Labour Wouldn't Let Me Join. (Getting Involved)

By Jump, Jim | New Statesman (1996), June 2, 2003 | Go to article overview

Labour Wouldn't Let Me Join. (Getting Involved)


Jump, Jim, New Statesman (1996)


Does the Labour Party really want a mass membership? I lapsed a dozen or so years ago, but I decided this year to rejoin. So I sent in the application form and a year's subscription. I had not realised that there was any more to it than that.

First, I received a call from Labour's head office. A woman demanded to know why I had decided to join. Because Labour is a mass party capable of implementing progressive socialist policies, I said, or words to that effect. "So you agree with the party's policies?" asked the woman. "I didn't say that," I replied, and repeated what I had said before. After all, the party's revised Clause Four states that Labour is a "democratic socialist party".

On 20 March, I wrote to Watt asking why I had been chosen for investigation. On 1 April. a woman rang to explain the delay, which was because the Battersea party was too busy with the May local elections to deal with my application. I pointed out there were no such elections in London this year. Well, it was also because the local party had been "inundated with applications", she blurted. Did that mean everyone was being investigated? She didn't know.

A week later, a letter came from Peter Watt, head of the legal and constitutional unit. Officers of my local party, Battersea, would make "further inquiries" into my application, Watt told me. "I will write to you again once I have been informed of the constituency party's decision and you will have the right of appeal should they decide to reject your application."

In mid-April, a letter from the Battersea party summoned me to a tribunal of officerson6May. I demanded a reason for this interrogation before I would agree to attend. As none was forthcoming, despite several letters and e-mails to the party, I declined to do so. …

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