Richard Hill was the chair of the constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Colchester, Essex until yesterday. Then he resigned. He had had enough. Courtesy of a SKWAWBOX post, here is the story:
The email sent by resigning party chair and recent Labour candidate Richard Hill to Labour 'leader' Keir Starmer is powerful, eloquent and pulls no punches - and it will ring true with thousands of disgusted current and former Labour members. It is reposted without further comment, except some added emphases, below.
From: Richard Hill
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2021 at 17:07
Subject: Resignation from the Labour Party
I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign as Chair of Colchester constituency Labour Party and as a member of the Labour party. As one of over 100,000 people to leave under your tenure I doubt my decision will give you pause for thought but I write anyway as after donating thousands of hours of mytime over the last 5 years I feel I have enough skin in the game to express my immense disappointment in you. Your pitch to members was unity, authority and integrity. You are certainly an authoritarian. Unity and integrity seem to be sadly lacking. I’ve never wanted one faction to control our party, I value respect, plurality, robust debate and consensus-building. These are values I’m not sure we share.
Another of your strengths that was lauded in the leadership campaign was your “electability”. That’s a meaningless notion in my view, and certainly not true in your case. You are 10 points behind an utterly corrupt and incompetent government that has decimated public services over the last 11 years. In recent elections the Labour vote has tanked, Hartlepool, Chesham & Amersham and the loss of 300 council seats aren’t indicators of “electability”, quite the opposite. The sight of you crowing after Batley & Spen was especially distasteful after Labour scraped a win with a massively reduced majority. Your triumphalism was pure delusion, if the Greens had stood, Labour would have lost.
Perhaps winning elections isn’t what motivates you? It seems that punching left, controlled opposition and narrowing the political discourse matters more. This was not the vision you sold to party members. You promised not to trash previous leaders and to offer radicalism. You have removed the whip without grounds from Jeremy Corbyn and offered no policies whatsoever (barely even stating NHS workers deserve more than a 3% raise simply isn’t good enough). The blueprint for electoral success was written in 2017; a radical manifesto that understood how ordinary people were badly treated by a rigged system and offered a genuine alternative that would serve them better. This saw the largest increase in vote share for Labour since 1945. You have rejected that and played along with a narrative that it wasn’t appealing to voters, this can only be for ideological rather than pragmatic reasons. Young people and left behind communities, those with little power to change things, don’t agree and want and deserve a lot more.
Labour is more than a party, it is a movement. You had half a million people, ready to campaign with you to undo decades of neoliberalism, rebuild our public services and build a better, more equal future. You’ve squandered that goodwill and with it your opportunity to become Prime Minister. I can only conclude you aren’t serious about winning power.
Of all your failings and the endless excuses for them, the worst is giving approval to this criminally inept government's handling of the pandemic. You could have challenged the obvious incompetence and corruption and maybe save lives but instead chose to “back the government”. Thousands died unnecessarily but you decided it wasn’t the time to challenge their actions for fear of negative Daily Mail headlines. You waved everything through, cowardice dressed as cunning is just weakness.
I think it’s my own bloody-mindedness or idealism that kept me staying a member so long, under FPTP Labour is the only show in town after all. When you paid off Labour staffers in a case in-house lawyers advised you’d win, with the endless delays in publishing the Forde Report, when you lied about Rebecca Long-Bailey sharing an antisemitic trope, withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn and the general contempt you seem to hold [for] members. All of these should have been enough to send me packing. I held on in hope of the unity and radical vision you promised.
It is with much sadness that I leave Colchester CLP. The fantastic members are like all across the country demonised and seem an inconvenience to you, this goes against everything the Labour party should be. My comrades aren’t hard left extremists, they’re ordinary, committed people who give their energy and enthusiasm in the hope of a better country and a better world.
They deserve better than your empty rhetoric, endless relaunches and the slide towards irrelevance you are overseeing.
Regards, Richard Hill
Thank you Richard Hill. Time for the Socialist Party to appear - see my blogpost here.