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Theresa May calls a snap General Election for June 8th

Ask me this morning if there would be a general election, and I’d have said no. The stars were aligned against it, and yet here we are, stumbling about with our ghast well and truly flabbered. Her shock announcement caught everyone on the hop, and Westminster and its echo chamber are gripped by elation and despair. Elation for the Tories who think they’re going to storm to a huge majority, and for the LibDems who expect to regain a lot of the seats it lost, and despair for Labour. Tom Blenkinsop, for instance, has already announced he won’t be defending his Middlesbrough South seat.

Already, the reasons for calling it have been churned through. The slim majority making her vulnerable to persistent awkwards opposing her domestic agenda and Brexit, the uncertainty whether Tory electoral fraud allegations might result in a slew of by-elections, and the ridiculous poll leads different companies are chalking up for the Tories, when you lay them out like that it makes you wonder why we didn’t see it coming. After spending months chuntering about not facing an effective opposition, today she moans about Westminster being too divided and offering too much opposition, singling Labour out in particular for threatening to vote against her deal. Pathetic, really.

Clearly May thinks she’s going to win. She has reasoned that any seats the Tories stand to lose to the Liberal Democrats will be made up from others taken from Labour. It’s difficult to see how she could be wrong, but this is politics we’re talking about and it lately has had the tendency to throw up a few surprises. Optimism, however, has to be grounded otherwise it’s merely a polite term for delusion. With the political weather against Labour, are there opportunities to turn it around?

There is the naked opportunism of May’s move allied to politics fatigue. As a rule, electorates do not favour overt self-serving though, given the state of polling, any backwash from people who’d change their mind on this basis is going to be negligible, unfortunately. Since last June, her personal ratings have been better than that of the her party’s. Because of her super serious I’m-a-grown-up image, I think she’ll get away with it. Yet it might not be as straightforward as the thinks. Many Labour MPs in vulnerable seats have spent time digging in. Their campaigns are going to be very local emphasising their community leadership creds and the like. Easy to do if you were already a constituency-focused MP, less so if you’re a phantom who manifests only when a general election seance summons you. Thirdly, May’s one-nationism makes her vulnerable when she’s pursuing a sectional path. I agree with Theo Bertram, Labour should play hardball. It’s too late now to do the dirty digging, but it’s not like the government haven’t handed its opponents plenty of ammunition. The Tories are going to go big with the IRA stuff? Fine. We should go big with their rape clause, and keep doing it. Having a good programme, and Labour has a good programme, doesn’t mean eschewing sharp, shocking messages. The Tories don’t hold back, after all, and we can expect a few dead cats if things start going awry.

Then there are events. Trump in Syria, Trump and North Korea, if these bubble over into a something much more serious, they could hurt May. Remember the Iraq debacle continues to cast a long shadow over British interventionism, as Dave found to his cost. It wouldn’t be wise to rule out the consequences of the French presidential elections either. If Jean-Luc Mélenchon surges through to the second round, that straight away undermines the media’s Labour unelectability thesis. Most people won’t notice then, but if the outcome is a Mélenchon or Le Pen presidency then there will be consequences for our general election, particularly around Brexit – what with the left favouring a reformed EU, the far right leaving it. In this eventuality, a sense of growing crisis on the continent can’t not have an impact.

And that brings us back to Brexit. The first two-thirds of May’s premiership saw her wriggle and avoid saying what it was, beyond empty platitudes. Political necessity has decreed this untenable and we’re getting a sense of it in dribs and drabs. However, she cannot get through the next six weeks merely repeating “red, white, and blue Brexit” and “we’re going to get the best Brexit deal” nonsense. This presents an opportunity for her divided opposition. For a number of reasons, a progressive alliance is a non-starter, not least because the LibDems cannot be trusted. However, there is some room for a wee bit of cooperation between them, Labour, the Greens and the Scottish and Welsh nationalists. All the parties want as soft a Brexit as possible, so there is no reason why they cannot arrive at a common position. With Remainers more motivated to turn out, as council and Parliamentary by-elections have demonstrated this last year, there is a possibility tactical voting on this basis could thwart May’s ambitions and stop them in their tracks. A people’s Brexit sounds facile, but something like that to oppose May’s corporate Brexit could work.

Labour are in for a very tough time, and things look grim. Yet it doesn’t have to be a cakewalk for the Conservatives. They can be denied their majority, they can be beaten, but not without an incredible effort and smart strategy. It’s going to be a rough six weeks.

68 Comments

  1. C MacMackin says:

    I’m at a loss to know how Phil concludes that “Labour has a good programme” (emphasis in original). What program? We have some decent, but isolated pledges on random things like school dinners. We have some eye-catching policies for which numbers are apparently plucked out of thin air. And we have precious little else? What’s Labour’s position on existing grammar schools, academies, free schools, and faith schools? Where would the money for the National Investment Bank come from? What exactly will it be spent on? What is Labour’s policy on forms of transport other than rail and buses? For that matter, what is the policy on the rolling stock companies and Network Rail? Where does Labour stand on devolution? Labour says it wants “access” to the single market, but it remains unclear what they actually mean by that. How does Labour intend to address energy prices while at the same time decarbonising? How will all of the policy commitments be funded? I could go on.

    How on earth is Labour going to come up with a manifesto from the sprinkling of policy commitments which they have made to date? This is an embarrassment for the Left–it gives the impression to be left-wing is to have no serious idea about what you want policy-wise and that you simply want a bunch of unconnected and (on their own) unworkable pledges. Will we essentially end up campaigning on the 2015 manifesto? I opposed it then and I oppose it now. Right now, I honestly can’t tell my friends that they should vote Labour, because I have no idea what Labour would do in govermnent on a host of important issues.

  2. Lyn Eynon says:

    Jeremy warned last year that we could face a general election and it has been a visible option even since A50 was passed, although I admit I thought the odds were against it. It’s undeniable Labour’s policy agenda is under-developed. We are right in the middle of an NPF review that would have set new standards for democratic engagement but it’s too late for that now.

    McDonnell has rightly argued that she wants an election before the economy turns but it’s also because she knows Brexit cannot deliver what she claims and wants a mandate before that becomes obvious. Brexit isn’t easy ground for us but we won’t be able to avoid it. There is a latent majority in the country for a sensible Brexit that protects rights and as much market access as we can get and Labour has to win those voters.

    On policies, we have to take risks to open the debate. Such as a rise in income tax to save the NHS or an inheritance levy to fund social care. Talk as much as we can about falling wages, zero hours and precarious work. Run a party broadcast from a food bank. Commit on council houses funded by borrowing against future rents. We’ll split the party if we challenge Trident now but we can pledge no first use at a time of global risk and open the question of our relationship with Trump.

