Posts Tagged ‘hard left’

Corbyn must be beaten in a leadership contest. MPs can’t exclude him from the ballot

27/06/2016, 06:13:34 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The first stage of the PLP rebellion has been executed well. The scale and pace of the resignations have demonstrated the level of breach between the leader and his parliamentary troops.

Now comes the tricky bit.

Once the motion of no confidence in the leader has been passed – current predictions suggest 80%+ PLP backing – the MPs are primed to attempt something disastrous: to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot.

The mechanic will be MP nominations. Once the race is on, contenders need the backing of 35 MPs, a threshold Jeremy Corbyn could not hope to cross.

However, the rules are ambiguous as to whether he, as the incumbent, would need any nominations. Jolyon Maugham QC looked at the detail and, while no fan of Corbyn, concluded that he would be on the ballot automatically as leader. Legal firm, Doughty Street Chambers have come to the same view.

Apparently there is some contradictory advice with Iain McNicol, Labour party general secretary, but regardless of the legal he-said-she-saids, MPs should abandon this plan. It’s utterly mad.

Attempting a fix, so that the name Jeremy Corbyn isn’t an option on members’ ballots, is self-harming for two reasons.

First, the party in the country will tear itself apart.

Many MPs seem to have the insouciant attitude that the sole result will be several thousand Corbynistas leaving the party in a huff.


There will be full blown civil war across every level of the party.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Vicki Kirby McCluskey: more allegations of anti-Semitism, as the party’s entry procedures descend into farce

16/03/2016, 10:21:17 PM

by Rob Marchant

Welcome to the modern Labour party, where it appears that, after less than 18 months of penitence, an anti-Semitic comment can be forgiven. Then, er, unforgiven shortly after, once the story’s been published by Guido Fawkes.

The story: Sepember 2014, Kirby is suspended from the party after offensive comments comparing Israelis to Hitler. Not to mention a tweet from her Twitter account regarding Jews and big noses, as Tom Harris, sometime of this parish, noted in the Telegraph.

March 2016: It is discovered that Kirby has been reinstated. When this appears in the media, she is suspended again.

While we might be glad that, in the end, the unpleasant Ms Kirby will be prevented from spreading hatred around her fellow activists, the whole episode shows that existing membership controls have become a shambles.

Right now, control sensibly exercised by the party machine is clearly being overridden by the NEC; but that may just be the opening salvo in a war over the party’s “border controls”.

What happens next? The situation will, by definition, continue until either (a) the NEC stops reinstating suspect members – requiring a change in the balance of power between left and right on the NEC itself, and possibly a conference rule change – or (b) the Head Office executive powers to suspend them in the first place are relaxed.

Given that Head Office changes are easy for the party leadership to make and changes at the NEC level are hard, it is easy to see that the most likely outcome is (b), that the Compliance Unit at Labour HQ will be weakened or even removed, as John McDonnell proposed two weeks ago. Along with such a move would go all the party’s defences against people like Kirby rejoining.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

If the Tories are to be beaten, Labour and the Lib Dems need to start working together

07/03/2016, 09:36:35 PM

by George Kendall

2015 was a disaster for the centre-left.

The Liberal Democrats lost a swathe of seats to the Tories. Moderate Labour members lost their party to the far left. Some are in despair, and are considering withdrawal from politics, perhaps to return once a viable moderate opposition to the Tories is re-established.

However, under first-past-the-post, such an opposition isn’t inevitable. Post-war Japan was run by a single right-wing party, almost continuously for fifty years. Nothing is forever, but, if we wait for change, we may wait a very long time.

Do we want to see the Conservatives in power for decades? If that happens, step by step they will shrink the state and cut taxes for the rich. They will edge the country ever closer to a dog-eat-dog capitalism where the rich enjoy fabulous wealth, but the poor endure desperate insecurity. It would not happen overnight, but it could happen.

The far left believe if they control the opposition, it is inevitable that they will eventually take power.

In a perfect storm, with a recession, and if Tories have an unpopular leader and are divided over a controversial policy, it might be possible, but I think it is very unlikely. Even in 1992, when the country was in recession after thirteen years of Tory rule, the Conservatives still won.

However, even if the far left are right about eventually winning power, it would be a disaster. Having raised unrealistic expectations, they would be hit by the harsh reality of our need to trade in a competitive world, and they would damage our economic and our finances by trying to square the impossible. Perhaps worse, their attitude to the USA and NATO would undermine our alliances, just at a time when new powers are emerging which have no respect for the principles of liberal democracy. They would then be decisively defeated, to be followed by another lengthy period of Tory hegemony.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The slow, inexorable hard left takeover of the party machine is a disaster for Labour

03/03/2016, 12:19:53 PM

by Rob Marchant

And so it was that, last Thursday, we learned that John McDonnell MP wanted to abolish Labour’s Compliance Unit (£), which deals with constitutional and disciplinary issues.

