Archive for May, 2010

INSIDE the leadership campaigns: website, text, office, er.. action

26/05/2010, 02:29:53 PM

The unifying theme of all the leadership campaigns remains as we reported it last week: shambles.

Front runner David Miliband’s organisation is the nearest to being slick.  But it is not very near.

At the whizzy end of things, he is the only one with a broadcast text message system, which alerts targeted Labour MPs to forthcoming Miliband encounter opportunities.  It tells them where he will be, when, and with what voter segment (Northerners, trades unionists, women etc).

This is a canny Pavlovian ruse by Team David: MPs are already accustomed to receive hourly instructions – from the whips – by this means. The whips’ messages show up as sent by ‘Rapide’.  The young dauphin’s come through from ‘D_M’. You cannot reply. (more…)

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FBU leader urges MPs to back John McDonnell

26/05/2010, 01:37:07 PM

The leader of the Fire Brigades Union (which is not affiliated to the Labour party) has written a letter to all Labour MPs urging them to support John McDonnell for the leadership.

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Burnham supporter, Dominic Goggins, on why he’s backing Andy

26/05/2010, 08:32:04 AM

All of us connected to Labour know how vital this leadership debate is to our future.  Too often in this party we tear ourselves apart when we should be piecing ourselves back together.  This is a time for optimism.

It’s good that we sometimes disagree.  We should celebrate that our party welcomes so many talented and principled men and women with different views on how we can turn our fundamental desire for fairness into action and inclusion.  But we are mature enough to be able to conduct this debate openly and thoroughly without letting our differences turn into the bitter divisions that have dogged our recent history.

I hope each us of can recognise and celebrate the qualities that each of the candidates will bring to this contest, qualities that have energised so many to come home to Labour and rejoin the party.  More than anything I hope that we can do so with full respect for the decisions our comrades reach as we each make our choice. (more…)

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Wednesday News Review

26/05/2010, 08:16:28 AM

The contest

“Left-wing firebrand Diane Abbott has topped the first major opinion poll since she entered the Labour leadership race – despite not having the declared support of any MPs. The strongest backing for the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP in the poll came from Tory and Lib Dem voters.” – The Daily Mail

“Ed Miliband yesterday secured a psychological edge over his rivals for the Labour leadership by clearing the first hurdle in the race to succeed Gordon Brown. On the day the contest officially began, the Shadow Energy Secretary secured nominations from 35 MPs – two more than the minimum required – after what appeared to be a concerted “get out the vote operation” by his campaign.” – The Times

“But as like at a party conference, there are other whispers going on at the fringes. Anyone who has spoken to a number of Labour MPs this week would agree that it feels like the top opposition job will go to one of the Miliband brothers. They feel that Andy Burnham, who could be seen locked in an intense chat with Tessa Jowell in the sun outside parliament just now, lacks the momentum to gain plenty of support. They tend to agree that Ed Balls is the wrong man for the pluralistic age, in which Lib Dem as well as Middle England voters will need to be won.” – The New Statesman

“Britain’s Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband has taken a psychological edge over his rivals for the Labour leadership by securing nominations from 35 MPs, two more than the minimum required. Former Cabinet ministers John Denham and Frank Dobson were among the big names declaring support for Ed Miliband to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour Party’s leader.” – The Indian Express

Andy Burnham official launch

“Former Health Secretary Andy Burnham will officially launch his Labour leadership campaign later in his constituency of Leigh.” – ITN


The long slog

 “The first thing defeated parties have to do is to accept that they’ve actually lost. Then they must ask themselves, and voters, why? Only after that can they address the difficult bit: how to reconnect with the electorate by focusing on issues which the new government is getting wrong or ignoring altogether. “Concentrate on the chamber, make life difficult for ministers,” Jack Straw advised new MPs yesterday.” – The Guardian

“Is this coalition government going to get away without an opposition? Labour is otherwise engaged between now and September, and although Harriet Harman, the interim leader, will do her level best, this is a caretaker opposition. Some, such as Liam Byrne and Sadiq Khan, will be energetic. But many other leading figures – Alan Johnson, Jack Straw and Alistair Darling – have all said they wish to stand aside from the frontbench, and will struggle to grind through the gears.” – The Guardian

“Harriet Harman, the stand-in leader for Labour, has made it clear her party, though going through a leadership election, will be an “effective” opposition in the coming months. Harman said that while Labour will not oppose for the sake of it — “that is not what the public wants” — she added that “we will not pull our punches” and said the opposition is determined to “prevent unfairness”.” – The New Statesman


“There’s an honourable tradition in the Labour Party of bravely standing against an unjust war – as long as the war ended several years ago. So, one by one, Labour’s leadership candidates are announcing their opposition to the invasion of Iraq, just in time for it all to end. Labour leaders did a similar thing after the Vietnam War, and the First World War, and at the moment they all support keeping the army in Afghanistan, but I bet they haven’t a good word for the Second Crusades, which is the main thing.” – The Independent

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Amanda Ramsay is not impressed by elected police chiefs

26/05/2010, 08:10:03 AM

No one knew what mutated policy offspring the Cameron and Clegg marriage of inconvenience might produce. Their coalition agreement, published last week, revealed a one word amendment to a little publicised Tory manifesto pledge – to introduce elected police chiefs to England and Wales.  The Queen’s speech yesterday confirmed it.

