Labour’s real problem with ‘tolerated entryism’

by Kevin Meagher

Confirmation earlier this week that 14 constituency Labour parties are in “special measures” but only one – Falkirk – seems to have anything to do with the swirl of allegations surrounding Unite, begs the obvious question:  what about the other 13?

Looking at that list, at least some of those suspensions are because of irregular recruiting practices by ethnic groups in order to affect the result of council and parliamentary selection processes. Indeed, four of the fourteen are in Birmingham, where six Labour councillors were convicted of electoral fraud in 2005, with the judge in the case saying their behaviour would not “disgrace a banana republic”.

This is, of course, a subject usually tucked away in the ‘dirty laundry’ file with party chiefs wary about cracking down on this sort of behaviour out of a misplaced sense of not wanting to castigate ethnic groups. Unfortunately this soft-soaping merely sees the problem persist, with many of the 14 suspended parties effectively in limbo for years.

Back in 1999, the party’s North West regional office received complaints of irregularities in the selection of council candidates in Oldham (the town’s two constituency Labour parties are included among the list of 14).

The dozen or so regular branch members of Alexandra ward Labour party were joined by 300 new Asian party members for the annual meeting to select the candidate to stand in the local elections. The sitting (White) councillor was duly deselected. The same hammer-to-crack-a-walnut tactic was then employed in other local selections.

The Oldham Independent Review, into the 2001 riots in the town, chaired by David Ritchie, succinctly explained what had been happening:

“…[L]arge numbers of new members have been registered shortly before some ward selection meetings and although they apparently comply with Labour Party rules on eligibility to vote, our informants had good grounds to question their allegiance to the Party. One of them when challenged professed that he normally voted Liberal Democrat. Some meetings to choose candidates have been disfigured by threats of violence and other disorderly behaviour, and in one case a selection meeting needed heavy police presence.”

The report added:

“There appears to be a clan or client based approach to politics and public life within the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities which does not fit easily with traditional British processes and which has been exploited by white party leaders, to get votes, and Asian community leaders, to secure influence.”

The practice of devolving the party’s relationship with some Asian communities to self-appointed community leaders in order the ‘deliver the vote’ has been the modus operandi in towns like Oldham for as long as I can remember. What had happened here is that those same community leaders had developed higher expectations and now wanted seats for ‘their’ community.

Eventually, the regional office had to take action. A decision was made to verify the entire Oldham membership, with every member – MPs included – required to attend in person and provide evidence of their identity.

Of course this wasn’t really the issue. Although there were allegations of multiple memberships from the same property, it was the scale of the recruitment and the motivations that lay behind it that were the real problems.

The operation outside the GMB’s offices in Oldham, where the verification process was taking place, was a master class in political organising. A procession of elderly Asian men were dropped off in private hire taxis 100 yards up the street, briefed about what to say and escorted into the office to confirm their membership details, with many struggling with English and looking completely lost about what was going on.

No crime had been committed and encouraging new members to join the party is of course, usually encouraged. But as anyone could see, the party’s democratic structures were being abused by highly-motivated individuals, intent on ‘packing’ the membership to build a bloc that would swing nominations their way.

The process was merely a shot across the bows. Realistically, there is little the party can – or perhaps is willing to do to stamp out these and similar rotten practices. The fear is that more aggressive sanctions – such as expulsions and rejecting new members when there is a concern about the motivation or timing of their application – would lead to losing electoral support among particular ethnic groups or damage the party’s reputation in the media.

But this is no longer a good enough excuse for inertia. Reading the list of suspended parties, I wasn’t surprised that it included as many as 14, but as few. I can think of many other seats where the practice described above has either gone on or is in fact still going on, with many perfectly decent councillors and candidates treated as collateral damage along the way.

This ‘tolerated entryism’ will lurk in the party’s undergrowth long after the events in Falkirk have been forgotten. The question is: Will anyone in the party ever be brave enough to sort it out?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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11 Responses to “Labour’s real problem with ‘tolerated entryism’”

  1. Clr Ralph baldwin says:

    And just think! With an extra £10,000 a year the MPs seats become more lucrative for you all and you slime, sleaze your ways into having more of these “special measures” events, uriniating on democracy and telling people you are doing it for Atlee and Bevan!
    Maybe Polly Toynbee will say this is happening because you are all such a compassionate lot.
    I remember the stitch-ups all too well I put myself (with no serious intent whatsoever for 2 Parliamentary seats and my name never came up which I mentioned on the Labourlist site….quickly followed bya clumsy article by the ever so hypocritical Mark Ferguson on his Labourlist asking for change). I suppose he had to try something….beats ordering people to get behind dodgy parliamentary candidates telling them you are a party of privilege whilst bemoaning the hunger of the British starving lol.

    Labour has had every opportunity to turn itself aroun, to become a party of and for the people, instead this is exactly what the Party is a nepotistic, incestuously corrupt decaying body. No longer fit for purpose on any level.

    The question is no longer about the dodgy filth that lead the Party it is the desperatly gullable members who permit and encourage people like Tom Watson et al and their conduct in using their little crusades to cash in and insult the people they pretend to be advocates for.

    I can see why you all wanted to control the Press so very badly if you cannot create a vision, use a great ideology to create a better future you can always try and go to greater lengths to hide the appalling truth with support of very foolish and selfish members who place the interests of the British public last….but then the good people have mostly desrted the Party in genuine and totally understandable disgust.

    In Barking and Dagenham you gave us the BNP, and now with “One Nation” stupidity we have UKIP….I’ll say one thing you bring stupidity to levels I never thought possible.

