Like Fight Club, the first rule of Labour First (the voice of Labour “moderates”) is to not talk about Labour First. Or at least it used to be. Pulling up outside the Brandhall Labour Club in Oldbury yesterday morning, conference-goers were treated to banners festooned with the Labour First logo and reminders everywhere about its hashtag. If that wasn’t enough, these days even Corbyn-critical lefts like me get invited. Assembled comrades included national secretary, Luke Akehurst, and parliamentary stalwart, John Spellar, a smattering of MPs and MEPs old and new, about 150 or so attendees, and the recently back-benched Michael Dugher, who was present to give the keynote. Continue reading
On Wednesday, the results of the parliamentary party elections for backbench committees were announced. What they reveal is an organised attempt by a faction of the party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn across the whole range of policies. Debate on policy is of course encouraged and welcome, but what is less welcome is a systematic attempt to undermine the leadership of someone who only a few weeks ago received the biggest ever mandate of any party leader.
All the faction lacks is a name. Now that the era of New Labour has been pronounced dead, and being a Blairite, in the view of Progress, is “tired, dated and redolent of a time that has been and gone“, they certainly need a new description. They cannot, with a straight face, be described as “for the Common Good” – in any case you can read the full details of everything Labour for the Common Good (aka “the Resistance”) talk about here, plus I hear Chukka is actively engaged in Streatham on reinventing himself again (back on the ‘soft left’).
The answer is perhaps to call them “the 4.5%”. Eleven out of seventeen new chairs nominated Liz Kendall, and the rest include shadow cabinet refuseniks Caroline Flint (who presumably would have nominated Kendall had she not been standing for the deputy leadership at the time), Chris Leslie, the undisputed leading pro-Austerity advocate, and Shabana Mahmood. Continue reading
Ed Miliband is against factionalism. Succeeding Blair and Brown, he has to be. As has been pointed out, the “paradox of post-factionalism” is that everyone counts heads to make sure he is. And to be fair, he’s even opened the door to some of those whom the Blairites judged unpersons — though he hasn’t shown himself too open to thoughtcrime as yet, at least not beyond those issues he raised in the leadership campaign. And it’s because of his anti-factionalism that the centre-Left is holding back from forming what could be seen as a mirror-image of Progress, even though a prime motivation for wanting to do so is to bolster the Leader’s position in a Shadow Cabinet and PLP that backed his brother. So why on earth, you may ask, has Ed agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Progress annual conference and to writing the foreword to their forthcoming Purple Book (which even some on the Right have criticised)? Continue reading