Peter Hain is right – the two-state solution is dead

Peter HainIn his recent contribution to the Israel-Palestine debate, Peter Hain did something remarkable. In a speech at Swansea University, the Labour MP, former Northern Ireland secretary, and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner broke with the consensus that a two-state solution spells the best chance of securing a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unsurprisingly, Hain was rebuked by the Party which reiterated its commitment “to a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel”.

That sounds like an admirable goal, but is it even achievable? Observers of the peace process over the years will be familiar with the historic failure of negotiations based on the two-state paradigm. With time, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has become increasingly entrenched and permanent, whilst the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land by settlements, illegal under international law, has put to rest any hope of that coveted “viable Palestinian state”. Continue reading

Shadow cabinet reshuffle – another step forward

Ed Miliband has announced his minor re-shuffle following the departure of Peter Hain. He has clearly decided to hold off making any major changes at least until the Autumn. However, he has removed Liam Byrne from the role of coordinating the Policy Review, bringing in Jon Cruddas to perform this role, and appointing Angela Eagle to chair the National Policy Forum. Owen Smith, who backed Ed Miliband in the leadership election, has been moved from the Treasury team to act as shadow secretary of state for Wales. Continue reading

Labour’s policy review: Susan and Melanie and why one head is better than two

Labour’s policy making process has two heads but has shown little sign of life since Ed Miliband became Leader promising to re-create a “living, breathing party“. The two heads are Peter Hain, Chair of the National Policy Forum, who theoretically oversees the policy making process, and Liam Byrne, charged with overseeing the policy review. The National Policy Forum now looks unlikely to meet until late next year, a meeting in June or July having been ruled out and any other decision postponed until March. If Peter Hain is unhappy with its total exclusion from the policy review, it’s not clear what he’s doing about it. Continue reading

Refounding Labour: political homeopathy

Interestingly enough, Peter Hain is one of the few people with credibility in public life openly to champion homeopathy. So to his way of thinking, it presumably follows that by diluting the influence of unions in the Labour Party, Refounding Labour will ultimately make them that much stronger.

The only snag is that the particular form of alternative medicine of which he is enamoured is widely ridiculed in the scientific world, and with good reason. Continue reading

Refounding Labour: conference timetable stitch-up

According to the draft Labour Party Annual Conference timetable, rule changes and other matters arising from the Refounding Labour ‘consultation’ will be ‘decided’ on Sunday 25 September – the first day. The proposals themselves will be tabled at a deferred Organisation Committee on Thursday 15 September, and decided at the Labour’s pre-Conference executive committee on Tuesday 20 September. This is insane. Unless the proposal is for any rule changes to be deferred to a special conference in the late autumn as proposed by Bridgend CLP here. Continue reading