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Labour Briefing… and now there are two

In July, we reported (in The Labour left at its worst) on the bitterly divided annual meeting of Labour Briefing which decided narrowly to become the house journal of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) of which John McDonnell is the chair rather than to remain an independent magazine. The minority faction has since decided to continue to produce “the original Briefing” and so now there are two.

The six members of the Labour Briefing Editorial Board who opposed the LRC “takeover” have formed an editorial collective to continue to produce the the original Briefing. They say:

The LRC robbed many non-aligned readers of their magazine – leaving them as the human collateral damage of the LRC’s turn to empire building. We believe that readers should have a choice about whether they want to receive a magazine promoting the LRC or whether they want to receive and sell a magazine which continues the traditions of Labour Briefing. We are keeping the traditions of Labour Briefing alive:
– the tradition of being the magazine of the grassroots of the Labour Party, in all our diversity (not the magazine of yet another left group);
– of covering the activities and ideas of its readers (not just telling them what self-appointed leaders want them to do and think);
– of being genuinely non-aligned (rather than promoting a single left group or would-be party).

The new issue of Labour Briefing – a special issue costing 50p for 16 pages – is now out and is being widely distributed and promoted. An annual subscription costs £20 (£25 for a supporting subscription). The Labour Briefing Co-operative is receiving messages of support from delighted readers who are pleased to see that Labour Briefing is not dead but was merely resting.

Copies of the original Labour Briefing can be obtained by sending £1.19 in stamps to 7 Malam Gardens, London E14 0TR. Further information can be obtained by telephone (07771-638 329/ 07977-566 519) or email office@labourbriefing.co.uk.

A 12 page issue of the LRC’s Labour Briefing will also be available at the TUC. It will feature articles by Owen Jones, John McDonnell and Bob Crow. You can take out a subscription online. There will be a full 32-page issue produced to coincide with Labour Party conference. Email office@labourbriefing.org.uk for bulk orders, advertising rates or to suggest an article.

Outsiders (and even some insiders) may be perplexed by the strong feelings in both camps (and the similarity of the email addresses), but there is surely room for one more magazine on the Left. Readers wishing to comment may have strong opinions but are reminded of the comments policy which says:

Be nice. Don’t make personal attacks on other commenters, Left Future’s bloggers or the subjects of posts on the site. By all means challenge the things people say or do, but don’t be personal and keep it civil.

17 Comments

  1. Daniel Blaney says:

    “surely room for one more magazine on the Left” quite

  2. Simon Deville says:

    There might be room for another magazine, but not when it takes the name of an existing one. Christine chaired the AGM and all six took part in the Briefing AGM where the decision to merge with the LRC took place. Neither the LRC nor the CPGB (who had two members present as they normally do at Briefing AGMs) mobilised for the agm beyond people who have a genuine connection to Briefing.
    That six people involved in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy can show such contempt for democratic decision making, and show so little interest in honestly reporting what happened is a disgrace worthy of the antics of some sort of Healeyite cult.
    If they disagreed with the decision so much that they felt the need to form a new magazine then fine, however give it a new name. If their report of their split from Briefing is anything to judge by I wouldn’t hold much hope for the kind of journalistic standards this new magazine is likely to maintain however.

  3. David Ellis says:

    Well done to Christine and comrades for re-establishing the Briefing so quickly after the pathetic LRC coup. Why the LRC couldn’t simply start their own journal instead of launching this destructive takeover and pissing everybody off god alone knows. The LRC certainly have come out of this looking like just another one of those self-serving sects incapable of exemplary work and understanding only bureaucratic manoeuvre and fiat.

  4. Michael Chewter says:

    I’ve got a copy of both magazines, but can I find the time to read them ?

    It’s nice that the left is so strong that it can find the time to indulge in sectarian party games.

  5. Mike says:

    There was no coup. The reality was that virtually the whole of the previous editorial board of Labour Briefing were LRC members. Christine Shawcroft was a member of both its National and Executive Committees. The LRC wanted to develop a publication and most Briefing EB members wanted to secure the future of Briefing by being that publication. It would have been daft for me, Graham, Louise, Simon and everyone else to have been members of the editorial board of two publications.
    In the early 1990s, a score of people used to come to Briefing editorial boards. By 2012 it had diminished to a third of that number. The previous AGM was attended by a couple of dozen people. Long-term, Briefing was looking unsustainable. Hence the need to make the change. And, guess what? A majority of the 2012 AGM agreed with that.
    But there will always be people who are fearful of moving outside their comfort zone. One or two individuals in the Minority Undemocratic Briefing do like to be in total control.
    Does the left need another magazine? Like a hole in the head. But as with so many splits, this is less about politics and more about personal psychology.

  6. Christine Shawcroft says:

    You’re right Mike, it is all about personalities, the desire on the part of a minority of members of the old EB and the LRC NC to carve up someone they had taken a personal dislike to. We were happy to work more closely with the LRC and suggested several compromises – but as that would have thwarted thier main aim, to get rid of us, they wouldn’t agree. Briefing was NOT on its last legs. And I think I know a packed meeting when I see one, Simon, although if I couldn’t the fact that speaker after speaker got up and said they’d never been to an AGM before, they never saw Briefing or had any interest in it, but supported the takeover, might have tipped me off. Not to mention Mike’s new friends in the CPGB (four of them, never gone to a Briefing meeting before) who wanted to stop the speakers saying anything in order to move straight to the vote on the takeover, as that was the only reason they were at the meeting! They said that, not me.
    So, you’ve split from us, we didn’t split from you. I was very committed to the LRC before all this happened, and in fact I’m still hoping they’ll see the error of their ways. And finally Simon – you think original Labour Briefing will be rubbish? You have seen the LRC version?? The funny thing is, all we heard about at LRC meetings was how rubbish Briefing had become, and how the dead hand of Jenny and Christine had stopped all these people with brilliant ideas from improving it, and now look what they’ve come out with! You really have to laugh.

