To certain members of the UK Labour Party, inclusiveness means “do it my way.” At the same time as arguing for this inclusiveness, they are making decisions for others, without even considering if what they want will be achieved through the means they are proposing.

Take Crawley-based Labour member Nona Buckley-Irvine, for example. She has decided – after a five-year stint in London, mind you – that Labour Party meetings qualify as ‘work’. Therefore, drinking during meetings should be forbidden. Even though she herself says she was in a privileged position, she has decided she knows what has caused the under-representation of women: alcohol. Let’s look at her reasoning:

Much like the young, middle-class men at the LSE, older men would drink, shout over one another and over women, and speak at length with no particular point to make. As a woman entering an incredibly male-dominated space, I took comfort in a pint or two to enable me to make my points too.

But with a striking lack of women participating in our structures – just three women were on the executive committee – and a striking under-representation of women at council level – only 25 per cent female, and no female cabinet members – it became evident that the role of alcohol was toxic and pervasive in our local party culture.


It became all the more evident when I tried to put through a motion banning alcohol, and councillors stood up and walked out the room when it was proposed, shouting down the chair and shouting down a young woman like myself. In fact, the second time it was proposed, the motion was denounced as ‘evil and wicked’.

Shouting down a young woman like myself.” The bloody cheek!

But we shouldn’t need case studies to make this argument – the case is very clear cut. The presence of alcohol at meetings can be exclusive to Muslims, pregnant women, drivers, young people under 18, recovering alcoholics, those who cannot afford a pint.

Not only is the case far from very clear cut, one could argue it hasn’t been made at all. This line of ‘reasoning’ is, in a way, quite authoritarian. We must ban alcohol, because some people aren’t allowed, or shouldn’t drink. Are people under 18 not able to attend now? Buckley-Irvine just writes that she started coming at 15.

Of course, the real purpose of the proposal comes out in the last paragraph. It has nothing to do with ‘including’ people.

As the party attempts to move forward following #LabourToo, it should go beyond a strictly procedural approach, with complaints and regulations there to monitor members behaviour. It needs to engage in cultural reform, and banning alcohol from meetings is a significant part of ensuring that the party is welcoming to all and would mitigate the risks that consumption of alcohol poses to others.

In other words, the exclusion ‘argument’ is a, rather daft, excuse to push through an unknown program of reforms that Buckley-Irvine deems necessary. As she can’t convince, she has to play a game of victim (“a young lady such as myself”), deal the ‘inclusiveness’ trump card (“it excludes people!”) and just be downright arrogant (“case is very clear cut”). One wonders what really happened during that meeting…