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Just deserts for Labour in Parliament

So Labour MPs stand to lose their vote for the Shadow Cabinet. Just deserts, you might say, for over a decade of failing to hold their leadership, the executive, to account.  Its harsh on the new intake, who have been more independent of thought though even their assertiveness has been blunted by Ed’s aggressive promotion of newbies to the front bench. The fact is that the parliamentary party elected a shadow cabinet that has failed to give Ed the support he deserves and the backing for change for which he has a mandate.

A year ago we argued that the proposal to abolish shadow cabinet elections:

will shock many members of the party at a time when all five leadership candidates  claim to be committed to increased democracy in the party.”

The PLP rejected the proposal – though that was before the candidate for Leader favoured by the PLP majority was defeated and so many new members promoted by his younger brother. We rejoiced:

The parliamentary Labour party may also be rediscovering assertiveness. By voting to elect all shadow cabinet members against the advice of former Ministers like Jack Straw and Phil Woolas and most speakers at the PLP meeting other than Frank Dobson, Labour MPs voted to be treated as more than just voting fodder. The new intake may not have moved the PLP decisively to the Left, but support for accountability is a welcome step forward, even if elections are now to be held every two years.

But there are more important issues at stake now. The Shadow Cabinet contains too many members who still resent Ed’s victory, who have leaked and briefed against him, even whilst swearing public loyalty. Too many are simply waiting for him to fail, bleating about the “quicksand of continual apology” about the NewLabour record.

Ed must put his stamp on the party. That for which he was elected. Let them demonstrate that their abilities and their commitment to the path the party chooses merit their position. And when party democracy has been restored, when the party has chosen its programme, when the party has chosen its parliamentary representatives in a democratic fashion without the corruption and nepotism of the New Labour years, than we shall argue for the reintroduction of elections by the parliamentary party not only to the shadow cabinet, but also to the cabinet. After all, they always used to stop elections in Government,when they became really important.

6 Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Just deserts? Which deserts were they precisely, the Sahara? Gobi? Kalahari?

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Jay: is that a joke or a criticism of my speling/usage? Just in case, “deserts” as I have used it is spelt like the collective term for the Sahara, Gobi etc, but pronounced (at least where I come from) like “desserts”. It meansthat which is deserved. A reward for what has been done – good or bad“.

  2. And yet again the left gets it completely wrong when it comes to democracy and ends up supporting a brutal centralisation of power rather than opening up a third, democratic camp….you do realise this sycophancy isnt going to make him like the left anymore, don’t you?

  3. I’m sorry but my mind is just bended by this…..you can’t support this and expect it to somehow manifest in a complexly fantastical future an extension of democracy – be serious and let’s spell it out – ED MILIBAND IS NOT GOING TO EXTEND PARTY DEMOCRACY – and he certainly won’t do it by *further centralising power in his own hands* just how do those two things square….your position is wholly illogical and symptomatic of the rose-tinted spectacles you wear when it comes to this leadership…..

  4. Andy Newman says:

    Darrell, it cetainly doesn’t make me warm to someone when i read the world “third” and the word “camp” in the same sentance, but that aside.

    The issue of democracy cannot be understood only in formal terms. In particular it is necessary to understand that the crucial area where the left must engage with the party is in consolidating and strengthening the influence of organised labour in the party.

    The legacy of the Blair years is that there has been a technocratic approach to wining elections by triangulation, which has downplayed the significance of Labour as a party connected to 3.5 million trade unionists, and has exaggerated the importance of the MPs and spin doctors.

    Currently there are signs – for example the positive aspects of the Refounding Labour document – and the explicit statements from MPs like Ed Balls and Sadiq Khan, that the last Labour government was wrong and the unions were right about many of the key issues over which Labour lost votes.

    However, there is a seeming majority in the PLP and in the shaddow cabinet who are not loyal to Ed, and hark back to the old ways. Hence, for example, the talking down of may’s election results, which in reality – notwithstanding Scotland – were good results compared to the historical record of opposition parties only one year after losing a general election. Under Ed’s leadership Labour has actually bounced back rather fast.

    What is more, the current context is reasonably favourable to the unions and that part of the centre left who align with the unions.

    In this context, the biggest danger facing the party is continued destablisation of Ed by the usual suspects in the PLP, with the aim of installing David M.

    Also, there is a problem with asymmetry, that the Blairites are organised through progress, and that the Cenre-left is without an organised counterweight.

    Actually there is some wisdom in not seeking to create a left alternative on the same organisatinal lines as Progress, and endangering a civil war in the party.

    So strategically the left should be standing foursquare behind Ed M; and we should be defending Ed taking the initiative over the shadow cabinet elections, which will strengthen his hand.

    Ed M staying in control is the most favourable context for the left and the unions out of all the plausible outcomes of our present situation.

  5. Andy,

    I think it can be understand in the formal terms of what it is and what it isnt. Democracy is not designed nor should it be the instrument of factional advantage for the left, but it seems to me that is *exactly* what you think it should be; and is only something that should be defended when you think its of any use to the left’s, wrongly in this instance, perceived interests.

    Oh really, and what does the leader have to say about the trade unions, except that they are useful to provide paying membership but not to be offered actual support when they move into struggle.

    Heaven forfend we should actually fight for what we believe in and heaven forfend we attack a leader who recently gave one of the most right-wing speeches on welfare ever. Weak and pathetic. Two words that sum up the Ed supporting left and by happy coincidence the man himself.

    Your so wrong and when we have lost the next election because people like you didnt have the guts to remove this broken read of a leader im so going to be saying ‘told you so’ 😉

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