BY CAPEL LOFFT
My Letter of Resignation from the Labour Party:
Dear Membership Services and CLP Secretary,
I am writing to resign my membership of the Labour Party.
I have no illusions that the Labour Party centrally will be interested in why, but for my own sanity I want to put into writing the reasons why.
I have been a member of the Labour Party now for just short of 17 years. I joined when I was 15 years old. Between 2010 and 2016 I was a Labour councillor, between 2014 and 2016 I was an executive councillor for finance and resources. Over the years, I have been a branch secretary; chair of my university Labour Club; a ward organiser; and various other positions too numerous to mention. In rain, sun, sleet and snow I have knocked on more doors and delivered more leaflets and sat through more meetings than I care to remember. I have met many of my best friends and indeed my beloved wife through the Labour Party. It has been like a family to me. Resigning is one of the most gut-wrenching and difficult things I have ever done, but I cannot remain a party member any longer and reconcile it with my conscience.
Being a party member has never been without its ethical dilemmas. I have disagreed with many of Labour’s policies over the years, from PFI to the Iraq War. Nonetheless, even at the height of New Labour it seemed to me clear that the only realistic, practical vehicle for advancing the interests of working people was, despite all its flaws, the Labour Party. I have never been interested in protest and moral purity for the sake of it: it is sterile and self-indulgent. I profoundly believe in a broad-based social democratic party that compromises and makes pragmatic adjustments in order to allow it to govern and improve people’s lives: a party that is patriotic because it wants what is best for our entire nation and not merely the wealthy and materially privileged.
I have, however, wrestled for years now with the sad reality of what this great party and movement – the party of R.H Tawney and Ernie Bevin, of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson, of Denis Healey and John Smith – has become. The truth is that if I had had the courage I would have resigned when it became clear that, under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party had descended to the level of an anti-semitic Britain-hating faction combining grossly irresponsible student politics with a thinly-veiled contempt for democracy, debate and the rule of law.
I have justified not resigning hitherto on the basis that good people needed to stay inside to try to influence the party in a more positive direction once Corbyn had gone. It is now clear to me that there is no realistic path to moral and political recovery for the Labour Party, short of a miracle. The majority of its members are now hysterical, anti-patriotic conspiracy theorists drunk on a toxic brew of quasi-totalitarianism, divisive and hateful identity politics, and contempt for the ordinary working-class people that the Labour Party historically existed to represent. Most (though not all) trade unions have become totally disconnected from the views and interests of their members and the electorate: they will not save us. Keir Starmer is powerless against these structural forces, even if he wanted to defeat them (which is doubtful). The problems are so deep-rooted that I doubt that any Labour leader can resist them. They’re not just a part or fringe of the Labour Party: they are the Labour Party.
Briefly, let me outline my objections to the contemporary Labour Party, objections which apply in slightly differing proportions to most (though not all) of its membership, the PLP and the leadership.
Firstly, the majority within the Labour Party has a more-or-less open contempt towards the British electorate, democracy and the rule-of-law. This was dramatically made clear by the disastrous and unforgivable decision to support an attempt to overturn the democratic will of the British people to leave the European Union by endorsing a second referendum. The actions of many Labour MPs, who strained every sinew and used every dirty parliamentary trick in the book to attempt to stymie Brexit, made me sick. This was, however, only the most prominent example of a wider trend.
Labour loses election after election because it treats the views of its diminishing band of core voters – and those of millions of swing voters – with disdain and contempt. For example, voters who felt that immigration on an unprecedented and extraordinary historical scale threatened to undermine their wages were (and are) ridiculed and mocked, or condemned as racist. Patronising liberals from London sneered at the idea that a reserve army of labour consisting of hundreds of millions of people might have some impact on wages. The truth was that they were more worried about the prospect of having to pay their cleaners and nannies higher wages than the interests of Britain’s construction workers, carers and rural poor.
This attitude leads to a situation where the Brechtian line about the necessity of ‘dissolving the people and electing a new one’ has become the consensus position within the Labour Party.
Not even the rule-of-law is consistently supported. Every single piece of direct action from every single radical far-left group, no matter how illegal, contemptuous towards ordinary people carrying out their business, or outrageous is supported or indulged by the Labour Party. Anti-democratic extremists who break the law at will, such as Extinction Rebellion, are supported and encouraged, at great cost to the credibility of the crucial goal of tackling climate change.
