by Martin Odoni

Audrey White, a veteran Labour activist of many decades’ standing, made the news in the past, and has made news this week. When Keir Starmer, grand dictator of Die Arbeiterpartei, made a very half-hearted move to deliver a speech in Liverpool this week, he did so by trying not to let people outside the press know. The reason of course was that he knew that the locals would be out in force to give him the kind of welcome they once gave to Michael Heseltine. Starmer is not popular in the north-west, especially after the party HQ’s anti-democratic interference in Liverpool’s local affairs.

Audrey White found out where Starmer would be. As I say, she has a major history, including in the 1980s playing a critical role in changing the law of the land to ban sexual harassment in the workplace. So she was never going to be shy about giving this almost disturbingly insecure Opposition Leader what-for.

The coffee house confrontation has gone viral, and it was noteworthy for Starmer being sat silent and almost shrinking in embarrassment and bewilderment. He never spoke a word, and apparently needed ‘rescuing’ by one of his bodyguards from this terrifying, er, lady-pensioner, who listed off many of Starmer’s failings, lies, and broken promises straight to his face.

This is clearly how Keeff saw it.

Has Starmer learned any humility from this?

Pretty well none, it would seem. All it has done is triggered a characteristic in him that seems to dominate what passes for his personality. Vindictiveness. White had been interrogated by the party’s National Executive Committee in February about an interview she had given to Socialist Appeal. Nothing seemed to come of it, nor indeed should there have.

But on the Saturday just past, White received a letter from the Labour Party, informing her that her membership was terminated.

Timing a complete coincidence of course….

The reason given, as you can see, was that the NEC panel supposedly found that, in giving the interview to Socialist Appeal, White was in violation of Chapter 2, Clause I.5.B.v of the Labour Party Rule Book.

The clause in question reads; –

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.

Wait, what?!

White did an interview with Socialist Appeal, and that somehow violated a rule about being a member of an opposing organisation? While the article the interview appeared in said things the party’s executive doubtless did not like, and it strongly disagreed with the conduct of the party machine, that does not make the publishing organisation ‘inimical’. Given Labour is supposed to be a democratic socialist party, a periodical called Socialist Appeal hardly sounds like an ideological opposite. (Labour has actually proscribed Socialist Appeal, absurdly, but did not do so until some months after this interview took place. Rule changes cannot justly be enforced retroactively.)

But in any event, it was only an interview. White was not a member of the organisation, nor sitting on its ruling body. The danger, and this is common in the Labour Rule Book, is that sub-clause that says, “as may be defined by the NEC.” This effectively means anything they want to regard as “supporting an inimical organisation” will be treated as such, and no justification of that judgement can ever be demanded.

The disclaimer that White was not sent the notification “due to an administrative error” is both convincing, given the general incompetence of the staff running the party machine, and highly suspicious, given the timing of it. As the Skwawkbox notes, White was still being charged membership fees up to this week.

The likeliest interpretation to me is that the judgement was deliberately held back by the NEC because they knew it did not sound terribly convincing, but they kept it in reserve precisely so they could use it against White if she started making trouble for the right wing politicians the party were imposing on Merseyside. Better a weak pretext for dismissal than none. That Starmer played some kind of role in the axe falling, to apply a sort of ‘punishment-beating’ so to speak, seems very difficult to doubt, although the false pretence of expulsion in February also gives Lee Harpin some protection for his smears, which have been so useful to the Labour Right over the last six years.

It seems the right wing of Labour is keen to step up the tempo of its anti-left purges. The sacking of Sam Tarry (a Momentum officer on the Labour left) from the Shadow Cabinet, the pursuit of veteran Merseyside MP Ian Byrne with Harpin again involved, the possibly racist persecution of Zarah Sultana carried out again with the help of the vile Harpin, and even the pointless expulsion of Megan Clarke, suggest that the Labour Right are responding to the Forde Report with as much ruthlessness as they can get in as rapidly as possible. Perhaps they fear the realities the Report reveals in its very muted way could make it legally more difficult to finish the job. As ever, all the targets are on the party’s left wing, never anyone on the right.

In among all this, Starmer is again refusing to back striking workers.

The bottom line is that the war against the left in the Labour Party is still going on. It remains ruthless, malicious, irresponsible, vindictive and quite unashamedly dirty. Given what it has done to people who have done nothing to deserve such treatment, it is quite insensitive and disgusting enough that so many liberals continue to hector and badger the campaign’s victims with demands to “get behind” Starmer and his allies, when they are the ones behind it. The Labour Right refuse to get behind the workers, and yet workers are told by centrists to get behind the Labour Right.

It’s almost as if liberals believe in The Divine Right Of Right-wing Labour Leaders. Bully worship. How weak

If you are such a centrist, consider; you are telling innocent people to back their own would-be assassin. You are doing the equivalent of telling Black South Africans to get behind John Vorster. You must stop doing that. Not just because of what these ghastly fraudsters have already done to the left, but more pertinently, because they show no signs of stopping it. If you want the left’s backing, you need to start by persuading Starmer to put a permanent halt to the purges. It is not possible for the left to side with someone who is actively seeking their destruction; you know, even as I write this, I find myself wondering, “Why does something this obvious need explaining?”

But more than that, is it not time that honest liberals (who I assume do exist somewhere in this country) questioned their own convictions? Do you people really want to back the Labour Right? Do you really like associating with people who behave like this? Does honour not matter to you at all? Do you not feel any deep reservations about trying to put a man as ruthless, deceitful, cowardly, spiteful, petty and intolerant as Starmer in 10 Downing Street? The description pretty well matches Boris Johnson. The only arguments centrists can come up with for backing Starmer and to stop criticising him is, “Well, at least he isn’t Johnson!” and “You’re going to let the Tories back in….” but where it counts, he is so similar he might as well be Johnson.

As for letting the Tories back in, just by honestly criticising Starmer, surely you are really just admitting that Starmer himself is letting the Tories back in? Because it is what he is actually doing that is being criticised. If he loses support because people become aware of it, that means he is the one who is making it happen.

If telling the truth about Starmer will let the Tories back in, then obviously he is doing something he shouldn’t be, isn’t he? It’s certainly no reason to keep quiet about his behaviour

Old saying, I know, but what can be destroyed by the truth deserves to be destroyed by the truth. And the truth is, I have yet to see any real evidence that Starmer is even the ‘lesser evil’.