The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news, politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from just £1 a month – to continue to support truly radical, independent media, then you can do that here:
This week’s letters
This week we have some thoughts on local Labour Parties, Diane Abbott’s half-hearted support for Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer’s support from the corporate media, and Putin and Russia.
Are Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) subverting democracy?
I’ve heard that after each member meeting, the leadership of my CLP now sends minutes only to members who attended the meeting. I found this out by accident at the last meeting. We’re told that this was after an instruction from HQ which was probably last year, and wasn’t queried by the CLP leader. The members have asked for clarification from our area office.
I haven’t seen any reports in the media that this is happening. Could you please let me know, and is it national across England? Are people fighting it?
Andy Wallace, Newbury CLP (South East region), via email
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ED: are you aware this is happening in your CLP? Email membership(at)thecanary.co with tips.
Where’s the solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn?
According to a report in the Morning Star, Diane Abbott (who I support, and defend most of the time) says:
“It may be no surprise that I think Corbyn and basic Labour Party democracy should be defended. Yet it is something of a surprise – to me at least – that there is not a mass chorus in his defence. Perhaps that will form in time”.
I am at a loss to know then, while the rest of us are out here ‘defending’ Corbyn – having resigned, or been expelled, or suspended – how she and the rest of the PLP (parliamentary Labour Party) have not crossed the floor to sit with Corbyn, and defy Keir Starmer.
The rhetoric comes easy, and through Starmer’s support and endorsement of the Tories (with agreement, or at least without any overt effort to oppose) his diktats has been equally responsible for the state of country, and has given him carte blanche to decide he can tell Islington North who they can select as their candidate in any election.
Part of me has understood their lack of zeal. However, when it comes to Diane saying she is concerned that more people have not supported Jeremy, I find it somewhat disingenuous and frankly peculiar coming from the PLP – taking their MPs’ salaries, and yes, with some like Zarah Sultana trying to fight the government. But I have not heard much in the way of ‘defending’ or siding publicly with Corbyn.
OK, Diane and PLP: you have made your choice and chosen to keep your powder dry up to now. But then don’t express hurt at other people’s lack of ‘support’ for the rightful Leader of what was the Labour Party.
Eileen QW, via email
Starmer’s outrageous behaviour
Starmer’s latest outrageous action, in presuming to tell the Islington North constituency party who they can and cannot select to stand for election to parliament, is a threat not only to democracy in the party but in the country as a whole. The millions of people who support left-wing policies have been effectively disenfranchised. We have an undemocratic bilateral election system, with both main parties mirror images of one another.
I don’t always agree with Owen Jones, but his latest video sets out clearly, using film clips from the past and present, the serial, blatant nature of Starmer’s cynical lies. What a pity the mainstream media apparently don’t have access to the evidence of Starmer’s constant lying and challenge him on it!
I absolutely believe that getting rid of Starmer should be the primary aim of all those who believe in decency and honesty. Nothing else is as important.
With good wishes.
Brian Riches, via email
Putin and Russia
The programme Dispatches (Channel 4 12 February 2023) presented a disturbing picture of Putin and Russian influence on our democratic system. Some accuse successive Tory Governments of a policy of appeasement towards Russia that resulted in emboldening Putin in the years leading up to his Ukraine war. Regrettably Russian money has eaten quite deeply into the British establishment.
Before he was poisoned, Alexander Litvinenko, who had become a British citizen, wrote an article saying “If you don’t stop Mr Putin, who is like Hitler, he will start a war”. However, Russia was seen as low-threat. Dominic Grieve said the focus was on counterterrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Greg Hands was asked to access a document by a Russian. He refused and reported his suspicions about Russian activity to the foreign office, who didn’t seem interested. In 2006 he met officers from MI5, as his telephone number cropped up regarding Russians, but again little concern was shown.
There was a rift between Labour and the Kremlin, but a special visa scheme for super-rich Russians continued. David Cameron announced a new approach to Russia based on co-operation: trade and money were to be welcomed to enhance prosperity and jobs. A Conservative Friends of Russia group was set up and enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow and St Petersburg. A “kompromat” operation was suspected.
Thirteen years after Litvinenko died, his widow campaigned for a public enquiry about his death. Tories refused – despite a similar plea from the coroner. Theresa May stated that international relations were relevant in deciding that an inquest was preferable. The enquiry later concluded that Litvinenko had been murdered by two Russian agents, probably approved by Putin.
Putin attacked and annexed Crimea in 2014. Ukraine requested defensive weapons then, but was refused – probably due to Russian influence. Trump promised Ukraine the Javeline but later retracted. Nevertheless, the US took a tougher line against Russia and its oligarchs than Britain, with Treasury sanctions against Oleg Deripaska, including his company En+. The company chairman was a British peer who successfully campaigned against En+’s inclusion in the sanctions, if Deripaska gave up his controlling interest. Lord Barker resigned from the board following Putin’s Ukraine invasion.
After Crimea, NATO was concerned about its Eastern flank and other countries wanted to join in fear of Russia. Putin interpreted this as a threat from the West and reacted with aggression and threats. The later Salisbury poisonings hardened Britain’s attitude towards Russia and diplomats/spies were expelled. Russia responded by similar expulsions. The row over Salisbury helped fuel Russian nationalism and got Putin re-elected.
Wealthy Russians – who no doubt conned their wealth from the Russian state – donated £5 million to the Tory party. Tories seem happy with donations and less concerned with where they come from.
Carol Broom, via email
Petition: stop the MSM talking about the Labour Party!
I would appreciate the help of Canary Journalists in raising a petition to stop the mainstream media (MSM) speaking and supporting the party they refer to as ‘Labour’.
As under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, now Starmer and David Evans have no idea what the Labour Party is nor what it stands for. Let us at least try and stop them from bringing our party into disrepute. The front and back benches look for all the world like Blair’s benches – when this monstrous mass murderer bullied the left from the party. Starmer and Evans are just repeating history, and once again we, the left, whine and whinge instead of FIGHTING TO SAVE THE LABOUR PARTY. It is time senior left-wing MPs began encouraging Jeremy to come back and lead a Labour Party to be proud of!
Patrick McQueenie, via email
ED: well, Patrick – the Canary is already one step ahead of you. Thanks to our subscriber surveys, we now know the majority of our readers don’t want us to talk about the Labour Party any more. So – we won’t. Whether the corporate media does the same remains to be seen…
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