Monday, September 11, 2006

Labour is gagging it's own members

The sight of octogenarian Walter Wolfgang being pulled out of his chair (for a bit of very light heckling) by two huge bouncers at the last Labour autumn conference was unbelievable. It is unbelievable that Labour employs professional "bouncers" as stewards for its conference. The idea of LibDem stewards (all party members) manhandling someone out of conference for a bit of light heckling is not something I would dream of happening.

But as if that Wolfgang-bashing wasn't enough, this year the Labour party is screening applicants who want to attend their conference. John Crace in the Guardian says that have taken the "strange decision to ban anyone who has taken part in peaceful protests." So such people will not even be allowed a pass for the Labour conference.

Is there anyone in the Labour party who has not taken part in a peaceful protest?! Presumably 'peaceful protesters' would include Tony Benn who seems to attend peaceful protests like other people watch football on the telly.

I find it extraordinary that any Labour party member would be refused a pass for their own party conference. With LibDem conferences any party member who applies for a pass gets one, subject to providing a photo and filling out the form. Indeed, members of the public who have sufficiently strong constitutions to queue up at 9am, can get a day pass.

Given that the whole history of Labour is one of trade union activism and campaigning for human rights, it is just ludicrous that they are now stopping their own members from attending their conference if there is a chance they might shout out "nonsense!" during a speech by Tony Blair.

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