How Ukip and their friends are re-writing history

UKIP roundelIf you’ve picked up a newspaper or turned on the radio in the past week, you might have heard about Martyn Heale. He’s Ukip’s branch chairman and election agent in South Thanet – the constituency where one Nigel Farage hopes to be elected an MP next May. He’s also, you’ll probably have heard, a former National Front activist. As nice a little story as this is, it’s not news – it’s been public knowledge for some time. What might concern you more, and what none of the recent reports seem to have noticed, is that as recently as October, he was still defending the violent racist organisation.

This was revealed by James Meek in an epic report on “Farageland” in the London Review of Books. Meek met Heale and asked him about his past in the NF. “In view of Ukip’s insistence that it isn’t a racist party, I thought Heale might be defensive, or embarrassed, about being a member of the NF in 1978,” Meek writes. “To my surprise, he came to its defence.” Heale was clear enough: “There’s been an attempt by many people to associate the National Front with the far right. But that’s not fair, that’s not true. It was a bit of a social club. Initially the National Front was just a group of retired people and soldiers.” Continue reading

Labour Students wreck their own wrecking amendment

tuition fees demoLast night the Labour Students and Progress block on the Young Labour national committee accidentally wrecked their own wrecking amendment, thereby wrecked (for them) the overall motion, and then voted it down – despite their amendment having been carried. The bizarre spectacle was the climax of a shoddy episode which once again revealed that Labour Students believe education is a privilege, and that citizens should be charged for being educated.

A motion in support of next month’s free education demo had been tabled by Rida Vaquas – as Left Futures reported yesterday. The motion was not a policy motion – the Young Labour committee isn’t allowed to discuss policy, remember? – but was about taking a position on an event in the near future. Consequently, whereas motions generally are split into “…notes”, “…believes” and “…resolves” sections, Vaquas left out “believes” so there was less chance of the motion being voted down on these (equally spurious) grounds. Continue reading

Young Labour and Gaza: first as farce, then as farce

GazaThe religion of socialism is for me not so much the language of priorities, as  the language of common sense, of right and wrong. So sitting on the Young Labour national committee has been a frustrating experience. At the August meeting, senior members of the committee – including chair Simon Darvill and national executive committee (NEC) rep Bex Bailey – voted a motion on the crisis in Gaza off the agenda. If you’ve read any of my previous reports back from meetings (see footnote for links), you might be forgiven for thinking this sort of behaviour is a Young Labour tradition.

The motion had been proposed by south-east rep Max Shanly to be submitted by Young Labour as its contemporary motion to Labour conference. This is not a secret process – every year, like constituency branches, Young Labour can submit either one topical motion or one rule change. At this time last year, the committee voted to submit a motion on zero-hour contracts. Despite the timetable being plainly evident, committee members moaned that they had not had the chance to consider alternatives, and therefore that the motion should not be heard. Continue reading

Darcus Howe: setting the record straight

Darcus HoweFour of us stood glued to the television for the best part of five minutes. We were all familiar with Darcus Howe. For my part, I’d seen his gripping TV series on English identity, White Tribe, several years before. This was 2011, and in the wake of riots that the political establishment were struggling to understand, and reported by a visibly shocked and baffled media, Howe was being interviewed live by the BBC’s Fiona Armstrong. Finally calling him by his correct name (as opposed to “Marcus Dowe”, which she used repeatedly in the interview) Armstrong asked: “Mr Howe, if I can just ask you, you are not a stranger to riots yourself, I understand, are you?”

Howe paused, and replied: “I have never taken part in a single riot. I have been on demonstrations that ended up in conflict. And have some respect for an old West Indian Negro and stop accusing me of being a rioter, because you won’t tickle me to get abusive. You just sound idiotic. Have some respect.” It was clear that though the news channels had been repeating the same clips of the riots, this interview would never be repeated by the BBC. Continue reading

Your tributes to Vladimir Derer: all in one place

Vladimir DererSince the death of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) founder Vladimir Derer on Tuesday, numerous tributes have appeared in both short and long form across the web and press. We’ve collected some below: and feel free to add your own in the comments.

Two full length obituaries have appeared so far, which we have linked to already: by our own Jon Lansman here at Left Futures, and by ex-MP Chris Mullin, a former editor of Tribune and one time CLPD activist, who wrote in the Guardian that Derer “was among the first to grasp that there was no point in endlessly passing resolutions on policy if the party leadership took not the least bit of notice”. Continue reading