David R Ewens

Loyalty – (a digression from Frank Sterling and novel themes)

6th August 2019

Recently, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former consigliere, declared that he was leaving the Labour Party as it had departed from his values. I’m not sure of the ins and outs, but he had already been expelled or suspended for voting Liberal Democrat in the EU elections, in clear and direct contravention of LP rules. I suppose the point is that he is not appealing, and he is not trying to come back into the fold. He wasn’t the only one in Labour to vote LD. At a local branch meeting debating Brexit and closely related issues, members got up to declare ‘I am Spartacus’ or ‘I am not Spartacus’ to indicate whether or not they had followed suit. The Labour Party, being the ramshackle organisation that it is (like most political parties mainly comprising volunteers, and lippy ones at that) probably won’t suspend these Spartacuses because it will never formally hear about them.

But I don’t have much sympathy for Campbell. For very many years, he and his fellow travellers held complete sway in the Labour Party. They could afford to ignore ordinary members, and they did. When the pendulum swung the other way, and Corbyn and his faction seized control, I don’t think anyone could complain.

What you should do in a situation like that is stay loyal to the organisation and work to get your views across (or in Campbell’s case, re-established). He has chosen to complain and then to leave, like a kid who owns the football picking it up and taking it home, unilaterally ending the game.

Campbell’s wife, Fiona Millar, also got plenty of media coverage covering her own internal (well, not so internal, since it was in The Guardian) wrestling on the question of staying or going. I don’t know what her decision is or has been, but the same applies. She had enormous influence in education policy in the Blair era, and now things haven’t been going her way, she agonises about her LP membership.

Suck it up, Alastair and Fiona! You had your way. Maybe you’ll get your way again. But carry on working for the greater LP good regardless, and don’t undermine the canvassers, leafleteers, street stallers and fund-raisers, including a long-suffering nobody like me, whose work gave you so much power.

In the end, it’s not even about the Labour Party, or any other political party. It’s about loyalty.