Apparently, both Liberal and Conservative coalition negotiating teams chose to ignore the concerns of senior police officers, by pressing ahead with plans for what ended up being termed: “elected individuals” to oversee police forces.

Labour is rightly against tampering with the independence of the police. Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson summed it up while still in the Home Office: “The last thing police forces want is politicians telling them how to do their job, which will inevitably happen with elected commissioners.” (more…)

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Getting women in the shadow cabinet becomes a leadership issue

25/05/2010, 12:14:47 PM

The next leader of the Labour Party will be a man.  Everybody knows that.  And not because it is obvious who will win.  It isn’t.  But because there is only one woman candidate, who is not even trying to win.

Dismal though this is, it might work for women MPs’ interests in the end.

Under the rules as they stand, the number of votes which MPs must cast for women in shadow cabinet elections is four.

The last time one of these arcane contests was held, in 1996, four women out of 19 seemed rather progressive.  Now, it seems pretty lame. (more…)

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John McDonnell’s letter to his rivals

25/05/2010, 12:05:09 PM

Dear David, Ed, Andy, Ed and Diane,

First of all good luck in the leadership contest.

I think that the entry of all of you into this election will demonstrate what dedicated and talented people we have in our party.

Now that nominations are underway I am writing to ask if you would consider the proposal that we work together to ensure that every declared candidate gets onto the ballot paper so that we have a range of candidates that truly represent the party both men and women, black and white and a range of the political views reflecting the spectrum of views of our party members. (more…)

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Questions for Ed Balls

25/05/2010, 10:56:02 AM

Labour Uncut is interviewing Ed Balls about his leadership bid.

What should we ask him?  What will your vote depend on?  Here’s a chance to have your say.

Add them to this thread as a comment, by 6pm today.

UPDATE – 26.5.10:

We’ve now done the interview, which will appear either later today or early tomorrow.

So this thread is now closed.

Thanks for the helpful contributions.

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Nick Palmer on how to mobilise the army of the unaffiliated

25/05/2010, 08:41:07 AM

This is a really good time to be recruiting new members – indeed, people seem to be recruiting themselves. In Broxtowe alone, we’ve had a couple of dozen newcomers who signed up entirely spontaneously after the election. People who left us a while back are putting Iraq behind them, dismayed by the change of government and seeing us as the only anti-Tory game in town.

That’s great – a core of party activists is absolutely essential. But we also need a strategy for involving people who don’t, for whatever reason, want to join. Being a member of a political party is unfashionable, seen by many as rather like joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses: it doesn’t make you a bad person, but many people think it’s not very cool. We can deplore that but we need to recognise it. And it’s not just us – Tory membership has been falling, even in the year up to the election that they expected to win.

I was MP for Broxtowe from 1997 until three weeks ago. Broxtowe, a mixture of towns and villages west of Nottingham, is traditional Tory territory and the demographics are changing against us, with more and more prosperous commuter housing. In 1992, the last close-run General Election, they won it by a 14% (10,000 votes) margin. This year, they won it by just 0.7% (389 votes), with a swing since 2005 of 2.6%, one of the lowest in England. We lost, but seemingly we’ve still been doing something right. (more…)

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John McDonnell’s letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party

25/05/2010, 08:30:14 AM

BY EMAIL 24.05.10

Dear Colleague,

As you know the nominations process for the Labour leadership election opens today. I am writing to ask if you would consider nominating me.

In this leadership election we were hoping that there would be a genuinely democratic contest with a platform representing the diversity of our party, including men and women, black and white and the range of political views from Right to Left.

This started to go wrong from the outset. I am disappointed that Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper never came forward. I was on a number of platforms with Harriet when she stood for deputy and saw how she was able to relate so well to people.

Unlike some other former ministers she did not line up lucrative jobs after the election and has loyally stuck at her task. Similarly I may disagree with many of the policies Yvette pushed through in office but you cannot deny her ability and commitment. I believe that Jon Cruddas also should have run because with Compass he has effectively articulated alternative visions for our party. (more…)

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