At the slight risk of boring folk with petty Falkirk Labour stuff, I really do need to comment on today’s perfectly fair and accurate Sun piece which refers to my wish to take the Labour Whip.
First off, apparently a ‘party spokesperson’ says that the rules preclude me re-joining for 2 more years. My instinct is that the spokesperson was in Scotland and not London. That may explain why the reference seems made up. I’ve been through the 2013 rule book (here’s a fairly recent e-copy from 2010). Chapters 2 and 6 appear to be the relevant ones. I can’t find any reference at all to 3 years (2 more years plus the one already passed since my actions); nor any to MPs who voluntarily resign the whip and have therefore never been expelled; nor to people not sentenced to prison; and so forth. Today, I emailed the party General Secretary to ask for clarification.
Labour organises in Scotland on the basis of Holyrood parliamentary constituencies, not Westminster ones. This is confusing some people. Scottish parliament constituencies are essentially the old UK ones, so they’re about 2/3 the size of their UK counterparts. Falkirk constituency is therefore made up about 2/3 of the Scottish parliament constituency of Falkirk West and 1/3 Falkirk East. Most Westminster MPs, therefore, do not have a constituency ‘Constituency Labour Party Chair’ – the politics are a little more complex than that. Some recent reportage has referred to Falkirk West, rather than Falkirk. Stephen Deans, for example, as correctly reported here, is the chair of Falkirk West CLP. Stephen is also chair of Unite, Scotland. Apparently, Unite recruited 100 new members to Falkirk over a very short period. It’s unclear whether they were all recruited into Falkirk West, in which case that would represent around a 2/3 uplift in a few months; or whether they were recruited into both Falkirk West and the porton of East in within my constituency boundaries. The latter would still represent a 50% increase. I think it’s great that so many people want to join the Labour Party. The UK Party (i.e. The actual Labour Party) seems unsure about it all, though. It’s been reported that an inquiry is underway and that many of the new sign-ups are Unite members. Following that report, it was further reported that the Unite candidate has pulled out of the race for the Labour nomination.
I’ve been made aware that ordinary members are now not being allowed by the Scottish Labour Party to know what is to happen next; nor even when the next party meeting is (which is itself, reportedly, the AGM). I’ve also been told that branch officials within the sub-components of Falkirk West CLP are not being allowed access to their own membership list so they can’t send out invitations to their meetings. That’s a recipe for stasis and worse.
It’s all looking a bit messy. Perhaps Stephen Deans, whom I don’t know as he was never in evidence during my 13 years of campaigning in Falkirk, is still speaking for the Labour Party as a whole. For now, it certainly seems so. Whether he is or not, I hope he’ll consider allowing branch officials to know who their own members are, at least.