Time to move on from the 1980s, Lord Hattersley

If I were official keeper of the Croslandite flame, easily the most renowned contemporary advocate of that standpoint, I’d be humble enough to ponder why my preferred brand of politics carried such little traction in Britain in 2017. As a serious partisan of social democracy, I would ask why ideas of the stripe that until recently dominated Labour now fail to enthuse its membership.

Might that indicate shortcomings in the ideas themselves? Or perhaps certain failings on the part of those who now propagate them? Why are adherents so frequently parodied as out-of-touch Centrist Dads or personally venal baby boomer neoliberals?

The very last thing I would do is to dust off memories of the Bennite years, and try to shoehorn developments of the last two years into a prism completely inapplicable nearly four decades later. That, unfortunately, is what former deputy leader Roy Hattersley unconvincingly attempts in his widely publicised article in the Observer this weekend, which will deeply disappoint those of us whose memories of his past role are better than that. Continue reading

Momentum builds foundations for a Labour victory, but you can’t please everyone

After months of working without a proper governance structure, it was a relief when on Saturday the first meeting of Momentum’s newly inaugurated National Committee, drawing delegates from across the country and trade unions, the Labour-supporting campaigning movement agreed on a governance structure. It also affirmed its determination to see Jeremy Corbyn elected Prime Minister in 2020, and set out its campaign objectives for the next three months. 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

Labour v the Militant tendency (as seen on TV, not for the faint-hearted)

The past really is a foreign country. Can you imagine if the BBC or ITV ponied up to Labour Party conference and asked to transmit a live debate between Progress and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy? It’s unthinkable. Yet, in 1982 something similar did happen. At the year’s party conference in Blackpool, the right won a majority on the NEC after much arm-twisting and shenanigans – some of which is outlined in John Golding’s must-read, The Hammer of the Left. Immediately moves were afoot to curb the influence of the Militant Tendency (today’s Socialist Party) who were then ensconced in the party. The NEC resolved to de-fang Militant’s party-within-a-party by having them register as an official Labour-supporting organisation and, as a result, see much of their apparatus dissolved (famously, by the mid-80s Militant employed more full-time activists than the party itself). Continue reading