Jerry Hicks complaint against Unite thrown out

by Jon Lansman

HicksFar left challenger to Len McCluskey in last year’s election for Unite general Secretary, Jerry Hicks, has lost his formal legal challenge to the Government’s Certification Officer. Having lost by144,570 votes to 79,819 in spite of backing from sections of the Right and every disgruntled member, his objection has finally been thrown out after a year of investigation and several hearings this month.

Many UNITE members were shocked and disgusted that Jerry Hicks took his own union to court on spurious charges (using the machinery brought in by Thatcher’s government to regulate trade unions) following the General Secretary election last year. His complaint of so-called “phantom votes” was based on the inclusion in the ballot of a number of members in arrears with their contributions (he claimed 160,000). However UNITE was following the practice as decided in previousCertification Officer hearings,  namely that members in arrears cannot be denied a vote if they have not been contacted  by their union and asked if they wish to remain a member and resume contributions.   Continue reading →

We need more public ownership, but it must be democratic & decentralised

by Michael Meacher

In-Public-HandsAlmost every day brings fresh demands for public ownership, whether over energy infrastructure or transport (rail and water systems), banking, housing, pensions, let alone reversal of privatisation and outsourcing in health and education. That is certainly needed, but not a reversion to the Morrisonian brand of State corporatism.

Instead it needs to be democratic and decentralised, involving not only the workforce but the participation of the public and civil society. At present, under the current market fundamentalist regime, real economic power is increasingly concentrated in very few hands. An elite of CEOs and top executives decide how companies operate, what strategies they choose, what markets they operate in or products they make, and how these are made and where. Continue reading →

Russell Brand, Narcissist and Comrade?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Russell BrandI’ve always had a soft spot for Russell Brand. Like many recovering Big Brother fans, I first encountered him on E4’s E-Forum, a side programme to Big Brother’s Little Brother, which in turn was an adjunct to the main event. But there was something about Brand that made him stand out even in those days. Was it his larking about? His knowing jokes about himself and celebrity? The casual peppering of monologue with Nietzschean observations and obscure social theory references? Yes, probably.

Since then his cheeky-chappery has taken off. Hollywood films and megastar celebrity ex-wives and ex-partners later, this last year Brand has been on a journey of self-reinvention. While always a lefty of some sort, since his successful one issue take-over of the New Statesman, Brand has been using the platform he has to rally support for protest actions and campaigns. He has, of course, taken part in a few himself. And now his has a new book to sell, Revolution. Should we then take him seriously? Continue reading →

Murphy as leader would destroy Scottish Labour. Only one from the Left can save it

by Jon Lansman

Scottish Labour at LP conference 2014The Labour Party is in “complete meltdown” in Scotland says the SNP’s leader-in-waiting Nicola Sturgeon, adding “the scale of the infighting between Scottish Labour and Labour at Westminster is exposed for all to see.” And she’s not wrong.

Scottish Labour is about to have a debate about its direction and very soul, a debate that profoundly affects the whole of UK Labour too. And that’s exactly what Johann Lamont intended her resignation to precipitate: “I am standing down so that the debate our country demands can take place.”

She complained about how Westminster MPs plotted behind her back, howUK Labour treats Scotland “as a branch office” and how the general secretary of the Scottish party had been effectively sacked without any consultation, according to some sourcesbecause he was too close to the Scottish leadership“, and that could not go on: Continue reading →

Non-deportation of foreign prisoners shows huge incompetence of Theresa May

by Michael Meacher

The Home OfficeJohn Reid was right: the Home Office was “not fit for purpose”. We’ve now learnt it still isn’t. The NAO report into the huge Home Office muddle over deportation of foreign criminals is a textbook of persisting ineptitude which points the finger directly at the Home Secretary, Theresa May. It’s not as though she wasn’t warned. This issue brought down Charles Clarke in 2006 when it was revealed that on his watch the Home Office failed even to consider deportation of some of the 10,000 foreign prisoners who account for one-eighth of the inmates of jails in England and Wales. Continue reading →

Labour must outflank the SNP from the Left

by Neil Findlay

Johann LamontThis article was written prior to the resignation of Johann Lamont and is reposted here because it is a clear political statement by someone who many on the Left in Scotland would like to see as the next leader of Scottish Labour, and covers the same ground as Neil’s speech to the Campaign for Socialism conference at the STUC in Glasgow today.

