Given the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist bid for Labour’s leadership, I remain stunned that not one of Leicester’s 52 Labour councillors has publicly supported him, or even moved to his defence in any way or form.
If there are any left-leaning councillors in Leicester who consider themselves natural allies of Corbyn, they are playing their cards very close to their chests. Such reticence, however, has not prevented eleven councillors from advertising their support for Liz Kendall, and six from saying their vote lies with Yvette Cooper.
Just this week many socialists were surprised when Neal Lawson, the chairman of Compass – the centre-left think-tank, which until relatively recently included Jon Cruddas on their management committee — wrote an article for The New Statesman declaring his support for Corbyn.
The issue of the leadership vote is clearly something that all Labour members feel strongly about, which is why so many councillors advertise their preferred candidate.
This is precisely why I politely emailed an open letter (August 14) to Leicester councillors asking them which of the four leadership contenders they would like to head up the Labour Party. Their response was a little underwhelming: I received four responses, all of which asserted that their votes were secret. As one councillor put it: “Who I vote for is my business and I will not be disclosing it to ANYONE.”
Call me strange, but if I were a Labour councillor, I would be tell all and sundry who I intended to vote for. Such openness is all the more important during the current debate, considering that Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who opposes austerity and envisages a future without massive attacks on the living standards of working class people.
Leicester’s Labour Council regularly uses the poor excuse that the only reason they continue to make millions of pounds of cuts to our cities budget is because they are being forced into this unsavoury position by the Tories. But when the only anti-austerity candidate in the Labour leadership contest looks like getting elected, our councillors remain mysteriously silent.
If any of our councillors do support Corbyn, they are apparently more interested in maintaining the sanctity of the secret ballot than openly committing to fighting the cuts.
At the very least, it should not be too much to ask that such councillors actively work to undermine many of the despicable lies being spread about Corbyn in the national media.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 22nd August.
In a joint open letter, shown to the Daily Mirror, the six general secretaries of the biggest unions (Unite, Unison, ASLEF, the CWU, the TSSA and the BFAWU) said it was time for Labour to “move on” from the Blair-Brown years.
The email responses I received from the four Leicester Labour Party councillors were:
- “As it’s a secret ballot, I shan’t tell you or anyone else who I am going to vote for. What is much more interesting to me is who YOU are, and why you’ve taken it upon yourself to interrogate members in this way, and, furthermore, inform the press. What mandate have you got to do this?”
- “Who I vote for is my business and I will not be disclosing it to ANYONE.”
- “Who I will be voting is privet. And will stay that way.”
- “Not sure why you want this information as I assume you were the TUSC candidate for Leicester East. I don’t have any intention of making a formal public declaration of my view but probably will discuss it and let it be known to friends and Labour Party comrades.”UPDATE — On the 24th August a fifth Labour councillor wrote to be with the brief message: “Who I vote for is my business I suggest that you mind yours.”