SUBSCRIBERS will be well-versed in the spat between Labour Party member Neil Fletcher and the council leadership which led to threats of disciplinary action last year. Disagreements over development decisions in West Hampstead eventually led to a stand-off over his use of the word ‘quisling’ in the local press while referring to senior Labour councillors at the Town Hall. As it escalated he refused to apologised, insisting the word was now in common use to describe weak-willed leaders, rather than a specific reference to the Norwegian leader installed during Nazi occupation.
Fletcher’s latest writing appears in today’s Guardian, a letter in response to Tom Watson’s claim that Labour is being infiltrated by Trotskyists and Jeremy Corbyn’s view that this is all nonsense. In Camden, ‘Trot’ is the familiarly pejorative term that centrists often casually use to describe anybody on the left wing of the party and beyond, a sort of catch-all term used in a similar way that the people in the centre often find themselves labelled ‘Blarites’ by those on the left. Fletcher’s response here, however, says more or less says: I’m Trotskist – and proud. His letter is below.
“I became a Trotskyist after leaving grammar school but have continued to share the values and perspective of the socialist pioneer. I remain committed to the abolition of grammar schools too. In 1974 I joined the local Labour party on the day Ted Heath called a general election. I have remained a party member and avowedly a Trotskyist. During 42 years’ Labour membership I have been constituency secretary, and ward political activities officer. I served eight years as a Camden councillor and for 11 years as an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority.
Over the years I have never wavered in my belief that international socialism is crucial if the people are to take power away from the wealthy and the global corporations. Trotsky remains an inspiration. He detested Stalin and his violent abuse of state power; he was as a result murdered by a Stalinist assassin; he loved literature and was a believer in its power to elevate culture above social elitism. Trotsky wrote that the “moral grandeur of the proletarian revolution consists in the fact that it is laying the foundations of a culture which is above classes and which will be the first culture which is truly human”. Not bad, eh? He was probably a Guardian reader too.