A lifetime’s entitlement to a parliamentary seat is utterly undemocratic says FBU general secretary Matt Wrack
THE FIRE BRIGADES UNION (FBU) conference in June made a bold and significant intervention into the Labour Party’s democracy review by demanding the party adopt mandatory reselection of MPs in each parliament.
Our conference unanimously carried the resolution, which explained the very real contradiction at the heart of the Labour Party at present. We have leadership under Jeremy Corbyn who represent the aims and values of the vast majority of the membership; yet many of the bureaucratic structures imposed by Tony Blair – and others with an even older vintage – are still in place in the party.
The current process for holding sitting MPs to account by their CLP membership has the strong whiff of entitlement. Some MPs seems to think theirs is a job for life, a job where you cannot even be questioned on your activities of representation, let alone be held accountable. A lifetime’s entitlement to a parliamentary seat is utterly undemocratic and risks in many cases retaining an MP who doesn’t represent the Labour Party or the working class.
If MPs find themselves far off the membership’s wavelength it is not unfair to provide a CLP with democratic processes to enable their removal. If MPs really believe they have the support of their own CLPs, then they will have no problem with mandatory reselection. Labour MPs should not fear mandatory reselection. Those MPs who work hard, who represent their members’ and their constituents’ best interests have nothing to fear.
FBU members know from bitter experience the frustration when dealing with some Labour MPs who refuse to engage with or assist the union, or even to understand the gravity of the situation firefighters face.
The call for mandatory reselection also has wider significance. Bringing real democracy into the Labour Party is essential to our vision of society. Allowing members to have a real say over who represents them and how they can hold representatives to account is vital if we are to have any chance of achieving our goal, which is to bring about a society which has the working classes’ best interests at its core under a socialist government.
FBU conference laid down an important marker: “to serve as a Labour MP is an honour, not a right”.