  7. Patrick Coates says:

    Seems like a Harry Hill moment to me; I like the LRC, I like the LB………fight!

  8. Mike says:

    Christine, if you know a packed meeting when you see one, you will also recognise that a good many people who have little interest in Briefing also supported the minority. Additionally, it’s simply untrue that I or anyone else wanted to “get rid” of you. You may recall last year when you offered to resign from the editorial board over your support for western intervention in Libya that I and a number of other people you now want to denigrate persuaded you not to. I think there was a real difference of perspective over where Briefing should go – broaden the writing and selling base or more and more effort from a shrinking,ageing few of us. One of the last old Briefings had nearly a quarter of it written by me – that’s unsustainable. Your spoiler “original Briefing” is also written by very few of you -equally unsustainable in the long term.

  9. Jackie Walker says:

    All you have to do is look at the 2 EBs and compare one list to another to know the truth of where the EB wanted to go. The co-op version is the break away. The co-op breakaway has 6 members, one of whom was never an EB member. Labour Briefing EB has from the original 2011-12 members Jon Lansman, Graham Bash, Simon Deville, Ian Ilett, Chris Knight, Mike Phipps, Jeff Slee, Jackie Walker, Louise Whittle. New members – I believe – are Jon Wiseman, Gordon Nardell, Margarita Morales, Norette Moore, Andrew Fisher and Mick Brooks. It seems to me obvious what is going on here.

  10. Simon Deville says:

    I think the issue is one of democracy.

    The briefing agm decided to merge with LRC.
    “LB Co-op” describes those who attended the agm as “hostile forces” (presumably this only the ones that voted the wrong way as there was no mention of this during the agm that Christine chaired).
    As far as I can tell the self proclaimed co-op was elected by no-one and is accountable to no-one.
    Is this the tradition of Briefing independence that the co-op claims to be defending?

  11. john says:

    Kate osamors articel on the Tottneham riots of 85 and 2011 was libelous, saying that the rioters in 85 were roiting in self defence, and that mark duggans death last year was racist and murder, she should be ashamed and you should be ashamed fo rprinting it, The copies i got to give to my local labour members i’ve binned

  12. Jackie Walker says:

    Isn’t that censorship John? Wouldn’t it have been better to let people read it (I presume they are adults in you local party?)?After all, you may not agree with Osamor’s views but many in the black community feel that way and surely it’s important their feelings are aired?

  13. john says:

    jakcie I felt that tI might goet in trobule for distributing libelous stuff, yes but Osamor wasn’t awitness and even if the black people in that community feel Duggans death was racist and unlawful ,the police shoot lot’s of white people with guns, and it hasn’t been proved unlawful yet. for the record even though I knew she has those sort of views months ag, when the Centre left team gave me literature when she stood for the NEC i distributed it.and In previous years we’ve backed Ann Black

  14. Jackie Walker says:

    One of Briefing’s most important tasks as set is to give voice to people who would not normally get a hearing in the press.
    Just because the police repeatedly get away with murder so to speak doesn’t mean they should – black or white, illegal killings by police should raise protest particularly in Briefing. It’s taken more than 20 years for the Hillborough travesty to be accepted.

  15. john reid says:

    WHAT EVER THE LIES OF HILSBOROUGH THE POLICE DIDN’T MURDER PEOPLE ,LET ALONE GET AWAY WITH MURDER, REGARDING LIES AND STUFF AS BERNIE GRANT AND CO. CAME OUT WITH MORE THAN 125 LIES ABOUT BROADWATER FARM,like It might have been a white Police officer that Hack the P.C to death or calling the police Nazi’s, maybe those on Harringey COuncil could be Prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of Justice too, when their lies hindered the Police investigation into the P.C.s murder,

    I don’t think Osamor lying, when she said that Duggans death was either racist or that his death was unlawful,yet no case has proved that yet, let alone how can trying to kill White Firemen adn Ambulance drivers or eventually Killing A white P.C just becuase when teh polcie searched a fat ladies house the previous day she had a heart attack and died, Could be considered self defence,It’s not giving a voice to people,

    the Majority of Black people in tottenham if not all don’t feel that,It’s lies and liabulous,it’s not giving a voice, that’s why I didn’t distribute it to fellow labour party members

  16. Back 1960/1 when Labour adopted a unilateralist policy at conference, and voted against the proposal to drop Clause 4, a gentleman called Hugh Gaitskell declared “there are those of us who will fight, fight and fight again to save the Party we love”.
    Alas in the following year Gaitskell and co, were able to regain control, using the internal party machine as well as support of the press. But for the time being Clause 4 remained intact.
    As one of those on the party’s left, and a keen supporter of CND, I was angry with the way Gaitskell and others did not respect the conference decision and still kept on to their grip, while organising to turn things round.
    But at least they did not immediately after conference declare themselves “the real Labour Party” and announce they would run in opposition to the party which had been “taken over” by the Left.
    Campaign for Labour Party Democracy indeed.

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