Porn, fags and Big Macs: Labour and the ethics of business donations

Corbyn and the Big MacBack in 2002, New Labour accepted a £100,000 donation from Daily Express proprietor Richard Desmond, a man who made his original fortune from printing pornographic publications under such lurid titles as The Very Best of Mega Boobs and – hey, let’s not be squeamish, because Blair certainly wasn’t – Spunk Loving SlutsQuestioned on the issue, cabinet minister John Reid retorted:

If you asking if we are going to sit in moral judgment and have a political judgment on those who contribute to the Labour Party, the answer is no.”

And there you have it. Business bungs to Labour were at that time officially a morality-free zone, in which even political calculations played no part. One wonders what the current crop of feminist Labour MPs – the ones that routinely indict Corbyn for alleged low-level non-violent misogyny, even as they threaten to knife him in the front – would have made of that one? Continue reading

Labour and the Big Mac: Snobbery or principle?

Corbyn and the Big MacWhat kind of company should be allowed to have a corporate stand at Labour Party conference? Should all-comers be taken provided they stump up the readies, or as a minimum are they expected to subscribe to a set of standards around employment relations, trade union recognition, and ethical practices (whatever they are)? I ask because a row is being stoked by the usual moaners about Labour’s decision to refuse a stand (worth £30,000) at this year’s conference in Liverpool.

In a typically dishonest article, The Sun says McDonald’s have been “banned”, and Wes Streeting is called upon to denounce the “snobby attitude towards fast-food restaurants and people who work or eat at them.” It’s worth stating at this point there is no suggestion whatsoever that the “banning” took place because NEC members disapprove of fast food. That has been made up by The Sun, and it is disappointing – to put it euphemistically – for Wes and others to join one of our movement’s fiercest enemies in dumping on our party. Continue reading

Conference 2015: The Left makes gains on the NEC and policy

Inside Labour CorbynWhile most media commentators, predictably, have focused on the big set-piece speeches from Corbyn, McDonnell and Watson, the first annual conference under the new leadership saw the first green shoots of party democracy. Media presentation and effective communication of the party’s popular messages is of course vital, but so too is getting those policies endorsed by the party first, and currently conference is the best place for that to be achieved.

Conference began with the NEC announcing that, for the first time in some years, the rule that Conference would debate four motions from the unions and four from CLPs would allow eight motions in total. In the past, where CLPs and trade unions had voted for the same motions in the priority ballot, fewer motions had been heard, making it difficult for the Left to get important contemporary motions on policy onto the agenda. Despite this progress, the right were able to organise to defeat the left on a number of key votes. Continue reading

Time to get your contemporary motions in for Labour’s conference

Conference MotionsThis year, Labour’s national policy forum did not agree to a single minority report. Nor did any policy papers include even a single option for decision by conference. This means that meaningful policy debates at this year’s conference, the last before the general election, can only happen on the basis of contemporary and emergency motions. The deadline for receipt of contemporary motions is Thursday 11 September at 12 noon. The title has a maximum of 10 words and the motion a maximum of 250 words.

Unfortunately, there are a number of hurdles to jump in order to get a motion accepted, including meeting the ridiculously complicated Criteria for determining if a motion is contemporary”, and not dealing with issues already dealt with by the national policy forum — though how are constituency parties supposed to know what these issues are when no report has yet been published? As a service to our readers, we we therefore reproduce a number of model motions circulated by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy below. Please feel free to cut and paste these to take to your local party meetings. Remember that if you add words, you must make sure that the total remains below 250. Continue reading

Fixing the annual upside-down spectacle of Labour conference

Conference 2013As this year’s Labour party conference fades into the abyss, I can’t help recalling a sentence spoken to me outside the Brighton centre on a bright morning towards the end of the week:

“Our delegates find that the most interesting part of conference is the fringe.”

The speaker was a newly-selected parliamentary candidate, and we were discussing the malpractice I had witnessed from party staff in conducting the internal elections that took place at Labour conference. And despite my strong feeling that Labour activists can’t afford to give up on the one body in which their voices have any sort of shot at being heard, I couldn’t help agree with her. Continue reading