Because the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Constituency Labour Party has finally weighed in with its long-awaited response to the Venezuelan crisis. Berlin, Paris, Washington, and New York have all been notified. So, too, of course, has Havana, Hanoi, Bejing, and Moscow.
Before I reproduce the vital communiqué in its entirety below, I’m going to discuss the process a bit. A lot of the people I know in the local party only attend meetings. They’re never seen actively campaigning, but pontificating in meetings. I don’t understand this, but then I’ve never liked meetings. These meetings don’t seem to actually do anything. There is a lot of talking, smug, self-satisfied exposition of opinion, and then two hours later . . . everybody goes home. Advancing the revolutionary transformation, one meeting at a time.
A key weapon in the meeting toolkit appears to be the motion. Some motions serve a clear purpose — such as those that propose formal affiliation with other bodies. However, most are of the ilk reproduced below. While constituency parties can (generally) adopt one of two models, for reasons long lost to time, ours operates on a sort of federal branch structure. There are eight branches in mine, each corresponding to electoral wards in the constituency, and all business happens at that level before being fed up to the constituency level. For a motion to be considered by the constituency, it first needs to pass at least one branch. (The alternative arrangement is to have what are known as “all member meetings”, or AMM for short. I find this utterly unworkable, as our CLP has 1,030 members, down from 1,250 18 months ago, and should they all want to show up at once . . . ). I honestly don’t understand the allure of the motion culture, and maybe some day somebody can help me understand why so much time and energy is invested into their creation, dissemination, and debate.
At our CLP General Committee meeting last week (somehow I am a voting delegate to this body) four motions were considered. One, on wether or not the CLP should affiliate with LGBT+ Labour, passed easily, but only after debate. Some in the room thought it not a good idea to affiliate with LGBT+ Labour. Not because they were homophobic reactionaries, but (never stated, but blindingly transparent) that body would then be able to send voting delegates to these meetings, and the suspicion is that these delegates would all be (gasp) Blairites (yes, 12 years after he left office, there are still “Blairites” in the party to weed out and expunge). There were two others that were tabled for future consideration, and the below defense of Comrade Maduro.
I’m working on a piece exploring Corbyn’s foreign policy, but all you really need to know is that it is a knee-jerk opposition to the West in the best Bennite tradition. It loses value in its obstinate predictability. This motion is of that flavour. Additionally, there are factual inaccuracies, such as the oft-exaggerated bit by the Carter Center (addressed by a Carter Center press release back in February, but not considered by the author of this motion). But, it passed nonetheless, by two votes, so this is the official policy of my CLP. (For the record, no, I do not believe that the US and UK should invade Venezeula in order to foment regime change; that would be a fantastically dreadful idea. But Maduro is a dictator.)
This Branch notes that:
· Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly has declared himself to be the interim president of Venezuela
· Guaido did not stand in the presidential election of May 2018 which was won by Nicolas Maduro with 68% of the vote.
· the country has been recognised by many observers, including the Jimmy Carter Foundation, to have one of the most free and fair electoral system in the world. It is an electronic system with fingerprintscanners, voting receipts and high-tech systems.– there are no ballot boxes – they have a constitution, and all their elections have international observers,
· The U.S. government encouraged Venezuelan opposition parties to boycott last year’s election. The opposition parties that did participate have accepted the outcome, but Trump and co are calling the election fraudulent and have formally recognised Guaido as President of Venezuela, as has the EU
· Responding to questions about possible military intervention, President Trump says that “all options are on the table.” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have openly encouraged the Venezuelan military to stage a coup and U.S. officials have even met with potential coup leaders.
· Globally Venezuela has the largest amount of oil
· UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has described Guaido as the right person to take Venezuela forward and claims NM is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela
The Branch believes that:
· Over the past 20 years the Venezuelan government has pursued policies aimed at alleviating poverty, reducing inequality, providing universal healthcare and education, building huge amounts of social housing and building systems of participatory democracy
· This progressive focus has been consistently opposed by the US government, which has taken actions such as supporting the right-wing opposition with funding $5million per annum, also collaborating with Saudi Arabia to keep the price of oil down to affect the Venezuelan economy, and imposing crippling economic sanctions (the latter of which the UK participates)
· The effect of these actions are a significant factor in the economic difficulties of Venezuela
· Venezuela’s political and economic problems must be resolved by Venezuela, peacefully and within the framework of their constitution and internal law, without the interference of foreign states with a vested interest in removing progressive governments
Intervention including the threat of Military intervention by a foreign mighty power like the US is morally wrong, likely counterproductive leading to bloodshed and instability in the region and is illegal under international law.
This Labour Party Branch therefore resolves to
· recognise that Venezuela is a sovereign state that has the right to self-determination and oppose moves by the UK government and EU to recognise Juan Guaido as President or otherwise subvert the democratic process in Venezuela
· support the position stated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon MP that “The future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans. Jeremy Hunt’s call for more sanctions on Venezuela is wrong. We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or anywhere else. There needs to be dialogue and a negotiated settlement to overcome the crisis.”
· Support Labour Party/trade union backed campaigns against foreign intervention.