Damning statement from black Labour members after Liverpool mayoral candidate’s court bid for reinstatement fails, with group saying reports of discrimination by Labour and its officials are arriving ‘almost daily’
ANNA ROTHERY RULING: WHAT’S TO BE DONE
The Labour Party successfully managed to argue against the High Court reversing its decision to exclude Anna Rothery from the shortlist for the Liverpool mayoral election. This case points to the difficulties in using the courts to secure administrative justice and possibly the moral inconsistency of the current Labour party leadership.
It is interesting that the Labour Party had managed to argue in court that it feared political risk because Anna Rothery had allegedly called into question the integrity of one of the candidates in the process before the shortlist which the Labour Party had summarily cancelled. The court found that the matter under consideration was one of quintessentially political judgement. That means that there might be significant and conflicting views on the matter at hand.
The Labour Party had argued that it had taken into account all known material factors and admitted that knowing where to strike the balance is difficult. However, after due consideration by its experts, the party had made a political decision to cancel the three women shortlist and start with a new candidate list. The judge agreed that this was not a legal issue but a matter of internal Labour party politics for which the leadership had taken the decision and had to be held to account to its members.
The court is averse to interfering in this matter. It raises the question about the strength of the bases on which the interdict was sought and the evidence that was presented to the court. In court truth does not matter, despite claims to the contrary. Evidence and argument are important. This is a lesson for activists who might want to pursue court actions to secure administrative justice. Losing is a likely outcome.
Once we step outside this courtroom and we look at Anna Rothery as a candidate and her manifesto then one could argue that under the current Labour Party leadership, she is lucky to have reached the cancelled shortlist in the first place. Her policy platform was at odds with that of the current leadership and a high-profile pro-poor candidate could not be the leading contender. Liverpool is too important for the current leadership to lose to the wrong kind of mayor.
We see this type of manoeuvering almost daily. LBS is receiving details of cases where, especially the ‘wrong’ type of candidate for positions in branches, CLPs, city and regional structures are disqualified after they have gone through a process.
Quintessential political judgements are used by the regional and national officers to disqualify left-wing and black members. Anna Rothery’s case is just an instance. This happens daily. And the same judgements are made to retain the membership of people who break international and humanitarian law, (Iraq, Apartheid South Africa for example), racists and Islamophobes.
Anna Rothery was defeated by the neoliberal wing of the Labour Party. One cannot have a candidate who puts the poor people of Liverpool at the heart of her political agenda whilst the regional and national leadership is committed to serving the corporate elite. The leadership could not risk being politically embarrassed every day. This points to the limits of the Labour Party as a vehicle for social justice. It is good to be involved as a member of the Labour Party as a vehicle for social change towards justice.
But there must be a social movement outside the Labour Party that pushes the party to its limits away from its commitments to neoliberalism towards fighting poverty, racism and war. Because of its commitments to the corporate sector this leadership cannot afford to have candidates like Anna Rothery because the most important challenges facing humanity might just be put on the agenda i.e., climate change, nuclear war and the democracy deficit due to neoliberal destruction of the welfare state. Nationalism, patriotism and flag-waving will not address the anti-poor orientation of the corporate class that rules the country. One needs politicians, especially at local government where much of public policy shapes the lives of ordinary people and a radical social movement outside the formal political structures. The role of those social movements is to push and support left-wing activists who operate within the narrow confines of bureaucracy.
LBS remains committed to its view that Anna Rothery was cancelled as candidate because she is the wrong type of woman, ethnicity and class. In fact, the wrong types of members are suspended, expelled and excluded from elections every day. We have to stay and fight. Defeating this right-wing drift within the Labour Party is part of the fight against the Tories. Anna Rothery’s politics is a destabilisation of this development. But this is not the first time that it has happened in the Labour Party. Stay, conscientise, organise and mobilise voters.
It is also necessary for the trade unions to decide whether they can continue supporting this right-wing in the party. First, they came for the members and some trade unions did nothing. Then they came for the candidates and some trade unions did nothing. Then they came for the trade unions and there was no one to stand in solidarity with them.
Build the social movements outside the Labour Party on issues affecting real people in housing, education, employment, environment, war and peace, healthcare and social care. Perhaps we cannot rely on the Labour Party after all. 14.5 million UK people cannot depend on the Labour Party. It depends on which Labour Party pitches up on the day. People in Yemen cannot depend on the Labour Party. Climate change and nuclear war, well what can we say.
As for members who are on the receiving end of bureaucratic cover-ups of racist abuse, Islamophobia
LBS asks people to send us the details to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have to have the evidence in order to hold the Labour Party to account. We’re collating evidence from members and encouraging them to speak out about their experiences.
To Anna Rothery and the other two cancelled women candidates you have conducted yourself with great dignity. To the activists who came out in solidarity, continue the fight inside the Liverpool Council because austerity is coming and build the social movements outside the Council and the Labour Party. The future looks bright for us.
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