Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s July executive

by Peter Willsman

National Executive Committee 18 July 2017

There was a very positive and constructive attitude all around the table. Everyone was fully aware that Labour had had a bigger increase in our vote share since 1945. Also everyone was fully aware that Jeremy was the key to our success. As of course were all of our members and staff. The doom-mongers and naysayers had been swept from the field. What also made the meeting very special was the presence of our two dynamic election coordinators, Ian Lavery MP and Andrew Gwynne MP. The phrase ‘dynamic duo’ was coined with these two in mind. Continue reading →

What Tony Blair gets wrong

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Taking time out from hanging with Bono and advising Central Asian dictators on how best to spin repression and executions, His Blairness has condescended to return to British politics to tell us things. And there are two things on his mind: Brexit and the election result. To save you the trouble, I’ve read his essay so you don’t have to.

Boiling his argument down to its constituent parts, the first is the usual Brexit is bad and is a massive distraction from more pressing problems. Well, there’s no disagreement here. Brexit is bad, and one cannot deny that third country status outside of the single market and the customs union is going to cause major problems. That said, we shouldn’t just accept this situation. It’s the job of political leaders to act as educators and set forth a number of Brexit options, which could include an invitation for the EU to reform as a price of keeping our membership. According to some unspecified chats he’s had with the movers and the shakers, they want us to stay and are even willing to compromise on free movement. Continue reading →

Vote Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes for Labour’s CAC

by James Elliott

Labour Party members can vote to elect two representatives to Labour’s Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC).

The election is a One Member One Vote (OMOV) ballot, with ballot papers starting to be emailed out in the week commencing Monday 17 July.

The Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance is urging members to vote for Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes. Continue reading →

After the Grenfell fire

by Nathan Akehurst

Before

“We need good costs for Cllr Feilding-Mellen and the planner tomorrow at 8.45am!”

In July 2014, this chillingly innocuous-looking email was sent from a project manager to a cost consultant in respect of a refurbishment project. The consultant, Artelia, duly replied with a range of options, including reduced costs for overcladding as part of a package to save £293,368.

This proposal was adopted. The rest is history. Continue reading →

For eighteen months county Durham’s teaching assistants have stood bravely against injustice. Their struggle exposes the viciousness of austerity politics

by Jack Hepworth

Some eighteen months have passed since the nightmare began for the teaching assistants of county Durham. In December 2015, Durham County Council (DCC) announced proposals to sack the county’s 2,700 teaching assistants (TAs) and re-employ the same staff on new contracts with pay cuts of up to 23 percent. Many Durham TAs had already suffered a £1,200 pay cut in 2012. The TAs’ heroic campaign of resistance in the past eighteen months has garnered much attention and admiration, in the region and beyond. Twice the campaign has brought the county council back to the negotiating table for protracted talks; twice the council has produced slightly modified proposals; twice those proposals have been rejected by a majority of unionised TAs. Their tireless campaign has been a model for grassroots organisation and resistance. Continue reading →

Yvette Cooper’s “Alternative Vision”

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

That’s a bit embarrassing. There you are, the personnel are appointed and your team is ready to go. And then the Labour leader spoils it by defying expectations, winning extra seats, throwing the Tories into their most wretched state for 20 years and surges ahead with poll leads last seen since before the Iraq War. What can you do? If you are Chuka Umunna, you can stir the pot to remind the world (and yourself) that you’re still a player. Or you can proceed as if nothing happened and turn your campaign-that-never-was into a profile raising exercise. Entirely consistent with the long game the old Brownite right are playing, this is where Yvette Cooper is going: a Fabian speech here, a Pride photo opp there, and no doubt a good clutch of fringes in Brighton this September. Continue reading →

Labour MPs put internal divisions on public display again

by Hounslow Momentum

This article from the Hounslow Momentum website expresses a widespread alarm at the behaviour of the 50 Labour MPs who chose to make a very public display of Labour disunity. Being the website of a local group it discusses a local MP who chose to support the Chuka Umunna amendment. Similar points can and should be made about all the other MPs who chose to participate in this harmful exercise.

The anti-Corbyn camp told us for two years that electoral advance was impossible under Corbyn’s leadership. The majority of Labour MPs were so sure of it that the opened party divisions to full public view with a vote of no confidence against the leader which 75% of Labour MPs supported (including Ruth Cadbury and Seema Malhotra). And yet Labour rise in the polls was the biggest since 1945. Labour had experienced dramatic decline from the moment when Tony Blair became prime minister – the data is undeniable. It reached its lowest point of public support in the election of 2010 (led by Gordon Brown). Five years later Labour lifted itself marginally from a historic low point by just 2% (led by Ed Miliband) but clearly there was no sea change. Continue reading →

What Chuka Umunna’s amendment showed us

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

“We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.” There you go, clear as day. Labour’s position from the 2017 manifesto on the Brexit negotiations. That nicely prefaces a look at Chuka Umunna’s rebel amendment on retaining single market membership that was put to the Commons yesterday.

I would like to make a basic distinction between the people who rebelled between the principled and the self-serving. Continue reading →

What does inequality look like?

by Bryan Gould

What does inequality look like?  In a society where the gap between rich and poor has widened significantly, what evidence of that gap would one expect to see?

A dramatic and painful answer to that question was provided to us this week with the shocking image of the burning London tower block.  If we ever wanted evidence of how – even in a society that is relatively affluent – the poor can be disregarded while the rich pursue their own interests, this was it.

The ‘towering inferno’ occurred in one of London’s most affluent boroughs. While around 120 poor families were crammed into Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey tower block, most of the borough comprises leafy suburbs and million-pound houses. Continue reading →

The end of Progress?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Consolidating Corbynism involves the transformation of the Labour Party from a vote-catching bureaucracy into a movement capable of winning power by prosecuting its class interests. This in mind, the decision of Lord Sainsbury to pull funding from Progress shows, if you like, some progress towards this goal. Needless to say this, which was apparently announced prior to the election to Progress staff, is a significant setback for the Labour right as a whole.

Progress was set up in 1996 as a praetorian guard of sorts for Tony Blair and New Labour politics. Presenting as an innocuous organisation known for sending free copies of its glossy magazine to leading local politicians and select ‘influencers’, it runs policy seminars, day events, and a full roster of fringe events at party conference. And complementing its outward facing activity is its role as a clearing house and cadre school for career-minded Labour right-wingers. As a matter of course it offered training events for would-be politicians, and some members could expect (and received) coaching for selections. It also provided network opportunities between ambitious party climbers and the PLP cognoscenti, where it has and continues to exercise disproportionate influence. Take a cross section of the parliamentary party today, and you will find a surprising number of honourable members who habitually attended Progress events before their passage into the Commons. Continue reading →

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