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Being a British Labour Party Member

Updated on February 6, 2019
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Corbyn Rally 2016

I was close to the stage at this 2016 rally. Corbyn was touring the country to get support after Owen Smith challenged his leadership
I was close to the stage at this 2016 rally. Corbyn was touring the country to get support after Owen Smith challenged his leadership | Source

The Labour Party and Me

Having voted for the Labour Party all my adult voting life it seemed a good idea to finally put my money where my mouth was and actually become a party member.

There have been times when I have voted for Labour holding my nose and as the party of the lesser of the evils but being a loyal voter was always a given.

Over many decades just once did the Labour Party fail to win my vote and that was a long time ago.

My vote at that time went to an independent anti European Economic Community candidate.

The E.E.C became the E.U. and currently the U.K. is trying to untangle itself from years of membership so perhaps that candidate had the correct stance.

As someone who recognizes the importance of voting and has always voted in any election I thought why not, in retirement, actually join the Labour Party?

Why not indeed!

Ed Miliband Labour Party Leader 2015

In 2015 Labour Party leader Ed Miliband lost a general election and quickly quit the role. To be fair his position was made untenable with some members of the P.L.P, Parliamentary Labour Party, baying for blood.

He was not the only party leader to quit following that General Election but his resignation led to a turbulent time in the Labour Party.

That turbulence still exists

Mr Miliband had opened the door to more party membership involvement and in particular in the process of electing a new party leader.

Some of those unhappy with the current leadership will forever blame Mr Miliband for changes he made which also on the upside massively increased party membership.

These changes led to Jeremy Corbyn, against the odds, becoming party leader.

Joining The Labour Party

I joined the Labour Party in early 2015 ahead of the General Election and subsequent defeat of that year.

It was a simple process which I did online.

Having supported the party for so long it seemed a good idea but little did I know how fractured the party would become and little did I realize how internal conflict is not unusual.

Ed lost the election and the search for a new leader began

In order to be on the ballot paper would be candidates had to secure 35 nominations from the party’s M.Ps.

As the process got underway some hopefuls fell by the wayside failing to secure enough support.

The final four were Liz Kendal, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn the veteran left-wing M.P. was selected by the left of the party as part of a project to take Labour back to its roots and away from the New Labour years of Tony Blair.

He was not expected to win but he did and it was a spectacular win.

He did not get my vote but I had said I would support whoever won and have.

Along the way Mr Corbyn has become my chosen candidate and when Owen Smith challenged the leadership Jeremy Corbyn got my vote.

But it has been a bumpy ride.

As just a voter ignorance was bliss. As a party member some things are difficult to ignore.

Political Activism

As a new member of the party I attended local leadership hustings and a couple of meetings.

However I did not really join to become a political activist and I never enjoyed meetings.

As a blogger I had a successful website where I shared my views and opinions but after a lifetime of work I had no intention of anything more.

Somewhere along the line though I agreed to take part in local campaigning. This involved door-knocking, delivering leaflets and helping to staff a Labour Party stall at a couple of events.

Things were going well but I began to feel I was being sucked in.

With some of those helping the party seemingly in order to further their own political ambitions it was obvious, just like in the workplace, some were there for an easy ride.

You can always spot these members on any photos of campaigning published on social media though they may have simply turned up briefly.

They are in prime position smiling into the camera so that they have proof of activism to add to their C.V.

This can be useful if they want to be a councillor, M.P. or secure paid work for the party.

Continued Membership?

Just over three years on I am undecided whether to remain a party member or quit.

I definitely want to be a passive non-active member and if that is not possible I will quit.

The problem for me is that if I always give anything my best shot. This at times has led to stress at work but I am retired now. It says it all I guess that my political activities have started to feel like work.

I also find it difficult to refuse to help. If asked “Can you help” I invariably end up saying ”Yes.”

But as someone aged late sixties it feels time to say thanks but no thanks.


The party is in turmoil with internal fighting wasting time, money and energy.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced a series of accusations and allegations as some “comrades” try to oust him.

Currently unresolved allegations of antisemitism are tearing the party apart.

I joined the Labour Party to do my little bit financially and as a means of showing support but being a party member is many things and at this time most are not good.

However, if like me you want real political change in the U.K., Labour should win your vote.

In or outside of the party people have a vote.

Hopeful Local Rally 2016

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Ethel Smith


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