Could Corbynomics fix our economy?

by Michael Burke

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1The debate surrounding Labour’s leadership contest is being marred by name-calling and red-baiting. Perhaps this is inevitable but it is regrettable. Britain remains in an economic crisis, which has now entered its eighth year. A more productive course would be to discuss how to end it.

A marker of that crisis is that per capita GDP is still below where it was before the crisis began in 2008, as shown in Fig. 1 below. This remains the weakest recovery on record and the year-on-year growth rate has slowed from 3% to 2.6%. This follows a period from the end of 2012 onwards when no new austerity measures were imposed. Renewed austerity on the same scale as in 2010 to 2012 means there is likely to be a similar slowdown. Continue reading →

We need to stop using the word ‘progressive’

by Max Leak

george-osborne-bullingdonThe vocabulary of the Labour moderniser is narrow and confusing. To start with there’s the word “moderniser” itself, denoting members of a kind of desperate tribute band to the original mid-nineties New Labour gaggle. “Reform” is another favourite – it’s a polite word for “destruction”, or at the very least wholesale privatisation. Welfare “reform”; public sector “reform”; student finance “reform”: to “reform” something, in Westminster slang, is to pound it into a smoking mound and then sell its parts as scrap.

It’s a fool’s errand trying to stay on top of all of these verbal weeds in our political garden. But I do make one exception – there is one weed so pervasive, so threatening to the garden’s diversity and vitality, that it must be uprooted at any cost in time or effort. The word “progressive” should ceased to be used at all future Labour Party events. Continue reading →

Why is Jeremy Corbyn the only candidate I trust to help tackle gender inequality and discrimination?

by Aisling Gallagher

JeremyCorbyn1This week Jeremy Corbyn laid out his policy proposals for tackling gender inequality and discrimination faced by women in the UK. Including universal free childcare, a national carers’ strategy, restoring the now stripped funding to domestic abuse shelters and a shadow cabinet composed of at least 50% women, the proposals in his document ‘Working With Women’ far outshine anything that has so far come from the other candidates.

Focusing on everything from carer’s allowance (currently an unliveable £63 a week), anti-choice harassment outside reproductive health centres (a major problem in London and a growing one acros the UK), and the dismantling of adult social care (women pensioners are far more likely to be living in poverty), Jeremy’s proposals are everything I want – and so desperately need – our Labour Party to be fighting for.

Ensuring comprehensive personal, social, health and economic education – with a focus on consent and LGBT issues – is embedded into our national curriculum would frankly be revolutionary when compared to the disparity in PSHE education provisions across schools at the moment. Restoring funding to legal aid would ensure that women escaping domestic violence and abuse are given the opportunities and resources to prosecute their abusers, if it is a route they wish to take. Scrapping employment tribunal fees and extending the period during which a woman can take up a case would mean that some of the 54,000 pregnant women a year currently who lose their jobs wouldn’t – it’s no surprise that sex discrimination cases have fallen by 91% since employment tribunal fees were introduced. Investing in high-quality, skills based, well paid apprenticeships would ensure that young women apprentices, particularly those who are parents, aren’t forced to live on a measly £2.73 an hour salary. Restoring liveable grants for those at college and university would mean carers, parents, and those who are estranged from their families, an issue which disproportionately affects trans women of colour, would be able to pay their rent without worrying about how they will be able to afford to eat.

Some people have told me they’re worried – whilst they support Jeremy’s policies in principle, they don’t know how we’re going to pay for them. One of his major policies, a commitment to working towards free, universal childcare, would pay for itself through the extra revenue and productivity gained from those in work, plus a small 2% rise in corporation tax (and the UK would remain the country with the lowest corporation tax in the G7 even with this increase).

I didn’t ever think that I would be writing an article in support of another old white man to lead the Labour Party, particularly with two women in the race, but my experience of Jeremy is different. He isn’t like most politicians, who don’t tend to have much time to listen to young women with fierce opinions about the world. He’s modest, humble, and in every speech he makes he reminds the activists involved in his leadership campaign that it isn’t about him – it’s about all of us. The campaign has an incredible variety of people volunteering their time to it, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time I’ve ever been more excited to be a member of the Labour Party. Phone banks, socials and rallies are full of school students, mothers, carers, teachers, nurses, trade unionists, sex workers, immigrants, and huge numbers of young people who joined the party after being inspired by his vision.