The NEC of the Labour Party are looking at the whole exercise — how we can move away from this regime that expels people, prevents people joining.”

Not exactly front-page news, of course. Dull, internal workings of the party machine.

But it turns out it is rather important. And it is only the most recent in a number of such events.

The basic point is this: McDonnell wants to make it harder to expel people from the party and, by extension, easier for others – and clearly here he means previously expelled or suspended people –to re-enter.

Now why, one wonders, might anyone want to do that? Is it because the Compliance Unit is a group of over-zealous thought police, imposing a rigid discipline and barring entry to all but the most blind followers of the faith?

If only it were resourced up to be even close to that. It is a handful of people who try to keep the party in roughly sensible shape, by dealing with those whose presence is actually harmful to its body politic. Those who actually belong to another party, for example, or campaign for one. The actual number of cases dealt with is small and expulsions are pretty rare occurrences.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour’s latest party political broadcast is an incoherent mess

18/02/2016, 06:42:57 PM

by James Goldstone

Labour’s latest party political broadcast is a double tragedy; it highlights the hardship felt by many families today while also demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of why we lost the last election.

Released on the same day that figures showed UK unemployment has hit a ten year low, the five minute video makes the case that Britain’s economy isn’t working and people are being failed by the Tories. Sound familiar?

With a slew of elections coming up in in less than 80 days, it appears that team Corbyn would like to make these races into a referendum on Cameron and Osborne’s handling of the economy. The problem is that the Tories currently hold a two to one advantage over Labour on who is more trusted to run the economy – the same ratio they enjoyed at the last general election.

It is difficult to understand Labour’s thinking on this strategy. My guess is they believe that the economic suffering of many in society has not been pressed hard enough to the electorate and, much like Corbyn’s own PMQ style, have sought to make the case using real life case studies.

The case studies in the video are highly sympathetic and they represent hundreds of thousands of others across the country who do everything right but still struggle to make ends meet. But this shouldn’t be a revelation to voters as dozens of case studies like this were featured in Labour campaigns during the general election and they failed to bring about a Labour government.

There is the issue of blame. Many voters from all backgrounds believe, rightly or wrongly, that profligate Labour spending is the root cause of much of these difficulties. If you subscribe to this view then the video becomes an advert of why you should avoid voting for Labour.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Anti-Semitism: head-in-the-sand Labour still does not see the danger

17/02/2016, 10:48:01 PM

by Rob Marchant

On Monday, the chair of Oxford university Labour club, starting point for generations of Labour cabinet ministers, resigned, claiming a number of his fellow Labour Students were showing anti-Semitic behaviour.

Which begs a reasonable question: should the British left, and Labour in particular, be worried about the resurgence of anti-Semitism? Or is this all just an isolated incident, blown up by the nasty, right-wing press?

Let’s look at that for a minute.

First of all, this resurgence is a fact. Five years ago, I wrote in the New Statesman about its spread amongst the British far left, where it often masquerades under the name of legitimate political criticism of Israel: the left-wing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel; most of the left-wing “free Palestine” organisations; and various Islamist extremist groups with links to the first two.

Since then, the phenomenon has since got visibly worse.

The non-profit CST, which monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, reports that 2014 and 2015 were the highest and third-highest years for incidents, respectively, since it started recording in 1984.

And of course this is not just in Britain, but across Europe. The Paris attacks last November hit a Jewish community centre and a pro-Israel theatre. There was a later poisoning attempt at a Parisian synagogue in December.

Yes, a barney between student politicians might seem relatively trivial, but Paris was a timely and shocking reminder of where anti-Semitism ends up. In violence and murder.

Of all the world’s continents, Europe should surely understand that, from the horrors that have happened within living memory there.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

For Ed Miliband, One Nation was a soundbite. For moderates it should be the rallying cry to take on Corbyn

11/01/2016, 05:30:25 PM

by Tom Clements

There is much to regret about the leadership of Ed Miliband; not least the election defeat and changes to leadership election rules that have led to the election of Jeremy Corbyn. But for me, it’s the abandonment of One Nation Labour. At the time, I thought that this was the game changer. A genuinely inclusive and unifying offer with which we could change the country for the better.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t a genuine offer or an ideological framework. It was a cheap parlour trick. One that was designed to win a few headlines and embarrass the Prime Minister by taking a conservative idea and claiming it for Labour. That’s what makes me angry about Ed’s leadership.

It could’ve been so bold.

Instead, the idea fell up against the ‘predistributing’ instincts of Miliband. The instinct that the rich weren’t really part of Miliband’s One Nation. They were just there to foot the bill. He fell into that worst Labour tradition of implying that being rich and wanting to be rich was something to resent.

Not that there is anything wrong with the rich paying their fair share. Far from it, it’s the only way that a society can function in harmony. As the brilliant Senator Warren argues “no one gets rich on their own” and it’s there duty to give “a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid that comes along”. And that is right.

