Jul 19th, 2016by James Elliott
The right of the PLP are faced with an impossible conundrum. On the one hand, many of them believe that only through being tougher than the Tories on welfare, or being seen to want to drastically reduce immigration, can they ‘reconnect’ with the voters they lost from 2001 onwards. Yet on the other hand, they must persuade an increasingly leftwing and discontented party membership that they will not repeat the mistakes of either Blair’s government, or Miliband’s capitulation to Tory spending plans. Forced into this double-bind, both Angela Eagle and now Owen Smith have sought to win the leadership election by persuading the membership, against all evidence, that deep down they have always been against austerity, and they just want to see Labour in power so that they can put Corbyn’s policies into practice.
As I wrote last week, this would be the essence of Angela Eagle’s campaign. She or Smith can win if they persuade enough party members who see themselves as on the left but sympathise with the right’s narratives of Corbyn’s supposed ineffectiveness in the referendum, or in the media, or simply fear the party will split. In order to secure those votes, they themselves must wear the clothes of the left. Continue reading →
Jul 18th, 2016by David Osland
When was the last time a mass social democratic party anywhere in the world was formally forbidden to meet? The best answer I can come up with is 1973, in the wake of the military takeover in Chile.
Yet such is the surreal situation in which the Labour Party now finds itself. This, not as a result of some draconian decision of the British state, but by unilateral decree by its own National Executive Committee.
Some 130,000 dues paying members have been disenfranchised via retrospective change to the rulebook. If there is any precedent for this step from any major institution in civil society, I am completely unaware of it. Continue reading →
Jul 15th, 2016by Newsdesk
Ballots have been sent out this week for the Labour Party National Executive Committee elections. The party’s ruling body has taken on increased significance since the vote to allow Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot. It’s importance cannot be understated, given it has this week:
– Ruled out over 20% of the membership from their right to take part in a leadership election, directly contravening the terms of membership and also basic democratic rights.
– Prohibited many young, working class and impoverished Labour supporters from taking part in the leadership contest, by imposing an artificially high £25 fee for registering as a supporter.
– Denied thousands of trade unionists a chance to vote in the leadership election by imposing a freeze date on their affiliate status.
Given the importance of the elections, Left Futures are supporting the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate of:
– Ann Black
– Pete Willsman
– Christine Shawcroft
– Darren Williams
– Rhea Wolfson
– Claudia Webbe
Continue reading →
Jul 15th, 2016by James Elliott
Unite’s Policy Conference sent a very clear message to rebel Labour MPs yesterday by voting by an overwhelming majority to support a rule change to the Labour Party rulebook to reintroduce mandatory reselection of MPs before each general election.
The rule change, first introduced in the 1980s and then abolished under Neil Kinnock, to be replaced by the current system of ‘trigger ballots’, ensured that every sitting MP would face a full selection procedure before each new election. Initially a rule proposed by the Labour Left and the CLPD, it was designed to ensure parliamentarians remained accountable to their local parties. Continue reading →
Jul 15th, 2016by James Elliott
Yesterday, the stitch up by the party’s right plunged to new depths, as the NEC procedure subcommittee voted to extend the 6-month membership freeze to affiliates, thereby disenfranchising anyone who has joined a Labour-affiliated union in the past six months – and shutting off one of the left’s best routes to sign up new voters for Jeremy Corbyn. The potential opportunity was already being used by newer party members already disenfranchised from their own election, as Unite’s Community membership received 4,000 applications in 24 hours – a buzz of activity fuelled solely by social media.
The only option left now is the £25 registered supporter sign-up which has been designed nominally for reasons of administrative costs, but in all likelihood to shut out the groups most likely to vote for Jeremy Corbyn – the young, those in full-time education, the unemployed. Conversely, polling from last years leadership election showed that those with greater means, and therefore more likely to pay £25 for their vote, were more likely to support the right’s candidate, Liz Kendall. Continue reading →
Jul 14th, 2016by James Elliott
Tuesday’s NEC meeting which ruled Jeremy Corbyn would be on the ballot without needing to seek further nominations also made a string of rule changes to make the contest harder for him. Chief among these are raising the cost of being a ‘registered supporter’ from just £3 to £25, shutting out those who cannot afford to pay. Second, the NEC set a ‘freeze date’ for membership, only allowing those who have been members before January 12 the right to vote. This may be challenged legally – the party’s website states that being a member gives you a right to vote, and up to 200,000 people may have been arbitrarily excluded in this way.
Despite these attempts from the right, there are a number of ways that party members denied a vote – or those who simply support Labour and Jeremy Corbyn and wish to vote – can do so. One clear option for the unwaged (i.e those most likely to be unable to afford the party’s ludicrous £25 fee) appears to be signing up to Unite Community for 50p a week, then opting-in to the political fund. Continue reading →
Jul 13th, 2016by David Osland
“Eaglespeak was the official language of the Parliamentary Labour Party and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 2016 there was not as yet anyone who used Eaglespeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or in writing. The leading articles in the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist.” – With apologies to Orwell
Labour is now gaining members by the tens and even the hundreds of thousands. But like all organisations, unfortunately our party can sometimes speak in internal jargon that is almost impenetrable to newcomers.
As an old hand myself, I feel it incumbent on me to offer recent recruits a handy glossary of some of the buzzwords currently being bandied about. Rest assured, it’s all very easy to understand once you get the hang of it! Continue reading →
Jul 13th, 2016by Newsdesk
After a tense few hours of Labour’s National Executive Committee meeting yesterday, the party’s ruling body decided by 18 votes to 14 that Jeremy Corbyn would have an automatic right to be on the ballot in the leadership election against Angela Eagle. It was the result that many, including some anti-Corbyn voices, had argued for, the result that most of the party’s legal advice supported, and the result that any common sense reading of the rulebook would dictate. Continue reading →
Jul 12th, 2016by David Osland
If only he hadn’t died a few years back, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the late Soviet general Gennady Yanayev had been acting as strategy consultant to Hilary Benn and his mates since last weekend.
In case you’ve forgotten the name, or perhaps weren’t even born 25 years ago, this is famously the guy who tried and failed to oust Gorbachev in an incompetently executed military coup way back in August 1991. Continue reading →
Jul 12th, 2016by Mark Perryman
Don’t burn the books
A scorching hot list of summer political reading selected by Mark Perryman
A year ago as Labour sought to recover from the May General Election defeat halls were starting to fill up for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign rallies. But even as the halls got bigger and the queues round the block longer few would ever imagined that this wouldresult in the Left for once being on the winning side. The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs never accepted the vote, they bided their time and chose the moment for their coup and in a fashion to cause maximum damage. Richard Seymour’s Corbyn : The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics is to date both the best, and the definitive, account of what Corbyn’s victory the first time round meant. One year on, it’s the essential summer 2016 read.
But as Corbyn would be the first to admit his victory will never amount to much unless he can refashion what Labour also means. A Better Politics by Danny Dorling is a neat combination of catchy ideas and practical policies towards a more equal society that benefits all. Of course the principle barrier to equality remains class. In her new book Respectable Lynsey Hanley provides an explanation of modern class relations that effortlessly mixes the personal and the political. If this sounds easier written than done then George Monbiot’s epic How Did We Get Into This Mess? serves to remind us of the scale of the economic and environmental crisis we are up against. Continue reading →