“CRYING OUT FOR A LEADER AND PM WHO STANDS WITH US NOT AGAINST US”- ZITA HOLBOURNE, BARAC
A High Court judge has ruled 130,000 new Labour members who signed up between 12th January and 12th July this year should be allowed to vote in the leadership election.
The ruling comes after 5 Labour members crowdfunded a legal case to challenge the Labour NEC’s decision to block new members from voting.
A Labour party spokesman has suggested the party may appeal.
It is widely believed the NEC voted last month to limit who could vote in order to curb the chances of Corbyn winning another resounding victory following the 59% secured last year- the largest mandate ever won a by a political party leader.
Today’s ruling raises important questions about how Labour uses members’ money.
If the NEC appeals, then, as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said: …”the Party will be using members money to try to stop members from voting”.
Another not so obvious question is what happens to those members who had to pay a fee of £25 to escape the 12th July freeze date?
Many of them are on benefits and/or low incomes. For them £25 is a lot of money.
Zita Holbourne of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) has started a petition calling for the fee to be reimbursed.
Wrath & Rye asked her a few questions about the petition, the High Court ruling and austerity…
W&R: Why is reimbursement so important?
ZH: Because that money is stolen money, taken as part of the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn, deliberately set so high so as to deter or bar people who can least afford it signing up. I know people who are forced to go to food banks, families having to choose between paying a utility bill or putting food on the table.
£25 is more than some people have to feed their entire family for the week; it’s a shame and stain on the Labour NEC, a party started for working class people. Last year supporters paid £3. Imagine if inflation went up at this rate.
If there is no reimbursement for members it makes a mockery of democracy and the judicial system because we never should have had to pay £25 in the first place. We already pay our membership fee to Labour, we have a contract of agreement with them that includes our democratic right to vote. They have stolen from the poor.
W&R: Is it a success for those who are anti-austerity that the High Court has ruled the way it has today?
ZH: It is a success for all those who believe in democracy & many Labour Party members who joined Labour as members after the January cut off point who support Jeremy Corbyn will be against austerity and cuts.
I believe a substantive number of those people will be disproportionately impacted by austerity because of race, age, gender, disability.
One of the 5 in the court case was a young person who was also barred from signing up as a supporter because of age.
However this success in the court case does not address the £25 paid by members & non-members as the only way they could vote.
If the Labour NEC do not do the right, decent and democratic thing and refund the £25 paid by new members then there will still be a further legal challenge required. The actions of the Labour NEC fly in the face of democracy.
W&R: What will it say about the PLP if they push ahead for an appeal on the ruling?
ZH: That they have no shame, that they are corrupt, that their real intent is to support the coup against Jeremy Corbyn because they do not want a party run by the people for the people but an elitist political party out of touch with ordinary people which is why the numbers are growing in their thousands in support of Jeremy Corbyn. We are crying out for a leader and future PM who stands with us not against us.
W&R: We don’t hear much about austerity at the moment as the news is taken up by Brexit. How is it still impacting BME communities specifically, and how will that impact continue?
There is a clear disproportionate impact of austerity on BME communities – austerity is amplifying racism and is closely linked with BREXIT. This was a toxic xenophobic racist campaign to demonise, label and scapegoat migrants as the cause of no jobs, lack of affordable housing, reduced services etc. In reality all these issues are caused by Tory cuts, not by migrants who contribute to the economy and aid economic recovery.
It will continue to impact because the government programme of cuts is continuing. If Brexit causes another recession then it will get dramatically worse. They’re impacting on us now- a whole generation is barred from jobs and housing, living in deprived conditions. The UK has one of the highest BME child poverty rates across Europe. The knock-on impact of cuts, racism, Islamophobia, injustice etc is on mental health and physical health. It creates a vicious circle.
W&R: What do you think people should do to stop austerity and create a more economically equal society?
ZH: Vote vote vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Get involved, campaign, join protests, challenge cuts and discrimination, be politically active, do, don’t just say; be part of the solution not part of the problem. Unite with like minded people.
We also need to create our own opportunities, we can’t rely on institutionally racist public bodies but we also need to hold them to account. Defend our hard gained equality rights and protections. Do not be complacent, strive for better.
First published here,
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