I do my best to save the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband from himself. As branch secretary one of my jobs is to compile and circulate the agenda. Being post-Conference it was report back time. But I studiously omitted any explicit reference to Refounding Labour. Our submission was studiously ignored by Head Office. I even missed off Any Other Business. That fooled no-one. As we were about to adjourn to our fundraising supper a colleague asked, "Did that Labour supporters proposal go through? Fortunately, no one was clutching a glass of red wine or masticating the buttersquash/lentil stew, otherwise our host's carpet would have been in a sorry state. "Batty", "insane", "mad", members splutted in disbelief. "Financial disaster...what's the point of being a fully paid-up member?"
Indeed, which prompted a proposal to launch a write-in campaign to Ed and the new General Secretary, Iain McNicol: please explain why I should remain a Labour Party member.
It is all very well for the newly appointed unelected deputy chair Tom Watson to launch a financial appeal to members. But it only takes 400 members currently paying the full rate to drop their subscription to the reduced rate (a loss of £20/head) and the Labour Party has lost £8,000 a year. That happens to be the amount Tom is reported to have raised in the first few days of his appeal.
On a personal note, and in total exasperation about the mismanagement of the party as a democratic socialist body, I have already cancelled my membership Direct Debit. I propose paying by cheque at the reduced rate until the Leadership wakes up. If the Labour Party is being refounded then it needs to plan an Annual Conference as a deliberative assembly, and hold a proper AGM at which the NEC opens itself to member scrutiny. As for sending a constituency delegate to Conference, I will be voting against for the same reasons. The offer of a free delegate pass bundled into Refounding Labour for every CLP is only the tip of the cost iceberg. Speaking personally, I'll be saying thanks, but no thanks until members get a say. That will mean the NEC and the Conference Arrangements Committee transforming the planned event for Manchester in 2012 over the next few months.
As for the money I'll save, that's going to my local branch. We have an election campaign to fight in 2013.