Regular visitors will be aware that there’s an election going on for Labour’s national executive. You’ll find details of Centre Left candidates here and, should you want them, of the right-wing candidates over at the Lord Sainsbury-funded party-within-a-party (Progress).
As a result of candidates’ desire to appeal to the widest possible audience, you might have read the odd blog by one of these right-wing wing candidates in which they sound… well, quite reasonable. And so we apologise if you feel we strike a note of negativity. However, since New Labour lost the party 5 million votes after 1997 and, as Luke Akehurst (for it is he) put it himself, “the price of electability is eternal vigilence”, we thought we’d better put the record straight.
Having spent several jolly hours wading through the collected thoughts of Comrade Luke, what better way to do that than by sharing a small sample of what Luke Akehurst thinks on a range of issues in his own words:
On the impartiality of Labour party staff, as required by their code of conduct:
The daft code of conduct stops Labour staff doing their job. They should not be neutral referees. They should be able to promote the candidates and policies of the elected leadership of the party against their internal critics. Back in Morgan Phillips’ day as General Secretary or Herbert Morrison’s as London Regional Secretary there was none of this nonsense about neutrality, the party staff explicitly had a role in giving the left a kicking. Ah, the good old days!
Luke is well known as a supporter of the Iraq War. He once said that what he was most proud of in Labour’s second term was the invasion of Iraq. This is more surprising:
I actually feel rather sorry for Donald Rumsfeld and find the gloating at his resignation distasteful. Why?
- Well for a start off his strategy in Iraq was our Labour government’s too so if he’s such a bad/wrong person so are we – or at least everyone of us that supported the government line. (Ed: you might agree with that one!)
- If you are going to have Republicans in power …. I would rather they were idealistic ones that believed in spreading democracy to the Middle East than Kissinger/Nixon style cynics practicising real-politik and focussed just on national self-interest rather than some higher ideological ends…
- He actually did the traditional job of Defense Secretary very well – overseeing two stunning military victories in Afganistan and Iraq in a matter of weeks – what he is being blamed for is the subsequent failiure to rebuild Iraq and of the US armed forces to peacekeep – neither of which traditionally were or should be core US military functions.
My hunch is history will say Rumsfeld made all of us a lot safer by destroying the Taliban/al-Qaeda base in Afghanistan and removing Saddam from power so he wasn’t around to refresh his WMD arsenal and marry it with N Korean missile technology. There are a lot of Afghans and Iraqis (particularly Kurds and Shiites) who have a lot to thank him for.
The West correctly backed Saddam’s Iraq against Iran.
Luke is well known for his suport for Trident and its replacement. He describes himself as CND’s debating partner of choice – you might speculate as to why he should be! (Clue: it isn’t that he is is not articulate) This is more surprising.
Being an old fashioned type I can’t agree with Jack Straw’s suggestion that MPs will get a vote on replacing Trident. When did all this nonsense start? Attlee and Bevin didn’t even tell MPs they were building an A-Bomb let alone consult them….
We seem to be drifting into an era of phoney “national debates” and “consultation” on key issues where what we ought to have is clear decisions that the electorate then judges at a general election.
You’d expect Luke to be a defender of Israel since his day-job is helping to run Israel’s PR operation in Britain, working for the ‘independent’ (i.e. financed by supporters rather than the Israeli government) Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). However, it turns out he’s much more hawkish than his hero, Tony Blair:
According to Oona (King – Ed), Blair backed a “a disproportionate and bloody Israeli response to Hizbollah aggression” – strange that because whereas I did back the Israelis and wanted them to be able to carry on until Hizbollah had been destroyed, Blair has consistently said he wanted an early and sustainable ceasefire.
Luke describes himself as a “loyalist”. Maybe he is, but he does get caught out:
In the unlikely event that she gets elected will the last person to leave the Labour Party please turn out the lights?
Harman just about qualifies as second most impressive politician in her immediate family, behind Jack, let alone for the number 2 slot in the Labour Party.
stupid little clique of middle class theoreticians and hobby factionalists
I actually think Progress should be engaged in a branch-by-branch, CLP-by-CLP battle to expose the weaknesses in Compass’ analysis and marginalise them as an organisation. It’s bad enough that some Government Ministers are giving credibility to this pernicious and subversive grouping by speaking at its event, let alone that the people who ought to be fighting them are publicising it. I really take a strong objection to Compass’ constant undermining of the party and in particular the Prime Minister and think that all right-thinking people in the party should have absolutely nothing to do with them.
I’d rather slit my own wrists than take any job in that man’s gift.
One of the crucial challenges facing Labour moderates is to stop the proposed Unite and PCS merger and retake Unite for the tradition of Sir Ken Jackson and Ernie Bevin. We can’t allow Len and his ilk to lead Labour’s largest affiliate, and with it the union link, to destruction with the kind of boneheaded interventions he made today”
‘I want loads more council houses’ may make sense but is only one step away from ‘I want everyone to work down the pits’ in terms of the message it sends.