NPF Responses: Education

by David Pavett

The Consultation document for Early Years, Education and Skills says that this year’s task for the Commission was to to do

“further work on building a modern early years system, developing a schools system for the 21st century, modernising further education and adult skills and how we can improve children’s social care and safeguarding as priorities for this year”.

The opening section (Labour’s Vision) assures us that Labour wants to build a world-class early years, education and skills system system that serves all. But then, of course, everyone says that. Equally generally, we are also told that “Labour’s aim is to build a National Education Service which would be open to all throughout their lives”. The lack of clear specific ideas, on this and in the rest of the document, is disconcerting. Continue reading →

NPF Policy Responses: Environment, Energy and Transport

by Chris MacMackin

The National Policy Forum has made the strange decision to group culture with the environment and energy. Meanwhile, transport is placed, not completely without justification, with local government and housing. However, as transport is a major consumer of energy and a transport policy will be essential to fighting climate change, I decided to address it along with energy and the environment, in place of culture.
Continue reading →

Gerard Coyne: Another Reason to Vote Len McCluskey

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Got nothing against Gerard Coyne, but in 20-plus years associating with the labour movement I have never seen a candidate run such a desperate and rubbish General Secretary election campaign. Kicking off his Unite leadership bid, Gerard criticised Len McCluskey for spending more time talking about and fiddling with the Labour Party than looking after the welfare of the members. And since then, all his campaign has done is moan about Labour, taking potshots at Jeremy Corbyn, and busily morphing into the very caricature his pitch attacked. Meanwhile, Len has run a sensible Unite-focused campaign talking about workplace rights, pensions, attacks by bosses, members’ interests. You know, speaking to the people who pay his salary. Continue reading →

A Riot of Our Own

by Mark Perryman

8th April is the 40th Anniversary of The Clash’s debut album. Mark Perryman asks what the 1977 punk and politics mix was all about.

The birth of punk for most is dated on or round 1976 with the November release  that year of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK with both music and movement kickstarted into the ‘filth and fury’ headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview.

More Situationist than Anarchist Rotten and the rest were of course key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar The Damned, Manchester’s Buzzcocks and the more trad rock Stranglers. Giving the boys’ bands a run for their money The Slits pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their Typical Girls track quite unlike what the others were recording. Continue reading →

NPF Responses – Health

by Brian Gibbons

The National Policy Forum’s consultation on Health and Social care is set in the firm context of an underfunded health and social care service. This is correct. However, the document is insufficiently clear about the need to reverse the general direction of travel and fails to give enough indication about Labour’s alternatives. In the rest of this article I have tried to combine two articles in one both commenting on and proposing changes to the draft. Most of what follows consists of suggested amendments/additions to the draft. The passages in italics are my comments on the draft.

Every organisation has scope for some savings, reform and doing things better including the NHS. But this should not obscure the fundamental truth that the funding crisis in  UK health and social care is also part of an ideological drive to reduce the role of the state as all our key public services. Linked to this is the equally ideologically driven policy of diversifying public service provision to include the corporate and for-profit sector in care delivery. And as our public services come under more and more pressure, those who can afford it will resort to “better” private care provision and so create further momentum to undermine  the social solidarity that is at the heart of our welfare state and public sector. Continue reading →

Fall in wages has much further to run

by Tom O Leary

Chancellor Phillip Hammond

The latest consumer price inflation (CPI) data showed a sharp acceleration in prices increases. This will have a negative effect on real wages and real incomes, once inflation is taken into account. Most workers are facing flat wages and the poor, who rely on social welfare and are seeing freezes or cuts, will all be poorer as a result. Even worse, economic trends suggest that this problem will deepen.

Chart 1 below shows the medium-term trend in real wages. It uses single month data rather than the more customary rolling 3-month average data highlighted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to smooth out monthly fluctuations. However, the single month data can be superior in identifying key turning-points. As the chart shows, it seems likely we have entered a key turning-point, with a sharp downturn. Continue reading →

Douglas Carswell and the fall of UKIP

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

As surprises in politics go, this one’s right up there with night following day. In case you’ve hid in a cave or were too dazzled by the March for Europe’s liberal virtue, Douglas Carswell has resigned from the United Kingdom Independence Party. Something of a square peg in a round hole, Carswell’s politics are complete crap. They dress an apologia for the megawealthy up in the taffeta of individual autonomy and pearls of hypermodernity. That said, his market fundamentalism doesn’t come with extra wrappings of racism and sexism, as per official kipperism, nor the patrician know-all arrogance of his bezzy mate.

In his resignation note, Carswell says that it’s “mission accomplished” as far as UKIP are concerned, and so there is little point staying around. Nothing, you understand, to do with his summons before the party’s NEC, due to be heard Monday afternoon, on allegations that he derailed a knighthood for Nigel Farage. Indeed, old NF himself on Sophy Ridge this Sunday has pledged to stand against Carswell in Clacton next time. There’s little chance of that happening, seeing he’s a serial bottler. Still, for those of us who despise UKIP some grim satisfaction can be reaped from their implosion as politics comes to grips with the damage they and their highly placed enabling friends have wreaked. Continue reading →

The theological significance of Corbyn the Messiah

by David Osland

It is no small thing for jocular comparisons between the leader of the Labour Party and Jesus Christ to become a staple of Twitter diatribe and broadsheet political commentary alike. Yet the notion that Jeremy Corbyn is heralded by his supporters as ‘the Messiah’ is well on its way to hardened cliche status.

Google it up. A random sample of those advancing the claim are Yasmin Alibhai-Brown,
herself an observant Muslim; former Labour MP Tom Harris and Mary Riddell in the Telegraph; Dan Hodges in the Mail; Isabel Hardman in the Spectator; and Leo McKinstry in the Express. Andrew Rawnsley freely resorts to the wisecrack in the Guardian, a publication whose website features video footage of a Corbyn rally under the caption ‘the second coming’. If only Jezza could pull off that five loaves and two fishes thing, they’d save a fortune on catering at the next Momentum conference, right? Continue reading →

NPF policy responses: International

by John Penney

A critique of Labour’s NPF International Policy Commission Document.

Before looking at the very limited content of this International Policy consultation document, a word on its methodology. The provision of extremely short, and what are obviously seen by its authors (from their entirely neoliberal status quo mindset) as deliberately non-controversial “motherhood and apple pie” bland statements in all these “consultation documents”, interleaved with the asking of a wide range of  hugely broad general questions, is a quite deliberate abdication by the authors. Their task is to actually assemble facts, analyse them, relate them to the Corbyn Leadership outline policy proposals that secured his victory, and then offer a range of amended policy proposals for comment by the members and the public. There is no evidence whatsoever that the NPF’s authors take any notice of the submissions made to them. Continue reading →

Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s March Executive

by Peter Willsman

Peter Willsman reports from the National Executive Committee

Tuesday 21st  March 2017

A useful NEC: dominated by the comprehensive and impassioned presentation (by our two National Campaign Co-ordinators, Andrew Gwynne MP and Ian Lavery MP) of our preparation for the wide range of local elections in the Spring.

Leader’s Report

Jeremy paid tribute to the unremitting and dedicated commitment of our two campaign teams for the Copeland and Stoke Central by-elections. Both teams gave their all and their campaigns could not have done more. The result in Copeland was, of course, very disappointing (as I point out below, Copeland has recently become a marginal seat), but our victory in Stoke was very inspiring. The many flaws of the UKIP leader were ruthlessly exposed. Jeremy also thanked the many helpers from all over the United Kingdom that had given their time to help in both contests. We heavily outnumbered our opponents on the doorstep. Continue reading →

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