Murphy as leader would destroy Scottish Labour. Only one from the Left can save it

Scottish Labour at LP conference 2014The Labour Party is in “complete meltdown” in Scotland says the SNP’s leader-in-waiting Nicola Sturgeon, adding “the scale of the infighting between Scottish Labour and Labour at Westminster is exposed for all to see.” And she’s not wrong.

Scottish Labour is about to have a debate about its direction and very soul, a debate that profoundly affects the whole of UK Labour too. And that’s exactly what Johann Lamont intended her resignation to precipitate: “I am standing down so that the debate our country demands can take place.”

She complained about how Westminster MPs plotted behind her back, howUK Labour treats Scotland “as a branch office” and how the general secretary of the Scottish party had been effectively sacked without any consultation, according to some sourcesbecause he was too close to the Scottish leadership“, and that could not go on: Continue reading

Obituary: Vladimir Derer, leading campaigner for Labour Party democracy

Vladimir Derer, co-founder and long-time Secretary of CLPDVladimir Derer who was the leading figure in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) for forty years after its foundation in 1973 died yesterday at the age of 94. Although almost unknown other than amongst Labour activists, he was the Labour Left’s leading strategist at the height of its influence in the 1970s and 1980s. The organisation he created and his strategic vision made CLPD, the most effective organisation on the Labour Left not only in that period but through the New Labour years to the present.

Tony Benn, who died only three months ago, was rightly regarded as the Labour Left’s outstanding leader and communicator of the period but he was often wrongly credited with being the architect of the movement for democratic reform within the party. That role was performed by Vladimir Derer. As Frances Morrell put it in The Struggle for Labour’s Soul: “He was a strategist and tactician of outstanding ability…. if any single individual was responsible for the changes to the party’s constitution that were agreed in the period after the party left office, then it was undoubtedly Vladimir Derer“.

Without Vladimir, there would have been no mandatory reselection of MPs, no electoral college in which Tony Benn could come within a whisker of winning the deputy leadership of the party and in which Ed Miliband was to win the leadership. Those two reforms together with the unrealised objective of Labour’s manifesto being determined by its elected executive were CLPD’s core objectives through the 1970s . Continue reading