As Scotland enters the post-referendum era with a new First Minister in waiting and a political landscape still reverberating from the decisive rejection of independence, the Scottish Labour Party now faces a number of challenges.

While the media focuses on the growth in membership of the SNP and the Greens — not without its challenges — or the creation of yet another new left party (what a novel idea that is), Labour has to respond and respond quickly to the new terrain.

For some the answer lies in the further devolution or independence for the party in Scotland or some other bureaucratic or organisational changes. Continue reading →

Why Scottish Labour’s structure matters politically

by Dave Watson

Labour Scottish conferenceThe structure and rules of an organisation can say much about its culture and vision. This is particularly true of the Scottish Labour Party.

In my article in the latest Citizen and in my contributions to both recent Scottish Labour grassroots events, organisation was just one of four points on my Scottish Labour ‘to do’ list. However, as Johann has now resigned, citing some of these reasons, I think I am justified in saying a bit more on this issue.

When you open the rule book of any organisation you expect to get a feel for the purpose of the entity. What it exists for, its mission and through the dry stuff of structures and standing orders, how it does its business. That also tells you something about its culture, it’s engagement with its members and so on. Continue reading →

Is the EU Commission on the side of Farage?

by Michael Meacher

Nigel FarageIt is difficult to believe that some senior members of the EU Commission are not secret Ukippers. To demand that Britain hands over more than €2bn because its economy is doing relatively well compared with the rest of the Eurozone, which is doing appallingly badly, is beyond satire. The idea that Germany, where the Merkel doctrine of unwavering austerity has brought the eurozone low, should now receive a rebate at Britain’s expense of £780m is the kind of black comedy normally associated with farce.

The UK contribution to the EU budget is already large at £8.6bn last year, and this surcharge would now make the UK by far the biggest top-up contributor. What adds salt into the wound is that this surcharge stems from the EU charging the way it calculates gross national income to include more hidden elements such as prostitution and illegal drugs! Continue reading →

As Lamont resigns, only the independent voice of Scottish Labour can win

by Jon Lansman

Johann Lamont and scottish flagJohann Lamont’s resignation this morning opens up the possibility of a new future which Scottish Labour desperately needs. Its ver survival is at stake.

It is an opportunity to declare the independence of Scottish Labour from Westminster, which it must do if it can again lead the Scottish people to a future that is in the best interests of its people. If it fails to do that, there os no doubt that the forces of nationalism will triumph over socialism in Scotland.

It is an opportunity to reject the politics of the Collins report and the Falkirk fiasco, and to put trade unions once again at the heart of Scottish Labour, which must become the voice of Labour again. Over Falkirk, the Westminster leadership, egged on by Progress, completely bypassed the Scottish leadership. Unfortunately it paid the price of leading from London in the disastrous rise and rise of the SNP that followed. The trade unions have half the votes at Scottish conference. Continue reading →

Deficit rise this year destroys any purported case for austerity

by Michael Meacher

Austerity is failingThe latest ONS Quarterly National Accounts tell a very significant story. For the media it was immediately a matter of Osborne likely not being able to provide a pre-election giveaway in a big new tax break to be announced in his Autumn Statement on 3 December. But that isn’t the real point at all. A far more significant issue is that it spells the end of Osborne’s case that austerity is necessary to cut the deficit. If the deficit starts to rise rather than fall, the case for continuing with austerity and perpetual spending cuts collapses. That is exactly where we now are, although no-one, including the Labour Party, is saying so. This is now the opportunity for Labour to say loud and clear that Osborne’s policy has hit the buffers and is now intellectually and politically bankrupt and that the alternative policy of expanding the economy, as opposed to endlessly contracting it, is now the only viable game in town. Continue reading →

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