This weekend saw Left Unity hold its first national conference. Well, not really. It was preceded by its foundation back in November last year, and a further national gathering in Manchester last March, but who’s counting right? So 12 months down the line, where do things stand with Britain’s newest leftist unity initiatives? Should Labour be worried another potential rival stands poised to bleed its voter base, or does that prospect remain remote? Continue reading →
National Executive Committee, 4 November 2014
As usual the first meeting after conference was an extended session, setting strategy for the year ahead, with general election victory the over-riding objective. Presentations showed an impressive level of organisation on the ground and increasingly sophisticated online operations. The Tories will massively outspend us and regular donations from thousands of individuals were making a huge difference, though I stressed that members must be engaged in policy and valued as a source of ideas, not just of cash. The European campaign fund had also helped to keep more than 100 organisers in post. Overall membership had increased this year, with an extra 1.7% joining during conference week. Continue reading →
Former Prime Minister John Major certainly thinks so. I believe the answer is more nuanced than that. Speaking on Andrew Marr yesterday, the grey man of politics said UKIP were un-British because they are “anti-everything“, particularly “anti-foreigner” and “anti-immigrant“. He added that this is “the negativity of the four-ale bar. That’s not the way to get into Parliament, it’s not the way to run a country.” Finally, Major mused that as the economy gets better, you can expect UKIP support to die back. Possibly, John, but only if people’s sense of self-security gets better. Continue reading →
The effects of the UK privatised energy system are now becoming clear, not only in cartel pricing and poor service , but also, critically, in loss of energy security. As a result of the latter there are real risks of blackouts this winter.
The Big Six privatised companies’ failed to invest on a scale that matched the performance of the industry when in public ownership. As a result, the UK’s spare electricity generating capacity has tumbled from 17% three years ago to just 4% now as winter approaches. Continue reading →
Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football picks out the best of the autumn sports books
I’m sorry but you won’t find here the just-in-time-for Christmas sports autobiography blockbusters. With just enough manufactured controversy to ensure blanket coverage when they are launched. Even a skim read will reveal that on the contrary they tell the reader very little they didn’t either know or suspect already.
Instead I would recommend a weighty volume of this sort A Companion to Sport edited by David Andrews and Ben Carrington. The range of coverage from Monty Panesar to football’s 2010 World Cup is matched by the variety of insights, sport as a contested space being the overarching theme. As an academic book scandalously expensive, but any well-stocked library. should have a copy. Continue reading →
One of the highlights of the recent AGM of the Labour Representation Committee was the address from Leticia Bernues Caudillo from Podemos which took 8% of the vote in the European elections and won five MEPs just three months after being founded.
Podemos (“We can!”) was inspired by the radical left force in Greece, Syriza. It grew out of the mass protests in Spain of the last three years, the Indignados movement. It fought the European election campaign on a tiny budget, much of it funded by small online donations. To universal surprise, it polled 1.2 million votes, drawing considerable support from younger voters, running on an anti-austerity programme that was produced in a way very different to the opaque processes used by the traditional party elites. Continue reading →
Labour needs a game-changer to settle the result of the next election once and for all. As it happens it has the perfect opportunity ready to hand. Osborne is foolhardy enough to announce six months before the election that he intends to impose further cuts of £25bn to get on track to eliminate the structural deficit by 2019, which an FT analysis suggests may have to be nearly double that, or around £48bn. This is an utterly reckless pledge which Labour should be exploiting for all its worth – as opposed to the actual silence with which it greeted this faux pas. There are four powerful reasons for Labour to go on the attack. Continue reading →
Thousands took to the streets of Milan and other cities on Friday in the first of union-led protests that will culminate in a general strike next month. At issue is the government’s labour counter-reforms that will make it easier for firms to fire workers, adding to the growing ranks of the precariat in the Eurozone’s third largest economy.
The protests came as new new figures released Friday showed the country had entered its third recession since the great financial crash of 2008, a further blow in a country suffering from record unemployment. Continue reading →
To the extent that the British media’s political coverage ever veers far from Westminster, all eyes are currently on Scotland. In the wake of the Neverendum on Scottish independence and its leadership election, the potential meltdown of Scottish Labour in the general election is massive not only in Scotland: it is the biggest factor in the outcome of the 2015 general election.
UKIP may yet change the face of UK politics, but in the two-party contest for government next year, UKIP still looks like helping not hindering Labour in England — though it may not feel like that in up to a couple of dozen constituencies where they could prevent a local Labour victory. But Wales is different. Yesterday, UK Elect predicted that UKIP could become the second biggest party in Wales at the Welsh Assembly elections in 2016. edging ahead of both Plaid and the Tories. Continue reading →