Archive | June, 2019

LGBT or not LGBT?

28 Jun

By Rohit K Dasgupta

Today at my CLP I lost the LGBT Officer post because a straight white man stood against me.

His statement did not have one sentence about LGBT campaigning. Those sharing homophobic content today clapped. There was mass walkout in disgust. I might actually be done. Over to you @UKLabour

How can someone who espoused homophobic views just today get to vote on who represents the LGBT community in our CLP? Tell me why those who have been homophobic & intimidated us – complaints of which were sent a year ago – are still in the party and can pass judgement on our lives?

A straight white man was voted by a straight majority GC to be the LGBT Officer. Tell me how the Labour Party is still the party for equality and social justice? Tell me why I shouldn’t tear up my card right now. Tell me why this CLP is still not under special measures @UKLabour.

As we left we were booed and asked to f*** off by several people? Who were they?

  1. Someone who compares Gay people to paedophiles!

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  1. Then there was another who tweets about traditional marriage and retweets Mufti Menk (a homophobic hate preacher).

  2. And of course, there was the one from today who shared videos about disrupting inclusive SRE in the borough & claimed his phone was stolen & other people shared it. @UKLabour, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t want to name & shame them until you deal with the complaints

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Finally the person who stood against me who doesn’t for once say how he self identifies in his statement or in his speech. This is what we are dealing with. How is he going to ensure a strong voice for LGBT people when every LGBT person left the room after his election in disgust.

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This was my 1 min speech. I am now on an overnight train to Scotland for a conference.

If someone told me five years ago we would be seeing a roll back of LGBT rights I would have laughed but with the rise of the far right that is exactly what is happening.

I grew up in India where being gay was criminalised until very recently- threats of arrest, threats of death and threats of physical violence is what has shaped my queer politics & I won’t cower.

I joined Labour ten years ago because we are the party of equality & social justice. During this time I have been a parliamentary candidates, a Euro candidate and elected a councillor.

Last year we became the first local authority to celebrate LGBT history month and fly the inclusive rainbow flag.

There are two big issues LGBT people currently face in this borough – racism & homophobia. For me they go hand in hand. As Audre Lorde said there are no single issue politics as we don’t lead single issue lives.

Being queer is more than an identity for me, it is my life. From fighting oppression to challenging injustice I will continue to not just be a political officer in this role but a street campaigner.

Please support me.

Come what may LGBT rights will need a voice in this borough & I alongside my fab 🏳️‍🌈 councillors & friends will continue that.

No threats can stop us. Starts next week✊🏾

 

Originally posted as a Twitter thread on Thursday 27 June 2019. Reproduced by permission

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West Ham CLP chair resigns

28 Jun

Josephine Grahl, chair of West Ham constituency Labour Party has resigned, less than 24 hours after the AGM where she was re-elected unopposed.

With a huge sense of relief I have just resigned as Chair of West Ham CLP.

The exhausting experience of chairing a set of increasingly hostile meetings has taken a personal toll. Last night’s AGM gave me no sense that there is a majority on the general committee who are interested in a collective effort to achieve our shared aims.

If there is a time when the left ought to be generous, confident and open it is surely now in Britain, despite the dark times we live in. I’ve never been interested in factional politics; I’ve never thought that individual political positions should take precedence over any other qualities, such as kindness, honesty, or diligence; and I’ve never understood why political disagreement should be a cause for personal hostility.

The arid insularity of some political activism pre-Corbyn always struck me as a symptom of the weakness of the left, not a viable way to organise for a better future. This is no longer a ‘pre Corbyn’ political era, and that excites me and motivates me. It includes an inevitable conflict, but I don’t believe that this has to be played out in the local party as it currently is in West Ham – a situation which looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

In any case you can’t chair this kind of war; you can only fight it, or refuse to fight. I have no intention of continuing to preside over a battleground in which defeating one’s internal opponents takes precedence over advancing the cause of socialism. There are more productive outlets for my political energy.

I’m saddened that people who have worked tirelessly to achieve what I saw as our shared aims – a better party, a better Labour Council, a Labour government – were rejected last night in favour of those who have no such record.

Furthermore, there are publicly and privately expressed concerns that one of the new self-identifying officers has not been sincere about their identification. If this is the case, it’s also a deeply concerning situation. Seema Chandwani, the Vice-Chair of London Labour, has already picked this up; at a time when the rights of LGBT+ people are under threat globally the left must be in the forefront of the struggle to defend these.

Some of the best people I know are in the local party and I hope they know who they are. In particular I wouldn’t have been able to endure the low points of the last year without the kindness, integrity, and wisdom of John Saunders.

The struggle continues. But not this struggle.

Disclosure: I attended the AGM last night as delegate from Newham Co-operative Party

Lobby the council

17 Jun

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From the Stratford and New Town Labour Party Facebook page (inline links added):

We encourage all ward members to read

the cabinet paper (PDF)

that has been put forward proposing a Public Space Protection Order which could see Stratford Centre closed and rough sleeping criminalised within the Centre and the areas around it.

This is a major issue for ward members and Stratford and New Town Branch Labour party will be discussing the issues around this as a matter of urgency, either at our next ward meeting on the 4th July or if necessary at a special ward meeting, depending on the timetable for consultation.

There are serious human rights issues with Public Space Protection Orders and Liberty have campaigned against the use of these by local authorities. We are also concerned about the criminalisation of vulnerable people and limiting access to the Centre, which is a public thoroughfare, for Stratford residents.

A lobby of the council is planned for tomorrow evening, details [in the image above]

The cabinet paper, linked above, sets out the problem – from the council’s perspective – with crime and disorder arising from an increase in rough sleeping in the shopping centre. It also

outlines the current support and action being taken to provide tailored support to vulnerable individuals. The report details the outreach and support work that is undertaken and any temporary provision that will be put in place pending the availability of a more permanent solution.

Criminalising the poor and vulnerable was a policy vigorously pursued by the previous regime, which issued ASBOs to rough sleepers around Stratford. It would be a shame (to put it mildly) if the new administration went down the same road.

Update (Monday 17 June, 20:10)

The Mayor has just announced at full council that the report on Street Homelessness in Stratford proposed for Cabinet tomorrow has been withdrawn.

East Ham gets the go-ahead

14 Jun

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East Ham chair Tahir Mirza and secretary Syed Taqi Shah with Peterborough candidate Lisa Forbes

After several years in the doldrums East Ham CLP finally got itself back on its feet earlier this year. Branch AGMs were held, general committee (GC) delegates elected and a CLP meeting elected a new slate of officers in February.

Since when nothing much has happened. There hasn’t been a GC meeting and members have been left wondering what’s going on.

But there is good news – the investigation by London regional office to ensure all the elected GC delegates were legitimate has been completed. It was delayed for several months by staff being deployed to the local elections, the European elections and then the Peterborough by-election, but an approved list of delegates has now been sent to the East Ham secretary. So the CLP can get on and hold meetings.

The first will be a special trigger ballot meeting on City and East London Assembly member Unmesh Desai next Thursday (20 June).

East Ham’s trigger meeting is the last in City and East. So far Unmesh Desai has won five and lost one, in West Ham. This means he has already passed the threshold to be automatically re-selected as the Labour candidate in 2020. 

The ‘regular’ GC will follow on, including an election for party conference delegates. Nominations have to be submitted by 5pm on the day and, given that most branches won’t meet before the GC, it’s hard to see how they can put forward valid nominations.

No doubt London region will be keeping an eye on things.