After Labour suspended some members of the Executive of Bristol West Constituency Labour Party, and cancelling our December Annual General Meeting, regional office staff ran that AGM on 11 February.
We had to login before 7 pm, so they could verify our membership. Ballots were then sent out by email. There was no discussion, no speeches by candidates, no way to interact with or see the other participants. It was in no meaningful sense a meeting.
We stared at a blank screen, refreshing our emails, while ballots came through in dribs and drabs. Broken up only by a talking head apologising for delays, pushing back the voting deadline. My ballot came through at 10.30; the deadline was extended to 11.30.
The left candidate for secretary was ruled ineligible. Of a reported 543 members in attendance approximately 100 didn’t vote, either giving up as the hours wore by, or never receiving a ballot. The left lost every position, by roughly the same margin.
The left would have probably lost anyway: our popular MP, and her staff, were reportedly mobilising hard for the right slate. The incumbent left did organise, but only really around elections. The left slate was decided with little democracy and even less politics.
After losing in one of the UK’s biggest constituencies, and facing a similar picture across Bristol, much of the left here is demoralised. Outwards facing campaigning on crucial issues, such as isolation pay, is a necessary part of the answer.