What will happen in the Stoke Central by-election?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Tristram_Hunt_009Finally, here’s the third installment on the Stoke-on-Trent politics special. We’ve spoken about Tristram Hunt’s career in The Potteries, and we’ve turned our attention to the local scene. Now it’s time to go all Mystic Meg and break out the politics astrology charts. For which party do the stars align?
Labour have got to be the favourites. Stoke-on-Trent Central was born a Labour seat, and the party will be stretching every sinew to ensure it stays that way until the Boundary Commission kills it. Labour has some very strong cards to play. Firstly, the membership. All the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire parties are active, campaigning organisations in-between elections. The bad old days of nothing happening unless we were asking for votes are long gone. Additionally, the combined membership of these parties are huge. Stoke Central itself is pushing 500, the other Stoke parties are more or less the same and nearby parties are, if anything, even larger. And we know people are going to travel from far and wide to help out. In short, a tsunami of Labour activists are poised to swamp the constituency, and none of the other parties will come close to matching it.

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A Left Economic Strategy for Labour – putting meat on the bones

by John Penny and Danny Nicol

RichOnTop2Left Futures recently published an article of mine, Labour needs to rediscover comprehensive economic planning, in which I argued that Labour, and the radical Left generally, needed to rediscover the centrality of the need for a comprehensive Left Economic Programme both as a core policy offer for Labour, and as a guide and implementation tool for progressive transformation of the UK economy, and society, when in government.

After discussions with a number of other comrades about the article’s proposals, Danny Nicol and I decided to produce a model resolution for socialists within the Labour Party who agreed with my earlier article. We would hope this would be used, in whole or part, in LP branches vis a vis motions/submissions to the NPF and directly to the Labour Leadership Team. It might also serve as a model for motions to 2017 Labour Conference, though the restrictive word limit on “Contemporary Resolutions” will require we do a shortened version before then. Continue reading →

Your guide to the Stoke Central by-election

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Tristram_Hunt_009This is the second post I promised about Stoke-on-Trent Central, Stoke Labour, and all things Stoke. If you want to read a short, potted political biography of Tristram Hunt’s time in The Potteries, here’s where you need to go. There’s going to be a third part too. This will address the prospects of the parties (a la this reflection on Copeland), and should make an appearance tomorrow evening.

First things first, to pre-empt all the articles and reports due to clutter up column inches and the schedules, let’s get the tropes out the way. Stoke is going to be portrayed as a proud place, but a down-at-heel place. Words are going to be expended on the boarded up shops, the derelict potteries, the brown field sites gagging for new developments. Statistics will be dredged up on educational attainment, morbidity rates, car ownership, average wages, unemployment. Journalists are going to seek out – and find – people whose views are not the stuff of polite dinner party conversation, but are taken as typical of the Stokie view of the world.  Continue reading →

How not to win an election

by David Pavett

Corbyn_HonestPoliticsThe only way for a divided party to win an election is if the other main contender for government is even more divided. Banking on that would clearly be the strategy of an idiot. Given that, the events of Tuesday 10th January are a cause for concern. We all know that the media is ever ready to pounce as soon as the Labour leader says anything which could be construed as indicating confusion and difference within Labour. There is therefore an obvious onus on the leadership to be very careful about the coordination of how Labour’s messages are put over. Tuesday 10th was not, in that respect, a good day. Continue reading →

Goodbye to Tristram

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Tristram_Hunt_009It was nice for Stoke-on-Trent to make the news for something other than footy and the BNP. Less nice that it was my constituency party and my MP at the centre of it. Yes, as the world and its uncle now knows, Tristram Hunt is resigning the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat to take up the leadership of the Victoria & Albert in London. He can now spend more time with his young family, and it’s a role he’s temperamentally and culturally suited to. This then is going to be the first of two posts – the second will look at Stoke-on-Trent Central, the state of the local party, potential candidates and Labour’s chances of holding on to the seat. This one is all about Tristram.

First things first, Tristram’s announcement was greeted with the crows of his opponents, and the commiseration of his friends. For those identifying with the Corbynist left, this proves he was a careerist with no interest beyond self-advancement. For those arrayed against the leadership, Tristram’s resignation is a loss of talent that reflects badly on Corbyn’s prospects. There is no attempt to analyse or understand. Pigeonholing is the order of the day. The truth lies between these two poles, and I know. Because not only do I know him, have shared the local party with him for almost seven years, I used to work for him too. So if you came here hoping for a denunciation, you will be disappointed. Continue reading →

Developments on the European Left

by Peter Rowlands

CorbynAtPESConfIt is not altogether surprising that Corbyn’s intention to hold a conference of socialist and progressive parties to discuss Brexit, in London announced in February in October and December last year, has been met with little comment. He made the announcement to the PES which is the Party of European Socialists, an umbrella group of European social democratic parties, not to be confused with the PEL, the Party of the European Left which is formed from more left wing parties like Die Linke and Syriza. The proposed conference is highlighted by John Palmer in the current edition of Chartist. It is, at first glance at least, surprising that Corbyn has chosen to promote such an event, given his relative lack of enthusiasm for the EU. Continue reading →

The Return of David Cameron

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Cameron at No 10 on BBCHe’s been gone five minutes, and already he’s poised for a comeback. According to The Indy, David Cameron is Theresa May’s nomination for the next NATO general secretary. This, according to Michael Fallon, is part of a move that would deepen Britain’s commitment to the alliance to make up for Brexit. Presumably that would involve an extra spending commitment. After all, ways have to be found for blowing that phantom Leave dividend.
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What is Corbynism?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

CorbynWe have a good idea what “physical” Corbynism is: it’s a movement. Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, it has swollen in size to accommodate hundreds of thousands of new members. These huge numbers cannot be laid at the door of the “usual suspect” activist community, let alone the thinning ranks of British Trotskyism. As I’ve argued many times previously, the party has transformed because the most forward-looking chunk of, for want of a better phrase, new, networked workers have come on board. And so when last year’s leadership election came around, the stakes weren’t whether Labour was poised to win the next election or not: it was a matter of life or death, of whether there would be a Labour Party. Since then, these new numbers have not, in the main, flexed their muscles – apart from Jeremy’s resounding win. The left were returned in the constituency sections of the NEC elections, but not by overwhelming votes. Lots of constituency officers were issued marching orders at CLP AGMs, but overall the movement remains as it was during the summer: diffuse. Continue reading →

Review: After the eating and drinking, the sporty?

by Mark Perryman

GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS hi res front 11.3.inddA selection of 2017 sporting reads by Mark Perryman for the post-festive recovery period

There’s nothing like Christmas to put on an inch or two where we don’t want to. Sitting in front of the TV for hours, days even, on end doesn’t help much either. For many, a New Years resolution to add more physical activity to the weekly routine of eat, sleep, work, repeat is the self-imposed antidote. So what better time to recommend a sporting title to the 2017 must-read list? Continue reading →

Democracy is what’s missing

by Bryan Gould

BREXITSimon Wren-Lewis, with whom I usually have little difficulty in agreeing, has published a blog in recent days in which he explains why, in his (and others’) views, it is impossible to play a full part in the global economy – in other words, to enjoy free trade – while maintaining the full powers of self-government that one would usually expect in a mature and democratic nation state.

He links this point to the Brexit vote, in order to suggest that the obligations that must be accepted in return for free trade (or – in the Brexit case – access to the single market) must necessarily entail a diminution in the powers of self-government. Continue reading →

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