We're hanging on by our fingernails - Labour branch official

A LABOUR Party official has published a damning report on the state of her party.

"The mood in my branch is unremittingly bleak," said Calder branch secretary Susan Press.

"Following the National Executive Committee's refusal to listen to us over the selection of Parliamentary candidates, several of our keenest activists have resigned.

"Most are just apathetic and unwilling to engage – and who can blame them."

Writing on her website, Ms Press said she faced a Herculean task turning things around, especially with the imminent need to choose candidates for next year's council elections.

"If there are any more stitch-ups, or candidates barred for spurious reasons, Calder branch will be in terminal decline.

"As things stand, most of us are just hanging on by our fingernails."

This week, the Calder branch became the first in the Calder Valley constituency to join the Labour Representation Committee which is committed to develop radical policies for the Labour Party and trade unions.

"We regard this as an absolutely fundamental step which will help us rebuild and recruit more members," said Ms Press.

"It will also enable us to send out a clear message that our branch, the largest in the Calder Valley constituency, is not signed up to New Labour policy and that we retain the socialist values which we have stood for ever since we campaigned against Iraq, tuition fees, privatisation and the other policies which the committee stands for," she said.

The new chairwoman of the constituency party, Ann Martin, said she was disappointed but not totally surprised by what was happening in the Calder branch, which has more than 100 members.

"I think it comes down to a handful being unhappy about recent events and being determined to get their own way," she said.

There has been turmoil since Labour leaders refused to endorse Janet Oosthuysen, of Hebden Bridge, as the Calder Valley Parliamentary candidate, which forced a re-run of the selection process.

The new candidate is Stephenie Booth, of Todmorden. who was unavailable for comment.