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Sheffield Left - For Socialism - 'For the many, not the few'

A bulletin for Socialists – both inside and outside the Labour Party – supporting transformative, socialist policies and progressive campaigns.

SLL E-Bulletin #74 - 15 March 2022

Socialist Sheffield Councillor,
Sophie Wilson, Resigns From Labour


'It is with great sadness that I have to announce that I have today resigned my membership of the Labour Party.

When I stood to represent Rother Valley in 2019, I was incredibly proud and excited to be standing on a platform that I believed would change the lives of so many people for the better. The result of the 2019 election was a crushing blow for us all, but I have stayed committed to fighting against the Tories and trying to help build towards a future Labour government.

I wanted a Labour government so that we could revolutionise politics in this country. I wanted to be a part of building a country that cared for people, that looked out for those whose voices are so often overpowered by the rich and powerful and a government that was honest, compassionate, brave and forward thinking.

I’m sad to say that now in 2022, I no longer recognise my party. I have seen the values of fairness and honesty traded for spineless political opportunism, as likely to pander to racism than it is to challenge it. A party which might just as easily choose the side of the oppressor, than the oppressed, if it were more likely to lead it closer to a sniff of power.

I believe being steadfast in your beliefs is the only way we can bring trust and honesty back to politics. By remaining a member of the Labour Party, more and more often I am finding myself forced to choose between what is right, and what is ‘easy’.

I became a Sheffield City Councillor in 2017. It has been a huge honour to represent my communities in Sheffield over the last 4 and a half years and I have always tried to do my best for all my constituents, especially the most vulnerable ones. I am incredibly proud of what I have helped to achieve, alongside fantastic colleagues, and of all the people we’ve been able to help through community projects and individual casework.

I’ve seen how the majority of councillors from the majority of parties on Sheffield City Council have worked exceptionally hard for their constituents. However, what is often overlooked is the collective responsibility of our Councillors to steer the political direction of policy in our city and our responsibility to be aware of what these policies will mean for the people we represent.

The Labour Party desperately needs a coherent strategy for local government, empowering local Councillors to protect their communities from the damage of brutal austerity. We need local councils which have a sound socialist strategy of ethical, local procurement which aims to build wealth within our communities. Strategies of bringing services back in-house and running them in the best interests of those who use them. Strategies which take responsibility for our environment and are proactive and ambitious in our climate protection work. We have failed to do this up and down the country, and we have left Councillors to middle-manage a regime of Tory austerity which has wreaked untold havoc on our most vulnerable communities. This havoc is about to get worse.

This is reflected nationally, too, where we have an unprecedented cost of living crisis to which our ‘solutions’ are, at best, to read from a different page of the same neoliberal economics textbook the Tories are using. For other issues such as drug-use and law and order, our recent positions have struck me as dangerous and immoral. The leadership has instructed MPs to abstain on crucial votes on welfare, the draconian ‘spycops’ bill and more. This country is on the verge of breaking point. National insurance rises, fuel price rises, benefit cuts and stagnant wages are going to create a perfect storm for many in this country, and the scenes in Coventry and the national party’s decision to side with it’s Labour Council instead of striking trade union members, illustrates to me that the Labour Party is as much a part of the problem as it is the answer to it.

Many of my colleagues and myself have made the effort over the last 2 years to remain in the party and fight for our values, even when the Party showed it would be far happier to welcome a Tory MP to the ranks than readmit a principled Socialist like Jeremy Corbyn. They cite racism whilst being simultaneously being completely unwilling to defend their own Muslim MPs from vile abuse and very real threats. This week however, internal party politics took another dark and disappointing turn when Putin’s Russia made the shocking and disturbing decision to invade Ukraine, and the immediate response of our party leadership was to use the crisis as a weapon in a factional internal battle to suspend and expel socialists.

I have recently re-evaluated how I can make myself the most useful to our movement. I have been inspired by Sharon Graham at Unite, who recognises that the real fight is with the people in their workplaces, in their unions and in their communities, building pathways to secure structural change and building power from the grassroots upwards, rather than wasting valuable time and energy on a party which does not want trade unionists and socialists in it.

I will continue to work as hard as I can for the people of the ward I represent, Park & Arbourthorne, as an independent Councillor.

I’d like to point out that there are some fantastic comrades who remain in the Labour Party, from principled MPs who are continuing to stand up for what is right in Parliament, right down to ordinary members, the lifeblood of the Party. Many of these members give me hope that this party can be turned back around, and once again represent the working class in all of its variety. I’m sorry I can’t join you in this fight, but representing this party as a councillor means I am extremely restricted in this sense.

Lastly, but most importantly, I cannot begin to express how thankful I am to everyone who has campaigned with me, worked with me, and offered me support and guidance over the last few years. I have been humbled by your faith in me and your dedication to socialist values. I am doing now, as I have always tried to do in the past, what I believe is right.
In solidarity,

Sophie Wilson.'

1st March 2022

And now we are Sheffield Left…..
 
As the Labour Party eats itself with Starmer’s purge of anyone who disagrees with him, it is time for the left to recognise that a significant number of socialists are no longer welcome in the party.
 
So, to ensure that the determined left in this city has a banner to represent all those who want to support transformative, socialist policies, we have removed the Labour tag to embrace all those who have left the party.
 
