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People used to know what Labour stood for

Jared O'Mara
Jared O'Mara
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What’s happening to the Labour Party? It claims to champion equality and diversity but its actions over the last few years indicate a very different agenda.

First, there is the matter of Jared O’Mara MP. Apparently, he is a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, has a disability and comes from a working-class background and apparently “had no chance” of winning the seat of Sheffield Hallam. So a small elite based in London decided he had the ideal profile to allow the Party to engage in virtue signalling of the worst kind and seem to have selected him on that basis. It had no expectation of having to demonstrate that it either understood the challenges a successful candidate would face or had measures in place to support one. I can imagine the panic they experienced when they were faced with the consequences of their decision. But it is others aspiring to public office who also suffer a disadvantage, as well as Jared O’Mara who has been damaged by this act of tokenism.

Women in the Party who dare to have an opinion at odds with the Labour leadership, or even worse speak out, are reportedly trolled and threatened mercilessly by others working under the same Labour banner. Free speech seems to be restricted to those who toe the current party line. That Dame Margaret Hodge, a highly respected Labour figure should now be the focus of such abuse because she questioned the Party’s stance on anti-semitism is reprehensible.

Labour claims to be anti-racist yet it is currently engulfed in a row over the anti-Semitic attitudes displayed by some of its key representatives. Yet its powerful members will not accept that the party has a serious problem with anti-Semitic views. This is only one indication of the intolerance shown by a powerful circle that seems set on silencing all opposition. Anyone questioning the orthodoxy is accused of being intent on bringing down the Corbyn elite. Rumours abound about measures to deselect ‘off-message’ MPs and councillors who do not champion the Corbyn cause, including here in Sheffield. They are so frequent that there must be some substance to them. Respect for other points of view seems to have gone. This is not healthy for democracy.

People used to know what Labour stood for, whether they supported the Party or not, but I don’t think this is the case any longer. Maybe it should spell out more clearly what it means to be Labour now. Many people have a strong social conscience but I’m not convinced that social fairness can be achieved by a party that is becoming increasingly authoritarian, intolerant and controlling in its pursuit of a ‘purer’ political ideology.

M Berry

Sheffield, S8