Women’s committee member’s resignation on International Women’s Day is symbolic
Mandy Clare, a Cheshire West and Chester councillor and an elected member of Labour’s National Women’s Committee has dramatically resigned from the party, blaming the ‘hostile environment’ of ‘bullying and discrimination’ created by the current Labour regime, that regime’s contempt for women and their rights and the party’s ‘sabotage’ of her work to fight poverty. Below is her full statement.
Full Resignation Statement – Why I have made a Big Decision on International Women’s Day 2022
By Mandy Clare
I am resigning the Labour Party Whip as a Councillor and giving up my membership of the Labour Party today, International Women’s Day 2022, which also means I will no longer be a member of the party’s National Women’s Committee (NWC).
The opportunity for the meaningful social change so many of us were invested in since Corbyn was elected to the leadership only really came about through a careless mistake. Those now firmly back in control won’t let that happen again. I have not remained in the party under any illusion that there is a route back from the deliberate devastation caused by the right wing, in the lead up to the 2019 election – devastation caused deliberately by them regardless of the cost to those going hungry and cold now. These are not people who can be reasoned with or who care about others.
People like me don’t have many opportunities to gain a platform and instigate change. I had made a deal with myself that I would push my work on the Poverty Emergency as far as humanly possible within this hostile environment and that I would not shirk from the opportunity to speak up on behalf of women through the NWC. I decided that once I had reached the end of the road with those two projects and could achieve no more, I would leave the party. I have reached the end of the road on both counts.
The disciplinary system has been weaponised against me as I have refused to be intimidated and silenced on women’s rights and have resisted the many attempts to dilute my work on poverty. Some of the bullying and discrimination I have received has resulted directly from reporting, as a member of the NWC, the abuse experienced by other women. It is pretty much impossible to progress further within that kind of environment, so it is at last time for me to call it a day and I can’t pretend that it is not a huge relief.
The continual daily sabotage at the local level around my poverty work and the aggressive stifling of even the slightest dissent within the Labour Group has made my condition (fibromyalgia) much harder to deal with and has stolen away countless precious hours of time I haven’t been able to spend with my children or family. It always takes six times longer to complete a task where others are deliberately working to pull out the threads as soon as they are woven into place.
The A Fairer Future Strategy that resulted from the Poverty Emergency Declaration and which I have led on over the past two tortuous years includes alleviation, such as food, job and debt support and advice, but it goes far beyond merely regurgitating the statistics we all know, shunting people into low paid work and providing food vouchers. It looks at what the evidence tells us about how society and the economy have unfairness baked-in. It maps out routes forward that enable people to increase their incomes as well as to develop confidence as articulate leaders in tackling poverty systemically. It is intelligent and unique and I am proud of it, as well as of myself for not giving up months ago, as I have wanted to leave the party every single day.
It is a document I am proud of, albeit one that I am now likely to be airbrushed from. It remains to be seen whether it will be diluted and buried as quickly as possible, but I am glad that once in print, other councils can at least pick up and make use of some of the ideas if they appeal. It might still in time help to shift the poverty conversation on from being all about alleviation and individual behaviours and back onto unfair systems, which is where the focus should never have moved away from.
“Remaining within the party means that you have to be proud, or willing to pretend to be proud, of being part of something led by people like Rachel [Reeves]”
If we have an understanding that poverty is caused by unfair systems, rather than faulty people, it makes it much harder for Labour politicians to justify statements such as that by Rachel Reeves when appointed as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, now Shadow Chancellor, about Labour’s pledge to be tougher in slashing benefits than the Tories and her follow up comment, two years later, that Labour doesn’t represent people on benefits, only people in work. Remaining within the party means that you have to be proud, or willing to pretend to be proud, of being part of something led by people like Rachel. You have to believe that it can change things in a meaningful way and I don’t believe that it can or that meaningful change is even the intention of this party. I have felt ashamed and embarrassed by association. I am so pleased to not be a part of that anymore. As an Independent Councillor, I support the Resist Movement’s Manifesto https://resistmovement.org.uk
I will give a fuller account of the things I have pushed on within the Labour Party and the different ways I have been blocked and bullied in due course. You can find more of my writing and examples of my projects on my website in the meantime here
Thank you to those who voted me onto the National Women’s Committee and I am sorry that I am leaving before my tenure is up. I have reported regularly on my work as well as on some of the difficulties faced. I have taken my role very seriously and genuinely done everything I could to respond to and represent women effectively at national level and am sad to conclude that the committee itself is completely under-resourced and dysfunctional. I wish I could conclude more positively. Solidarity and thanks to those women and men, young and old, within politics, the media, the law, academia or anywhere who think for themselves and who continue to speak up for women’s rights and anyone oppressed, even when that comes at a personal cost – you are my political heroes.
Mandy Clare is a councillor for Winsford Dene ward on Cheshire West and Chester Council.
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