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To me, it is personal.
Pete is a good friend, a valued member of my branch and ultimately the closest thing I had to a mentor in the party. At my very first meeting I volunteered as our EU referendum co-ordinator and could honestly not have done it without his help. People may accuse Jeremy and his supporters of having run a milquetoast EU campaign but they could not possibly include Pete.
Pete was on every ‘Labour IN’ stall by my side, weekends and weekdays, come rain or shine, he was there. His experience from fighting fascist campaigns was invaluable when Casuals United descended upon us during one event. He defused a situation which could have turned very ugly, at great risk to himself, because that is simply who he is.
He also co-ordinated our newsletter campaign and our own personalised Pro-EU leaflet, that reached 30,000 homes. A campaign that even our Tory MP admitted helped our remain result be far better than it had any right to be.
Before this he campaigned tirelessly in borough council by-elections, county council elections and the last two general elections. He’s hosted debates on local issues to raise awareness, stood on picket lines with Junior doctors and inspired young members like myself.
His expulsion is a loss to our party, to my branch and to any hope of campaigning for a Labour victory in 2020. A brief glance at the Facebook comments under the Officer’s statement should tell you all you need to know. He is liked and respected by all sides, regardless of opinions, because whilst he is a stubborn old sod he does listen.
I have made no secret of how much I have hated this leadership contest. I believe it has allowed a poisonous rivalry to develop within the party that has exposed a factionalism I never believed could become so clear. This moment, Pete’s expulsion, was very nearly the final straw.
I no longer feel I can trust the party machinery to exercise justice. I believe it exercises some form of what it believes to be justice but I do not trust it. A legal system without popular support is hard to obey and Pete’s expulsion has shaken my faith in it.
If we are ever to unite and rebuild then we cannot feel so distrustful of our own party. The cries of conspiracy and purging may seem far fetched but people do believe them. If people believe them then how on earth can we carry on, when what feels like half the party unable to trust anyone else.
The Labour Party cannot become an operation where we daren’t take our eyes off the shadows for fear of both real and imagined dangers. The very fact that I am nervous about posting this because I’m worried about my own membership should speak volumes.
There are a number of people that feel like they’ve been expelled unjustly. It’s very easy to ignore and pretend they aren’t nearby and they don’t matter. It really hits when someone you know well, someone you trust, is deemed unfit to be a member of your party.
If Pete truly is unfit, there isn’t a member who is.
– Tom Roberts, Chair (Beeston Central and Rylands)