    It won’t be easy but we could win this. “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” as Gramsci put it.

  3. Karl Stewart says:

    Thanks for the article Phil

    And Cmack, Labour policy on rail is to renationalise the routes as the various TOCs franchises come up for renewal

    Yes, we need greater clarity and a robust narrative linking up all of the positive single policy announcements, and no doubt this will be worked on by the NEC Policy Forum etc in the next couple of weeks.

    but in the meantime, we have the barebones of an industrial and economic strategy to put forward and we need to be fighting hard.

    I think the Tories are way, way too over-confident and complacent. There will be a rallying round – a ‘war-time’ mentality will emerge.

    Let’s face it, however much right-wing MPs may not like Corbyn, they still want to keep their jobs and Phil’s point about these people focusing on their own local constituency battles is a point well made.

    I’m glad Phil’s also opposed to the Blairite/Guardian/Independent nonsense about a so-called ‘progressive alliance’ as well.

    We should fight hard against the LibDems and the Greens and the SNP and the Plaid – these are all opponents not allies, and any ‘alliance’ would solely be to their benefit not to ours.

    Let’s hit back hard against the reports in papers like the Mail and the Sun boasting that May’s going to ‘destroy’ Labour.

    We can shake the Tories and do a lot better than expected if we work hard and rally round.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      I’m aware that it is policy to “renationalise the routes as the various TOCs franchises come up for renewal”. My point was that this is only a part of the problem with the current system. The rolling stock companies (which lease trains to the TOCs) are obscenely profitable and not fit for purpose, so we need to figure out what to do about them. Network Rail keeps on accumulating more and more debt, so we need to figure out a better way to fund infrsatructure upgrades. As far as I’m aware, no one in Labour has even acknowledged that these problems exist, let alone proposed a solution.

  4. Karl Stewart says:

    Excellent article by Kezia Dugdale in the New Statesman smashing Neal Lawson’s ‘Progressive Alliance’ rubbish:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/04/theres-already-progressive-alliance-uk-its-called-labour-party

    I’ve not been a big Dugdale fan, but she’s very impressive here with her robust attack on the so-called ‘progressive parties’.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Anyone writing a comment which begins “Excellent article by Kezia Dugdale” probably needs to think again. I am no admirer of Neal Lawson’s views but Dugdale’s article responds to his facile arguments with traditional party invective devoid of genuine argument. It reflects the sectarian complacency that reduced the once mighty Scottish Labour Party to its present pathetic state. She, and it seems Karl S as well, doesn’t even understand the idea of spoilers in first past the post systems. The refusal to consider electoral alliances (overt or covert) by a party which cannot command anywhere near 50% of the popular vote is just plain stupid.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I thought the article was excellent David. She’s not been someone I’ve much admired previously, but I really like her basic fighting instincts.

        the LibDems, the Greens, the SNP, and the Plaid are NOT our allies, they’re our OPPONENTS and any so-called ‘progressive alliance’ with any of these smaller parties would only be to the detriment and disadvantage of Labour.

      2. Lyn Eynon says:

        Why do calls for a “progressive alliance” always come down to a demand that Labour should make concessions? Lawson was keen for Labour to stand down in Richmond but refused to call for the LibDems to do so in Stoke to give Labour a clear run at UKIP.

        Right now, talk of such an “alliance” for this election is just wasted effort. It’s not going to happen and distracts attention from Labour’s campaign. We need a Labour government on Labour principles, not another ConDem austerity coalition.

  5. David Pavett says:

    After a lot of initial waffle Phil B-C eventually asks a good question “With the political weather against Labour, are there opportunities to turn it around?”.

    But the sense of judgement that leads to suggesting that if “The Tories are going to go big with the IRA stuff” (including more general talk of terrorist threats) then Labour “should go big” with the Tory “rape clause” really escapes me. The rape clause on allowances is horrendous but the idea that this has compararable traction in the popular imagination with the threat of being blown up or run down by some terrorist or other looks to me like a loss of contact with reality.

    And then there is the idea that “Labour has a good programme”. I agree with Chris Mac. On what can this possibly be based? Labour is all over the place on the EU. It has no education policy worth speaking of (it can’t even muster the clarity to oppose grammar schools). I wonder what materials Phil B-C and those who agree with him are reading. Have they read the latest round of policy documents now discussed fairly extensively on Left Futures. It is hard to believe so since they reveal an almost complete vacuum at the heart of the policy process.

    I agree that politics is an unpredictable business and that all sorts of events can contribute to changing what may seem to be the set course of things. We therefore have to fight but the best way to do so is with realism. That means, I believe, above all coming out strong on major issues issues like the housing crisis, increasing inequality, youth unemployment and lack of good apprenticeships, the NHS crisis, the buy-up of Britain by global capital, regulation of the banks and global finance and much more besides.

    If Labour has a will to do this with an aim of winning then it would not be difficult to call an emergency meeting of people with the knowledge and the political nous to draw up an attractive programme which would put the Tories on the back foot. The problem is that Labour has no real experience of such a collective and collegiate approach. The control freaks of the right and the left do not want to let go. Will someone cut through this crap and decide to make use of the willing collective expertise that exists within the party?

    The task is to put flesh on the bones of Corbyn’s 10 pledges, which are no more than headlines for non-existent policies. Corbyn needs to leave his comfort zone of generalised humanistic objectives and talk in terms of detailed paths to achieve those objectives. Can he do it?

    It is difficult to know what to say about statements like “All the [opposition] parties want as soft a Brexit as possible, so there is no reason why they cannot arrive at a common position”. What is “as soft a Brexit as possible”? Is it one that leaves as unquestioning members of the single market? If so does that mean that we want to be signed up to the free movement of capital and labour, those mainstays of neo-liberal policy. The reality is that there is no agree position within Labour and no clear ideas about likely developments within the EU or how we might co-operate with left and centre-left forces within it.

    I agree that it is conceivable that the Tories “can be denied their majority … but not without an incredible effort and smart strategy”. That will not be possible however if Labour strategists and policy makers believe that Labour already “has a good programme”. If they believe that then they are clearly willing to deal with an illusory world rather than the real one.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      I notice there have been a few good submissions to the NPF website. I just saw a superb one on the NHS and Social Care, for example. If Labour contacted some of these people to help write a manifesto, we could actually get somewhere. There wouldn’t be time to truly democratise the process, unfortunately, but at this point just having any decent manifesto would be a good step.

