The woman who represented the residents of Grenfell Tower after an entirely-preventable fire involving flammable cladding gutted the building and killed 72 people has quit her political party, saying she feels “not welcome here”.
This Writer remembers Emma Dent Coad as being absolutely committed to the well-being – and, indeed, protection – of the survivors of the Grenfell blaze.
She was a Labour MP, and in the 2019 general election that was presented to the public as a huge defeat for that party, she was one of those who lost their seats – but in her case it was by a tiny margin of 150 votes. That probably reflects her commitment to the community, even in a Tory landslide.
And in her absence, how has the Labour leadership treated the Grenfell survivors?
Well, here’s what she had to say about it:
with many North Kensington residents acutely aware of the nationwide cladding scandal, and indeed in contact with campaigners around the country, we were shocked to read that the Labour leader had accepted over £1000 worth of tickets to a football game, from Mullaley, a contractor fined over £10m for works on high-rise buildings in Portsmouth in a case very similar to Grenfell, using flammable insulation and very poor construction standards. For many it was a slap in the face, the kind of antics we expect from senior Tory Cabinet members, not the Labour leader.
It gets worse, though:
When our Group of Councillors refused to allow publication of a public statement challenging this outrage, as it would upset the leader, I saw that sadly they were right. We could, as a Labour Group, be suspended, and London Region would be delighted to do so.
This realisation has been just one more straw in a very long line of last straws for me.
She was saying that the Labour group on Kensington and Chelsea Council is unable to represent its constituents properly for fear of saying something that will provoke the anger of party leader Keir Starmer – and precipitate one of the purges for which he is becoming, rightly, infamous.
That’s no way to represent people.
So you can understand why she said the following:
After a great deal of soul-searching, I decided to resign from the Labour Party as of today, 27th April 2023. I’ve been a member for nearly 40 years, and in that time I’ve been a critical friend, but have always felt part of the broad church of the labour movement. I have campaigned for every leader, London Mayor and parliamentary candidate. That is loyalty.
Sadly I no longer feel welcome in the party. Members who campaign for peace, against nuclear weapons, in support of refugees, for equity to reduce inequalities, for an end to the persecution of Palestinian civilians by Israeli military forces, are being hunted down and forced out or expelled.
When a million people protested against the Iraq War, no one was suspended or expelled from the Labour Party. Our MP at the time was Karen Buck, and I know she had a difficult conversation with Blair, but he didn’t force her out.
Today, no more broad church. No more armies of inspired students to help door-knocking. Not welcome here.
It is simply incomprehensible that the Party which created the world’s first National Health Service is now complicit in destroying it, while some senior members of the Party are accepting funds from the private health care industry – and hospitality from contractors involved in the cladding scandal. How can the Party of the workforce refuse to stand by the right to strike? How can the Party that set up the welfare state penalize benefit recipients?
We have video of the next bit:
With huge regret. I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.
I'm not leaving the party. The party has left me.
— Emma Dent Coad (@emmadentcoad) April 27, 2023
I doubt that Keir Starmer could care less.
But he should.
The criticisms Ms Dent Coad voiced above will hit home for many people reading this article – and could be relevant to many, many more if they have a chance to hear them.
“No more broad church. No more armies of inspired students to help door-knocking. Not welcome here.
“The party which created the world’s first National Health Service is now complicit in destroying it.
“Senior members of the party are accepting funds from the private health care industry – and hospitality from contractors involved in the cladding scandal.
“How can the Party of the workforce refuse to stand by the right to strike?
“How can the Party that set up the welfare state penalize benefit recipients?”
Those are all relevant today, but Starmer seems complacent. He thinks left-wingers simply have nowhere else to go.
He might be proved right next week. I guess it depends on how many people hear what Emma Dent Coad has said – and stop to think about it.
Source: Not welcome here – Labour Hub
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