Thursday, September 29, 2005

Seaside Special (2)

So we've had speeches from the leader and a cracker from his anointed successor this week, amongst speeches from other high-profile members of the government. We should have been celebrating our third term and looking forward to the next four years and winning the next election.

Instead, in this most closely-managed of media operations, there is the disgraceful sight of an 82 year old refugee from Hitler and the elected chair of Erith and Thamesmead constituency party both being dragged from the conference hall for the crime of speaking in a tone above a hushed, reverential whisper. Can't we handle debate any more? Isn't there room for different views in this party? In the end, this has overshadowed the week and defined conference 2005. The party did the right thing in apologising swiftly and in full and reinstating Walter Wolfgang's pass. (See Tony - you CAN say sorry)

Blair and Co - you don't own the Labour Party. Despite what some may think, the seats that we won in May and the council seats we look to take are won through the hard, unpaid and often unappreciated work of thousands of members and helpers. We are entitled to our views and we deserve the respect of being heard. If the party isn't going in the right direction at any one time, some choose to leave, but others stay and stand up for what they believe, hoping to bring the party back on track. David Clark in the Guardian makes some important points about the future of the party and the risks inherent in Blair hanging on too long to find his place in the history books. I've seen this at local level and every local party agrees that it is a major challenge to get members out to do the mundane grunt work of leafleting or envelope stuffing.

We're still here Tony. We gave you your three victories. We're still out there working to try and return elected Labour members in whatever level of election comes our way and trying to spread Labour values in our communities. Remember us when you are thinking about what you want your signature achievement to be in the history books. Don't let it be the destruction of the grassroots origins of this party.