A battle for the party’s very soul

OslandIn politics it is sometimes worth stepping back from the immediate hurly burly to take stock of the broader context. David Osland’s new pamphlet “How to select or Reselect your MP” invites us to do so, by his self-conscious decision to reboot a pamphlet that was first published in 1981.

While both the Corbyn and Smith camps are concentrating on the immediate task of maximizing their vote for the Labour leadership contest, and both camps planning their next move after the results on 24th, it is worth reflecting on how extraordinary life is in the contemporary Labour Party.

All party meetings, except those absolutely necessary for specific practical tasks with the permission of the regional director, are currently suspended. Senior Labour MPs are briefing about party members being a rabble, tens of thousands of members are being suspended or excluded on seemingly the flimsiest of pretexts, and various atrocity stories are being leaked to the press about alleged violence, spitting and abuse at party meetings, as well as reports of online insults and bullying.

What a carry on. Continue reading

Time for the Labour Left to debate reselection of MPs

red rosette with question markFor the past three months, the very word ‘reselection’ has been unmentionable in Labour left circles, for fear that even talking about it would represent an unwarranted provocation of the Labour right. But as the events of the last 48 hours clearly underline, it’s time to break the taboo.

At the very least, Corbyn supporters now have to – how can I put this gently? – engage in measured debate on how we approach the next round of trigger ballots for sitting MPs. Continue reading

Get over yourself, Kate Godfrey

Oldham byelectionLast time I checked, the aims and values section of the Labour Party constitution did not include the advancement of the career of Kate Godfrey among its guiding principles. So unless it has subsequently been so amended and I somehow missed the press release, the special snowflake’s failure to make it onto the longlist of potential Labour candidates for the Oldham West and Royton by-election hardly the merits comparison to what happened to poor old Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940.

Yet that’s how it is being bigged up in the rightwing press. Telegraph political journalist James Kirkup is keen to paint a selection panel that include MP Keith Vaz as wannabe Ramon Mercaders, gleefully lodging an ‘icepick’ – his word – into the cranium of said Westminster hopeful. Continue reading

The case for mandatory reselection

red rosette with question markIf you want to know what a good slice of political journalism in the 21st century looks like,Michael Crick’s “scoop” is an exemplar. It has it all. The anonymous source. The wild claims. Guilt-by-association. Bandwagon chasing. According to Michael, the “far left are preparing to oust several Labour MPs”. Sounds serious. He names the two MPs for Lewisham, Tristram Hunt, and Simon Danczuk as possible targets, at least according to some unnamed Unite organiser. However, as Unite and the Jeremy campaign make clear this had absolutely nothing to do with them, and that said activist is neither a lay official nor Labour member. In other words, our anonymous source has managed to nick some of the limelight by shooting his mouth off to a journo who long ago cut his teeth on a sensationalist expose of the far left. Continue reading

Ann Black’s report from Labour’s March executive

NEC Report AB

National Executive Committee, 24 March 2015

The NEC congratulated Rachael Maskell, Conor McGinn and Kate Osamor on their selection as parliamentary candidates for York Central, St Helens North and Edmonton. If all goes well and they are elected as MPs on 7 May, this will have been their last NEC meeting.

Lucy Powell, vice-chair of Labour’s general election campaign, reported that there was no sign of a Tory surge or a budget bounce.  The fifth and final pledge was launched in Birmingham on 14 March, promising a country where the next generation can do better than the last.  With Labour the recovery would put the NHS and working people first, and build a Britain that works for working people. She contrasted the Tories’ failing plan with a better plan for working families, because Britain only succeeds when working families succeed.  Controls on immigration would include more border police and withholding in-work and out-of-work benefits from migrants for two years, until they have paid into the system, as well as ensuring that employers cannot undercut wages and working conditions. NEC members were happy with the last part, but pointed out that it is not migrants’ fault if they are exploited. Continue reading