

War:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleA new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

triangleThe Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

Walthamstow:

triangleCouncil houses - not private property developers

triangleAvenue of trees saved!

triangleHow working-class tenants beat Gentrification

Labour:

triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

triangleStarmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis

MPs:

triangleMPs get 10k each for lockdown expenses - where's ours?

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleSabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed

East London:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Why are coronavirus deaths higher in working-class areas?

Press:

triangleCapitalist press attacks Tory incompetence

Cuts:

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

Anti-war:

triangleHistory: Alice Wheeldon - an anti-war socialist persecuted by the state

Anti-cuts:

triangleSouth Devon Socialist Party: End of the Corbyn era - What next for socialism?

Bullying:

triangleVote yes to Royal Mail strike action to take on the bullying bosses

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

27/5/20

Fighting Fund

We need readers' support to fight capitalist crisis

27/5/20

Ferries

Fight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

27/5/20

Schools

Schools aren't safe

27/5/20

Energy

Energy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

27/5/20

Hull

Hull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

27/5/20

Covid

Eerily quiet before second wave - don't reopen schools!

25/5/20

Coronavirus

No return to unsafe construction sites

22/5/20

Obituary

Mick Cotter 21-9-57 to 20-5-20

22/5/20

Rolls Royce

Strong union response needed against job cuts

20/5/20

CWU

Postal workers' action results in double victory for union

20/5/20

NSSN

Organising to fight for workplace safety

20/5/20

Peterborough

Posties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

20/5/20

Covid

Johnson claims workplaces safe but HSE cancels inspections

20/5/20

Protest

Safe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

19/5/20

Hull

Trades council debates workers' political representation

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999