Withering resignation letters handed in at annual meeting
Liverpool’s St Michael’s branch Labour party in the Riverside constituency lost two thirds of its remaining elected officers at its annual meeting last night when the group’s vice-Chair and Treasurer resigned their membership of the party in disgust at the conduct of Keir Starmer and his coterie of right-wingers. Skwawkbox has obtained the resignation letters of Ian Kyffin and Karen Fletcher, which are published in full below. Fletcher also posted on Facebook to further explain her decision:
I resigned from the Labour Party last night at my branch AGM, my heart has not been there after how they have treated Jeremy Corbyn and jeopardised his campaign in the 2019 election, then witch-hunted good socialists from the party.
Starmer has been no real opposition to Boris Johnson largely remaining silent despite numerous opportunities to give harsh criticism and a viable alternative to the privileged, lying, sexist, racist, misogynistic Prime Minister.
Although I leave the Labour Party I will remain an activist in the Labour Movement, supporting grassroots campaigns, strikers on picket lines and those fighting for workers rights and against injustice. I will support socialist candidates who are prepared to not make cuts affecting working class people already struggling with cost of living, food, fuel and energy increases.
Labour has lost a large part of its presence on the city’s council earlier this year after councillors resigned rather than support the Labour mayor’s swingeing budget cuts that would hit the most vulnerable, with eight of them forming an independent group on the council – the second-largest opposition group. Keir Starmer has essentially declared war on the city and Liverpool Labour democracy, writing for the hated S*n, rigging candidate selections and forcing remaining members into unrepresentative meeting structures.
So many party members have quit or disengaged in disgust that the St Michael’s annual meeting could not even muster a ‘quorum’ and so was unable to elect its delegates to the constituency party meeting, though it remains to be seen whether right-wingers and their friends among the mayor’s allies will simply assume the official roles without being properly elected according to the rules – another branch activist left the party last week and the constituency party’s disability officer resigned last year.
Fletcher’s resignation letter noted the excitement and prospect of real change that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership had created – in contrast to the drab and ineffective performance of Starmer as well as Starmer’s war on members, their democracy and specifically on the St Michael’s branch, which has been the victim of smears and leaks by the party right to the hostile press.
But her comments also reflect badly on the supposedly-left hangers-on around the mayor and the local MP and the bullying she reports has been targeted at those trying to make the branch a success:
RESIGNATION FROM THE LABOUR PARTY 09-06-22 at St Michael’s Branch AGM
At the close of this meeting, I am formally resigning from the Labour Party and it is with great sadness and much reflection that I make this decision.
Originally a Labour Party Member from aged 17 during the Thatcher years, I re-joined the Party over 5 years ago as I was energised and given hope by Jeremy Corbyn that we could have a Labour Party with socialist values and policies, which could mean real change for the working class of this country.
I enjoyed my activism, campaigning, canvassing, leafleting, representing my branch at demonstrations and sharing information on Social media to assist in the cause.
Since the defeat at the 2019 election and the way in which the Labour Party turned on Jeremy Corbyn, the then Leader of the Party, to discredit him and actively work against him, jeopardising and vilifying him, disappointed and disgusted me. I was prepared to stay in the party and fight, but since 2019, I have seen and experienced a lack of democracy, both nationally and locally.
Despite a consensus of many members that our branch has functioned well over the last few years, holding zoom meetings to keep members engaged during the lockdown, we had members and officers heavily invested in supporting vulnerable members of the community Covid Support Groups and returned the highest increase in vote share for the last local elections, I find it extraordinary that our branch has frequently been smeared both inside and outside the party.
We have also seen our secretary retrospectively expelled for supporting a now proscribed organisation, Labour Against the Witch-hunt in where his only crime was to offer support to members who had been caught up in what is now broadly seen as a political witch-hunt. This is only what a trade unionist would do for colleagues and members.
I know there are some good people who remain in the party and are doing this for the reasons of not ‘giving one faction what they want’ and being present to support any left candidates in future NEC or leadership votes.
