Our founder & founding

The founder of the Party is John Urquhart – an absolute “nobody” under-educated underclass disabled person from working class roots (raised “on the Millmead” – an estate in Margate, in Kent – and born in London, in 1984) who had previously been a Labour Party member and voter. (John is non-binary, thus use of “they” pronouns throughout this piece.)

They left the Labour Party twice: first, in 2017, during frustration over rows about antisemitism in the Labour Party. They however rejoined the the Labour Party as the 2019 election loomed, determined to help out as best they could. The defeat naturally was a deep sting, and, frustrated, they rejected the ballot box route entirely for a while, resolving to become a community organiser, and build from the bottom up instead of from the top down.

This lead to the creation of an “activist consensus”, the Cymbal Society, which held its inaugural meeting on March 6th, but which had already carried out an operation to take “#SoupToStrikers” at the UCU strikes over the previous month – bringing about 50 meals in total to the strikers, with support from local individuals and local businesses alike, plus cakes & music to a very rainy picket line.

In the course of doing this, they met many interesting people – the most interesting perhaps being Jeremy Corbyn, who visited a rally at the picket, causing a great deal of excitement amongst Cardiff’s academic and student population. They missed the speech thanks to widespread chronic pain forcing them home early that day – but managed to talk to Corbyn himself briefly, and thank him for his efforts for the Left, by sheer chance as John was leaving.

During discussions with people about what Cymbal was, and what it wanted to achieve, they were repeatedly told that Cymbal ought to be more political. They disagreed, but not with the underlying concept.

Then, in the aftermath of the election, they finally realised they could no longer support the Labour Party – and in fact had some regrets about putting up with some of the issues of the party for so long without properly speaking up. All of this was confirmed by the Labour Leaks report: the racism they knew was a deep-rooted, institutional problem; the anti-Left sentiment running through the party itself. A the march to the Right seemed as inevitable as it was unacceptable.

We came into being (our first presence was on Twitter, on April 13th 2020) because of the realisation John had that the Labour Party was no longer representative of people like them; it was no longer representative of anything but its donors. The only way, they thought, to solve this problem, was to create something new: something answerable only to its Members.