Sunday, September 17, 2006


Rumours reach me that Clare Short is likely to find herself excommunicated from the Labour Party as soon as Wednesday this week. (pic from Random Perspective)

If anyone has any doubts about the likely outcome - given that Clare has advocated a hung parliament as the best future option, something that could only occur with Labour-held seats changing hands - here's the relevant section of the rulebook (2A4b, if you really care):

A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member
And here's the outcome, from the procedural guidelines:
Where a panel has found a charge under 2A.4 of the conditions of membership proved, expulsion is required by the terms of that rule.
Here's an extract from her article in the Independent this week:
The Chief Whip has warned me that I cannot recommend a hung parliament because it would mean Labour MPs losing their seats
Sorry, Clare. You walked into this one.

I have no problem with debating policy, even with arguing about who should be our leader - those are all decent reasons for internal dissent and are signs of a healthy and active party. However, when it comes to election campaigns, then members have a duty to stand by their party - political parties would descend into anarchy without that public unity. Those are the rules by which ordinary members like me have to live - I expect the same from my elected representatives. Even though I want Tony Blair to resign sooner rather than later, I would have no qualms about getting out and campaigning for Labour to win another election under his premiership, because I still believe in the Labour agenda and the broad sweep of policy.

Interestingly, I understand that Unison have been supporting Clare with a £1500 per annum campaign development donation - many MPs get similar support from a union. Now, everyone thinks that Labour party coffers are awash with dodgy donations from equally dodgy millionaires, but I can confirm that this isn't the case for constituency parties that I know. Ladywood is no different - they still have bills to pay and have to scrape together the cash to do it, as well as funding the local election campaigns each year. Some help from a development fund would be useful - indeed it has been requested on a number of occasions, but the money is held in an account whose signatory, Clare's political agent, is no longer even a party member and there seems a certain reluctance to dole out any cash.

The union donors might also question how much 'development' has actually been done. Apparently, when Ms Short last spoke to her constituency party AGM - way back in 2000 - she claimed that there was no need to campaign on the ground between elections because everyone knows her. That might go some way towards explaining the growth of the Liberal Democrat vote in her constituency in recent years - although that tide has been rolled back a little in the Aston wards. There are MPs who understand that a key part of their role is maintaining the bedrock of their constituency support and there are those MPs who don't. Ultimately, of course, keeping the grassroots well-fertilised ensures the longevity of the MP themselves, so any other course of action is counter-productive.

Still, if Clare can hang on until 2008, she'll get her pension for 25 years' service as an MP.
No chance of a by-election, then.


Simon said...

OT: Did you hear about Tory Central Office appointing a 'minder' by the name of James North to watch over Mike Whitby and minimise his gaffes? This has included creating a Wikipedia page for him, which I will shortly be editing creatively.

Andrea said...

I suspect Short doesn't even really care anymore. She knew that her hung parliament "campaign" was against party rules and she did it anyway.

And she'll get a lucrative pension even if she doesn't hang on until 2008 (considering she has been in the Cabinet she'll end up with a more than 30,000 £ pension...the actual figure depends on if she has opted for the 1/40 or the 1/50 rata after 2002)