Secondly, the Labour Party is still, despite the fact that Keir Starmer has, to be fair to him, made some effort to tackle the problem, infested with anti-semitism. Our membership is a sewer of people who blame Israel for every single problem in the world, who are indifferent to the violence and Jew-hatred of Hamas, and who use dog-whistle (or not so dog-whistle) anti-semitic phrases and tropes. There are still principled opponents of anti-semitism in the party, but structurally Labour will not seriously challenge it because it knows that it if it were to do so, it risks alienating a considerable part of one of its last remaining loyal voter blocs: British Muslims. Not all British Muslims are anti-semitic – there are principled and moderate people among them – but all the evidence shows that anti-semitism is worryingly prevalent among that community. Indeed, recent events have shown that Labour is perfectly willing to use the sectarian divide-and-rule politics of inflaming hate between different ethnic groups if it is convenient. The issue of Palestine – a fringe issue of little interest to most British voters – is used as a way of dog-whistling to anti-semites. I am no supporter of the current policies of the Israeli government, but there is no question that opposition to the existence of Israel is used as a euphemistic way of signalling Jew-hatred by many on the modern left. Labour indulges this. It does not seriously challenge it.
Thirdly, the Labour Party is deeply infected by the disease that is a virulent, divisive, shrill and counter-productive form of identity politics, imported from the USA, in which the interests of the poor and working class are barely on the agenda at all. Labour has become so dominated by the politics of divide-and-rule, by the insidious mental habit of defining some groups as inherently virtuous and others inherently suspect by virtue of their skin colour, gender or other incidental characteristic that it barely realises it does it. The form of honourable anti-racism – the anti-racism of Martin Luther King, which implored us to judge each other ‘not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’ – that I was brought up to believe in by my left-wing parents is now seen as unacceptable. The English people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the disgusting bigoted views of a tiny fringe, have been getting more and more enlightened on racial issues for years (as every social attitude survey and piece of objective evidence shows) – but the Labour Party smears them as racists.
These issues are bound up with two fundamental issues: class, and lies.
The Labour Party has become the factional outlet for highly-educated middle-class people who mostly have no understanding of poverty, no empathy for the poor, and no concern about the struggle to survive and live dignified lives that still characterises the everyday existence of too many in this country by virtue of their class position. The racialisation of every problem to the exclusion of any other consideration has made the Labour Party totally indifferent to the problems faced by people who have the temerity not to fit into a minority ethnic identity category.
This has led to the disgusting, the revolting situation where the plight of some of the most vulnerable and underprivileged people in British society is totally ignored – or worse – by the Labour Party. The fact that white working-class boys have the worst educational and social outcomes is swept under the carpet because it is inconvenient. Far worse, fear of being accused of racism has led to Labour politicians and supporters totally ignoring – or worse, actively turning a blind eye to – the scandal of the rape and sexual abuse of teenage girls in care on the basis of the respective skin colours of the victims and perpetrators. When your ideology allows you to ignore the gang rape of children because it’s ‘inconvenient’, you have lost your moral compass totally and utterly.
Lies are now the stock-in-trade of the Labour Party, and nowhere are lies more prominent than in our vile pandering to the extremist gender radicals. No amount of ideological cajolery or coercion will make me assent to self-evidently absurd propositions such as ‘women have penises’ or ‘trans women are women’. Denying biological reality to placate the fantasies of the trans-lobby is modern day Lysenkoism and science-denial, and I will not be party to policies such as self-ID and undermining the sex-based rights of women.
The truth is that the Labour Party is overwhelmingly dominated by people who are interested only in espousing the extreme ‘luxury’ views of a tiny milieu of metropolitan progressives, and have zero interest in the big material questions that face everyone in our country, whatever their race or gender. From social care to vocational education, from the need to develop good-quality jobs via a robust industrial strategy to tackling our housing crisis and making our welfare state less cruel and demeaning, Labour has nothing to say, and no intention of making the compromises needed to gain power to actually make a difference on such issues.
Indeed, one cannot help getting the impression that the middle-class liberals who dominate the Labour Party luxuriate in their absurdly extreme radical opinions because it has become a status marker for people who wish to express their superiority to the ‘benighted’ working class, who need to be re-educated and scolded by their betters, who act like the worst sort 19th century missionaries converting the ‘backwards’ heathens.
I am aware that not every member of the Labour Party has succumbed to the forces that I have outlined, and I do not wish to impugn the honourable few. Many of them are still my personal friends, good and well-meaning people. But these tendencies are dominant and I see no way of reversing them.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said ‘let each man choose: Will he remain a witting servant of the lies….or has the time come for him to stand straight as an honest man, worthy of the respect of his children and contemporaries?’. In remaining in the Labour Party as long as I have, I have lived by lies. It has corroded my soul and made me ashamed of myself. There are only four types of people left in the Labour Party: the morally vicious, the well-meaning but mistaken, the stupid, and the cowardly. For far too long I have been part of the latter category.
Capel Lofft writes here.