I GREW up in a family of Labour activists. Some suffered for their principles and activities. My father was penalised in his workplace for his relentless but ultimately successful battle to win sick pay for his workmates. When his enlightened employers refused to institute a scheme, he established one himself. An uncle, backlisted for his part in an apprentice strike during the 1926 General Strike, was forced to leave home, never to return.

Both must be looking down and wondering what has happened to the Labour movement and activism. At a time of austerity, declining wages and zero-hour contracts, it should be totally focused on protecting the rights and conditions of working people. The chaos at Westminster and the turmoil within the Conservative Party should offer Labour a home run to government.

Instead, the party has yet again, turned in on itself.

Labour activists are never happier than when engaged in political posturing and internecine fighting. It’s not a new phenomenon. The civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s, instigated by the entryist Militant Tendency, tore the party apart. Labour became unelectable, more interested in virulent in-fighting than protecting working people from the excesses of the Thatcher governments. Ironically, it was the far left’s hate figures, Kinnock and Blair, that drew the party back from the abyss.

Although the present arm wrestling within Labour is a mere shadow of the titanic battles of the 70s and 80s, there are similarities. The short-lived readmission of Derek Hatton, Militant’s enfant terrible, was, at best, ill-timed. It was however, no surprise given Jeremy Corbyn’s support for Hatton and the hard left in those heady Militant days.

The present-day Momentum faction still prioritises witch-hunts against perceived Blairites, neglecting the day job of bringing down the most divisive government in living memory.

Imminent departure from the EU will demand a robust defence against the likely assault on legislation protecting workers’ rights and safety. Yet, the number of traditional Labour constituencies voting Leave suggests a sizeable portion of Labour’s core support feels it was and still is, failing them.

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The continuing problem for Labour is that its activists appear happier in opposition than in government. In opposition, they can concentrate on internal squabbling and deselecting the ideologically impure.

Consequently, despite this week’s Court of Session set back, it has been Joanna Cherry and the SNP at the forefront of efforts to ensure respect for the law and Acts of Parliament.

My father, uncle and their like belonged to a generation that experienced hardship and poverty. For them political activity was not an esoteric exercise; they wanted to make a difference and improve lives.

They would have scorned those who believe unseating deputy leaders is meaningful political activity. For Labour, there’s got to be more to activism than filling the time between tea and going down the pub.