  2. Danny says:

    Your words might have meaning but for the simple fact that you are in the CONSERVATIVE PARTY.

    What right have you to preach about the interests of the British public, when it is clear to all that you represent the interests of a privileged, wealthy and corrupt few.

    I would also avoid accusations of stupidity in a diatribe that would struggle to earn you a Key Stage 3 SATs grade in English. Not enough rigour at school, per chance?

    People in Labour need to remind themselves that no matter how bad it gets, and it’s gotten pretty bad these past few weeks, it will always be better than it is with the Tories. Funding from establishments who receive their money from hard-working individuals or funding from hedge-fund managers or CEO millionaires who got fat whilst the economy crumbled and left the aforementioned hard-working individuals to pick up the tab?

    Nepotistic, incestuously corrupt and decaying? The Labour Party? From a member of the Conservatives? You have audacity in spades, Councillor.

  3. Clr Ralph baldwin says:


    Lol would you like to explain how I became a Conservative. You obviously have no grasp of even basic legitimacy…and do you think I would waste my time spell-chaecking a commentary for such an incredibly corrupt and pointless Party you have all become.

    As for my Party alignment, it has been a welcome change because they do not patronise the public with lectures on morality, or have Toynbee dribbling with sickly sweet false compassion.

    Of course you would think things were better under Labour because we are now living in the Post-Labour world.

    A world of MPs expenses while the poor struggle, though the working poor pay less tax, support for the Food Banks that arrived during the “better” (according to you) Blair Years rather than the initial hostililty Labour showed them.

    As a Conservative Councillor I have found no resistence to helping people improve their lives, it has been actively discussed and encouraged….Labour does not evne know howto hold an open debate…you can try on labourlist if you like lol.

    This site alone remains the last vestage in democracy in a dying Party and your soft Lead is dying along with any concept of what you are all about beyond emulating we Conservatives whilst taking advanatage of and using the most vulnerable people in society.

  4. bob says:

    Hatton and Mulhern, entryism and control like this happened in Liverpool, this looks and feels the same, just on a bigger scale!!!

  5. Danny says:

    “Lol would you like to explain how I became a Conservative.”

    I would not like to “explain”, but I could hazard a guess based on the evidence of your behaviour on here. I would imagine that as a member of the Labour Party you suffered rejection when you put yourself forward for Parliamentary seats and it made you a bitter and twisted person. Rather than look to your own, obvious shortcomings, you sought blame for your failure in the Labour Party. This manifested in your departure to the Conservative Party, where as a self-obsessed narcissist you fitted right in. You now think you have a bright future within your new group, but no doubt when rejection besets you once again, which for someone of your evident limited capabilities it surely will, that bitter streak will come to the surface once more and you will feel similar hatred towards the Tories. Another defection will occur, my money would be on UKIP.

    No doubt you’ll deny it, but a response similar to your normal diatribes will show that a nerve has been touched and provide me with sufficient confirmation that my hypothesis has at least some truth.

    In the meantime, good luck reconciling morality with Conservative policies. I’m not quite sure how you merge the suicide-inducing bedroom tax with it. Nor the fact than millions of pounds of the money donated to your party came from companies who are now getting fat of the opening up of the NHS to private enterprise. Coincidence? No, corruption.

  6. John Reid says:

    Danny, this is all hypothetical , yes, otherwise it’s just trolling

  7. Nora says:

    Labour has been doing a sterling job in undermining our democracy over the years. I stopped voting for them after they brought in the postal votes wheeze and consider myself disenfranchised. Can’t help smiling at the ad hominem comments always used to trash other points of view ‘(if you disagree then you’re an evil Tory’). It’s a tired old cover for lack of willingness/ability to engage in debate. The old ways are coming to an end.

  8. Clr Ralph baldwin says:

    No Danny I’m afraid you are very , very wrong.

    I was stitched up for exposing corruption and asking too many questions on the Labour Authority I was serving.

    They accused me of being a Conservative and camapainging in an election that never occured.

    The Price Labour members have to pay for serving their constituents and the price for addressing the issues that had brought the BNP into the political game, by people possibly like you and who you support.

    I think you’ll find I have no political ambitions – I work for a living. hence the bad grammer as I write messages on my breaks.

    Reconciling morality with Conservative Policies is incredibly easy…you”ll have a more difficult job and task in reconciling anything in your Party that seems confused on all issues, i guess that must be due to the clear ethical driving force pushing you all into winning arguments for say Welfare lol or many other policy areas.
    Its fine to be a dead and dying Party its another to not even realise what you are, what your party does or does not represent Danny and your Party can only follow in the coat tails of Conservatism because all you have that is lies and spin as you continually fail to sell your lackof any political positioning to your members and the poor beleagued public….hows the City, hows Balls? Where do you stand on that lol.

    Labour RIP

    So you are wrong on every front, except that I will make sure of one thing, I’ll do everything I can to protect the public from you all.

  9. JB says:

    It’s not only tolerated. It’s positively encouraged at the highest levels of the Party. I once had a conversation with a member of the then Cabinet (and current senior member of the Shadow Cabinet) and asked what we could do to get Labour MPs from Group X. They suggested that we find a constituency to target and recruit members from Group X. Living in a London borough where communalist politics in the Party was a major issue I was dumbfounded. Given this do I think Falkirk was an isolated incident? Absolutely not and I would not be surprised if there was collusion there and in other selections too.

  10. Danny says:

    “They accused me of being a Conservative”

    Idiots. How could they?!

  11. Clr Ralph baldwin says:

    Well, easily because that is exactly what they are, the Leader of the Council giving himself another council house while over 10,000 ordinary desperate poor go without on the list….vote Labour, get corruption.

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