Do we lack ideology within the Labour Party?

by Scott Nicholson

Oldlabour logoI recently heard about a working paper that Eliane Glaser had written for the New Economics Foundation. In this Glaser writes about neoliberalism, how she feels politicians and the media reject political ideology as no longer relevant to our pragmatic political culture and about grassroots political alternatives. What interests me, is what this means for the Labour Party?

I personally feel that the Conservative Party have a definite ideology and we have often heard Labour Party MPs criticising cuts, the rolling back of the state and the wish to sell off the East Coast Main Line as ideologically driven. The question is: where is our ideology? Continue reading →

Now Chuka Umunna accepts £2,500 from tax dodger advisers

by Jon Lansman

Chuka Umunna as artful dodger1As is reported in the Times (£) today, Labour’s shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna,  accepted and received a fortnight ago a donation of £2,500 for the running of his personal office from chartered tax advisers Signature Tax whose website describes its services as “a progressive tax planning boutique delivering tailored tax solutions to individuals and organisations internationally“.

According to their website, Signature Tax provides specialist advice on off-shore tax arrangements such as those Chuka has previously advised Barclays bank to close down, to clients who are subject to HMRC investigations, and on structures designed to avoid HMRC’s Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regulationsContinue reading →

Scotland and the risks of independence to EU membership

by Andy Newman

union flag melts away from scotlandThe referendum process for possible Scottish independence reveals some of the best and worst aspects of Britain’s political culture.

The potential withdrawal of Scotland from the UK would bring to an end a constitutional settlement that has endured for more than 300 years, and yet the commitment towards constitutionality has meant not only that the issue is being decided via democratic debate and voting, but the UK government avoided any legal complications by passing the necessary legislation to give effect to the wishes of the Scottish parliament to hold a binding referendum.

This means that the people of Scotland are being given the opportunity to decide whether or not a new independent state is established in a process governed by law. We only need to look to the forthcoming referendum in Catalonia, and the hostile response to that from the Madrid government to see that such an approach was far from inevitable. Continue reading →

The spectrum of misogyny

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

reut-miso-e1350497963883Consider three separate, seemingly unconnected incidents that have risen to media prominence recently.

  1. The horrifying, systematic attacks on mainly white girls by gangs of Pakistani paedophiles in Rotherham.
  2. The abuse meted out to Zoe Quinn, a US video game developer and author of Depression Quest.
  3. The theft of naked photos from the social media accounts of prominent Hollywood stars, including A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst, and posting them online for all the world to see.

What drives a man to hack a woman’s social media presence and repost details about her personal life? What kind of mentality laboriously reconstructs compromising pictures from supposedly deleted data to leak, leak, and leak again? How depraved do you have to be to spend time grooming schoolgirls solely for the purpose of imprisoning, raping, and torturing them? All of these behaviours are on the same continuum, a spectrum of woman hate.

And some say feminism isn’t necessary. Continue reading →

Pride trailer: lesbians and gays support the miners

by Newsdesk

Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.

Director Matthew Warchus, best known for staging theatre adaptions of Matilda, Lord of the Rings and Ghost, said it was a script he “just couldn’t say no to.” He said:

It made me laugh out loud, it surprised and delighted me at every turn, and it ultimately moved me to tears. It’s a truly affirming and inspiring story, funny, honest and moving, and by the end of it you want to punch the air and cheer.”

The film stars Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West.It is in cinemas from 19 September.

The six most popular stories last month

by Newsdesk

Since some of you may have been lucky enough to get a holiday in August, you may have missed something. Like the six most popular stories on Left Futures last month, for example:

  1. The plot to topple Berlusconi - Berlusconi may be no friend of ours but you may still be disturbed by Tom Gill’s tale of a plot by EU and US politicians to topple him.
  2. Labour executive elections: best Left result since 1980s with 55% of members’ votes - Jon Lansman looks in depth at the results of Labour’s NEC elelctions.
  3. Avoiding charge of racism is a cover for patriarchy and misogyny in Rotherham - Diane Abbott explains why the roots of the horrific failures in Rotherham lie in attitudes to women not anti-racism.
  4. Stop the witch-hunt of Tricycle theatre for a “boycott” that never was and a false charge of antisemitism - Jon Lansman looks at an example of “crying wolf” over Gaza.
  5. On socialism, nationalism and anti-English sentiment in Scotland (part 1) - Scottish ‘independence’ divides the working class and offers nothing like socialist change, argues Greg Philo.
  6. Shutting down women’s refuges because they don’t take men is callous & absurd - Michael Meacher takes the Tories to task for the callousness about domestic violence.

Chuka Umunna takes on the Blair mantle

by Jon Lansman

Most newspapers and the BBC this morning carried a story based an in interview with Chuka Umunna in GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) – “Brown ‘cuts’ denials hurt Labour’s credibility” as BBC News put it. As I write this, the issue of GQ is not yet out (as I embarrassingly discovered after wasting £2.50 on the September issue) so it was clearly widely trailed. The Guardian‘s spin is widely repeated:

Gordon Brown dealt a blow to Labour’s economic credibility by wrongly giving the impression in his final year as prime minister that the party failed to understand the importance of tackling Britain’s unprecedented peacetime budget deficit, the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, has suggested.

Continue reading →

BAME representation: “community leaders” or genuine advocates?

by Lizzy Ali

Linda_Bellos_Marc_Narendra_and_Munira_3Back in the 1980s, a new generation of radical black leaders like Bernie Grant and Sharon Atkin emerged in the Labour Party, determined not only to increase minority representation, but also to commit the Party to socialist policies. The struggle for Black Sections took place against the backdrop of uprisings within the inner cities in 1981 and 1985.

Thirty years on, although the representation of BAME communities has improved in parliament and on local councils, it continues to lag behind the proportions in the general population and among the Party’s membership, and the evidence of racial disadvantage is all around us, in employment, education and housing. Continue reading →

Gaza: The war for nothing

by Uri Avnery

Get Out - ad for anti Gaza war demo in Tel AvivAfter 50 days, the war is over. Hallelujah.

On the Israeli side: 71 dead, among them 66 soldiers, 1 child.

On the Palestinian side: 2,143 dead, 577 of them children, 263 women, 102 elderly. 11,230 injured. 10,800 buildings destroyed. 8,000 partially destroyed. About 40,000 damaged homes. Among the damaged buildings: 277 schools, 10 hospitals, 70 mosques, 2 churches. Also, 12 West Bank demonstrators, mostly children, who were shot.

So what was it all about?

The honest answer is: About nothing.

Neither side wanted it. Neither side started it. It just so happened. Continue reading →

Dirty politics down under

by Bryan Gould

Sewer_coverTwo weeks ago we carried a piece entitled New Zealand’s Nixon by Bryan Gould about the practitioners of “attack politics … whose natural milieu is the cesspit” and one New Zealand National party (i.e. conservative) politician in particular. This week she resigned in disgrace.

Judith Collins’ resignation has, it is suggested in some quarters, allowed a line to be drawn under the whole dirty politics saga. We can, it seems, get on with the “real issues” of the general election (due on 20 September). Such optimism, however, seems entirely misplaced. Continue reading →

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