The Lane ward in Camberwell and Peckham constituency Labour Party met on 7 July with 51 people present. In the previous week 72 had joined the ward! The meeting began with a lively debate on whether an emergency motion, calling on the party to support Jeremy Corbyn and condemn the MPs who passed a vote of no confidence in him, should be taken. (The CLP had defeated a similar motion the week before and it was argued that the ward could not therefore discuss the matter).
Despite the attempts of the chair and a few others to close down any discussion, the chair’s ruling not to take the motion was challenged. Under party rules two-thirds of those present are needed to vote in favour to overturn the chair’s ruling. That vote was lost because ‘only’ 29 out of 51 voted in favour of allowing the emergency motion.
There were many new members at the meeting of all ages. They said they had been inspired by Corbyn to join. Some of the views expressed included: ‘I feel appalled and betrayed by the MPs who are calling for Corbyn to resign’; ‘I joined because Corbyn has a new way of doing politics – it’s not about personalities, not about fetishising his leadership and there is a duty to get behind him.’ When some members complained ‘Corbyn is not electable’ one new member said, ‘What’s the point in getting elected if you have no principles?’
Another person said if the rules don’t allow the ward to discuss something the CLP has voted on then we should change the rules. One said they didn’t vote for Corbyn, but said that his policies are the direction in which the party needs to move. Importantly, nearly everyone at the meeting spoke. Later an emergency resolution[i] was taken on the Chilcot Report, welcoming the apology of Corbyn on behalf of the party and calling on the constituency MP Harriet Harman and all other MPs who voted for the war on Iraq to apologise. The resolution was overwhelmingly passed.
The recent decision by the NEC to suspend all ward and constituency meetings is undemocratic and is stifling the ability of the members to express our views. You can’t persuade members by bureaucratic measures.
- This ward notes the Chilcot report which found that there was no justification for going to war in March 2003. In particular we condemn the fact that Tony Blair chose to join the invasion of Iraq before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted and despite the fact that there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
- This ward condemns the fact that as early as July 2002 Tony Blair assured US President George W Bush he would be with him “whatever”.
- This ward welcomes the apology given by Jeremy Corbyn on behalf of the Labour Party for the disastrous decision to join the war on Iraq.
- This ward calls on Harriet Harman to apologise for having voted for the war and calls on all other Labour MPs who voted in favour to do likewise.