  6. Mervyn Hyde says:

    Clearly we have not had the time to put a well thought out manifesto into the public domain but whatever the lead issues are, education, the promise of a free education including universities is a public winner, you don’t have to spell it out to people they will understand. Real jobs that pay real wages is self explanatory, protection for the most vulnerable. Renationalise our NHS, and the fact the Tories lie about the economy is not difficult to point out. We should all understand the need to emphasise that we can afford our public services and that the Tories are deliberately creating crisis in order to privatise public assets, Harold MacMillan selling off the state silver becomes obvious with hindsight.

    A key phrase to use is “that every day these Tories are in power the country goes further into decline”.

    Also this election was not called because of the opposition over Brexit, (she can’t say on the one hand that the opposition doesn’t exist then declare that she can’t move forward because of the opposition), as that is a contradiction in terms, but then we know the Tories turn on a sixpence and say what ever enters their heads, this issue is about the Channel 4 News item declaring that 20 to 30 people are under investigation and possible charges at the end of this month.

    As an aside we here locally will know today whether a writ has been handed to the Tory council Leader for misleading and hiding facts about a contract they signed. All good local ammunition and shows the cosy relationship between the Tories and big Business.

    Fundamentally we can say and explain that Poverty is a trap that only Labour will beak the nation out of.

    The Tories are leading people into the poverty trap and Labour are the only party that will stop it.

    That message will resonate.

  7. Peter Rowlands says:

    Since the last leadership election I have often imagined, given the generally acknowledged strong possibility of a snap election, that a small group had been beavering away putting together a coherent and costed manifesto that covered the main policy areas, either with policy proposals or a brief discussion of policy alternativesin areas that had needed further consideration, such as the funding of residential social care.
    It is possible that such a group exists, and that in three weeks time they will present us with a competent manifesto that indicates a serious approach and cannot easily be torn apart. If this is the case I will be delighted, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that it isn’t.
    The recent policy proposals were all costed, but very few of the previous ones were. For example, the commitment to abolish fees for higher education. The cost of this is vast, but there is no graduate tax proposed to pay for it, which I personally would favour. If not the cost must be borne by general taxation, and this must be acknowledged. Chris Mac makes the same points.
    On a ‘Progressive Alliance’ I agree with David Pavett that it is wrong to rule out an electoral alliance. Neil Lawson’s claim that 30 seats could be gained is true, and divides almost equally between Labour and the Lib-Dems. The problem is delivering it, ie getting the voters to vote tactically. Not all constituencies are as sophisticated in this respect as Richmond, and mutual antagonism would be a serious obstacle.

  8. Karl Stewart says:

    “The problem is delivering it, ie getting the voters to vote tactically.”

    Absolutely right. The vast majority of Labour people quite rightly recognise the LibDems as every bit as bad as the Tories.

    “Not all constituencies are as sophisticated in this respect as Richmond.”

    What? So the poshest, wealthiest constituency in England is some kind of ‘model’ for socialism?

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      So it was wrong to get rid of the racist Goldsmith?
      Tactical voting is a logical step under our electoral system where voting for a party that is not your first preference is likely to result in the Tories losing.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Goldsmith disgracefully used racism, as a tactic, in his London Mayoral campaign, the LibDems have often, equally disgracefully, used racism in their by-elections, as well as homophobia, also disgracefully.

        The Tories are a party led by someone who stood and applauded when Trump bombed Syria.

        The LibDems are a party led by someone who stood up and applauded and called for more when Trump bombed Syria.

        The Tories are a party led by someone who describes herself as a Christian, who recently made a pretty daft intervention over the ‘secular re-branding’ of Easter.

        The LibDems are led by someone who describes himself as a Christian and he recently refused to answer when asked if he thinks homosexuality is ‘a sin’.

        The LibDems promised, before the 2010 election, to ‘oppose, campaign against, and vote against’ any attempt to raise tuition fees.

        After the election, they voted to raise tuition fees.

        In 2015, the LibDems declared themselves willing to go into coalition with the Tories again.

        In 2017, the LibDems have declared themselves willing to go into coalition with the Tories again.

        The defeat of the Blue Tory Goldsmith by the Yellow Tory Sarah Olney in England’s poshest and wealthiest Constituency was just that, the replacement of one type of Tory with another type of Tory.

        Labour supporters should vote Labour everywhere.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          Tell me, Karl, did you vote Labour during the Blair years? Many of your criticisms of the Lib Dems also applied to New Labour. For that matter, there are some distinctly unsavoury people who will be running for Labour this time around, at least one of which says he would not support Corbyn as PM. I take it we should also not vote for those individuals? To be clear, I am not calling for an alliance with the Lib Dems, but we need to acknowledge that almost all of us end up making compromises and “lesser evil” decisions during elections. If nothing else, most of us on this website will be voting for a Labour party still running considerably to the right of where we’d actually want them to be.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Hi Cmack, I voted Labour in 1997, and 2005 (and also in 1992 and 2010 and 2015). And helped out as a volunteer every time.

            The exception was in 2001, when I stood as an SLP candidate (lost, but at least we beat the Socialist Alliance ‘splitters’).

            With hindsight, the SLP was a mistake, as it took some socialists out of the Labour Party at a critical time.

            Despite Blair, Labour was still, and still is, the political movement of the organised working class and so should always be supported in my opinion.

            People advocating support for the non-working class parties like the LibDems, Greens, SNP, or the Plaid, are taking an anti-working class position.

          2. RayVisino says:

            But what do they do if a nationalist or other party is more left wing and the local LP is run by right wingers? There is a dilemma between loyalty and principle. Parts of Wales certainly have this problem.

  9. bill says:

    It is a win win situation as far as many of us are concerned.

    Labour win or do well : vindication of Jeremy Corbyn and Leadership team.

    Labour lose : Deselection by electors of those that did their very best to undermine Corbyn and make Labour undetectable. They thought they had longer to undermine him and recover. Another big mistake by the chicken coup.

    Labour totally annihilated: Party will split this is long overdue and very welcome. Plotters and backstabbers either left with sinking ship and no members whilst 300,000 plus members start new mass membership party or cease to matter as local CLP choose new people.

    Jeremy Corbyn knows exactly what he is doing and General Election is best way of cleaning the stable out.

    General Election – Great !!

    1. bill says:

      Labour lose : Deselection by electors of those that did their very best to undermine Corbyn and make Labour un-electable.

