Socialist Party
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30 October 2019

Opinion: Labour Party is structured to block left councillors

Peter Redfarn, Deptford Labour Party

Blairite councillors are doing everything they can to prevent councils standing up to the Tories and defending their communities like Tony Mulhearn and the 'Liverpool 47' councillors did from 1983 to 1987.

Democratic 'district Labour parties' were replaced by 'local government committees', then by 'local campaign forums'. Each change has made them less democratic and enhanced the power of right-wingers to block the left from becoming councillors.

According to the otherwise good Labour Party conference, we now have local government committees again. Under the latest rule change, a third of members must be existing councillors - in contrast to the district Labour parties, where overwhelmingly delegates were elected by local trade unions, Labour branches, and affiliated organisations.

My sister had to support the infamous 'private finance initiative' to become a Labour councillor. In my ward, a local activist won a by-election, but the local campaign forum prevented her from standing as a Labour candidate a few months later without any explanation.

The vast majority of Labour councillors are determined to stop Jeremy Corbyn. They put the profits of property developers before the needs of the people. Council housing is being demolished and tenants forced to pay greatly increased rents to stay in the area.

As well as restoring the money cut from local authorities, the following steps should be taken.

People expelled from the Labour Party for opposing cuts should have the right to return, and all Labour Party members should have the right to stand as candidates.

There should be annual local government conferences in each council area with participation by trade unions and local community groups as well as Labour Party members. End the mayor and cabinet system and make all council meetings open to the public.

Out with the Blairites! Housing for all on the basis of need! Reverse all cuts and privatisation!