I would prefer to put my energies into the wider Labour movement and not the Labour Party in its present guise. I will be supporting those grassroots causes of workers on strike or demonstrations against injustices, cost of living crisis or attacks on worker’s rights or anti racist and anti-fascist demonstrations. I want to take the opportunity to thank my comrades within the party and the other branch officers who have always acted professionally and in the best interest of St Michael’s branch and in my opinion have behaved impeccably despite the barriers and hurdles placed in our way.
Kyffin’s makes similar and equally damning observations as well as reminding readers that Starmer broke every one of the promises on which he campaigned to become the party’s leader:
Ian Kyffin (Former Treasurer – St Michael’s Labour – Liverpool Riverside)
After much consideration, I have decided at the close of this branch AGM to resign from the Labour Party.
With the ever increasing shift to the right of the party, it is evident that Labour no longer offers an alternative to the failed system that the working people of this country have endured for too long.
The party leadership and shadow cabinet have no solutions to the problems that face working and vulnerable people. Keir Starmer and the Parliamentary Labour Party seem more focused on attacking their own members than attacking those who make life for our neighbours so unbearable. Keir Starmer reneged on his pledges to those who voted for him as leader and he has failed to make effective progress against the most corrupt and incompetent government in living memory. Not only has he failed in this regard, but he has also extinguished the life changing fire that
existed until recently, in part thanks to Jeremy Corbyn.
Democracy in Labour has now become an afterthought, with members simply expected to churn out the vacuous policies of an out of touch metropolitan elite, obsessed with an era gone by that left us with PFI, a million dead in Iraq and subsidies for bloated companies who refuse to share their profits with the workers who deliver them.
I am proud of what some of us in this branch have achieved over the last years. Particularly proud of the work we did with vulnerable residents in South Liverpool in our collective efforts to ensure they got nutritious meals throughout the lockdown. It is notable that not a single Labour councillor came forward and helped with the fragile finances that underpinned that operation, often with volunteers using their own money, savings and even benefits to pay for the raw materials that would make the day’s food deliveries a success. It was frankly an embarrassment to Labour that
only the Greens pulled any levers to get us access to funding from the local authority, despite our efforts covering many Labour wards.
As a member of one of the founding Trade Unions of the Labour Party, the Baker’s Union (BFAWU), I was appalled at how our president, Ian Hodson was treated. Ian has dedicated his life and work to improve the pay and conditions of our members and in solidarity, our members rightly voted to disaffiliate from the Labour Party last year.
I have only remained in post since then, in order to hand over to the new treasurer and will be more than happy to honour that after my departure, this evening from the Labour Party.
I wish members well for the future and hope you can continue to deliver for the many, not the few.
Skwawkbox understands that at least some of those departing in this latest exodus are now campaigning for Laura Wharton, the candidate standing for the Community Independents group in the Fazakerley by-election in the north-east of the city, where Labour is standing a right-wing candidate who had already quit the party in pique after failing to win selection in another ward, but whose membership was somehow mysteriously reincarnated in time for the new selection. The Community Independents group consists of councillors, who quit the party whip because of the mayor’s budget cuts in collaboration with the exorbitantly-expensive commissioners – welcomed by Starmer – imposed on the city by the Tories,
As a result of the party’s appalling treatment of members in the city, St Michael’s and all Liverpool’s other branches and constituency groups are now forced to operate under a delegate system that prevents most party members having a direct say in local party decisions and policies – but how is a delegate system meant to function when member engagement is so poor that some branches can’t even get enough people to meetings to elect those delegates?
The excuse of Starmer and his sidekick David Evans was that it was done in response to the ‘Hanson report’ to the party’s national executive – but the report was supposed to focus on the poor running of the local authority and had nothing to do with the city’s party units and how they operate or organise, making the travesty yet another naked attack in the war of contempt on Liverpool and Labour’s own members in the city.
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