      Thats spellcheck for you 🙂

    2. Steven Johnston says:

      Let’s hope this labour party mk2 you talk about does not make the same mistakes and ends up like the old labour party! Oh hang on…

  10. bill says:

    If I were tom knock doors I havent a clue what our policies are.

    What we potentially have is New Labour in control the old policies not rescinded.

    Existing MPs hostile to Corbyn candidates and CLPs overriden,

    So what exactly has been achieved by the ‘left’?

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      Let’s not forget the old adage, you don’t subvert the system it subverts you! We have been here before, left-wing labour government that were every bit as bad as Tory ones, as no matter what way you slice it, there is no nice way to run capitalism.

  11. bill says:

    Oh I forgot to add Constituency parties still suspended. No proper investigation of members excluded ans so on and so on.

  12. Hazel Malcolm-Walker says:

    we need to get the focus of the election off brexit, which is a distraction put in place by the right wing to deflect attention away from the really important issues this election should be about.
    What are the real issues?
    The trashing of the welfare state including the NHS!
    The robbing of the poorest members of society to pay for tax breaks for billionaires!
    The deaths disabled people following their benefits getting stopped!
    The list goes on and on!

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Absolutely spot on Hazel – we’ve got to keep it on domestic policies, the bread and butter issues that affect us all directly – that’s the way to build up Labour support.

      Also, well said to Bill and Lyn – some good, solid points from solid Labour people.

      And no smart-arse defeatist nonsense about a ‘help the LibDems alliance’.

    2. Robin Edwards says:

      Absolutely wrong Hazel. This needs to be about what kind of Brexit. You cannot ignore the political questions. Labour needs to let the Lib Dems nick disollusioned pro-EU, neo-liberal Tory seats. It should concentrate on counterposing its socialist vision and programme for a post-Brexit Britain to that of Theresa Mayhem’s Austerity Brexit and it must side line the Soft Brexit party right and Blairmainers. I do not want to hear the Corbyn campaign banging on about access to the bloody ESM. Britain voted Brexit for one reason and one reason only and that is because moribund British capitalism can no longer compete in Britain let alone the ESM. The electorate don’t want to hear about the ESM. For it there really is one deal that is worse than no deal and that is continued membership of the ESM and Customs Union which essentially is a non-Brexit that leaves the country paying all the membership dues but with zero representation on any of the EU’s leading bodies. Cut that out. Socialist Brexit versus Tory Brexit. And it should put forward its vision for a New European Settlement that leaves the wretched EU behind once and for all and which prioritises the interests of workers over bosses by not treating them like migrating cattle in search of ever crappier wages and ever more meagre welfare or abandoning them in sink communities, sink estates and sink schools unable to compete for the lowliest local job. Labour will close the gap if it is radical. It may even win. But it must not allow the party right to be its main face on TV undermining Corbyn’s anti-austerity, pro NHS, pro-Education, pro-Welfare message by bleating on about Soft Brexit day and night.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        You’re right that Labour must advance a radical socialist agenda, but Hazel isn’t disagreeing with that.

        Hazel’s point, if I’m reading her correctly, is that the ‘Brexit’ part of this is secondary – it’s a given, we know we’re leaving – and that the socialist political agenda must be primary.

        If we allow the election to be set out as a ‘Brexit election’ then the mechanics of the negotiations etc will crowd out everything else.

        What we need to do is to set out a socialist agenda based onsolid domestic bread and butter issues and then make clear that our ‘Brexit plan’ will be made to fit around that.

        And also make clear the call to vote Labour everywhere. And treat defeatist gibbering idiots like Neal Lawson and Paul Mason with the contempt they deserve.

        1. Robin Edwards says:

          Karl Stewart thinks you can win an election by ignoring politics. And by the way Lyn if Labour and the Lib Dems compete with each other in Bristol for the same voting base you’ll end up with four conservative MPs.

          1. Lyn Eynon says:

            I don’t know the details on Bristol but in Cardiff it’s a lot more complex than “the same voting base”. South is fairly safe for Labour with a divided opposition but the LibDems will throw effort into Central which they help before 2015; in West, Plaid ran us too close for comfort in last year’s Assembly election; and North is a winnable Tory marginal. Labour has to appeal to a wide and diverse electorate to win this.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            With respect David, you’ve completely misunderstood my argument (and Hazel’s as well as I understand her point).

            No-one’s saying ‘ignore politics’ and I really don’t know where you get that notion from mate.

            The point being made is that we need to stress ‘class politics’ over ‘nation-state politics’.

            We need to be arguing for socialism, over and above arguing about the mechanics of our departure from the EU.

            Take the question of the EU. I was one of those who was in favour of leaving, from a ‘British Road to Socialism’ perspective, but people like me were in a minority within the ‘Leave’ camp as a whole.

            The ‘Leave’ camp was dominated by people who wanted to leave the EU from a nationalistic, anti-immigration, or pro-free-market-capitalist perspective.

            The left was seriously split on the EU question, with a lot of people with a socialist perspective joining the ‘Remain’ camp – taking a ‘European Road to Socialism’ viewpoint, (an ‘ERS’ rather than a ‘BRS’ standpoint.)

            But they were also in a minority within the ‘Remain’ camp, which was dominated by free-market liberalism and capitalist globalism.

            Now, notwithstanding the real differences between ‘BRS’ people like me and ‘ERS’ people, it has to be recognised by all of us that we have far, far more in common with each other – a strategic orientation towards socialism – than we had in common with non-socialist people within either the ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ camps.

            The key political task for us now is to unite all the working-class forces for socialism.

            And that is best done by moving on from the EU referendum, making clear that we all accept the democratic result, making clear we’ll carry it out, but also making clear that we’ll carry that decision out in the interests of the working class and in the direction towards socialism.

            That isn’t ‘ignoring politics’ David, it’s shaping the political agenda, and moving that political agenda towards class politics.

            Moving the political agenda away from the stale and old ‘Leave/Remain’ argument – which splits the left and divides the working class.

            And shaping and moving the political agenda towards one based on the real-life, bread and butter domestic issues, which are the issues we really need to fight for and which can unite the left, unite the working class, and potentially, deliver real advance.

            It’s the ruling class who desperately want this election to be ‘all about Brexit’, because the ruling class knows that making this election ‘all about Brexit’ keeps the left, the working class and Labour divided.

            Making this election ‘all about Brexit’ allows the political agenda to be dominated by two different and competing versions of capitalist strategy – represented by the Blue Tories and the Yellow Tories respectively.

            We must shift the narrative away from that and firmly onto the terrain of class politics.

            So David, do you accept that this position is not ‘ignoring politics’ but about moving the debate towards ‘class politics’?

