As the Labour leadership election pushes towards its finale the Blairite/Progress faction within the party is carrying out a frenzied programme of purges. The three CLPs in Lambeth, Dulwich and West Norwood, Streatham and Vauxhall all came out for Liz Kendall. Given the composition and nature of these CLPs this is hardly surprising.
But when the MP for Vauxhall, Kate Hoey, heard that a former Labour leader of Lambeth Council, Joan Twelves, was denied a vote she commented:
“Joan Twelves, a former Labour Leader of Lambeth Council has been rejected even though for many years she has not been involved with another Party. Indeed she did some delivery of leaflets for me in the General Election.
Am I just being too suspicious that it seems anyone who is suspected of not being a Progress supported Liz Kendall fan is subject to instant rejection if they are known to leading Councillors?”
At the moment I’m unable to attend my CLP meetings because of the late hour they are held. Maybe that’s a blessing as I’m fairly sure my working class, pro trade union and anti-neoliberal values wouldn’t resonate with many in the Dulwich and West Norwood CLP.
Anyway, Kate was my MP up until last year. Though I disagreed with much of her politics she is a first class constituency MP; and she assisted me on a few occasions.
Just before the reselection process last year she called me to ask whether I was attending my Labour branch meeting. Mine was the last to meet and its result was purely academic as Kate was already reselected by the rest of the branches; but I guess she was looking for a clean sweep.
My old branch is full of political wannabees. The leadership is composed of councillors other halves and mates or Westminster spads associated trades in and around Parliament and Portcullis House.
On the evening in question there was a full house at the branch meeting, which had the appearance of a Progress breakout. The first few speakers stuck the knife well and truly into Hoey; and it looked as though she was sunk.
I piped up giving my support for Kate; stating that though we didn't always see eye-to-eye that I would far rather see Hoey in Parliament than yet another grey faced man in a grey suit pushing even greyer neo-lib policies - aiming my barbs at a particularly grey wannabee sitting beside me.
However the night was won by the contribution of a very elderly Afro-Caribbean woman who upbraided Councillor grey suit. She said, in a matter-of-fact way, that she had known A since he was a little boy; that she was most perturbed to hear him criticise Kate Hoey in such a way; and that he had changed from the polite little boy that she had watched grow up.
Brilliant! I could feel the embarrassment as it radiated from under his collar; and as for his colour, a delight to see. Her contribution encouraged others to come forward in support of Hoey; and the vote went in favour of reselection.