On austerity, the Labour-union link and the threat of state funding political parties

by Billy Hayes

billy hayesThis is an abridged version of the speech by Billy Hayes to yesterday’s conference and AGM of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD)

It is a privilege to address your conference. CLPD gives coherence to everything the left stands for inside of the party – to be practical, effective and principled. There is no difference amongst us, I’m sure, on the need to return Labour government on 7 May but at present, if the situation in Scotland remains unchanged, the best we maybe saying is Labour is the largest party.  Continue reading →

TUC expresses solidarity with Greece; Labour remains silent

by Jon Lansman

Greek demonstrationThe TUC General Council this week expressed its solidarity with the people and trade unions of Greece in no uncertain terms. If only the political wing of the Labour movement would follow suit! Some Labour MPs have individually signed a supportive early day motion but even they are surprisingly few. We’d urge readers to do something about it. Continue reading →

The Tories won’t win because they’re barking up the wrong tree

by Michael Meacher

Minority VerdictGeorge Eaton in the New Statesman has done us a service by revisiting the informative audit of the 2010 election by the Tory pollster Lord Ashcroft, entitled Minority Verdict, which throws new relevant light on the likely outcome of the present election campaign. In 2010, despite Labour polling the second lowest total of electors since 1918 and Gordon Brown being the most unpopular prime minister in modern times, the Tories still failed to win, ending up with 305 seats, 21 seats short of an outright majority. The question of course is why in such auspicious circumstances (for them), they still dramatically failed. Their assumption was that they had been cheated of victory by all the leader’s newfangled modernisation stuff like Cameron’s bobsleighing in the Arctic or hugging a hoodie. But Ashcroft’s survey tells a very different tale. Continue reading →

The money exists for investment in Greece

by Michael Burke

grexitThe fraught negotiations between the new Greek government and representatives of the EU institutions are likely to be prolonged. They have centred to date on Syriza’s efforts to find room to alleviate some of the worst effects of austerity and address what is called the ‘humanitarian crisis’.

This is entirely justifiable given the depth of the fall in living standards with widespread malnutrition in Greece, a health crisis, hundreds of thousands of homes cut off from electricity supply and other ills.
Continue reading →

Rumours of UKIP’s demise are very much exaggerated

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

farage in dustbinMore’s the pity. There has been some talk (or is it wishful thinking?) that UKIP are a busted flush. They’ve had their moment, but shit’s getting real. As people with lives and interests outside of politics start thinking about who should form the next government, the purple barmy army aren’t going to get much of a look-in. So, the argument goes, expect their polling numbers to fall steadily between now and May. It’s only February, but most polls might be indicative of a trend about to set in. Continue reading →

Non-doms: this extra scam for the ultra-rich must be abolished

by Michael Meacher

Helmsley-only-little-people-pay-taxesOne of the scams highlighted by the HSBC Swiss bank scandal, and then quickly ignored, is the continuing absurd anachronism of the non-dom rules. Stuart Gulliver, the shamed CEO of HSBC, though living in London in order to run the second largest bank in Europe and routing his bonus through a Panamanian company to escape tax, is perfectly legally allowed to avoid tax on all his overseas income because he is technically domiciled in Hong Kong. Even more incongruously, since most non-doms inherit their status from their father, it is possible for people who have been born, educated and lived in Britain for 50 years or more to have non-dom status, even is they hold British passports. All that they have to do to keep all offshore income and capital gains out of the British tax net is to show that they retain strong links to their home country and to show some intention of returning there. Continue reading →

Support Katy Clark and Jon Lansman for the Conference Arrangements Committee

by Peter Willsman

Clark & Lansman for CAC v1Although most Labour Party members are now focused mainly on working for a Labour victory in the general election, there are some important internal party elections shortly after 7 May. Since the closing date for nominations in those elections is 10 June and many constituency parties won’t even have a cycle of meetings before that date, many are considering their nominations now and readers of Left Futures need to know who is standing from Labour’s Centre-Left for the positions up for election.

There are three important national committees on which constituency party representatives are up for election: Continue reading →

Members of Parliament, second jobs and the culture of entitlement

by Jon Trickett

alan bstardIf ever for one second a doubt appears in your mind that the Tories aren’t the party of wealth and privilege, all you need to do is read the Tory speeches in the second jobs debate on Wednesday 25 February. In the meantime here is my speech from the debate:

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): This has been an interesting debate, although it has not always been of the highest quality. A number of contributions stay in my mind, but I will not have a chance to deal with them all.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) pointed out that £67,000 is a full-time salary and that this is a full-time job. That was a recurring theme. I remind those who say it is not that much that we are in the top decile. Nine out of 10 people earn less than us. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) reminded the House that almost four out of 10 people in her constituency earn less than the living wage.

My hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), who I am sure is on his way back to the Chamber, reminded the House that there are Members of Parliament who are earning £1,000 an hour in addition to their salary. These are staggering amounts of money. The hon. Member for Wells (Tessa Munt) used extravagant but accurate language to describe the horror that many people will feel when they discover how much money is earned by some Members of Parliament. Continue reading →

Osborne thinks economy is a trump card, but it’s a joker not an ace

by Michael Meacher

'Gideon' OsborneOsborne boasts interminably about success with his ‘long term economic plan’, but even the slightest scrutiny of the evidence shows that his claims don’t remotely stand up. Labour should be eating him alive.

1. After the 6-7% collapse of output brought about by the financial crisis, output per head has grown by less than 2% from 2010-13, whereas in the recovery from two previous recessions during 1981-4 and 1992-5 growth was over 8%. That difference between those 2% and 8% figures, largely caused by Osborne’s cuts, means that his austerity policies have cost the UK conservatively at least £100bn in lost production, equal to a loss of £1,500 for each adult and child in the country. That is a monumental failure of policy. Continue reading →

Blue Labour and the Church of England: on class, ethnicity and politics

by David Pavett

Archbishop of CanterburyThe recent pastoral letter of the Church of England bishops (Who is my neighbour?) is an effort to inject ethical considerations into a pre-election process in which they are seen to be in short supply. Jon Cruddas, head of the Labour policy review, wrote an article in the Guardian welcoming the letter in glowing and entirely uncritical terms as a “profound contribution” to political debate.

The bishops regret the sanitised, on-message and evasive talk which dominates current Westminster politics (and beyond). Instead they want a “… trajectory for a new kind of politics – one which works constructively with a ferment of different ideas and competing visions”:

  • They say that political life would be enhanced if we discussed openly not only the creative potential of markets but also their tendency to entrench inequality and diminish human sympathies.
  • They argue for the decentralisation of power where this leads to greater efficiency but add that it depends on the facts of the matter and should not be treated (as it is in Labour and Tory documents) as a panacea.
  • They want an adult discussion about immigration that recognises both our obligations and that there are legitimate concerns.
  • The time has come, the bishops say “to move beyond mere ‘retail politics’, where parties tailor their policies to the groups whose votes they need, regardless of the good of the majority” – and we can all think of examples of that.

Continue reading →

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