      2. Lyn Eynon says:

        I’ve no intention of letting the LibDems nick any seats. My own city voted 60% Remain and has 3 Labour MPs out of 4. The 4th is a winnable Tory marginal and I want it.

  13. Karl Stewart says:

    …well said Mervyn as well…

  14. Bazza says:

    Lyn sums up how I feel “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”
    And coming from working class backgrounds you learn to fight if your back is against the wall!
    We need to choose left wing democratic socialists in non-Labour seats still to select and help in marginals (no point stacking up huge majorities in safe seats & let bloody careerists sweat from working) and utilise our huge membership!
    Get JC on tour in marginals and follow example Tony Benn By-Election 1980s and go direct to the community – tons of community public meetings!
    Getting a supply of nice red chugger Vote Labour tops fo us all to wear could create great impact.
    And fight like never before.
    And if lose and JC goes don’t leave (don’t give Labour careerists what they probably want as Brecht argued – to find another (Labour) public! Stay and elect another socialist leader then choose left wing democratic socialist MPs and transform Labour and the country then with sister parties the World!
    Solidarity!

  15. Karl Stewart says:

    Just to be absolutely clear, anyone who votes for the scumbag LibDems is backing a party led by a warmongering homophobic religious bigot.

  16. RayVisino says:

    Labour has to state its Brexit policy. I think it is: We accept the result to leave the EU but we don’t want a hard Brexit or leave the single market and will put the terms to a vote before doing it. But needs to be said clearly.

  17. Bazza says:

    I had a dream the other night.
    It was 1944 and I went to a local Labour Parliamentary Selection meeting and there were 3 male potential candidates (this was 1944).
    Of the first 2 men one looked like Blair and the second looked like David Miliband and both were bland and didn’t say much but boy they looked like MPs.
    Then the third came in, an older man, a bit scruffy and in a wheelchair and not the finest speaker but he said we should have: a free NHS, comprehensive education, build millions of homes, improve the welfare state, and have full employment so I voted for this socialist with IDEAS.
    It should be about IDEAS!
    Labour is the underdog put perhaps to paraphrase John Lennon, “All we are saying is give JC a chance!” All together Now!

  18. Karl Stewart says:

    First Labour leader speech of the campaign…and it’s a cracker:

    ———————————-

    The dividing lines in this election could not be clearer from the outset. It is the Conservatives, the party of privilege and the richest, versus the Labour Party, the party that is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all.

    It is the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail. A duty for all of us here today, the duty of every Labour MP, a duty for our half a million members – including the 2,500 who have joined in the last 24 hours.

    Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion.

    They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win.

    But of course, they do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win.

    The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker, the student, the carer win. We all win.

    It is the establishment that complains I don’t play the rules: by which they mean their rules. We can’t win, they say, because we don’t play their game.

    We don’t fit in their cosy club. We ‘re not obsessed with the tittle-tattle of Westminster or Brussels. We don’t accept that it is natural for Britain to be governed by a ruling elite, the City and the tax-dodgers, and we don’t accept that the British people just have to take what they’re given, that they don’t deserve better.

    And in a sense, the establishment and their followers in the media are quite right. I don’t play by their rules. And if a Labour Government is elected on 8 June, then we won’t play by their rules either.

    They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past.

    It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations.

    It is a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors, for the wealth extractors.

    But things can, and they will, change.

    Britain needs a Labour government that is prepared to fight for people in every part of the country, our towns, villages, as well as big cities.

    A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.

    Because the Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell bent on cutting every public service they get their hands on, and they will use all of the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact.

    Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life.

    Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man.

    It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging. We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer.

    So many people in modern Britain do what seems like the right thing to do. They get jobs, they spend all day working hard, they save to buy their own home, they raise children, they look after elderly or sick relatives. And yet, at the end of it, they get almost nothing left over as a reward.

    Compare their lives with the multinational corporations and the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on.

    Labour in power will end this racket and make sure that everybody pays their taxes which fund our public services.

    We will overturn this rigged system. For all Theresa May’s warm words on the steps of Downing Street the Conservatives will never do any such thing.

    Seven years of broken promises show us that on pay, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.

    It was their wealthy friends in the City who crashed our economy. How dare they ruin the economy with their recklessness and greed and then punish those who had nothing to do with it? It was not pensioners, nurses, the low or averaged paid workers or carers who crashed the economy.

    The Conservatives boast of record numbers of jobs. But what good is that if people in work are getting poorer and don’t share in the profits of that economy while the Conservatives look after the wealthy few? Our offer is to tackle elderly poverty and loneliness, invest in our economy, NHS and schools, to improve rights at work and the ten pound living wage.

    Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth.

    If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government.

    If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.

    Why? Because those are the people who are monopolising the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a contribution to make and a life to lead. Poverty and homelessness are a disaster for the individual and a loss to all of us.

    It is wealth that should belong to the majority and not a tiny minority.

    Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first, while the Tories only really care about those who already have so much.

    That is why we will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election. Because the British people know that they are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.

    Theresa May will insist that this is an election about Brexit. She will try to downplay the issues that affect people’s lives every day and instead turn the election into an ego trip about her own failing leadership and the machinations of the coming negotiations in Brussels.

    It is only Labour that will focus on what kind of country we want to have after Brexit.

    In the coming weeks Labour will lay out our policies to unlock opportunities for every single person in this country.

    We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everybody reaps a just reward for the work that they do.

    We will no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent.

    Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.

    In this election Labour will lead the movement to make that change.

    We will build a new economy, worthy of the 21st century and we will build a country for the many not the few.

    —————-

    1. Robin Edwards says:

      The progressive alliance is the brain child of the Lib Dems, the Greens and of course the Labour Party Right. The New Labour MPs who do not want and will not support the formation of a Corbyn government even if he won a majority. By the end of this campaign, unless Corbyn adopts all the usual neo-liberal positions, he might not even find himself on their approved list of candidates to vote for. They want to dilute any radical message with neo-liberal, pro EU garbage. Instead of shooting May’s fox by declaring support for a Brexit that includes withdrawal from the ESM and the Custom’s Union and the restoration of democratic control over immigration they prefer to continue their love affair with global capitalism. They dilute any anti austerity message with their constant chatter about Soft Brexit. Let the Lib Dems take their 20 or so seats off the Tories with their pro EU crap but let them do it on merit. In the meantime Labour must challenge the Tories directly for power on the question of what kind of Brexit: Socialist or Tory. Britain didn’t vote Brexit because it believes in Tory delusions about restoring the British Empire once the EU is out of the way but because British capitalism has failed. It cannot compete in Britain let alone the ESM so if Brexit is to mean anything, or anything rational, it has to mean socialism. That is the real battle ground. If Labour gets involved in an Unpopular Front for Soft Brexit or Non Brexit it will be eradicated. It will not be able to mobilise its own base and without that base it cannot win anything.

