‘Machine Politics’ is alive and kicking in the Labour Party…
Ed Miliband, following his ill-advised and discredited sortie into Falkirk, pledged to end ‘machine politics’. It is a noble sentiment indeed and one that should be applauded. However, the proof of any pudding is in the eating and for those involved in the local politics of Peterborough Labour Party, this particular pudding tastes sour.
The leadership of the local Party has reportedly been endorsed by the national Executive Committee, one which Ed Miliband sits on. However, the selection is mired in allegations of vote-rigging, perhaps most seriously, the suggestion that postal votes were rigged. The culture of the local Party is such that it is run by a small, self-serving, clique who care little for democracy and mostly about their own position. They are engaged in a antediluvian struggle with rival personalities, some within the neighbouring North West Cambridgeshire Constituency Labour Party the content of which has little to do with substantive political differences and everything to do with petty personal feuding.
Sadly, the culture of both local parties is twisted and distorted by this feud, Peterborough CLP is currently preparing a witch-hunt against dissenters and has rather incredibly co-opted a Party full-timer onto its ruling EC. The national Labour Party machine therefore has a representative on the sovereign representative body of an organisation that is supposed to represent the interests of Party members. Sounds a bit like ‘machine politics’ to me; little doubt can exist as well that the endorsement of the national EC has emboldened the local leadership in launching it’s witch-hunt.
My estimation is that the national leadership made a political decision not to ‘rock the boat’ in what is ultimately a key-seat. This may make some sense politically but makes considerably less sense when you realise it is dependent upon the silence and complicity of Labour members, many of whom have had enough.
Enough issues and concerns exist in Peterborough Labour Party to merit serious investigation and consideration yet it appears the Party machine has once again intervened against the interests of Labour members, the Labour supporting electorate of Peterborough and more broadly the long-term aims and objectives of the Labour Party. It has chosen to side with a local leadership whose democratic credentials and conduct are at best open to question and in doing so is going back on Ed Miliband’s word to end machine politics in the Labour Party.