Abusive behaviour in the local Labour Party is not new
25 November, 2021
Lazzaro Pietragnoli had been a Labour councillor for nine years and has served as the Mayor of Camden
• IN reaction to the bizarre revelation in your November 18 issue that Camden Labour chief whip Lazzaro Pietragnoli was behind a fake Twitter account which he used to abuse party colleagues, the council leader Georgia Gould said that she will take steps to improve behaviour within the Labour group, (Lazzaro Pietragnoli resigns from council over ‘abusive’ social media account, November 22).
Unfortunately her assurances ring hollow, as abusive behaviour in the local party is not a new problem; it’s been going on for years now, under the watch of both Cllr Gould and Sir Keir Starmer.
The insults dished out by Pietragnoli are indicative of a much wider problem within the party, behaviour which has in the main been directed towards supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
In January 2020, during the last Labour leadership campaign, a group of us, as socialists and trade unionists in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency, wrote to the CNJ in reaction to Sir Keir positioning himself as the “unity candidate” in the campaign, when he claimed that he was aiming to end party factionalism. We were most surprised to hear this, given that Sir Keir had made no attempt to build such unity in his own constituency.
We wrote: “Time and time again, as left-leaning members, we have been subjected to hostility and abuse, a symptom of the chronic factionalism in our CLP. Those that are close to Keir Starmer, rather than welcome involvement from the left, have actively prevented it”.
Coverage of the Pietragnoli story in national media is that Sir Keir, as Labour leader, has brought back the problems of infighting from national level into the local party. But the opposite is the case.
Before becoming party leader Sir Keir surrounded himself with those who regularly dished out the hostility and abuse, letting it go on unchecked; and has taken the same approach as party leader.
Abusive behaviour in the Labour Party will not end with the resignation of Pietragnoli – it runs much deeper and is intrinsic to the campaign to root out socialists from the party.
Unite Delegate to Holborn and St Pancras General and Executive Committee