      1. Lyn Eynon says:

        Socialism on one island won’t work. If we’re going to challenge the commanding heights of the modern global economy, we have to work with others. There’s no ‘socialist Brexit’ solution for sectors like IT, which set the pace for many others. Labour has to remember our values and avoid any dabbling with UKIP/Tory values on migration. Bosses cut wages, not migrants. Labour accepts that Britain is leaving the UK but we remain an internationalist party.

        1. Robin Edwards says:

          Opposing socialism in one country so-called has simply become a sophisticated way of opposing revolution.

          1. Lyn Eynon says:

            This election is not about making a revolution. We’re on the defensive. Winning the election is possible but we all know it will be hard. We have to do well enough to keep Labour competitive in British politics and for the left to consolidate our position in the party. If we do that we can move forwards. Socialist parties are in crisis across Europe and the structure of British politics does not leave space for an alternative such as Podemos or Melenchon. We need a good result for Corbyn.

    2. Steven Johnston says:

      Didn’t we get all of this in 1945, 1964, 1974, 1997…fat lot of good it did us.

      If you really believe you can vote you way out of austerity then why did it fail in Greece, Ireland, Iceland…etc.

  19. Stephen Bellamy says:

    Corbyn’s legacy is that his time has shown us clearly the full depth and width of corruption in the Labour Party. It has shown us that the Party simply is not worth supporting and certainly not worth working for. It has shown us how complicit the ego left is in this corruption. Sit down Owen Jones and Jon Lansman.

    For that much we should be grateful .

    And I didn’t even mention Israel.

    1. Lyn Eynon says:

      Not supporting Labour in this election because you don’t like some egos is like crossing a picket line because you don’t like your union rep.

      1. Stephen Bellamy says:

        That is a highly selective focus on what I said Lyn and judiciously ignores the main point.

        1. Lyn Eynon says:

          For the next seven weeks, I’ll be very selective. Right now, it’s all about votes for Labour. Let’s discuss the rest after 8 June.

  20. Karl Stewart says:

    Lynn, you’ve written:

    “There’s no ‘socialist Brexit’ solution for sectors like IT…”

    But with respect, there is no sector of the economy that cannot be socialised – including IT.

    We on the left need to be arguing for socialist solutions in every single sector. That’s what socialism is all about.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      I think what she meant was that the international supply chain makes it difficult for one country, on its own, to socialise certain sectors. Or, rather, those sectors would still have to work so much with foreign, capitalist, firms that they would still be constrained by the international marketplace. They would still need to produce for profit (to be able to pay for the necessary imports) rather than need. Furthermore, fluctuations of the international market would make it very difficult to plan such sectors. I think that this problem would apply to IT hardware, although probably not to software.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Yep, moving towards socialism will indeed be difficult.

        But it’s the only way to protect jobs, living standards and make society more equal.

        The wealthy and powerful will always oppose it and tell us it can’t be done, but we made great strides forward in 1945, when we weren’t in the EU and when we were way, way worse off than we are today.

        To move towards socialism, what we need is the unity of the working class – then we can do it.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          I’m not saying that socialism is impossible. Simply that I don’t think we will reach full-scale socialism (or at least, not a socialism with any great degree of economic planning) in one country alone. Well, massive countries like the US, China, or India might be able to do it, but not the UK. The UK should certainly start making strides towards socialism on its own, including extensive nationalisation, but will be constrained by its need to interact with the world market. Sooner or later it will have to link up with other countries taking similar steps to create supply chains outside of global capitalism. To be clear, I am not argueing against taking steps towards socialism in only one country or insisting that progress towards socialism can only be made within the EU (if anything, I suspect the opposite is the case).

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Let’s use this election campaign to frame the political debate Beyond Brexit and towards the kind of society we want to build?

            We can create full employment, restore manufacturing, renationalise the key sectors of the economy, ensure everyone’s health, education and housing is provided for and restore full trade union rights to all workers.

            We can do all this.

            And then we can say to the EU leaders, that these are our red lines – we won’t compromise on any of these principles merely in order to gain entry into your ‘market’.

            If they agree to continue trade, great, but if they try to tell us we have to allow privatisation, wage undercutting, competitive tendering and outsourcing, then we tell them no.

            We can also, at the same time, take our case direct to the people of the countries that the EU leaders are representing and ask their people if they really want to stop us providing these basic levels of decency for our people?

            Hopefully, they’ll then vote out their capitalist free-market leaderships and also elect government dedicated to a people-first agenda.

            Yes, let’s work with other nations – but with the working class of those nations, not with the capitalist class of those nations.

          2. C MacMackin says:

            I don’t disagree with anything there, although it must be noted that the only sector Corbyn has pledged to renationalise is rail (and possibly buses). My previous comments were speaking in a more abstract manner and were not particularly relevant to the coming election. I completely agree that the focus should not be on Brexit/Remain but on what sort of society we want, with our orientation towards the EU stemming from those goals.

      2. Lyn Eynon says:

        Global supply chains apply as much to software as to hardware. In my last role, I was leading from the UK a team of designers based in India, and that’s not unusual these days.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          Fair point, but I think it would be easier to break away from the supply chain for software than for hardware. I don’t work in the industry, though, so I could be wrong.

    2. Lyn Eynon says:

      Karl, yes we need to socialise within IT but there are limits to what a smallish nation state can do on its own. In some cases, public ownership is a good option: we should consider that for Openreach to accelerate the rollout of fibre broadband.

      But that won’t work for everything: we can’t nationalise Facebook or Google, so we need to put serious thought into how we tackle monopoly power in such areas, beyond just making them pay tax. China has been able to build its own local alternatives but that will be beyond the capacity of the British state, and is in any case just another form of monopoly and one that is about exercising political as well as economic power.

      We will need to regulate monopolies, block takeovers that erode competition, reform intellectual property rights, encourage cooperatives, protect personal data, etc. There is a huge agenda here, and let’s add robotics and artificial intelligence. One of the downsides of Brexit is that the EU has shown that it has the capacity (if only very rarely the political will) to have an impact on such a sector. A Labour government might have the will but the UK is too small to have the same influence, so will have to cooperate.

