The gnashing of Blairite teeth

kim blair ilIf since midday you’ve been plagued by that irritating background noise is, here’s what it is: the gnashing of Blairist teeth to the news that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign saw him lifted onto the Labour leadership shortlist. Those MPs who nominated him but are quite clear they do not support his pitch deserve a congratulatory pint. They understand much better than our “friendly” media commentators the nature of the party. Allow me to take this moment to explain why. Continue reading

The return of Degsy – welcome or not

DegsySo Degsy’s back, for now. Deejays, aka Derek Hatton, was always a bit brash so re-joining Labour 30 or so years after being expelled would not be something he’d want to do quietly. So even though he says “I just want to be a party member…. I have no intention of being a main player. I have not joined to stand as a politician“, it’s not something he’d do without making a splash. In the Liverpool Echo, and on the telly. And so it is not so surprising perhaps that it has attracted the attention of Labour general secretary, Iain McNicol, who has objected to him joining. But however unsavoury a character I find Degsy, I cannot think of a good reason for keeping him out. Continue reading

Cancelling Labour’s conference if Scotland votes Yes would insult party & voters alike

Labour Conference 2013Mehdi Hasan, political editor of the Huffington Post, last night reported that Labour’s conference could be severely curtailed in the event of a Yes vote in Scotland and the recall of parliament on Monday which seems likely. Although this report is unconfirmed, Mehdi is widely respected and I am not inclined to ignore his report. It would not, after all, be the first time that important decisions about party matters were taken in the Leader’s office without consultation with Labour’s executive (whose meeting in Glasgow on Tuesday was cancelled). Mehdi reported as follows:

Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior Labour sources confirmed that the party high command would cancel all speeches and fringe events, with the exception of the keynote address from Labour leader Ed Miliband next Tuesday, if the Scots vote for independence this coming Thursday.

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Labour executive elections: best Left result since 1980s with 55% of members’ votes

NEC electionsThe results of the elections for constituency party (CLP) representatives on Labour’s national executive were a triumph for the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) slate which won 55% of the popular vote and four out of six places on a 14% swing to the left from right-wing and independent candidates, on a 15% higher poll. It is the best result for the Left since the mid-1980s.

Peter Wheeler was replaced by left-wing Unite activist, Kate Osamor, and the Left also secured both runner-up positions and, for the first time, Islington councillor and centre-left national policy forum member Alice Perry won one of the two places reserved for councillors for the Left, deposing Coventry council leader Ann Lucas.

Independent candidate Johanna Baxter slipped one place to sixth position in the CLP section and was elected by fewer than 1,000 votes over Campaign for Labour Party Democracy secretary, Peter Willsman. She did receive the backing of the right-wing party-within-a-party Progress and the even more shadowy Labour First (neither of which she had sought – see her comment below) but it is possible that she suffered as a consequence of their backing. Her voting share rose slightly but this is explained by the reduction in the number of candidates rather than any swing in her favour.

Trade union lawyer, Ellie Reeves, was the only Labour First-backed candidate to be elected — both Progress-backed candidates trailed badly reflecting the low level of grassroots support for the Blairite faction. Ellie Reeves will have benefitted from some trade union and centre-left support (she is married to left-wing MP, John Cryer) and probably for the lack of support of Progress who only reluctantly agreed to back her (even though they did eventually support independent Baxter as well as her two fellow Labour First candidates). Continue reading

Ann Black reports on Labour’s national policy forum

NPF reportMilton Keynes, 18/20 July 2014

Like the last pre-election Forum in 2008 this was held on the hottest weekend of the year, but there the similarities ceased, and not just with the move from Warwick University to Milton Keynes.  For the most part constructive dialogue and willingness to compromise outweighed arm- twisting, and all sections of the movement could co-operate instead of being played off against each other.

The Chair Angela Eagle opened by invoking the spirit of 1945 and Labour’s manifesto “Let us Face the Future”, committed to decent housing, jobs for all, and an end to want and poverty.  Now, with a million people dependent on foodbanks, the most vulnerable hit hardest by the Tories and the NHS under threat, we had to translate our timeless values into today’s political situation.  Money would be short after the general election, but social justice could be achieved by big reforms rather than big spending. Continue reading