This will be a major boost for Corbyn and shows how rapidly his campaign has developed. When Unite, Britain’s largest, endorsed Corbyn on July 5th, many were surprised. For a union considered more moderate than Unite to back Corbyn too should be worrying for the ‘Anyone but Corbyn’ camp, and shows their attacks are not cutting through. Continue reading →
Ann Black reports on Labour’s national executive committee meeting which took place this month.
Interim leader Harriet Harman said that we were living through turbulent times, and she was under no illusions about the scale of the challenge. Labour had to listen to the country and campaign in a spirit of unity and mutual respect. Councillors would provide vital links, particularly in areas with few MPs.
She and others laid bare the iniquities of the Tory welfare bill. Twelve billion pounds of cuts would take more than £1,000 from many working people through slashing tax credits, even with a higher minimum wage. Those not in work would also suffer; the £100 employment support allowance for the work-related activity group would be reduced to £70, the same as the job-seeker’s allowance. Child poverty targets would be scrapped. Abolishing maintenance grants would raise student debt from £22,000 to £43,000 and could deter poorer students. The 1% annual reduction in social rents might look attractive to tenants but would make it harder for councils and housing associations to maintain their stock, and selling off housing association properties would mean fewer affordable homes. Continue reading →
Conventional wisdom has it that the outcome of the Labour leadership contest most feared by the Tories would be the election of the candidate perceived to be nearest to the middle ground. Conversely, it is suggested that a candidate who espouses policies seen to be further to the left, (which seems to mean simply offering something different from the Tory programme), would gravely prejudice Labour’s chances of winning the next election.
There are, of course, many criteria that might be relevant in deciding which candidate to support – age, gender, personal accomplishments, and so on – and a candidate’s electoral appeal, based on such criteria, might well be important in determining which candidate would be most helpful to Labour’s election chances. But the suggestion, constantly made even by Labour’s friends, that the willingness to offer a clear alternative to Tory austerity, Tory attacks on the public services and Tory victimisation of the vulnerable is somehow a disqualification is surely to be resisted. Continue reading →
One hundred and seventy Jeremy Corbyn supporters crammed into the Seven Dials Club, Covent Garden, on Sunday evening to hear stand-up comedy to support Jeremy as Labour leadership contender. The event was organised by Crispin Flintoff, who has organised 155 Stand-up for Labour events, held all around the UK. (It is indicative of the lack of imagination of Labour’s managerial plods that they have given no backing to Crispin’s amazing achievement in organising so many events.)
The Corbyn supporters started to gather in the club from 6.00. A spread of tasty food (included in the ticket price) was available. The atmosphere was friendly and enthusiastic. Conversations participated in and overheard made it clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature had offered a tremendous sense of relief. Relief that ideas and aspirations (yes, aspirations!) that have for so long enjoyed only a subterranean existence in the Labour Party had once again become common topics of conversation. By becoming a contender for leadership Jeremy Corbyn has made it possible to once again discuss the sort of society we want to live in without shutting down conversation with assertions (usually without basis) about what will and won’t win elections. Continue reading →
Another day, another bout of mischief making. In today’s Indy we learn that things aren’t looking too rosy for Labour. In a specially commissioned poll, it “shows party is now even ‘less electable’ than under Ed Miliband. Blimey, that doesn’t bode well for 2020. They go on to say, “voters think Labour has gone backwards since its crushing defeat under Ed Miliband. Only 24 per cent of people believe the party is more electable than it was in May, while 76 per cent say it is less electable.”
The article also pours scorn on the idea of a core vote strategy as the route to electoral success. Drawing on Fabian research, adding up all the Green and LibDem voters to Labour’s total still leaves the party trailing the Tories in the marginals. Continue reading →
Two years after MPs voted not to take part in the bombardment of Syria, British forces have been doing precisely that. A cross-party group of MPs and peers will investigate the air strikes, the Government’s authorisation of which shows complete contempt for parliamentary democracy. As Michael Meacher pointed out, “The excuse given by the Prime Minister’s office that they were embedded with US forces and not operating under a British chain of command is risible.”
But, beyond the challenge to constitutional government in the UK, it’s worth asking what the aerial attacks on Isis are likely to accomplish. Last year. Parliament authorised air strikes on the terrorist group in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition of attacks. Nearly a year on, little has been achieved, except for the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, at considerable cost to the taxpayer. The value of bombs dropped by British warplanes and drones on Iraq since September has likely exceeded around £20m, according to an analysis by the Independent. Continue reading →
It is a truism of today’s political analysis that, over the three or four decades since the onset of the so-called “free-market” revolution that swept across the western world, the centre of political gravity has moved substantially rightwards. Most of those of middle age or younger will have grown up, after all, in a world where it has been widely accepted that markets are more or less infallible, that government spending is inevitably wasteful and a drag on economic development, that running a country is just like running a business, that we all benefit if the rich get richer, and that private profit justifiably and inevitably overrides all other considerations. Continue reading →
The press are not neutral arbiters when it comes to the Labour leadership contest. If they can use the debates between party members as a way of deepening divisions in the party, they will. At the forefront of these attempts is the so-called quality “paper of record” The Times, which of late is transforming itself into a straight propaganda sheet. Earlier this week, a fairly innocuous piece by Charles Falconer setting out his support for Andy Burnham was spiked with the headline “Women are not tough enough to lead Labour“. It was misleading bollocks as he said nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, it had the desired effect. The ‘Burnham is sexist’ meme got a lift before, the day after, The Times issued their mea culpa.
And now they’re at it again. The front page legend goes “Hard left plot to infiltrate Labour race“, with the subby “Harman urged to halt leadership vote“. It reads:
140,000 new activists are projected to have joined … with many signing up to back the hard left candidate…. The Communist Party of Great Britain (aka CPGB – Ed) has called on supporters to join and back Corbyn as part of its revolutionary “strategy”.
Then we see “Labour MPs say” their CLPs are being flooded with lefties (of course, these sources go unattributed). Let’s unpack some of this. Continue reading →
Like me I am sure that you will have been dismayed at some of the statements made by figures within the Labour movement that are allowing the media to give the impression to the general public of a party that is internally divided.