Streatham CLP was a stronghold for the right wing. Since the departure of local MP Chuka Umunna, there has been a significant shift to the left. Now there is a left-wing candidate and members are mobilising to fight for a socialist Labour government.
Streatham CLP – currently home of the now-Lib-Dem MP Chuka Umunna – has in the past been a stronghold of the Labour right wing. However, since Umunna’s departure from Labour, there has been a significant shift within the local party, with an organised Labour left coming to prominence and the selection of a left-wing candidate for the coming election.
Here we publish two reports about developments in Streatham: one about the selection of a new left-wing candidate and the fight for a socialist Labour government, and another on a recent meeting hosted by Streatham Young Labour.
By Sam Tollitt, Streatham CLP
On 2 November, 588 members of Streatham Constituency Labour Party met to select their new parliamentary candidate.
Since the departure of turncoat MP Chuka Umunna from the Labour Party – now campaigning with the Liberal Democrats for the Cities of London and Westminster seat – there has been an effort to make sure the next candidate and MP for Streatham will not be of the same careerist and Blairite mold.
With a general election only a month away, it is essential that we have a candidate who will fight for the working class in Streatham and support a Corbyn government – unlike the current MP, who even before he left the Labour Party was undermining Corbyn at every opportunity.
There has been a strong shift to the left in the constituency over the past year. The local Labour left has organised itself, mobilised, and taken control of the CLP executive from the right wing, in what was once a bastion of Blairism.
The candidate that the organised left has campaigned for is Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who is also endorsed by Momentum, Unite and many other affiliated unions.
Bell is a lifelong Streatham resident and socialist, and a prominent local Labour party activist. She stood against two other candidates who have both held positions as part of the local council – the same council that has helped implement Tory cuts.
On the day of the selection meeting there was a large turnout, with local Labour Party members queuing around the block to get into the meeting.
Many of the policies Bell put forward received a great deal of support from members. In particular, her call for mandatory reselection received a round of cheers and applause.
After the results came in – showing that Bell had won the contest to represent Streatham Labour in this general election – there was much celebration by the left. It was clear that weeks of hard work had paid off.
This selection could prove to be part of a turning point both in Streatham and more widely. With many right-wing Labour MPs now leaving the party, and with left-wing, Corbyn-supporting candidates replacing them in many cases, there is a chance to change the dynamics inside the Parliamentary Labour Party.
It is clear, however, that many right-wing Labour MPs remain inside the PLP. They have no intention of letting a Corbyn-led government carry out the radical programme that the working class needs and that grassroots members demand.
We must therefore use this election campaign to draw new, fresh layers into activity going forward, and to organise this strengthened grassroots of the Labour Party to fight for democracy within the party and for bold socialist policies.
We need a Parliamentary Labour Party that represents the membership, the working class, and our socialist values. We are proud to be part of the campaign to select Bell as our parliamentary candidate, and we are optimistic about the future of Streatham.
Fight for a Corbyn Labour government with socialist MPs!
Charles Patrick from Camberwell & Peckham CLP
On Monday 4 November, Streatham Young Labour hosted a public meeting on the upcoming general election, entitled Boris Out, Corbyn In.
The speakers on the night were Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Streatham CLP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, and Streatham Young Labour member and Socialist Appeal supporter, Joe Russell.
There was a great turnout from the local Labour left, with over 30 people in attendance. And the mood amongst activists certainly matched the excellent numbers.
The importance of this election was reflected by the atmosphere in the room: a seriousness, with everyone recognising the importance of taking the fight from door to door.
There was also a clear optimism, positivity, and confidence – particularly around the need for bold socialist policies to spearhead the campaign.
When speaking on Labour’s chances on 12 December, both the panel and the audience exuded confidence. But there were also reminders that we must not be complacent – Labour will only win we mobilise, organise, and take the fight to important swing seats. And there was a great emphasis on the work we must do in our local seats, even if these are considered ‘safe’.
There was an emphasis on the need for a mass movement to defend Corbyn and Labour from establishment attacks and the inevitable sabotage that will come from the capitalist class when a Corbyn government is elected. In this respect, the real fight starts after a Labour victory.
It was also noted that Labour may need to go even further with its programme in order to achieve its goals. For example, a Labour government would need to expropriate the assets and wealth of the billionaires – without compensation – in order to carry out the socialist transformation of society that workers and youth so desperately need.
The second half of the meeting consisted of a workshop on campaigning, discussing the tactics that should be employed while out canvassing in both Streatham and marginal seats across London.
This was a great opportunity for those more experienced inside the Streatham CLP to meet Labour activists who are new to the area or from neighbouring constituencies. Contact details were exchanged and plans were put in place for the campaign ahead.
All in all, it was another successful event for Streatham Young Labour. The CLP is quickly becoming a stronghold for the Left in London. These are extremely exciting times to get involved, as the call for radical policies gains strength.