Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lynne Jones: "I now feel it is for others to take up the fight".

My MP, Dr. Lynne Jones, has sent me (and all other Labour Party members in Birmingham Selly Oak), a letter, "in advance of going public". Now that it has appeared elsewhere on the blogosphere, I feel free to reproduce the highlights:

"Since 1997, there have been great achievements of the Labour Government that make me proud. In many ways, this has been a genuinely re-distributive Government - highlights have included additional funding for public services and equal rights for minority groups. However, these advances have been insufficient to dispel my disappointment in a leadership that has been so timid in applying our socialist principles to the practicalities of government, yet so reckless in taking us to war in Iraq and in laying the foundations for the break-up of the NHS. I feel that I have performed a useful role in opposing the worst excesses of "new" Labour and can point to some considerable successes on the way. But I am weary of the constant battles and I now feel that it is for others to take up the fight. I hope that a new generation of idealists will be encouraged to take stand for public office and drive our Party forward for, whilst it is no secret that I have been unhappy about many of the Government's policies, I have always encouraged those who shared my concerns to stay fighting within the Party for a return to the values that made us join, in my case 33 years ago..."

The first thing I want to say is how sorry I am to be losing an excellent MP: I haven't always agreed with Lynne (and still don't, on certain matters), but I have always respected her integrity, honesty and sheer guts in standing up for her principles within a Parliamentary Labour Party that was (until recently, at least), largely made up of supine, Blairite careerists and craven ex-leftist turncoats. Lynne, who from her days as a Birmingham City councillor, has never claimed to be anything except a left-reformist, at least stuck to her guns, and in doing so probably sacrificed a potential ministerial career.

And who can blame Lynne for feeling "weary" with the labour of Sisyphus that is the battle for elementary reformist principles within the PLP?

But note that Lynne urges everyone to "stay fighting within the Party" (which surely gives the lie to those who have tried to suggest that she would prefer to see a non-Labour female candidate win the seat, than the probable Labour candidate for the constituency, Steve McCabe - a right-winger who has managed to get considerable union backing, mainly because leftist trade unionists haven't been active in the Party ).

The fact that a decent, left-reformist MP like Lynne Jones now feels so isolated and demoralised, is a rebuke to the British "left" that has largely turned its back upon the Labour Party, the labour movement, and the working class.


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