      Little of this will feature in the election but we’ll need to come back to it.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Hi Lyn, yes some good points.

        I don’t see why Facebook and/or Google could not be nationalised.

        What is it that you think is “in-nationalisable” about social media platforms or web-search engines?

        Why are these two sectors less “nationalisable” than car manufacture or steel production?

        Or, why could we not set up a new, publicly owned social media platform perhaps? Or a publicly owned web-search engine?

        I really can’t see any reason, in principle, why the communications sector could be considered beyond the scope of democratic socialist economic planning?

        You mention Openreach, which is at present part of BT. If we use this company as an example, there is a perfectly feasible and practical case for bringing this enterprise wholly back within the public sector.

        And, with its nationwide communications network, it could, quite easily develop social media and web-search operations.

        And, with public investment and subsidy, this could compete successfully with both Facebook and Google.

        Also, we already have a huge nationwide broadcaster which is within thw public sector, the BBC.

        Could not the BBC, working in co-operation with a publicly owned BT compete successfully against both Facebook and Google Lyn?

        One of the consequences of our departure from the capitalis EU is that we would no longer be subject to state-aid regulations and limitations.

        So we would be perfectly entitled to put in as much public investment and subsidy as we deemed necessary.

        What we need to do is to think positively, about what we could do, not tell ourselves that it cannot be done.

        1. Lyn Eynon says:

          Karl, thanks. This is exactly the kind of conversation we need to be having on such topics. I agree we need to think positively and creatively, and I have some ideas on that. (Just as background, I worked in IT for 35 years, over 30 with BT, most of the time as a union rep.)

          There are two reasons why we can’t simply nationalise social media and search: globalisation and network effects.

          Globalisation is a constraint for a several reasons. Nationalising Facebook assets in the UK would just give us sales, marketing, billing, etc., which are pretty useless on their own. The data centres aren’t here and neither are the major development locations. More fundamental is the nature of global production, using comms networks and collaborative tools. On design calls with global teams, we would work through the solution, share pictures, sometimes write short pieces of code, run software, check the results, make changes, etc. It’s no longer a matter of cross-border supply chains where the output from one country is shipped to another.

          A national solution implies constraining teams within national borders, when we no longer have the full skill sets to do that. In part, for the case of BT, that’s a consequence of privatisation, as in the 1980s it was industry-leading in some areas, with its own in-house training. But even reversing that, a smallish nation (which is what Britain is) would struggle to find enough specialised staff in its own borders, especially if it restricts migration. State subsidies could be immensely expensive and ineffective, and let’s not imagine that we will be free from all international rules under Brexit. WTO will limit state aid and the UK is a signatory to thousands of agreements, most of which have nothing to do with the EU and many of which are essential, e.g. technical standards for international telecoms. Even North Korea has to conform to these.

          Network and data effects are very powerful in parts of the IT sector, leading to quasi-monopolies. Nobody wants to join a new social media app if all their friends are on Facebook; even Google had to give up competing. Nor would many people want to be denied the right to make contacts abroad. The more data that has been gathered the more valuable it becomes, so Microsoft finds it hard on search. Social media or search run by the UK state could never directly compete with these global corporations. It takes a population of a billion plus and a repressive government to achieve that, and Chinese users would break the bounds if allowed to. And this is leaving aside all the privacy etc. issues that would come with the state running these.

          So we have to be cleverer. If we are to create space for public or cooperative bodies then we have to change the way the industry is run. First steps are obviously to level the playing field on tax and to remove artificial constraints like those that have forced the BBC to stop offering new recipes because commercial providers complained. But the core here is to attack the sources of monopoly power of the big IT corporations, in what is no longer an infant industry. This entails such steps as forcing platforms to define open interfaces, so that for example a social media competitor could offer their own service but still enable its users to communicate with those on Facebook. Intellectual property needs serious reform, as it is parasitic on public research and often a barrier to innovation. Mergers need to be controlled, so that potential competitors cannot be devoured, as Facebook did with WhatsApp. Ownership and control of personal data needs firmer rules. And so on.

          So there is a radical agenda here to be worked on. But, to repeat, the problem is that Britain is a small player in a big world. Ultimately, Facebook or Google could walk away from the UK if a socialist government became too demanding. The EU is too big to ignore and even though we are now leaving we will still have to cooperate with other countries (in Europe and elsewhere) on this, as we will on matters such as multinational tax avoidance.

          1. C MacMackin says:

            Some interesting points in this conversation. I agree that it would not be feasible for the UK to attempt to replace Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. Probably the most we can do to undermine existing software/web giants would be things like creating an official UK Linux distribution for use within the public sector (called LinUKs, perhaps?) as has been done in other countries such as Turkey and Brazil. Even that still relies extensively on international cooperation in creating open-source software (and Linux itself is mostly paid for by big companies like Intel and Oracle), but the nature of open-source software would place fewer constraints on a Left government. Something like Netflix, which is smaller and doesn’t have the same network effects as e.g. Facebook, would perhaps be more doable to nationalise or replace.

            Whatever the issues with, and loss of expertise in, BT I still think we need to nationalise it, ideally along with all the rest of the telecoms providers. It’s an important piece of infrastructure and, particularly if we want to invest in ultra-fast broadband as part of our public works program, it belongs in the public sector. I quite like Karl Stewart’s suggestion of using the BBC for some of this type of thing. I gather they have tended to be quite innovative with online technologies and perhaps it would be worth amending the charter to officially make this part of their mandate.

            I don’t think we should simply give up on certain parts of our program just because the UK doesn’t currently have people with the proper knowledge base. It will, no doubt, constrain us somewhat in the short-term, but what that indicates is the need to redevelop this expertise. I identified a similar issue in my articles on energy policy, regarding expertise on nuclear power.

            Overall, though, it must be said that I think our economic focus probably shouldn’t primarily be IT. If we are to tackle climate change, that will require massive investment in other sectors such as transport, energy, and housing, most of which is relatively amenable to nationalisation. Even if some imports are needed, the bulk of the work can be done in the UK and these sectors do not need to compete on the international market (except air transport, for which there is less we can do anyway).

            All this is getting rather off-topic from the election but, as I said, I thought it was interesting and something which we will need to discuss more at some point.

  21. David Pavett says:

    On Corbyn’s speech.

    I would like to have some information on what would appear, from Jeremy Corbyn’s speach, to be Labour policies.

    (1) “We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer.”

    What does this even mean? It sounds like a commitment to end capitalism and replace it with something else (unamed). If so how can it be that there was not the slightest hint of this this from the Labour leaders in the Policy Commission papers recently published?

