Military action is not the answer for Aleppo

by Mike Phipps and Liz Davies

Syrian bombsiteWhat is happening in Aleppo is a human rights calamity.

It’s impossible to watch the footage without wanting to do something, immediately. That leads some on the left to surprising positions.

Disrupting Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on December 10 did nothing to help civilians in Aleppo; it diverted attention from the important pledges he made on women and human rights. Equally, this newspaper was wrong to characterise President Bashar al-Assad/Vladimir Putin’s military assault as a “liberation”. Faced with brutal horrors, the West — both the left and the right — reaches too quickly for military solutions.  Continue reading →

What Lies Behind the Brexit Vote?

by Bryan Gould

EU_ballotI am proud to be a sixth-generation New Zealander. But I am also gratefully aware of my British heritage.

All eight of the families of my great grandparents came to New Zealand, from England, Scotland and Wales, and had settled here by the mid-nineteenth century. I had the pleasure of returning to the UK as a student and spending a substantial part of my working life there.

My involvement in British politics meant that I took more than a passing interest in the referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Union. I was surprised, but pleased, at the result, but I have been even more surprised – and less pleased – at the reaction to that result, not least the reaction of some prestigious organs of opinion whose opinions I normally respect. Continue reading →

Unite General Secretary election: Who is Ian Allinson?

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Len McCluskey at CLASS fring meeting at Labour Conference 2012Here’s another election we can look forward to: the position of General Secretary in my union, Unite. The incumbent, Len McCluskey has announced his intention to stand down next year, effectively calling a by-election. If he’s victorious, it will allow him to serve out a full term before he heads off into retirement some time after the next general election. His declared opponent is Gerard Coyne, secretary of Unite’s West Midlands region. Widely seen as the candidate of the union’s right, in his opinion the union should concentrate on members’ issues and not internal Labour Party struggles. I’m sure that bold aspiration raised an eyebrow among Unite and Labour watchers. Anyway, the battle was set and the combat for Unite’s soul was about to begin. Then, much to everyone’s surprise, a third contender charged onto the field. Continue reading →

Labour needs to rediscover comprehensive economic planning

by John Penny

manifesto1945In his barnstorming 2015 and 2016 Labour Leadership campaigns Jeremy Corbyn outlined a series of, very enthusiastically received policy offers of a distinctly left Keynesian, anti-austerity hue. These proposals ranged from renationalising the railways, to fully re-nationalising and refunding the NHS, establishing a universal free national education service, nationalising key utilities, controlling the banks more closely (the last two, significantly, subsequently dropped in the 2016 contest) and creating a National Investment Bank.  Unfortunately since his 2015 victory essentially nothing has been done to put flesh on the bones of these proposals, or indeed to position these disconnected proposals within a wider comprehensive radical Left Economic Programme.

This seems most peculiar to those of us old enough to have imbibed in our socialist youth the concept of socialism as intrinsically involving the modification, amelioration, and re-direction of priorities created by the unfettered free play of the capitalist Market, and their eventual replacement by a better, fairer, more rational, society beyond the capitalist marketplace. This transformational process was always seen by socialists as being driven forward by conscious, democratically determined, state-led comprehensive overall direction and planning, even in a still capitalist, “mixed” economy in a process of transition. Continue reading →

Free movement: Labour’s great non-debate

by David Pavett
Free movement and the left: facing in different directions

Free movement and the left: facing in different directions

Nothing illustrates better the ideological and policy differences at all levels of the Labour Party than the contradictory opinions being offered on the issue of free movement. The Shadow Home Secretary (Diane Abbott) says free movement is essential. She has even said “Ending free movement has become a synonym for anti-immigrant racism”. The Shadow Brexit Secretary (Keir Starmer) and the Shadow Chancellor (John McDonnell) say that movement of people should be managed/controlled.

What does the Party leader (Jeremy Corbyn) think? Continue reading →

RBS shows left must think for itself

by Tom O Leary

rbsRoyal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is a publicly-owned bank. The overwhelming majority of its shares are in state hands, 73% of the equity. Yet it was the only major bank to fail outright the recent ‘stress test’ of its balance sheet conducted by the Bank of England. The bank is a basket-case. It is costing all of us money, and yet it could be a key contributor to economic recovery.

For many years the left has called for the nationalisation of the banks. This happened as a result of the financial crisis. But with very few exceptions the left had very little to say about what the public sector could do with its newly-acquired and deeply damaged assets. That was an error. Now that the left leads the Labour party and could be in position to lead the next government, it should use every lever at its disposal to produce an investment-led recovery. RBS should be seen as one of those levers. Continue reading →

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t perfect – but he’s the leader we need right now

by David Osland

CorbynAs the new old proverb has it, you can gift the British left its best opportunities in a generation, but you can’t make it take advantage of them.

The hugely-publicised recent bust-ups in Momentum, complemented by Peter Tatchell’s spiteful and vindictive self-promotion stunt over the weekend, highlight an almost palpable death wish that seems to have gripped some quarters of our small world right now.

Jezza is no longer be all things to all leftists. After more than a year at the top, he remains stubbornly wedded to the political influences that shaped him as a politician. Continue reading →

On Sleaford and North Hykeham

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

sleaford_north_hykeham_by_electionOnly two things have come out of Sleaford. Those mods (well, their name anyway) and predictions of imminent doom for the Labour Party. Yes, at the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election, Labour failed to turn in a creditable performance. It dropped seven points, the Tories and kippers lost a couple apiece, and the LibDems surged past from nowhere and claimed the number three spot.

I don’t see cataclysm written in the by-election results. It’s hardly a place Labour should expect to do well, but it does condense two problems the party has. The first is with the former LibDem voters. The 35 per cent strategy so-labelled by Dan Hodges claimed that Ed Miliband’s Labour was content with building an electoral coalition from existing Labour voters and those fleeing the LibDems during the time of their coalition with the Tories. Continue reading →

Christmas Book Review

by Mark Perryman

Mark Perryman provides a seasonal round-up of the best books to cheer up the radical spirit

From #chaoticbrexit to the triumph of Trump via the summertime Labour coup, 2016 will be a year to forget for many who cling on to an optimism that a better tomorrow remains not only necessary but possible too. The toxicity of racism, the brutal closure of the Calais refugee camp, the political murder of Jo Cox, the human disaster unfolding in Syria and ever-increasing landmass temperatures signalling the onward march of Climate Change. More than enough to have us all digging into our pockets for the humbugs while giving the holly and the ivy this year a miss. But there’s another side to all of that, for every setback there’s a fightback and in and amongst the mix more than enough to keep at least a semblance of belief in a radically different future. There’s always next year after all.  Continue reading →

Prevent – Time for a major review and fundamental rethink

by Diane Abbott

diane_68By Diane Abbott MP

Increasingly, the evidence is suggesting that the Government’s Prevent Strategy – aimed at countering radicalisation and making us safer – doesn’t work on either count. In recent weeks it has become clear that this is also the case when it comes to tackling the worrying rise in far-right extremism.

Commenting on the recently released figures, Security Minister Ben Wallace MP recently told the House of Commons that not only is “the Prevent strategy is seeing a growth in far-right referrals,” but that “in some areas of the country, these Prevent referrals outnumber those about the other parts we are worried about.” Continue reading →

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