Splitting the Labour Party

SPLITTERSIt was with wry amusement when I read in yesterday’s Telegraph that “senior figures” in the Labour Party (all anonymous, of course) are working through the possibility of usurping the front bench and laying legal claim to the party’s name and assets should Citizen Smith fail in his leadership bid. The paper says that they plan to set up their own alternative shadow cabinet to challenge the Tories and, via parliamentary chicanery, get the Speaker to designate them the official opposition.

Colour me sceptical. Advocates of this shadow shadow cabinet were all over the media last Autumn and Winter saying they were going to do this, and it didn’t happen. Far from offering a credible opposition to the Tories over and above the ‘official’ shadcab’s efforts, they instead took the easy route and spent most of the last year moaning to the media. An approach unlikely to win them many friends among long-standing members practiced at shutting up in the name of party unity. And if indeed they have been offering proper opposition, from outside the Westminster echo chamber there was no sign whatsoever it cut through. Continue reading

Don’t blow up the Labour Party

support your own teamThe Labour Party in opposition needs to present itself as an alternative government, but just as importantly the role of the main opposition party in a parliamentary democracy is to seek to influence the decisions of government, and shape the political debate.

Given the potentially economically catastrophic vote to leave the EU last Thursday, an outcome that most Labour Party members, and most Labour voters opposed; and which was opposed by the overwhelming majority of affiliated trade unions; then it is essential that the Labour Party quickly develops a policy of how to deal with the fall out. Continue reading

Labour must unite to voice the anger of a working class revolt against political elites

workers unitedMost Labour voters who backed Brexit did so because of the greater insecurity and drop in living standards they have suffered because of the effects of neoliberalism and austerity.

It was, as Owen Jones wrote a “working class revolt against the political establishment” achieved through the “furious, alienated working-class votes” cast against “the lack of affordable housing; the lack of secure jobs; stagnating living standards; strained public services” albeit seen through the prism of immigration and in a country divided between regions and nations, between generations and between metropolitan centres and their peripheries. Continue reading

Make Labour’s rules up as you go along is still the 4.5%er preference

Steve RotheramLast night, the parliamentary Labour party debated and agreed to ballot Labour MPs on a rule change from Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey – two of the MPs who last year nominated Liz Kendall – which sought to eject from his place on Labour’s national executive Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton who nominated Andy Burnham.

The justification is that he was elected to that position by MPs as a backbench representative and he is now PPS to the party leader. The fact is that the status of a PPS, frontbench or backbench, has never been very clear. What is clear is that it hasn’t stopped a PPS – to the leader or otherwise – being a backbench representative on the executive before. Ann Snelgrove was in that position from 2008 to 2010 including as PPS to Gordon Brown whilst he was leader. So far as I know, no-one questioned this at the time.  Continue reading

Understanding Corbynmania

corbynmaniaIt’s not the key factor explaining why Labour aren’t doing spectacularly well at the moment, but the never ending tit-for-tat in the press, on the telly, on the internet isn’t helping much. It is a truism that divided parties don’t win elections, after all.

Then there were these polling figures of Labour Party members. Some 65% of them think Jeremy is doing well as party leader, while only 38% of those polled believe he’ll ever make Number 10, and, controversially, 56% say taking a principled line is the correct way to do politics, even if it means losing elections. You can imagine that caused a few feathers to be spat down Portcullis House. Continue reading