Party atmosphere

Went to my first meeting of my local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) yesterday evening. Not sure how regular an attendee I’ll be, but wanted to show my face given that I certainly won’t be able to make it next month. As requested by D.S. Ketelby, here is my report on the proceedings.

In terms of cross-section of people attending, it reminded me of a congregational meeting in a small- to medium-sized Baptist church. Probably about 20 people in the room, slightly more women than men, a high proportion of grey/white hair, a few younger people (but no-one below 30 as far as I could tell). An elderly couple, clearly among the pillars of the community, who hold to the faith with a greater fervour than many of those around them, and recall fondly the days of the previous pastor/Clement Attlee (delete as applicable).

The main purpose of the meeting last night was to mandate the CLP’s delegate to next week’s party conference. When I arrived, the meeting was working through the six policy commission documents that are to be approved at the conference. We voted on the first couple of documents before it was pointed out that the only vote at the conference will be for or against the whole kit and caboodle, so we just voted the whole thing through in one go. Democracy in action. Ahem.

We then approved various other possible resolutions – previously known as “Contemporary Motions”, now called “Contemporary Issues”, to stop them sounding like they’re intended to achieve anything – ranging from calling for affordable public transport fares in London to support for the democratically elected governments of Bolivia and Venezuela.

Finally, we discussed and passed two motions – one proposed by the constituency secretary, the other by one of the Clement Attlee fans sat behind me – which expressed the CLP’s support for Gordon Brown and general dismay at the Blairite running-dogs who are solely responsible for questioning his leadership (ho-hum), before calling on the government to actually start behaving like a Labour government: reforming the financial system in response to the current situation, building more council houses, that sort of thing.

The support for Brown was interesting to note. I was quite surprised by how strongly supported he was, and how hostile people were to the current ructions assailing the party. But as someone pointed out, it is truly shocking that at a time when the financial system is in meltdown and the economy is nosediving into recession, the only time any Labour figures appear in the media it’s to go yakking on (mainly in code) about the leadership.

I voted for both resolutions – more for the proposals on policy than the pro-Brown sentiments – and I’ll be interested to see whether the resulting cognitive dissonance and the psychological drive towards internal self-consistency make me more supportive of Brown in the days and weeks ahead. 🙂

Name-dropping: the constituency secretary is Nigel de Gruchy, formerly a fairly well-known trade union leader (leader of the NASUWT). Well, I’d heard of him, anyway.


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