As a young, queer, severely disabled woman trying to survive on a poverty-level amount of Employment Support Allowance and housing benefit, living in a city with sky rocketing rents, an inaccessible transport system and an NHS which is close to breaking point, I don’t see the hope or vision that is defining Jeremy’s campaign in any of the others. In the wake of the general election defeat and facing a government more brutal than Thatcher, hope is in short supply. What we need in our next Labour leader is someone who can unite our party, win back the hundreds of thousands of people who feel Labour abandoned them in the last twenty years, and who has a clear vision for the kind of party, and society, we want to become.

I don’t want to be in a Labour Party where we preach equal opportunities and talk about all-women shortlists, but vote through cuts to the welfare system which push working-class women and their children into poverty. I don’t want to be in a Labour Party where we placate to the Tory rhetoric on ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ immigrants, while supporting draconian and racist immigration measures which cause irreparable harm to asylum seekers. I don’t want to be in a Labour Party where we only talk about gay marriage, like LGBT youth homelessness isn’t one of the most pressing issues for LGBT people today.

What Jeremy represents is much bigger than one person or one idea, but rather is about the Labour left’s collective hunger for a democratic Labour Party who stand up for our values and principles, who know we should be fighting for those who are most marginalised in society, and who desperately need and want our Labour Party to start giving people hope that another kind of Britain is possible. And under Jeremy’s leadership, I believe it is.

Aisling Gallagher is an activist in London Young Labour and Unite Community, and is the former Women’s Officer of NUS-USI, the National Union of Students in Northern Ireland. 

Alice Perry and Jim McMahon’s report from Labour’s July executive

by Alice Perry

NEC ReportLocal government representatives on Labour’s National Executive Committee, Alice Perry and Jim McMahon, report on the National Executive Committee meeting on July 21st.

Acting Leader’s report and general discussions

Acting Leader Harriet Harman’s report sparked a lively debate on a number of issues including welfare reform, Syria, the leadership contest and the importance of party unity and collective responsibility. Harriet Harman explained that to avoid pre-empting the new Leader and the new policies they may want to adopt, her approach has been to continue with the policies in Labour’s 2015 election manifesto and as outlined in the Your Britain policy documents. It was Harriet Harman’s last NEC meeting and she received heartfelt thanks for all that she has done for the Labour party and for the country, including her work on equality, social justice, human rights and international development.

The NEC was unanimous in our opposition to the Conservative Government’s disgraceful attacks on trade unions and our rights at work. Strong trade unions are essential for strong civil society. Along with the right to vote, the right to strike is a fundamental human right that underpins democracy.

We also discussed the important role Labour Councillors play in leading the fightback against this government. Councillors are the backbone of the party. Despite massive cuts to our funding we have demonstrated the positive difference voting Labour makes and have championed progressive policies that make a real difference to people, such as building new affordable housing, paying workers the living wage, promoting green energy, helping people back to work, tackling payday lending and promoting the use of credit unions, regenerating communities and supporting local businesses, using ethical procurement policies and challenging companies guilty of blacklisting.

Local Government response to the Emergency Budget

The Emergency Budget of 8 July included details of devolution deals with combined authorities including the announcement of elected mayors in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. Cllr Jim McMahon responded that meaningful devolution is needed for all areas, without strings attached. The Budget confirmed cuts of £200m in public health funding to councils (equivalent of 7 per cent) but no in-year cuts to core budgets – and councils now await details of future funding in the Spending Review in the Autumn. We highlighted the need for good communication between local government and the frontbench team which has improved over the past year but still needed commitment as announcements and policy positions are taken which have a direct impact on councils, such as the decision to support the 1% public pay cap. We discussed the impact of low pay in local government and the effect on recruitment and retention in areas such as social work and safeguarding. We continue to work with colleagues from across the Labour movement to oppose the reckless cuts to Council budgets and continued attacks on local democracy.

