Friday, June 11, 2004

TBI - Resigning from the party

This is the text of my resignation from the Labour Party, more than a year ago today.

Alexander Harrowell
(address here)

Party No. B045893

Dear General Secretary,

One week ago I decided to destroy my Labour Party membership card and cancel my subscription. This letter is intended to be a formal statement of resignation, which should also help to make clear the reasons why I have resigned. I believe that, in a wide variety of ways, the Government no longer maintains the principles or represents the interests of those who elected it. Neither has the Party’s behaviour in government been appropriate to the traditions of the Labour Movement.

Despite some appearances to the contrary, I feel that the Government has failed even to make a serious effort to resolve the most important of our socio-economic problems – those being deep inequality, industrial failure, and a failure of culture expressed in the ugly, joyless, crime-ridden spaces of modern British towns. We have not even begun to tackle the Thatcher society, defined broadly as education for the rich, representation for Southern finance as opposed to Northern industry and labour, perverse anti-Europeanism, and an economically distorting property obsession. We will all live in windswept, ugly TV suburbs of tawdry yellow bricks, slaving in third-rate PFI businesses to keep the property bubble going, so we can buy imports and pretend to be Americans. Constant traffic on a million identically landscaped roundabouts poisons the air. Meanwhile, to keep us all happy, the Sun parrots whatever risible scares the Downing Street press office has fed it. It is Thatcher’s world, and it is yours.

Six months ago, I could still take pride in the successful return to Europe achieved by this government, a veritable diplomatic revolution compared with the mendacious and pathetic nonsense of John Major. Now this is gone. Joining the European single currency, the clearest possible move to identify Britain with the hope of a better world, now appears impossible due to the damage done by British acquiescence in Mr. Bush’s campaign against the institutions of the West. The achievement of the St. Malo declaration on European defence has also been thrown away, as evidenced by the recent summit of the weak in Brussels. Closer to home, we still have no evident policy to realise Mr. Gordon Brown’s frequent declarations of the need to close the productivity gap. Failure abounds, as does inaction. We have done very little to prepare for a renewable energy economy. The destruction of real, productive, growth-leading industries in favour of grubby City interests continues. Fancy accounting and PFIs enrich the dodgiest of property sharks and form the sharp end of Mr. Blair’s strange obsession with humiliating public sector workers.

Beyond policy, the smug immorality of the Cabinet has done much to drive me from the Party. Geoff Hoon’s vile recent performance is a case in point. The propaganda rant about supposed executions of British PoWs can only have been viciously cruel to the relatives of the dead men, whether true or not. If it was, as I suspect, propagandistic, it was disgusting. If it was the truth, then it was an outrageous breach of the Army’s covenant. I will not dwell on the appalling cluster-bomb remark, to avoid vomiting. The oh-so-convenient terrorist scares, the vicious pandering anti-French campaign, the refugee bullying – all these demonstrate a bankruptcy of principles. The deliberate assault on the weak is not the spirit of Socialism but of Fascism. (One may recall that according to Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the spirit of socialism is revolt.) I do not believe that the Government even attempts any more to act in favour of the powerless against the powerful, the only direction in which solutions to Britain’s problems lie. We are obsessed with creating tabloid stories of bullying to satisfy Tebbit-minded editors. The heart of the matter is the nasty clique around Mr. Blair (a potentially great Foreign Secretary who ruined himself by reading about John F. Kennedy) – or, as we may call it, the No. 10 Bad Ideas Task Force. I cannot see myself as a member under Blair or a Blair/Thatcher person such as Mr. Alan Milburn, Mr. David Blunkett, or Mr. Geoff Hoon. I resign from the Labour Party in order to live in truth as an independent socialist. To remain in it would be to take part in an organised lie.

Yours sincerely,

Alexander Harrowell

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