Labour Party resignation letter – joining Left Unity

934146_364746756979885_1795043796_nLen Arthur has just resigned from the Labour Party and joined Left Unity. His resignation letter below makes his reasons clear

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Labour Party resignation letter – joining Left Unity.

Dear Mathew
Direct Debit payment
With reference to your letter to me date December 6th 2013.
I’m afraid I have decided to resign from my membership of the Labour Party with effect from the date of this letter, being about the time my annual Direct Debit (DD) payment was due. I have cancelled the four DDs that I pay to the Party locally and nationally.
This has not been an easy decision having been a member of the Party from 1963 – 1972 and again from 1987 – 2013. I was a local election agent in the 1964 general election and my wife, Vera and me met canvassing for the Party in the 1966 general election. I have made a contribution to most election campaigns in that time, even when not being a member.
My decision to leave has gradually evolved since the Iraq war and the financial crisis of 2007 – 08.  I consider the financial crisis to be one of the most important economic events in my political experience, exposing the contradictions and weaknesses of the neo-liberal economic experiment: attempting to make global corporations and capitalism profitable by making the rich richer at the expense of the working class. This began in the early 1970s, it influenced the 1974 – 79 Labour Government; was extensively implemented by the Tories 1979 – 1997; little modified by Labour 1997 – 2010 and has been massively accelerated by the current Tory government. The 2007 – 08 crisis has exposed this agenda for all to see and created the conditions for the left to mount a radical challenge.
In a number of ways I have tried to raise the debate within the Labour Party about how we, as socialists, could take advantage of this situation by developing policies that offer structural alternatives to the domination of the neo-liberal agenda based upon collective and democratic ownership and control. I supported Ed Miliband for leader and hoped that this would open up the democratic debate in the Party over the content of the next manifesto. However, it seems that democracy has been closed down, with local councillors becoming unaccountable to members and national policy processes remaining consultative and being overridden by statements from shadow ministers, such as Ed Ball’s commitment to continue with the Tory cuts into at least the first year of a Labour government. It is little wonder Labour Party members are disinclined to take any radical discussion seriously.
Any challenge to the neo-liberal agenda has now been swept away with the One Nation Labour approach based upon ‘responsible capitalism’ epitomised by the Union Jack emblem that would fit the Tories just as well. Austerity has now been accepted by the Party and is being implemented by Labour councils up and down the UK under the ‘dented shield’ rhetoric: they might as well stick the Party’s new emblem on every shield to complete the image.
As someone who does not support the efficacy of ‘personal politics’ and the power of an individual resignation my decision has been made easier by being involved and now becoming a member of Left Unity: a party that is serious about challenging neo-liberalism, has an internationalist socialist agenda and is likely to be part of the European Left. As it is the intention of the new party to stand in elections, which will mean challenging Labour candidates, this of course is incompatible with Labour Party membership, hence my resignation.
I will send copies of this letter to the Pontypridd CLP; to my branch secretary and to other Party colleagues who need to know directly. I am a  Labour Party councillor on the Pontyclun Community Council. I was elected as a Labour candidate and I do not think it is democratically acceptable to just declare myself as a Left Unity councillor, so I will resign as a councillor at the next PCC meeting in February 2013 or, if I cannot attend, by letter before the meeting.
I wish you all well and I’m sure that I will be working closely with some LP members on campaigns where our politics coincide.
Yours sincerely
Len Arthur


13 responses to “Labour Party resignation letter – joining Left Unity”

  1. John Tummon says:

    Len, that is a very principled and thourtful letter, full of passion and regret and sharp, if brief, analaysis of why Left Unity has been set up = the result of Labour being no longer compatible with the principles and people it was established to serve. I hope your letter makes the members of your local branch of Labour to think very carefully about why they are sticking with it and I would suggest a wider circulation of it on a national basis. If you agree. and only with your permission, I will pass it on to two very good friends of mine who are still in the Labour Party and are the heart of their local estate in Oldham, where I worked for 6 years.

    A warm welcome to Left Unity.