Labour’s Election Taskforce

In her capacity as the local government representative on the Lessons Learned Taskforce, Cllr Alice Perry has been attending the meetings and gathering feedback from Labour councillors about their views and experience. A good discussion was held with 200 councillors at the LGA Conference. Councillors can feedback individually or as Labour Groups. A big thank you to the 600 plus Councillors who responded to the recent LGA Labour Group survey and to everyone who has sent in their feedback. The experience and feedback of Labour Councillors is a vital part of understanding what went wrong for Labour nationally in the General Election and the lessons we need to learn for the future. If you haven’t already done so, please send your feedback to aliceperryuk@gmail.com.

LGA Conference, Harrogate

The LGA Labour Group held a number of meetings for Labour councillors at LGA Conference in Harrogate. A Leadership hustings with all four candidates took place during the conference. You can watch the hustings online.

Individual Electoral Registration

Government changes to Individual Electoral Registration have resulted in millions of people falling off the electoral register. In light of the serious concerns over the impact of IER and the forthcoming boundary review potentially disenfranchising people, we will work with colleagues across the Labour movement to address this key issue. Labour Councillors can play an important role in ensuring as many eligible voters as possible are registered to vote. Labour Party materials and resources to support this are available online.

Internal Elections

The LGA Labour Group held elections for Group Officer and Regional Representative positions on the Executive Team. The full results are available online. The ALC and Councillors NPF elections will take place alongside the other internal election ballots and will be announced on the 14th of September.

LGA Labour Group Annual Report and Review 2015

The LGA Labour Group has published its annual Report & Review 2015 which includes a message from the Acting Leader, the Shadow Communities Secretary and details of the past year of activity.

Special Reception for Councillors

A special reception for Councillors is taking place at One Brewer’s Green, the Labour Party HQ in London on the 29th of July. This event is to thank Councillors for everything we do for the party. All the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates have been invited to attend to give Councillors from around the country an opportunity to meet them in person. Tickets are still available for this event – you can sign-up online at http://www.labour.org.uk/page/s/labour-councillors-reception.

Financial Report (and a big thank you to Councillors!)

Labour Party General Secretary Iain McNicol delivered the financial report. The Labour Party is in good financial shape. Iain McNicol personally thanked Councillors for all their contributions. Councillors’ subs are used to fund election campaigning across the country, rebuild the party and fighting the 2016 elections, as well as training and support for Councillors and local government. Iain McNicol plans to send a personal thank you note to all UK Labour Groups.

Labour Party Membership

Over 55,000 people have joined the Labour Party since May’s elections. Most of the new members joined online as a result of social media campaigns. New members are from all age groups and from all parts of the country. The Membership team are working hard to engage new members, find out what motivated them to join, and encourage them to get involved in the upcoming elections. People can join online at https://join.labour.org.uk/ and be part of the fightback!

Questions

If you have any questions for us please get in touch with us via email at jim@jimmcmahon.co.ukand aliceperryuk@gmail.com. You can also follow us on twitter at @CllrJimMcMahon and @AlicePerryUK. You can also sign-up to receive regular emails and updates.

Unison endorses Jeremy Corbyn, as Cooper moves into second place

by James Elliott

UNISONBritain’s second-largest union, UNISON, yesterday endorsed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader, and recommended a second preference for Yvette Cooper.

This will be a major boost for Corbyn and shows how rapidly his campaign has developed. When Unite, Britain’s largest, endorsed Corbyn on July 5th, many were surprised. For a union considered more moderate than Unite to back Corbyn too should be worrying for the ‘Anyone but Corbyn’ camp, and shows their attacks are not cutting through.  Continue reading →

Ann Black’s report from Labour’s July executive

by Ann Black

NEC Report ABNational Executive Committee, 21 July 2015

Ann Black reports on Labour’s national executive committee meeting which took place this month.

