Downsizing in Derby South
Margaret Beckett has somehow managed to lose 40 members of her local party to the Lib Dems (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5285986.stm) which sounds a touch careless, though the BBC coverage hints at ulterior motives related to recent selection contests (how unlike the history of the Hackney Labour Party).
I think Mrs Beckett is in many ways an admirable Minister, having fond memories of serving her breakfast during my teenage holiday job as a wage slave/General Catering Sales Assistant at Forte's union-busting Little Chef (A2 Trunk Road London Bound) where I showed my contempt for the boss class by secretly helping myself to extra black pudding at lunch time - she had an "American Style" breakfast (quite appropriate given the foreign policy she is now helping to implement) whilst Leo had an "Early Starter". John Major, who older members may remember was PM before the Great Leader, preferred now defunct rival chain “Happy Eater”.
This is despite her Hard Left antecedents (e.g. the vitriolic “thirty pieces of silver” attack on Kinnock and other soft left MPs at the Tribune rally after Healey beat Benn for the deputy leadership), her anti-OMOV manoeuvring behind Smith’s back at the 1993 Conference, and her employment as Special Adviser at DEFRA of someone I think I remember as a Green Party candidate in the NUS (hey, why not extend the principle and employ people from CAAT in MoD, or Liberty in the Home Office, or Stop the War in the FCO… better stop before I give anyone any ideas).
Poor Mrs Beckett does seem to attract scabs in the local CLPs she has been MP for though – she began her political career having to wrest Lincoln from Dick Taverne and his “Democratic Labour Party” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Democratic_Labour_Association
My advice to her would be “if they are that fickle and disloyal that they would defect, then good riddance, they weren’t Labour anyway”.
I take issue with the official Labour spokesperson on this, who told the BBC – “It is always disappointing when any members decide to leave the Labour Party”. Nonsense. I don’t know about the people involved in Derby, but when we had 17 councillor defections in Hackney in 1996 in the long run it turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to the local party – externalising the crooks (literally – one of them was jailed for election fraud) and fruitloops so they became a problem for the Lib Dems and Tories rather than us. I could but won’t name several people (some of them MPs) the Labour Party would be better off without.
So Margaret, good riddance to your local critics and tough it out. I may not agree with all your politics but unlike the defectors you are loyal to the Labour Party, and at the end of the day that’s what counts.