    (2) “… the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on.”

    Does that mean that Labour is going to “take them on” and if so exactly how!? We need the details that two years of Corbyn leadership have failed to produce.

    (3) “Labour in power will end this racket and make sure that everybody pays their taxes which fund our public services.”

    What exactly does this mean?

    (4) “Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth.”

    This is meaningless rhetoric since clearly even the poorest “share” in society’s wealth. It is just that they have a very poor “share”.

    Likewise talk of “…the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country” is similarly meaningless.

    (5) “Theresa May will insist that this is an election about Brexit. She will try to downplay the issues that affect people’s lives every day and instead turn the election into an ego trip about her own failing leadership and the machinations of the coming negotiations in Brussels.”

    That’s a good point and is the one made by those of us who have argued (unsuccessfully) for clear and detailed policies to consolidate the left leadership.

    (6) “We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everybody reaps a just reward for the work that they do.”

    Does that mean that global capital will no longer be able to move its capital in an out of the country without the will of the great majority? If so don’t we need some details? Shouldn’t something about this have been said in the last two years?

    And what exactly is “a just reward for work”. This sounds like a rehash of the old 19th century slogan, so justly criticised by Engels, of “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage”. This is socialism at its most primitive. It reveals a will to make society fair without any sort of plan to change the underlying property relations and forms of organisation that correspond to them which jointly generate inequality.

    (6) “We will no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who … are forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent.”

    What can this possibly mean? It sounds like “no more capitalism”. Is that really a position that Labour has reached in one giant step without even needing to study, analyse, criticise and convince?

    (7) “Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.”

    Really? That sounds like a committment to nationalise amazon UK and many other major tax dodgers. Is it possible to imagine that such things, which have never been put before the party are really on the cards? I don’t think so.

    This all sounds like empty leftist rhetoric or an act of desparation in an effort to hitch a ride on wave of populist politics, or maybe a bit of both.

    I will work for the re-election of my Labour MP who has been one of Corbyn’s centrist critics (while far from the viciferous criticism of people like John Woodcock). What else can I do?

    I remain of the view that no real advance can be expected without detailed policies and that those policies should be agreed and understood by all those working for them.

    Now we have no choice but to try to ensure that the largest possible number of Labour MPs are returned. But we have the right at the same time to ask the party leader to get beyond empty rhetoric and to address the key problems our society faces (e.g. the crises of the NHS, the school system, housing, care of the elderly, inadequate apprenticeships, decline of local authorities …) with clear analyses and detailed solutions. Even in the midst of battle if the leader waves his arms around and fails to indicate any practical direction we have to say that now is the time to eschew the vague generalities and to talk hard-hitting detail.

    1. Mervyn Hyde says:

      David now at the start of the election is not the time to give ammunition to the Tories to beat us with.

      We who understand that not all people have your intellectual capacity to understand the nuances of Labour Policies and general hints at the direction of travel are important to fix in peoples minds.

      The other small matter of who is still running the party machine might be a clue as to the bland nature of policy presentation.

      I would have thought you would be ahead of the game in recognising that, we need to replace those that are hindering positive socialist policies, but that can only happen at the next party conference. So that we can create the policies that matter without being blocked by people actively opposing it.

      1. David Pavett says:

        I don’t think that the need to work for an election result is a licence to talk nonsense. I don’t think that those who want to attack Jeremy Corbyn are waiting on me to pick the weaknesses in what he ways. It is never a good idea to work on the assumption that our enemies are fools.

        1. Steven Johnston says:

          I agree with a lot of what you say David, most of his speech is nonsense. Why stop there, why not re-nationalise the mines and claim to create a million jobs that way.

  22. JohnP says:

    Not often I agree with Mervyn, relative to DavidP, but I think it is now FAR, FAR, too late to makeyet again the undoubtedly completely accurate criticisms of Labour’s offered “policy bundle” he makes here. Too late now. We just have to grit out teeth now and just press on campaigning hard and hope for the best. I’ve gone into negative comment purdah for the campaign period, rather than give ammo to our opponents.

    Out leafleting for the local elections this week (in deeply Tory, forelock tugging, rural Shropshire admittedly) has certainly demonstrated to me the power of the mass media to instil a negative “kneejerk response” of the most banal and unthinking kind in many voters to the words “Jeremy Corbyn”. Still, if that form of brainwashing didn’t work so well, the advertising industry wouldn’t exist.

    Hopefully the very simple, but nevertheless powerful , slogans of “fairness”, Save our NHS, “Tax the Rich” “protect the vulnerable” that Jeremy and Labour are putting out, and the huge groundswell popular campaign I think is already starting to build around our campaign, will save the day electorally.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      The problem is, John, how do we properly campaign when we don’t know what Labour would do in government? To take an example, if we say we’ll spend more on the NHS, we’ll be asked where the money will come from, to which the honest answer is “I don’t know, nobody has worked that out yet”. Your talking points will be useful to rally the troops and might get some of the left-liberal crowd to vote Labour in order to keep the Tories out, but do you think we’ll change the minds of centrist voters? Even if they agree with the principle, they’ll rightly ask how we’ll achieve it and we don’t have an answer to that. For me, this makes it very difficult to campaign with any enthusiasm.

    2. David Pavett says:

      Yes, I too am working for a Labour victory. My Labour MP only had a majority of 465 in the last election. I believe that the seat can be retained but that it will be hard work to do so.

      My belief, all the same, is that even in an election we should continue to talk openly and honestly. Above all we need to continue to work to be clear about exactly what Labour stands for. I don’t think it is ever a good time to say “Not now, later. Let’s win the election first.” All the historical precedents for getting people to shut up for the sake of immediate battles are, I would have thought, sufficiently negative to warn us off that approach. And it is not as if Labour was a party in which ideas and debates generally flow freely making a small hiatus unproblematic.

      When a general is asked to point the way and points in several different directions at the same time it is reasonable for the foot soldiers to say “Hang on boss, can we be a bit clearer about that?”.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        In a nutshell, DavidP is arguing: “To get to socialism, I wouldn’t start from here.”

        Yes, it’s true that we’re starting this election campaign from an extremely difficult position.

        Yet, we are, indeed, where we are.

        We have no choice, we have to fight here, where we are. We can’t wish oursleves into a better starting position.

        1. David Pavett says:

          No, I have not argued anything remotely resembling that. The difference between us, however, is that you think that we could be on the verge of a socialist revolution and I don’t.

          Another difference is that I have argued for and proposed policies which start from where we are and which, I believe, would have traction among the majority of the electorate.

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