Letters

Submitted by AWL on 19 February, 2020 - 11:19
Richard Burgon

Leeds East MP and deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon’s politics are, in general, close to those of the Stalinist Morning Star. So it is ironic that he has made eloquent arguments for Labour Party democracy that virtually no other prominent figure is making.

Interviewed on Novara Media, Burgon argues forcefully that Labour members must make Labour policy – including manifesto policy – through conference. He maintains and develops this argument for about ten minutes, defending it against persistent attempts by Novara interviewers Michael Walker and Aaron Bastani to talk him out of it. Bastani and Walker argue that conference policy cannot produce an effective, “strategic” manifesto or campaign, which must be left in the hands of the leadership, subject to conference “temperature checks”, plus the ability to change the composition of the Parliamentary Labour Party through open selections.

Burgon insists that democratic policy-making, through conference, is essential, and the only alternative to policy-making, in effect, by the media. There’s a transcript of the exchange and a link to the full interview on The Clarion here.

Lesley Baxter, London

Continuing its tradition of crap videos, Momentum has put out one entitled “Leave voters challenge Rebecca Long-Bailey”. It’s naff all round: it’s just two unnamed Salfordians having a very muted exchange with RLB before declaring she’s the one for them after all, but it’s billed as “some tough questions for Rebecca”.

Two things jumped out from her answers:

Asked about Momentum, RLB says: “It’s good to have [different groups like Momentum and Progress], and it’s good to have the arguments within the party, but my problem has always been that we [should] have these arguments in private, don’t have these public rows on television, and once we’ve agreed what we’re going to do, we go out there and we unify behind the leader, whoever it is, whether you agree with them all the time or not.”

If this is an argument against disruption by right-wing MPs, it is not well made. It seems likely to also be an argument against an open party democracy.

Asked about immigration and its alleged affect on hospitals and schools, RLB pivots to attacking the Tories, austerity, etc, but without challenging the anti-immigration premise. She says “You’re right”, as if the questioner had said something different.

Worse still, she finishes the answer with a call to ensure that “when the government is developing this immigration system, that it’s fair”.

Kennedy Vickers, London

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