New leadership needed in Sheffield
As the Party nationally boasts of being under Keir Starmer’s new leadership, it seems Sheffield is crying out for the same thing - but for a socialist left leadership in our case.
Julie Dore is still holding on to her position of leader of Sheffield City Council despite being committed to stand down at the next elections in May 2021. Indeed, she would be gone by now but for the postponement due to Covid 19 of the local polls earlier this year.
Her time in charge will be remembered by many for the debacle over trees which hit the headlines this week with a damning report not only on the policy to fell so many trees but also the heavy-handed response to those who dared to challenge her.
You would think that this might lead to attempts to rebuild bridges in the city with those who she has so autocratically ignored.
Not a bit of it. The Labour Group, under her leadership, has gone out of its way to try and crush any opposition. The Local Campaign Forum (district party) has been starved of funds by the Group for over two years contributing to the redundancy of the paid organiser for the Party in the city.
Lo and behold, but four months after forcing this, the Group is to hire its own paid organiser – employed through the regional office – to carry out much of the same duties as the LCF’s organiser.
When challenged, the Group claims this is a temporary post to win the elections next May, but cynics might suggest that there was a paid organiser with just that role and it cost the LCF many thousands of pounds of members’ subs to pay redundancy for no obvious reason.
The truth is that, as ever, the right of the Party is at times more interested in fighting the left than fighting the Party’s real opposition – the Tories and, locally, the Lib Dems.
The May elections will be unusual as there is unlikely to be any opportunity for doorstep conversations or canvassing face-to-face. So the results are likely to be very difficult to predict with many of the usual assumptions about turn outs and what might just tip the polls in the party’s favour redundant.
Julie Dore clearly thinks she can deliver a win for Labour for her successor – who ever that might be. But we are in such uncertain times that Labour may just be punished for the haphazard and autocratic leadership that Dore has exerted over the city.
As comrades cite the local government innovation of places like Preston and Dagenham & Redbridge, Sheffield feels firmly rooted in old politics where grudges and prejudice prevent any attempt to revive local democracy with a socialist agenda.
Sheffield Central CLP
- Resolution against censorship
- Carried at the CLP meeting of 24th September
This CLP notes the General Secretary's 12 August circular to CLP Secretaries and Chairs informing them that several areas of Party business are "not competent business" for CLPs to discuss.
This conflicts with the Party's long-standing custom and practice and tradition, whereby both affiliates and CLPs have the right to engage in discussions and adopt positions on matters across the full range of party business and policy.
One reason our Party is among the largest in Europe is because internal debate has always been encouraged. Members/CLPs have always been able to freely express their views to the NEC and the Leadership. This apparent break with that democratic tradition within our Party is a matter of concern.
We accept that on occasions there will be genuine legal reasons that could necessitate restricting open discussion on certain matter(s). This restriction should be approved by the NEC (or its Officers) after consideration of the relevant legal advice. This CLP believes that it is for the elected NEC to decide on those matter(s) that should be restricted. The new General Secretary should not be making unilateral decisions of this nature.
We therefore call on the NEC to defend the right of CLPs and affiliates to discuss the full range of party issues as per established custom and practice.
[For information - We note Labour Party Rule Book Chapter 7 - Rules for CLPs, Clause II, Section D, which states that the 'Aims and Values' of CLPs include: 'To provide the opportunity for all individual members of the Party within the constituency to contribute to the development of the aims and policies by ensuring that a full range of Party activities are available to them....']