Luke Akehurst removed from local Labour Party executive by members

By Andrew Francis, Oxford East CLP

Right-wing ‘Labour First’ activist and proud enemy of the left Luke Akehurst has been firmly routed from his position as membership secretary in Oxford East CLP and replaced by two left wing party activists: Jane Stockton and Dan Iley Williamson – who is also a Councillor and the secretary of the Oxford Momentum branch – with a healthy majority. At the same meeting, which was attended by well over a hundred branch delegates, some other left-wingers were elected to positions on the executive.

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As well as being the result of a well organised turnout by Momentum, the victory can also be credited to Dan and Jane putting forward a convincing and positive strategy for harnessing the so far untapped potential of the increased membership. In their joint speech they emphasised the need to engage members and go beyond the stale routines of yesteryear by creating varied activities such as street stalls to develop a strong community presence, as well as a programme of actively recruiting to the party. By contrast, Akehurst’s speech offered little other than a sense of entitlement to the position by virtue of having been involved in Labour a long time, and put forward no positive proposals to take us forward. Akehurst was fiercely lambasted as soon as he sat down by a member correcting a point of information, claiming he simply didn’t know the history of his own local party.

This achievement is a product of some of the good work that has been going on locally, with the Oxford Momentum group playing a significant role in cohering left-wing activists, and mobilising them with a party focused strategy. A lot of local Momentum branches across the country have made steady inroads into their local Labour Party, but so far the central Momentum office has done very little to support local activists in organising a more systematically co-ordinated encroachment into local labour party structures. Hopefully, with the new development of Grassroots Momentum – an organisational network formed to operate within the structures of Momentum – such support for local activists and overarching co-ordination will have a chance to develop.

As satisfying as Akehurst’s displacement is, the removal of Blairites and others on the right of Labour should not be seen as an end in itself. The Labour Party will not be transformed simply by swapping ‘their people’ with ‘our people’, but by empowering activists and left wing party officials with a tangible strategy to activate the mostly latent Corbyn majority membership into political routines, and the clear enunciation of socialist policies that we can use to fight. As Corbyn and McDonnell seem to be becoming ever more isolated and politically cautious, the urgency of that task is extremely high.

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11 Comments

  1. Hi Andrew,

    I hope Clarion has space to cover elections in all approx 650 CLPs.

    I just wanted to clarify this bit “Akehurst was fiercely lambasted as soon as he sat down by a member correcting a point of information, claiming he simply didn’t know the history of his own local party.”

    In my speech, I set out my record as Membership Secretary, and highlighted that I recently set up a new branch of the Labour Party covering Botley, Cumnor and other areas between Oxford and Abingdon. I stated that this was an area “that had never had a branch Labour Party in living memory”. I based this not on my own knowledge as I only moved to Oxford in 2014, but on comments made to me by a former council leader, one of the longest serving local members.

    Unfortunately what I thought was an innocuous statement upset Unite delegate Chris Bond, who accused me of lying and/or not knowing anything about “local people” and insulting Botley members because (in his words) “there had been a thriving Botley branch in the 1980s”.

    I am not sure if Chris’ level of anger was manufactured as an electoral tactic, as it seems an odd thing to be angry about.

    I accept that I did not know there had been a Botley Branch Labour Party in the 1980s, as at the time I was a schoolboy in Kent.

    I don’t know why Chris, who lives in Botley, hasn’t managed to get a local branch functioning during the intervening 30 years. You would need to ask him.

    I don’t appreciate being told I don’t know anything about local people when I am married to someone who grew up on an Oxford council estate and whose family have lived in Oxford since the 19th century. This isn’t the welcoming tone that otherwise characterises Oxford Labour Party.

    I’m used to being able to debate robustly about politics with comrades from across the party without it becoming personalised like this. It struck a sour and unnecessary note at an otherwise friendly meeting.

    I look forward to working with you for a Labour victory in the county elections.

    Luke

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Luke,

      We would very much like to! We have published a number of CLP election reports (eg in our first printed issue about the right’s victories in Lewisham, or in our most recent issue about the left’s victories in Brighton). We have commissioned more and are hoping for more in future. This one was sent to us and certainly has specific interest.

      Sacha Ismail, for The Clarion

      Like

    2. Luke, I think you should concentrate your efforts against the Tories mate, rather than trying to screw over the leader we have elected twice.

      Like

    3. The new branch in Oxford West would not have been set up without key local members like Erica Davis and Peter Leary pushing for a new local branch and actually rallying interest from new members. I hope you don’t mean to suggest that it was down to you Luke that the new branch was set up because that would be both inaccurate and misleading. There will be a stall on 1st April in the Botley parade to attract new members, which I am sure you will be supporting given your professed dedication to the new branch. I hope to see you there.

      Like

  2. As a member of Oxford Momentum and a self-labelling left-wing democratic socialist who finds Corbyn’s policies sensible and rather moderate, Luke’s and my views on the best future direction of Labour probably differ significantly. However, I would agree with Luke that in political groups such as the Labour Party, robust debate without personalities as such being involved is desirable.

    I don’t know Luke personally. Whatever other differences we may have, and whatever flavour of Labour – left, right or centre – a person is, they deserve respect for getting out on the doorstep to continue campaigning for their Party just two days after losing a potentially ego-bruising majority vote. (See tweeted photo)
    https://mobile.twitter.com/Oxford_Labour/status/840923777374515200

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oxford East CLP as seen the Light this is Great news. And is free from Britain First I mean Labour first, who seem Content on Splitting Labour apart while it’s going rightly back to it’s roots under Corbyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d like to thank Luke for his hard work over the past yesteryears however pick yourself up use your energy now to rid this country of the vile Tories, let’s draw a line in the sand and let’s start campaigning for a better country we must unite as a party , save our NHS and other services being sold off , i note only this week our plasma service has been sold off by Mitt Romney for a huge profit
    We’re all Labour people , can I ask you kindly brother Luke concentrate on the Tories not us from the left
    Thanks Andrew

    Like

  5. I’m a member of Momentum, and I am happy that CLPs up and down the country are being revitalised by new and existing party members, whether Momentum or not.

    I’m a little less comfortable with the promotion of ‘Momentum Grassroots’ – effectively the losing side in the debate on Momentum structures. Reading this article, one would think they were the only people active in the organisation, and it was only through their intervention that anything has happened at all.

    Like

  6. Thing is luke for a long time we have infiltrated all the right wing groups we know , we see we hear, theres not much we don’t know, let’s all draw a line in the sand we could be looking at an early election, I’d guess may possibly lets gear up ready

    Like

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