For some it is because they have been expelled – for some it is because they can no longer support a party hell bent on ditching its trade union heritage and rejecting its historical role as the representative party of the working class.
 
This name change is not intended to change our direction. We will continue to support the oppressed where they are being exploited by unscrupulous employers or landlords or in providing solidarity to citizens of war zones such as Palestine and Ukraine.
 
This city – indeed this world – needs a shift towards a society that puts needs of the many above the greed of the few. The naked self-interest of the current institutional establishment needs to be challenged at every turn.
 
As the world spirals into war and economic meltdown and embraces racists and fascists, there has never been a more important time to stand up for socialism!
 
If that describes you, come and join us.
 



And threats of expulsions continue

'Wednesday, 23 February 2022
Dear Mr Rock

We are writing to inform you that the Labour Party (the Party) has received an allegation that you have committed a Prohibited Act contrary to the provisions of Chapter 2, Clause I.5 of the Labour Party Rule Book (the Rule Book).i

Chapter 2, Clause I.5.B of the Rule Book provides that the following constitutes a Prohibited Act:

Possessing membership of, providing financial assistance to, sitting on the ruling body of or otherwise supporting (as may be defined by the NEC) any political organisation that the NEC in its absolute discretion shall declare to be inimical with the aims and values of the Party.

We have set out the details of the allegation below and exhibited the evidence to support this allegation overleaf.
page1image2643743008
Allegation 1: Support for Labour Against the Witchhunt

On or around 23 May 2018, you agreed to chair a meeting organized by Labour against the Witchhunt. 1

On or around 09 April 2019, you signed an open letter published by Labour Against the Witchhunt. 2

On or around 14 January 2020, you were listed as an initial signatory to a Labour Against the Witchhunt open letter. 3

You have the right to make written representations in response to this allegation within 14 days of the date at the top of this letter.

1 Exhibit 1 2 Exhibit 2 3 Exhibit 3

Please submit any representations you may wish to make in response to the allegation either by email to disputes@labour.org.uk or by post to Disputes Team, The Labour Party, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT.

In accordance with the Rule Book, the General Secretary will then convene a panel of at least three members of the National Executive Committee (the NEC) to consider the allegation (the NEC Panel).

The NEC Panel will also consider any representations submitted to the Party in your defence within 14 days of the date at the top of the letter. In its absolute discretion, the NEC Panel may consider any representations that you submit after that 14 day period, but you should be aware that the NEC Panel is not obliged to do so.

The NEC Panel shall consider all the relevant evidence available to it and will make a finding (or findings) of fact as to whether, on a balance of probabilities, you have committed a Prohibited Act. The NEC Panel shall give prompt notice of its findings to the General Secretary, and you will then be subsequently notified of the NEC Panel’s decision.

Should the NEC Panel make a finding that you have committed a Prohibited Act, you shall cease to be eligible for membership of the Party and your membership shall terminate with immediate effect.'

Sheffield Left

Sheffield Left (SL) is a network to help co-ordinate the determined left both inside and outside the Labour Party across Sheffield.
We have a page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SheffieldLabourLeft) and our own website (http://www.sheffieldlabourleft.org), where you can find an archive of our first 73 bulletins.
Want to get involved with SLL or become a member? Contact us at the email address below.
Labour movement events and meetings in March/April

Tuesday 22nd March:  Sheffield Trades Union Council (STUC) monthly meeting.  Starts at 7pm.  All trade union members welcome, only delegates can vote.

Saturday 26th March:  March Climate Summit – Just Transition and Climate Jobs. 10am til 4pm Quaker Meeting House. One day summit with workshops organised by Sheffield Climate Campaign Umbrella Group.

Saturday 2nd April:  PALFEST Sheffield.  Crookes Social Club, S10 . 7.30pm until midnight.  Pay what you feel.  This event is a fundraiser for the Sheffield Festival of Friendship with Palestine.  Live band, DJs, poets and Palestinian Street Market.

Wednesday 6th April:  Unite Community Branch meeting.  6.30pm to 8.30pm.  Via Zoom.

Wednesday 13th April:  Sheffield Left Public Meeting - 'The state of Labour'.  Speakers:  Sophie Wilson on why she resigned from the Labour Party; and Martin Mayer on Unite the union and Labour Party funding.  7.30pm to 9.30pm via zoom.

Tuesday 26th April:  Sheffield Trades Union Council (STUC) monthly meeting.  Starts at 7pm.  All trade union members welcome, only delegates can vote.

Thursday 28th April:  International Workers Memorial Day.  12.30pm to 1.30pm by the Memorial Tree outside Sheffield Town Hall Pinstone Street. Wreath laying ceremony and speakers. More details to follow. Please bring union banners

Labour Party Meetings:
LCF monthly meeting held 2nd Tuesday of the month.
Brightside & Hillsborough CLP monthly meetings held 1st Thursday of the month.
South East CLP monthly meetings held 3rd Friday of the month.
Central CLP monthly meetings held 4th Thursday of the month.
Hallam CLP monthly meetings held 4th Thursday of the month.
Penistone & Stocksbridge CLP monthly meetings held 4th Thursday of the month
Heeley CLP monthly meetings held last Thursday of the month.
Our mailing address is:
info@sheffieldlabourleft.org
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