And it wasn’t just about the rich.

He forgot about the traditional working class; those who UKIP are trying to woo. We treated their concerns about immigration and benefits with suspicion not understanding. Suspicion that meant that the white van in Rochester was only the tip of the iceberg. Suspicion that meant they stayed at home or put their cross in a different box on election day.

And this is what cost us the election.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Sorry Jeremy, foreign policy doesn’t win elections

08/01/2016, 06:09:02 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The weeks of speculation over Hilary Benn’s sacking/non-sacking/neutering as shadow foreign secretary obscures the fact that Jeremy Corbyn clearly wants to make foreign policy a priority under his leadership.

Why else make such a fuss about ensuring there are no further policy divisions, following their very public ‘difference of emphasis’ (as a diplomat would put it), over last month’s vote on bombing Syria.

At one remove, we shouldn’t be surprised. Jeremy Corbyn is intensely committed to his foreign policy positions, especially in support of the Palestinians and anti-imperialist/ workerist causes more generally.

But elections are not won, to put it bluntly, on where Labour stands in relation to the plight of Columbian miners, however virtuous a subject that might be.

Polling on the public’s main concerns repeatedly makes this clear. An Ipsos-MORI poll during the election campaign showed the future of the NHS (47%), immigration (36%) and the economy (36%) were the top issues exercising voters’ minds.

A cocktail of ‘defence/foreign affairs/terrorism’ came in at 13% (which is why foreign policy was squirreled away on Page 74 of the Labour manifesto and Page 75 of the Conservatives).

Its lack of salience, especially to an opposition party, usually means the role of shadow foreign secretary is a gilded cage, a sinecure for an elder statesman like Jack Cunningham (under John Smith) or Gerald Kaufman (under Neil Kinnock).

Before 1997, Tony Blair ostensibly promoted Robin Cook from shadow secretary for state for trade and industry to shadow foreign secretary in a bid to sideline him from shaping economic policy.

Cook saw it as a demotion.

Was the delay in confirming that Benn would stay in his role a result of he and Corbyn twirling a globe to see where their beliefs matched up?

There’s certainly an awful lot going on in the world to be concerned about. But it simply doesn’t decide how people vote

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The Progressive Dilemma remains – only sharpened

07/01/2016, 06:43:58 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The reshuffle has done little to dampen perceptions that Jeremy Corbyn is the most left-wing, pacifist and unbending Labour leader ever. Keir Hardie and George Lansbury might compete. Corbyn, nonetheless, is still the most preeminent such leader since Clement Attlee succeeded Lansbury in 1935.

In this sense, the dilemmas posed by the Corbyn leadership feel uncharted. They portend, however, only a deepening of the British left’s core dilemma.

Throughout the period since Labour overhauled the Liberals as part of the duopoly of UK politics, as David Marquand wrote in the second edition of The Progressive Dilemma (1999), “apart from a brief period in the early 1980s, Labour was strong enough to prevent anyone else offering a serious challenge to the Conservatives, but too weak to make its own challenge effective.”

For all the reshuffle’s sound and fury, this position remains, only painfully deepened. Recent analysis by Glen O’Hara and Adam Boulton suggests that Labour remains too feeble to overhaul the Conservatives, while being too electorally entrenched for anyone else to.

Having waded through the evidence on polling and electoral performance, O’Hara concludes at the Staggers that, “the Party is dicing with a double-digit defeat at the 2020 general election.” Equally, however, as Boulton warns (£) in the Sunday Times, “Labour’s core vote is a lot for Corbyn’s internal opponents to walk away from, as some Bravehearts would like, and to form a new party”.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour’s right had better focus on conference

07/01/2016, 10:28:09 AM

by Rob Marchant

The reshuffle resembled nothing more closely than the careful rearrangement of deckchairs on the Titanic. While it is mildly good news that the Corbynistas do not yet feel confident enough for their own Night of the Long Knives, it is hardly going to change much.

So it is now time to look forward to the year ahead and plot – er, think about – a strategy to bring the party gradually back to some semblance of electability and political normality. 2016 is likely to be critical for the future of the party, in that it will most likely determine whether a Corbyn leadership actually has legs and can stumble on until the general election of 2020, or will fizzle out long before.

While common sense would indicate the latter, there is also a strong correlation between the time taken for that meltdown to happen and the cumulative damage wreaked on the party.

Meanwhile, British politics in general this year is likely to be dominated by two stories: the first half by the Scottish elections and the second by the start of the build-up to the EU In-Out referendum, assuming it does not happen earlier. Sadly, there is very little which Labour can do about either.

The Scottish elections are likely be a terrible story for Labour whatever happens: it is clear from the polls and the general election result that it will lose many tens of Holyrood seats (if not all of them, as nearly happened for the Westminster election).


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon