Time to move on from the 1980s, Lord Hattersley

by David Osland

If I were official keeper of the Croslandite flame, easily the most renowned contemporary advocate of that standpoint, I’d be humble enough to ponder why my preferred brand of politics carried such little traction in Britain in 2017. As a serious partisan of social democracy, I would ask why ideas of the stripe that until recently dominated Labour now fail to enthuse its membership.

Might that indicate shortcomings in the ideas themselves? Or perhaps certain failings on the part of those who now propagate them? Why are adherents so frequently parodied as out-of-touch Centrist Dads or personally venal baby boomer neoliberals?

The very last thing I would do is to dust off memories of the Bennite years, and try to shoehorn developments of the last two years into a prism completely inapplicable nearly four decades later. That, unfortunately, is what former deputy leader Roy Hattersley unconvincingly attempts in his widely publicised article in the Observer this weekend, which will deeply disappoint those of us whose memories of his past role are better than that. Continue reading →

Elections to Labour’s national executive: do you want a member-led party or don’t you?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

When I’ve finished writing this blog post, I’ll be heading over to my inbox to send my National Executive Committee votes off for Yasmine Dar, Rachel Garnham and Jon Lansman. For obvious reasons this internal contest has been portrayed as pro-Jez or anti-Jez; you’re either for him or against him. Yet it’s worth remembering this isn’t a case of Corbyn supporters motivated by the Labour leader’s celebrity or unassuming style. It’s about politics, and the Labour right, who don’t really have any politics beyond hating the Labour left, would do well to remember the appeal of Corbynism is explicitly political. If you happen to be reading this and haven’t made your mind up, these words might be of some use. Continue reading →

Pete Willsman reports from Labour’s November Executive

by Peter Willsman

National Executive Committee Away Day 26 November 2017

This NEC was the annual ‘Away Day’, where ‘blue sky thinking’ is encouraged. This year we held our meeting in Glasgow where we were warmly welcomed by the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard and the very enthusiastic Scottish Executive Committee (SEC), and part of the meeting was held jointly with the SEC.

Procedure for the election of the NEC representative from the party’s youth

This election is timetabled for early in the new year. It was pointed out that for some years the trade unions have been pressing for a procedure which is more representative of the two wings of our party, the industrial and the political. In particular, an electoral college consisting of 50% young party members voting by OMOV, and 50%, affiliates – using their own mechanisms to reflect the views of their young members. After lengthy discussion, this procedure was agreed for the 2018 scheduled election. It was noted that this matter is covered by the Democracy Review and thus, in due course, the new arrangements could be amended. Continue reading →

What is happening in Catalonia?

by Mike Phipps

 

Things have happened quickly since the unauthorised referendum called by Catalunya’s regional government on October 1st. The result – a  90% yes vote on a 42% turnout, with many opposed to independence staying away – led Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to proclaim independence. The Spanish government responded by completely suspending Catalan autonomy and unleashing fierce repression – which in fact began before the poll.  Continue reading →

Those who helped break the economy cannot fix it

by Ann Pettifor

Make no mistake, yesterday’s increase in interest rates was a big deal. Painful as it might be for a good share of the population, the real point is that the Bank is signalling the end of a particular phase of monetary policy.

Since 2010 the counterpart to self-defeating austerity policies has been expansionary monetary policies. These have inflated assets – enriching the already-rich, while failing to stimulate wider economic recovery. Yesterday the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee signalled an end of this dangerous game.  Continue reading →

Socialism and immigration – a reply to Don Flynn

by David Pavett

Don Flynn claims that I argued “that support for the right of migrants to freedom of movement is the same as support for the free movement of capital”. Readers of my article can see that I said no such thing. It is  possible to support one and not the other. Armed with this confusion he says that my argument is that in “curbing the right of people to move freely we would also be restraining the domination of capital”. Well yes, a constraint on capital to force the movement of population would be a constraint on capital. But that was not really my point. The main point, which Don avoids, is that uncontrolled large-scale population movements across national boundaries are incompatible with the social planning to which most socialists aspire. Continue reading →

Freedom of movement and the rights of labour: A reply to David Pavett 

by Don Flynn

David Pavett’s attack on the newly-formed Labour Campaign for Free Movement wrongly argues that support for the right of migrants to freedom of movement is the same as support for the free movement of capital. The implication he draws from this association is that in curbing the right of people to move freely we would also be restraining the domination of capital.

Supporters of the new LCFM take pretty well the opposite view on this point: in the world of actually-existing capitalism the gains that have been won for the rights of people to move across the world as migrants have to be counted as advances – limited and partial though they might be – for the working class. It is because capital has the right to move so freely that the right of wage earners to move within labour markets to position themselves for the available job opportunities has always been fundamental to the socialist cause.  Continue reading →

The importance of trade for jobs

by Tom O Leary

The Brexit negotiations are entering a decisive phase, with leading UK business organisations saying they will not invest and must consider whether they relocate if there is no agreement on a transition phase and there is clear progress on trade talks. For its part the Tory Cabinet is deferring any discussion on its key aims for EU trade talks, despite the pretence it is clamouring for them to begin. Any decision on the desired new relationship with the EU would probably lead to Cabinet splits, so discussion is being avoided.

The potential damage to the economy and living standards can be gauged in terms of jobs. Chart 1 below shows the number of UK jobs that are directly dependent on exports. In OECD jargon, these are the totals of ‘domestic employment in the UK embodied on overseas final demand’. Continue reading →

Jeremy Corbyn and the new mainstream

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Tweeting earlier in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech, Ed Miliband observed that the centre ground had moved and was being shaped by Labour. Correct. The boasts about Labour being the mainstream have a solid foundation because, to be more exact, our party is one of two mainstreams.

There’s the one we’ve seen Labour pander to for the 20 years pre-JC. The “common sense” centre ground expressed by newspaper editorialising, which has seen a rough consensus around market economics and the role of state, groupthink about cutting social security and immigration, and a unity of purpose in scapegoating powerless minorities. Blair’s genius, if that’s the right phrase, was to constantly adapt to this consensus rather than challenge it. Even redistributive politics that assisted low wage earners were crafted in such a way as not to frighten the horses in the leafy marginals. One problem was once the Tories got their act together under Dave, all it took was Brown to bottle an election for them to cruise to pole position among your YouGovs and Survations. The progressive consensus the later Blair talked about as the timer ticked down lacked substance. For the policy achievements, and there were some, there was no legacy in terms of value and political change. Dog-eat-dog economics reigned and right wing populism and fascism started getting traction during his time. Dave certainly had his problems after ascending to the top job, but overcoming popular affection for New Labour wasn’t one of them. Continue reading →

On the Left Side of the Atlantic

by Chris MacMackin

The United States has long been unusual for the absence of socialist, or even social democratic, politics. There is debate as to why this is but, whatever the reasons, the US never developed a mass class-based social democratic party capable of seriously reforming capitalism. Then the 2016 Democratic primary happened, putting self-proclaimed socialist senator Bernie Sanders on the national stage. While his policies were those of middle-of-the-road social democracy (and he explicitly rejected any attempt to change property relations), millions of Americans showed themselves open to policies well to the left of acceptable discourse and that being a socialist did not make you unelectable. Even though Sanders ultimately lost the primary, in the wake of his candidacy we are seeing an embryonic socialist movement emerge in the United States. Given the “special relationship” between the two countries, it is worthwhile for the British left to know what their American counterparts are doing and Continue reading →

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