    • Len Arthur says:

      John Many thanks for your comments and I’m pleased to have ‘hit the nail on the head’, a number of others have said the same, so I think I’ll continue to scribble on in retirement! Yes please share with anyone if you think it will help. Peace and comradeship. Len

  2. steve says:

    I did suspect Left Unity would, but didnt realise that Left Unity Had actually decided it was going to stand in elections; anyway this letter confirms/backs up what many of us know about Labour – that democratic functioning in that Party has suffered a further retreat recently (last few years). In my experience this makes Labour more like the unions that are part of it, with little or no actual real democratic functioning at all to speak of: perhaps I should leave Unison too, but for what? there is no more left wing version anywhere, that is democratic and so enables discussion of the way forward for workers under the several coshes of capitalism in “austerity” crisis

    • Len Arthur says:

      Steve – The lack of democracy in the Labour Party prevents a left challenge – that is the key problem faced by anyone arguing to ‘stay and fight’ there is very little chance and very little political will to do so effectively. From my 30 odd years of trade union experience there are key differences with the Labour Party. Workplace organisation allows for daily opportunities to act and build democratically from the bottom up. With that in place and links with other socialists it is possible to build rank and file organisation that can help develop action and improve TU democracy. Demands of capitalism always create issues at the workplace that provide the basis of organisation and resistance and thus democracy among workers who have to be there. In the Labour Party members don’t have to be involved and it requires a political commitment to bother – a commitment constantly frustrated by the actions of leading figures local and nationally.

  3. Merry Cross says:

    May I be one of the first to welcome you Len! I never joined Labour, but did vote for them in every single election until the most recent. I have been shocked by their failure to resist the demands of the neo-liberal agenda and big business and devastated by their failure to support the vicious attacks on disabled people in particular and the poor in general. So I’ve been working hard with Left Unity and I hope that you find yourself comfortable in your new political home too.

  4. John Penney says:

    A great letter, Len. Let’s hope its the first of an absolute avalanche of the same. There are plenty of great , deeply committed, Labour councillors up and down the country who must be at the absolute end of their tethers with New Labour’s unending commitment to the neoliberal agenda. “Running a budget surplus under a new Labour Government” indeed ! Why would any working person bother to vote Labour with that as a promise from the Labour Leadership. Welcome to Left Unity.

    • Len Arthur says:

      Nice one John and yes indeed I think our chances of successfully winning electoral support will surprise people. I think if we can achieve a local Left Unity presence around the UK in terms of direct action as well as in electoral political argument it will help make a number of socialists in the Labour Party think about joining us. Don’t be too optimistic though about the number of socialists – Blairite thinking has continued support both in members and finance!

  5. bob walker says:

    I would like to say Len. Welcome. our new party still needs a lot of work and organizing.I am really pleased with your decision,knowing you will be bringing with you a lot of experience.

  6. Patrick Black says:

    Thanks alot for this contribution Len and welcome to Left Unity.

    I hope you can pull many others with you as well in the process.

    Like YOU and many others in Left Unity, I used to be in the Labour party but the Blair agenda did it for me. I was no longer prepared to choke on my own vomit to vote for them any longer and 1997 and what followed was the last straw.

    As you are no doubt aware,over 200,000 Labour party members have left the labour party since 1997 and over 4 million voters which is an absolutely appalling indictment of such a party and a terrible betrayal.

    Once Left Unity can gain greater cohesion by working out as it is in the process of doing, some core popular and relevant policies then we can start to make a real difference on the ground locally by showing that we are genuinely different to the present fare of increasingly out of touch local councillors implementing austerity cuts and privatisation, never mind the something for nothing ever conceited and arrogant political and business lobbyists presently luxuriating in both houses of so called parliament, then I feel sure that we will start to gain the all important ‘credibility’ and ‘trust’ amongst increasing numbers of people,sick and tired, fed up and thoroughly pissed off with the present dire situation. I’m sure your immense political experience and knowledge and that of many others can play a big part in that.

  7. Anna Bluston says:

    That is a succinct and eloquent letter and will hopefully influence other people in the Labour party. Labour is not offering an alternative as the neo-liberal doctrine has successfully become the dominant narrative and they are terrified of losing “centre” voters. We have got to reclaim the narrative and offer a genuine alternative for a fairer society for the 99% that is popular, achievable and radical, as well as just.

  8. Marco says:

    I’ve just discovered Left Unity. Thank you. I have been sinking deeper into despair looking for someone to challenge the conservative agenda in this country, and find an alternative to Labour when voting. I’ve been a Trade Union Member for 40 years, and have seen Labour turn their backs on the less well off to garner votes and when they get elected do NOTHING for working people. More power to you Left Unity !

  9. David Melvin says:

    I cancelled my Direct Debit to the Labour Party to join Left Unity last month. I fully agree with you Len.

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