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MANY of you will know that this summer I have been touring the country talking about democracy in the Labour Party. Since launching The Democracy Roadshow I’ve been inundated with requests for events.
At the gatherings I’ve attended so far, the reception has been universally enthusiastic and supportive.
Comrades, the appetite for increased democracy in the Labour Party is overwhelming. Labour is now the biggest progressive political party in Europe, our members and affiliate members are the eyes, ears and brains of our movement. They are the force that will carry Labour into government.
But Morning Star readers and Unite activists will know that winning an election — whenever it comes — will only be the first step.
The labour movement will have so many obstacles it must face — from the tax-dodging tabloid press to the speculators in the City of London. Yet one obstacle hails from elites within our party itself.
Some of Labour’s democratic detractors in the PLP remain wedded to a bygone status quo. The times have changed, but they cannot. Incapable of “putting a sock in it” — as, Len, you wisely advised them to do — humility is a lesson that only our popular movement can teach.
The resistance to democracy on the part of some elites tells us one thing — empowerment is an invaluable key to real change.
Democracy is how Labour will stay relevant. It’s how Labour can avoid the crimes of the past, from the Iraq war to embracing neoliberalism and what Tony Blair described as the most restrictive union laws in the Western world.
Comrades in Unite, you hold so many of the cards to make change happen. As a core pillar in the movement behind Jeremy Corbyn, what you vote on in conference this year will be definitive. It will help to determine not just of what kind of party we are but what kind of world we can build when Labour comes to government.
That’s why I’m calling on you to back those rule changes — such as that proposed by Labour International, by Worthing West, Bristol West and Hove and by Hastings & Rye, Kensington and Rayleigh & Wickford — that are faithful to the spirit of Unite’s policy for the open selection of Labour MPs, otherwise referred to as mandatory reselection.
To those who say this policy will be difficult, I say our movement can and should rise to this challenge. To those who say it can wait, I say it cannot. An election may come at any time and Labour has a world to win.
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