My first Labour Party meeting
On Thursday 7th July I went to my first Labour Party meeting. It’s quite a tumultuous time at the moment. The EU referendum had a shock result, David Cameron has resigned, Boris Johnson was stabbed in the back by Michael Gove killing off his chances of running for PM, a rush of awful candidates have stepped forward as potential Tory leaders, 100,000 extra people have joined the Labour Party in the last few weeks and there has been an attempted coup of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). In a vote of no confidence, roughly 172 voted against him versus 40ish who voted for him. The Labour Party meeting I went to was to address the disastrous result of the referendum and the vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. It took place in Swansea Civic Center and there seemed to be quite a lot of people there, I believe someone mentioned a number of 80. On the stage were our local MP for Swansea West, Geraint Davies, a minute taker and a chair person. The rest of the attendees sat in a semi-circle in tiered seats. I’ve been quite impressed with Geraint Davies the MP for Swansea West Wherever there have been crucial votes in parliament I have checked and been happy with Geraint’s stance standing against the attempts the Tories have made to crush the disadvantaged. So I was more than a bit disapointed to find out that he was one of the 172 who voted against Jeremy Corbyn. The structure of the hour long meeting went like this. First Geraint gave a 10 minute speech, and then members were picked randomly to have their say, limited to two minutes each. Summarising Geraint’s speech, he spoke about losing the referendum and his view about Jeremy’s part in it’s loss. He spoke about how he liked Jeremy, but thought he was not the right person to lead the party forward. It’s fair to say that Geraint had a bit of a hard time as it seemed that most of the members were strong Corbyn supporters. My own estimation would have been possibly 70% for and 25% against. Members would stand up and gain a strong round of applause when they expressed an opinion in favour of Corbyn. Those who spoke against Corbyn had a smaller ripple of applause. While they were going around the room I wondered what I would say if I could gain the courage to stand up and speak, Having only been a Labour Party member for a week, standing up in front of 80+ very knowledgeable people… I just couldn’t do it, so didn’t offer to speak. But here is what I wanted to say.. (Obviously tongue in cheek)
Robert Earls, Killay, Labour support all my life but only recently joined the Labour Party. I’m also an atheist, but an atheist who believes that Jesus Christ probably existed, albeit without all the supernatural powers bestowed upon him. If the stories are to be believed, Jesus was a quiet and humble man, with quite a natty beard and a strong message of peace, understanding and fairness. Without strong disciples that message would have been lost. You see, one man cannot make a different on his own, he needs strong generals to spread the message, to educate and inspire. It takes especially strong generals to spread a message which goes against the zeitgeist. What Jesus wouldn’t have wanted was his disciples to try and meet the Romans half way. Given the strength of feeling in the room, pro-Corbyn I would ask Mr Davies if he thinks he still represents the members and secondly if he thinks the attempted coup has strengthened the Labour Party, or weakened it.
But I just sat there, listening to others around me not stumbling over their words, like no doubt I would have. And the reason I would have stumbled is because I don’t fully think things through. And this is the reason for this blog. It’s not for you, it’s for me to organise my thoughts into some kind of order. At the end of the meeting, there was a somewhat farcical attempt at holding a straw poll to see who still supported Jeremy Corbyn. Geraint was not in favour of this, and a few vocal supporters also raised objections, so they made an attempt at voting on whether there should even be a straw poll! Those in favour held their hands up to be counted. I’d say 75% raised their hands in favour of the straw poll. A few helpers went around and counted, and as i was towards the front, I overheard one of them say, “well it’s a majority”.. They whispered something to the chairperson, who announced it was too close to call… which frankly beggers belief. She also stamped her foot down when someone raised an objection and he was not allowed to speak about it further. So that was disappointing to see. All of the way though this meeting Geraint Davies acted very petulant and overly defensive. I was very disappointed to see this from my MP who I have respected until now. He did mention there would be a leadership election next week. I wonder how many people will leave the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn is unceremoniously ejected from his leadership. So the next step for me is to go to some local meetings and see what goes on there. Not doubt I’ll spew up some naive crap about that too. Watch this space.