Brown’s betrayal of democracy

Brown’s betrayal of democracy (Guardian letters)

The latest in my occasional series on the impending “divine-right succession” of Gordon Brown to become British Prime Minister: the letters in today’s Guardian, which show why it is that Labour inspire such cynicism about politics in people these days:

The fact that Labour MPs have collectively decided to deny both Labour party members and the millions of affiliated trade union members any say at all in who the new party leader should be speaks volumes about the nature of Labour party democracy after 12 years of Blair’s leadership. The fact that only 30 or so Labour MPs were willing to support a challenge to the continuation of Blairite Thatcherism says all we need to know about the politics of these so-called democratic socialists.

The only people likely to join a political party which treats its members with such contempt are exactly the kind of apolitical careerists and managerial apparatchiks who already seem to dominate the Labour backbenches. Many people already believe that most politicians are out for themselves and will care little about how the Labour party appoints its leader. The process we have just seen in the Labour party will confirm these people in their cynicism.

When reading this, I thought of the apparatchik-wannabes I encountered when involved in student union politics in the years just before Blair came to power, and the contempt they had for the unions they were using to climb up the greasy pole of union politics in order to get noticed and, in some cases, to get seats to fight in the 1997 election. They were very clearly out to silence the NUS and stop them demanding things Labour had no intention of providing. The attempt to “manage” the NUS conference in 1996 became obvious when, a couple of seconds after a member of the executive stood up, the cheers rose from the central part of the audience, almost as if they suddenly realised that someone was waving at them from the balcony to tell them to clap! (I could not see it as my union’s seats were under the balcony.)

The other letters are worth reading also.

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