Veteran Labour Party member and activist Mick Williams has resigned from the party in protest at the candidate selection process used for both the parliamentary and local elections.
His resignation ends a 46 year association with the Labour Party. In that time he served as a City Councillor for many years and was awarded the party’s National Merit Award in 2008.
He will now return the award to the Labour Party in protest.
Mr Williams was at the centre of a long running dispute over his status as a Co-op party delegate to the City Labour Party.
Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP nominated him as the chair of the City Party but he was prevented from entering the meeting [allegedly by the Regional Director Ian Reilly] in which the vote was taking place.
As a result Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP refused to attend further meetings until the situation was resolved.
Mr Williams was also very unhappy with the candidate selection process for both the local and general elections and in particular what he perceives to be the imposition of preferred candidate upon the constituencies and branches.
Here is the email in full to Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, which sets out his reasons for his resignation:
Thank you for your email sent earlier today and promising “a different kind of election – one where we the politicians throw open the doors to grassroots activists and the wider public”. Well, forgive me, I’ve heard that so many times before and it never happened – anyway they are not your ‘doors’ to throw open, they belong to the party members.
I joined the Labour Party in 1964 to seek a democratic way of overthrowing a (Tory) Government which had been in power for 13 years and had relentlessly attacked the interests of the working class. I now leave the Labour Party for exactly the same reasons – except that this time the Government concerned (yours – and coincidentally also of 13 years) claim to have improved the lot of the working class. Really ? After reading Wilkinson and Picket’s “The Spirit Level” (which describes how inequality has got considerably worse) and by personal observations of my local area, I think not.
Last Thursday I attended my CLP’s selection meeting to choose a new PPC, following Mark Fisher’s announcement of his standing down. This meeting was presented with a shortlist of three which was so obviously rigged that I was moved to vote against ‘proceeding to ballot’. There had been much local (and some national) publicity regarding the successful candidate and speculation that he had been manipulated into the vacancy by Mandelson. My distrust and hostility to Mandelson dates back to the infamous ‘Sheffield Rally’, where his cocksureness destroyed any chance of a Kinnock victory, and I did have concern for your sanity when I learned that you had brought him back into government.
After the PPC selection came the counting of votes in a postal ballot to choose a council candidate for my ward (Hartshill and Penkhull). This had been actioned by the Regional Office “on the instructions of the Chair of the Organisation Committee, Cath Speight, to re-open the selection”. This followed the decision of my Branch (despite the quorum being augmented by people from other parts of the region) not to proceed to ballot. What should have happened was that there should have been another shortlisting/selection date(s) agreed and the process re-run – but excluding the candidates on the original shortlist. This did not happen, and BLP members were amazed to get a ballot paper with the original two names – after both had been clearly found unacceptable. Whether this was pure bullying or a recognition that they could not continue to impose candidates by a ‘flying selection squad’ I know not. I formally complained to the Regional Office, and they said “duly noted; passed to the compliance unit”. I’ll not hold my breath.
The date 20th September 2008 may not mean much to you, but it was the day that you and Ray Collins signed a certificate on behalf of the NEC “to honour a lifetime’s commitment to the Labour Party”. This was the National Merit Award given to me after I had been nominated by my peers in the local Party. I will be returning it by post since I cannot now believe it was signed with any degree of sincerity.
Perhaps you will understand why I now feel it necessary to assert local democracy by standing myself in the local election – for the first time in my life not as a Labour candidate. I shall put in my nomination papers tomorrow and have until noon next Tuesday to withdraw. Who will blink first ?
This of course means that I shall have to resign from the Labour Party so I would be grateful if you would regard this email as my formal resignation.
I copy this email to the General Secretary (“we are where we are”) and the Chairs and Secretaries (where appropriate) of BLP, CLP and NEC, together with the Secretary of my Co-op Party Branch. I will make verbal announcements at trade union and other relevant places. I will not be bullied, bought or gagged.
In democratic socialism.
Membership No. A******.
The official Labour Candidate for Hartshill & Penkhull is yet to be announced.
The sitting Councillors are Cllr Randy Conteh & Cllr Barbara Beeston.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young Peoples Services Ian Mitchell is up for election on 6th May 2010.