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Labour Uncut – Transparency, Real and Fake

Labour Uncut website logoA notable addition to the Labour blogosphere since the general election is Labour Uncut. Although it is far from transparent about who is behind it, it is the creation of Sion Simon who was the Blairite MP for Erdington until May 6. It is well-informed, interesting reading, “uncut”, “inside” and “unbound”, and closer to the sort of website Derek Draper wanted to create than what Labour List has become since his departure. Not somewhere to go for policy debate.

Yesterday, it attacked Tony Lloyd, Chair of the PLP,  for complaining about MPs leaking information to websites, reporting Labour MPs who didn’t vote in the select committee elections. This was a reference to a story Labour Uncut had run about Diane Abbott not voting in PLP select committee elections.

It made a number of good points. In relation to the election of Select Committees, it argued for greater transparency:

the PLP is not just a Westminster club, much though it might feel like it. PLP select committee elections are not just a matter for the people eligible to vote in them. The party members who select you as candidates and thus send you to Westminster also have some ownership.

In its open letter to Tony Lloyd, it rightly criticised the double standards of the PLP towards reports of its meetings:

There is value in a private meeting. From the party’s point of view, it would be better if everything that happened at the PLP stayed at the PLP…. the plea to MPs for discretion is undermined, though, by what happens whenever the leader or anybody important speaks at a time of any moment. As you know, what happens then is that an army of spinners goes out from the meeting, plunges eagerly into the waiting press throng and sets about telling them exactly what has been said, how the leader triumphed, the mood of the meeting shifted, the crescendo was clamorous, the day was won.

Its conclusion was:

Transparency is all the rage these days, Tony. The PLP needs to catch up.

Unfortunately, its actions did not amount to “transparency”, but selective leaking of precisely the sort it criticised.  “”MPs should have been told in advance that a list of non-voters would be published, then it should have been” they said, but instead they js=ust published, without advance notice or warning what one MP, not randomly selected, had done.

Let’s have real transparency, even-handed, the rules known in advance.  Let’s see the PLP reporting what it decides and how it decides it in a way partty members can easily access. Lets see the NEC do the same: once upon a time, it published minutes.  Let’s have them again.

Transparency is, indeed, all the rage. But slective openness obscures more than it reveals.

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