I know it is hard to believe, but many, many years ago Keith Vaz at least pretended to be a socialist. But people change, and by 1991, four years after his initial election, Vaz had changed. A change that Vaz concretely demonstrated by supporting the murderous Gulf War in 1991.
This is just one of the reasons why thousands of residents of Leicester will now breathe a sigh of relief that Vaz has finally been forced to resign.
But Vaz’s removal has been a long time coming. So, after winning this current General Election, Labour must allow their ordinary members to hold their MPs and councillors to account by adopting the principles of mandatory reselection.
This important democratic ideal is something that is currently backed by the youth section of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, and it was a vital principle upon which this broader campaigning group was founded in 1973. Unfortunately, the non-youth part of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy no longer backs the introduction of mandatory reselection, which is a major shortcoming.
Nevertheless, it is great news that Vaz is gone and has been replaced by Claudia Webbe — a socialist who not only grew up in Leicester and supports Corbyn, but is also a leading member of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Hopefully with enough support from ordinary Labour members she can help them to reclaim their CLP from Vaz’s destructive and anti-democratic legacy. This toxic legacy lives on in the way that Vaz uncritically celebrated the political successes of the far-right leader of India, Narendra Modi.
But not everybody is happy with Webbe’s return to Leicester, and there will always be a few discontented Labour right-wingers who despair that Vaz has been replaced by a socialist. One such right-winger is former Leicester Labour councillor, Sundip Meghani, who shortly after Webbe’s last-minute selection as Leicester East’s new parliamentary candidate, released a statement that was largely reproduced in the local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury (November 14).
Meghani had hoped that he was going to be selected to represent Labour in Leicester, but upon losing out he stated on social media that as he felt duty-bound to “challenge abuse of power and corruption”. This led him to write: “I cannot stay silent on the obvious dodgy practices and nepotism involved in this [selection] process, where Labour’s ruling Executive chose a member of Labour’s ruling Executive, as the candidate.”
Meghani was particularly upset that Webbe might be opposed to the politics of the far-right leader of India, Modi, and added that her appointment was “a slap in the face for the Indian community in Leicester and across Britain, to… impose a non-Indian heritage candidate – in a seat with one of the highest Indian demographics in the country”.
But what has a been a perpetual slap in the face to all the people of Leicester — whether of Indian heritage or otherwise — is that we have had a crooked war-monger like Vaz reduce his CLP to a national laughing stock because of his anti-democratic ways that have only aggravated racial tensions in our city. This is why is it ironic that Meghani concludes his statement by stating:
“Any other decent candidate would have been suitable – it didn’t necessarily have to be me. But by selecting such an inappropriate candidate for Leicester East, Labour has chosen to rub salt into the wound it has created amongst British Indians. Labour is taking the Indian vote for granted and I condemn this crooked outcome.”
Meghani is a serial anti-Corbynista, and has been quite open about his belief that those on the left of the Labour Party represent an “existential threat” to the Party’s future. He would perhaps be interested to read a model motion that is currently being supported by the Webbe and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy which argues:
“This CLP notes that the recently adopted fast-track parliamentary selection process is a cause of concern in a number of CLPs, as it does not fully reflect the views of members in those CLPs.
“We call on the NEC to revise the long-listing process to ensure that all those with support in a CLP are included ahead of those totally unknown to that CLP.
“We also call on the NEC, at a minimum, to allow each CLP to add an extra person to the shortlist in order that a positive and democratic response is made to the justified criticisms and to ensure that our Party is united at all levels and thus can be totally focused on winning the General Election.
“We agree to send our motion to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party General Secretary and to our Labour Party Regional/Scottish/Wales [delete as applicable] Director.”
If Meghani and his right-wing boosters within Labour (like one Leicester City councillor) were really concerned about democracy within Leicester’s Labour movement we might have expected them to voice criticisms of Keith Vaz’s long and nasty regime of authoritarianism within their own city. But so far, as one might expect, Meghani and his friends did nothing to fight for democracy, and in fact only serve to diminish it through their ongoing actions!