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Dr Shantanu Panigrahi joins the Labour Party

I have always been interested in pursuing the cause of workers and workers rights in the workplace through trade unionism. I took an active part in the trade union at my workplace in the Civil Service during my early years working in the Scientific Civil Service from 1979. I supported the Miners Strike during its battle with Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. When the Labour government of Tony Blair was elected I was elated. But little did I know what how it was constituted. I became very disillusioned with New Labour under Tony Blair most notably because of the Iraq war. I took him (indirectly as the Case was directed against Kofi Annan of the United Nations) to the Magistrates Court and the International Criminal Court. I thought Labour would stand for peace in the world and not go about warmongering as a lap poodle of the United States of America. During 2008 whilst working for a petrol station under Shell I formed the Union of Petrol Station Workers and tried hard to get it registered with the Certification Office of the Labour Government and looked for support from the Trades Union Congress but did not make any progress. This added to my disillusionment of New Labour. Partly thinking that Gordon Brown might be different to Tony Blair perhaps I still voted for Labour in the 2010 general election. But Labour was defeated.

Then the issue of the European Union haunted me and I abandoned my support for the Labour Party because of under the new leadership of Ed Milliband Labour had a pro-European Union stance and especially was totally instransigent in not agreeing to give the people a referendum to decide on whether to continue with our membership of the European Union. So I then tried the Liberal Democrats feeling that I had perhaps somewhat liberal values but again resigned from the Party very soon after seeing that it too did not wish to discuss the issue of UK’s membership of the European Union in terms of giving people a choice in a referendum let alone considering that UK should pull out of the European Union. So important I considered the issue of the European Union that I joined the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). However, when I wanted to take an active role in the Party by requesting it to let me stand as a prospective member of parliament on behalf of the Party I was given short shrift. The experience was not a good one as I was not given a hearing to put forward my case. I therefore not only resigned from UKIP but also reported the Party to the Police as having perpetrated a hate crime on me. This did not make any progress with Kent Police. Fortunately, as history would have it, the pressure being put by internal divisions in the Conservative Party on Europe and UKIP’s progress in the polls forced the Prime Minister David Cameron to offer the public an in-out referendum on UK’s membership of the European Union if it won the 2015 general election. Having resigned from UKIP I was therefore free to vote for the Conservative Party at this election as well as the local election that took place as I wished to support the Party even though I was not convinced that my Green Socialism would find a home in this kind of Conservatism. I also wanted to give the Party every opportunity to prove that it would put justice at the heart of government in my private legal proceedings that I have blogged. But today I know that this was a futile exercise.

On 23 June 2016, the UK narrowly voted to Leave the European Union and in the week that passed it became clear that this would be the policy of the new government as David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party came under heavy criticism from his Members of Parliament that he had been at best half hearted during the referendum campaign in its support for the Remain camp that the majority of Labour Members of Parliament pursued.But it was also clear that trouble might have been brewing in the Parliamentary Labour Party against the leader for some time. A leadership struggle followed in which a vote of no confidence was passed by the Parliamentary Labour Party overwhelmingly (172 votes to 40) to try and get Jeremy Corbyn to resign so that a new leadership election could take place in the Party. The Parliamentary Labour Party was largely Blairite from having been dominated over the years by New Labour. But Jeremy Corbyn had won the leadership election overwhelmingly with over 60 per cent of the votes less than a year ago and it seemed entirely out of order that the decision of the Party electorate should be overturned without a due democratic process. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters refused to capitulate and he did not resign.

I felt having observed Jeremy Corbyn over this past year that my Green Socialism could easily find a home in the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn remained as leader and the Party moved in the direction that he was channelling it to. It was for this reason that on 1 July 2016 I joined the Labour Party of the United Kingdom.

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