My apologies, I had my first written assignment due, one that also coincided with my first touch of a cold up here. Most of my residence came down with one an I got a very slight touch of it also. All of which led me to be absent from this site over the last little while.
I have been reviewing the thread ‘The End of Politics.bm’ and the comments there. Of these I really wanted to respond to some of the more important points that I saw, namely #57 and #62 from LaVerne and #66 from Ken. Both of these posters are fellow PLPers and as such I tend to regard their comments as being of greater importance to some others as regards the purpose and intent of this blog.
The relevant parts that I want to respond to are:
From #57 – ‘Alsys, do you true friends “constructively” criticise you publicly, or do they pull you aside? Jonathan does have the right to critise his party publicly, but those of us who don’t agree with his public criticism also have the right to criticise him. Do you think that all “loyal” PLP members agree with everything that the Party/leadership does? No way!!! But, our criticisms are taken to the right place. Posting your criticisms of your party on a blog for all the world to read is not being loyal. Especially when the majority of the participants of that blog are anti-PLP. I really don’t understand why Jonathan does it and I’m sure he’ll give a long explanation as to why he feels it necessary to make public criticisms.’
‘I wonder if Jonathan has even written a (private) letter to the Premier or the Chairman of the Party expressing his concern. For some reason only known to him, he must make his concerns public and I have a problem with that, whether you or anyone else likes it.’
From #62: ‘At the risk of being lynched again by posters including yourself, I wonder if Jonathan belonged to a political party that was made up of a majoirty of white people, if he would constantly publicly criticise that party, or would he sit down and dialogue with the leadership? As I have said previously, I reallly don’t understand why he feels it necessary to constantly publicly criticise the PLP. In essence he is criticising himself because he is a member of the party.’
From #66: ‘With regard to this blog, and Alsys’ blog, I must say I, as a PLP supporter, see nothing wrong with disagreements within a party. I think it is healthy. However I do have a problem with Mr Starling’s propensity to air his issues publicly when I dont believe he has ever even tried to sort them out internally. Airing them in the public domain should be the last resort, in my opinion. Jonathan – all these people that support you going to the press only want to see what dirty laundry is being washed. As for Alsys, in reading her posts, I see someone who is a bit naive, and trying to see everything as half full. it is admirable but not quite realistic. She professes to be a PLP supporter. I am not convinced. Voting once for a party does not a supporter make. Researching the history, working for the party, defending the party makes you more a supporter. Again, these are my opinions, and I dont want them taken personally.‘
In response to the issues raised in #57, I thank Ms. Furbert for acknowledging my right to criticise the Party publicly, and likewise acknowledge her right to publicly criticise my public criticism. I very much welcome that and think that such public debate is healthy and to the long-term benefit of the Party.
However she goes on to make the argument that I am going about my criticism the wrong way, that I should not be airing my criticism publicly on this blog and that by so doing I am being disloyal to the Party. This is not a new argument, and we have discussed it several times before in various forms.
I have written before that in my experience the Party machinery is defunct and in need of fixing. Party branches are mostly inoperative, Central Committee is mostly a venting forum where any grassroots initiatives are fobbed of off, and Party policy is disseminated rather than created. There are many good comrades working to repair this machinery and their efforts should be applauded and encouraged. Despite this it is necessary to broach these issues publicly simply because it cannot be done within the existing broken machinery of the Party. Even when and if the Party machinery is corrected, this should not disallow public debate.
She says that I am being disloyal to the Party. I have always said from the get go that I am loyal to what I understand to be the principles of progressive labour and not to the various Party Lines of the PLP. When I see the Party acting contrary to the principles of progressive labour I reserve the right to criticise the Party for disloyalty to those principles.
And yes, to answer her question, I have from time to time spoken to various Party Officers of all levels of my concerns. However as Party actions are being done publicly, essentially without the informed debate and subsequent consent of the Party membership, and often in contradiction to the principles of progressive labour, I reserve the right to publicly criticise those actions.
In response to #62:
Interesting tactical move there. Had Ms. Furbert read the ‘About’ section she would see that while I studied in Canada I joined and was active within the Canadian sister Party of the PLP, the Canadian New Democratic Party. She would also see that I was among the founding members of that Party’s Socialist Caucus, a socialist faction within that Party that sought to return the NDP to the principles of progressive labour from which it was founded. So yes, if I was a member of a predominantly White political Party I would similarly be critical of it should I feel the need to do so.
I am not criticising myself by criticising the Party. I would be doing a disservice to myself and the Party should I not stand by my principles and my loyalty to the principles of progressive labour.
Party members may disagree with my interpretations of the principles of progressive labour and my tactics. I welcome their arguments as this advances the discourse.
In response to #66.
Ken, I really don’t take any of this personally. I have some quite obvious and public ideological differences with LaVerne, and sometimes we may argue rather bitterly at each other, but this doesn’t change the fact that I continue to regard LaVerne with great respect and as a friend and colleague. I believe that she too shares the conviction that we can argue bitterly over politics but not take such disagreement personally.
I have sought to take my criticisms internally, and also stand by my right to do so publicly as necessary. It is obvious to most Party members what the intention of say the RG taking my posts for news is, although it is also obvious why my criticism is more newsworthy than UBPers criticising the UBP. I hope that most Party members see that and take it with a pinch of salt. Our Party doe shave some serious issues, and we do need to be frank and open in our discussion of them. The UBP is irrelevant right now, and we do a disservice to ourselves by not confronting the problems within the Party.
Finally it seems to me that some Party members have not yet fully grasped the full repercussions of the new technologies that exist today, including blogs. Attempts have been made to use these new technologies for cynical electoral purposes, but these are often seen for what they are. The expansion of public information access and debate are irreversible without totalitarian actions. The Party must either adapt to that new reality or suffer the consequences.
The Party Constitution provides a framework for disciplining members. I have in the past challenged my detractors to have the courage of their convictions and end whispering campaigns against me and publically call for my disciplining. They have failed to do so. Perhaps in my absence to defend myself they will find this courage. They are welcome to do so. I will accept the decisions should they be made through official and formal channels but reserve the right to appeal them on my return. I doubt that that will be necessary.
This blog, and my defence of the principles of progressive labour will continue.