Interim leader Harriet Harman said that we were living through turbulent times, and she was under no illusions about the scale of the challenge. Labour had to listen to the country and campaign in a spirit of unity and mutual respect. Councillors would provide vital links, particularly in areas with few MPs.

She and others laid bare the iniquities of the Tory welfare bill. Twelve billion pounds of cuts would take more than £1,000 from many working people through slashing tax credits, even with a higher minimum wage. Those not in work would also suffer; the £100 employment support allowance for the work-related activity group would be reduced to £70, the same as the job-seeker’s allowance. Child poverty targets would be scrapped. Abolishing maintenance grants would raise student debt from £22,000 to £43,000 and could deter poorer students. The 1% annual reduction in social rents might look attractive to tenants but would make it harder for councils and housing associations to maintain their stock, and selling off housing association properties would mean fewer affordable homes. Continue reading →

Are “realistic” Labour leaders best placed to win an election?

by Bryan Gould

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Conventional wisdom has it that the outcome of the Labour leadership contest most feared by the Tories would be the election of the candidate perceived to be nearest to the middle ground. Conversely, it is suggested that a candidate who espouses policies seen to be further to the left, (which seems to mean simply offering something different from the Tory programme), would gravely prejudice Labour’s chances of winning the next election.

There are, of course, many criteria that might be relevant in deciding which candidate to support – age, gender, personal accomplishments, and so on – and a candidate’s electoral appeal, based on such criteria, might well be important in determining which candidate would be most helpful to Labour’s election chances. But the suggestion, constantly made even by Labour’s friends, that the willingness to offer a clear alternative to Tory austerity, Tory attacks on the public services and Tory victimisation of the vulnerable is somehow a disqualification is surely to be resisted. Continue reading →

Jeremy Corbyn announces universal free childcare in gender equality manifesto

by James Elliott

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Jeremy Corbyn today announced a manifesto for gender equality, titled, ‘Working with Women’, with a range of policies including universal free childcare, an end to cuts to welfare and public services, mandatory equal pay audits and protecting women’s refuges for survivors of domestic violence.

The manifesto spans a woman’s life, starting from early years and schooling to women in the workplace, and discusses policies to promote women’s representation, tackle austerity and fight everyday sexism.

Newly elected MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, welcomed the policies, saying: Continue reading →

Stand-up for Jeremy Corbyn

by David Pavett

JeremyCorbyn1One hundred and seventy Jeremy Corbyn supporters crammed into the Seven Dials Club, Covent Garden, on Sunday evening to hear stand-up comedy to support Jeremy as Labour leadership contender. The event was organised by Crispin Flintoff, who has organised 155 Stand-up for Labour events, held all around the UK. (It is indicative of the lack of imagination of Labour’s managerial plods that they have given no backing to Crispin’s amazing achievement in organising so many events.)

The Corbyn supporters started to gather in the club from 6.00. A spread of tasty food (included in the ticket price) was available. The atmosphere was friendly and enthusiastic. Conversations participated in and overheard made it clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature had offered a tremendous sense of relief. Relief that ideas and aspirations (yes, aspirations!) that have for so long enjoyed only a subterranean existence in the Labour Party had once again become common topics of conversation. By becoming a contender for leadership Jeremy Corbyn has made it possible to once again discuss the sort of society we want to live in without shutting down conversation with assertions (usually without basis) about what will and won’t win elections. Continue reading →

Don’t believe the papers, Labour is not in meltdown

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Another day, another bout of mischief making. In today’s Indy we learn that things aren’t looking too rosy for Labour. In a specially commissioned poll, it “shows party is now even ‘less electable’ than under Ed Miliband. Blimey, that doesn’t bode well for 2020. They go on to say, “voters think Labour has gone backwards since its crushing defeat under Ed Miliband. Only 24 per cent of people believe the party is more electable than it was in May, while 76 per cent say it is less electable.”

The article also pours scorn on the idea of a core vote strategy as the route to electoral success. Drawing on Fabian research, adding up all the Green and LibDem voters to Labour’s total still leaves the party trailing the Tories in the marginals. Continue reading →

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