Posts Tagged ‘hard left’

We shouldn’t think about Momentum as one entity

26/09/2016, 07:45:14 PM

by David Ward

As you might imagine of an Uncut writer, my involvement with Momentum so far hasn’t been extensive. So when I heard they were planning to have their own conference alongside Labour’s in Liverpool I thought this would be a great chance to see what it was all about.

My first try wasn’t a success. Turning the corner onto Great George St, I walked towards what looked like a mass of people milling around outside the venue, ticket in hand.

Then I realised – this wasn’t a crowd, it was a queue. There was a line right round the building and what seemed to be a one in one out system.

Feeling the draw of free reception wine back at party conference, I began to get that uncomfortable middle aged feeling when all the young people at work start talking about bands you’ve never heard of.

Still, undaunted I returned next day for an event titled, “What is Momentum For?” Being a paid up member of the Blairite establishment I suppose I expected a panel discussion with some leading lights of the organisation.

Instead I walked into a room where a cross section of ages seemed to drinking cups of tea around tables, and t-shirts on sale at the sides.

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Labour MPs have just blown their best chance to oust Corbyn

25/09/2016, 02:57:50 PM

by Kevin Meagher

John McDonnell was right. ‘As plotters’ Labour MPs are ‘fucking useless.’

There was one decent attempt at challenging Jeremy Corbyn during this parliament and they have just blown it.

He needed to be exposed as a total electoral liability – both personally and in terms of the direction he has set for the party, repositioning Labour on the frozen wastelands of the hard left.

His lack of campaigning zeal during the EU referendum was supposed to be his Achilles Heel and pave the way for a successful challenge.

What a misjudgement.

The charge didn’t stick and the rows in the Conservative party have blotted out memories of what Corbyn did or didn’t do during the referendum.

This plot was doomed from the moment Hilary Benn was caught orchestrating dissent in the shadow cabinet and fired. Realising he had been rumbled, he should have quit first.

Then came the petulant ‘drip, drip’ resignations from his frontbench. This was designed to shame Corbyn into quitting. Fat chance. The tactic just left the electorate with the unmistakable impression Labour MPs are as immature as their leader.

Instead, those frontbenchers who passionately disagreed with Corbyn’s leadership should have acted with some dignity and resigned en masse. At the very least, it would have been more honourable.

The PLP’s subsequent vote of no confidence in his leadership – 172-40 – was not quite conclusive enough.

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This is my truth, tell me yours

22/08/2016, 09:12:49 AM

by Nic Dakin

Speaking for Owen Smith at a nomination meeting I came face to face with the truth that members believe about what caused the current crisis and leadership election.  It’s a truth that’s been pushed by certain sections of the media and a lot of people supportive of the current Labour Leader on social media.  It’s not a truth I recognise.  But for many of the really good, honest, genuine people there it had become a truth they passionately believed.

And it goes something like this: Jeremy Corbyn has done a really good job in leading the party resulting in it being ahead in the polls prior to the current difficulties.  These difficulties have been caused by dreadful Labour MPs (much hissing and booing whenever these pantomime villains were mentioned!) who orchestrated a coup against the noble Leader who has continued to behave with huge dignity and generosity throughout.

The reality, of course, is rather different.  I lived through these events and my truth is very different to this carefully polished, well spun version of events.

My truth goes something like this.  If it hadn’t been for around 20 MPs wanting to broaden the debate in the last election Jeremy Corbyn would never have got on the ballot.  Once on the ballot he fought a brilliant campaign and won.  It was the duty of all of us to then get behind him and do everything we could to make him successful.

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Corbyn’s “straight talking, honest politics” mask finally slipped in the Observer interview

17/08/2016, 09:00:42 PM

by Rob Marchant

So much has been made of Jeremy Corbyn’s honesty and freshness, that it is high time for us to probe it. After ten months of “straight talking, honest politics”, this weekend’s long and detailed Observer interview turned out to be rather insightful.

  1. “People should have the right to take part” in the leadership election campaign (having just joined the party). Now, apart from the fact that the Court of Appeal said that they shouldn’t (i.e. that the NEC is sovereign), historical precedent says otherwise. Major political parties have always had freeze periods for membership before they can vote, for the simple reason that it helps prevent manipulation and entryism. As various members have commented, you have a freeze date of 6 months just for selection of a council candidate, how on earth can you justify having a freeze date of zero, for something as important as the party leader?
  1. “That is what democracy is about” – no, that is not what democracy is about. Democracy is about having free and fair elections, not ones which are open to manipulation. That’s why we have freeze periods. We might also note that until recently Corbyn was not averse to appearing alongside good old Lutfur Rahman, the now-disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets, convicted of election fraud in 2015.Talking of election fraud, it is interesting to note that one of Corbyn’s key supporters in Momentum, Marsha-Jane Thompson, also has a conviction for it. Perhaps unsurprising, then, to find out she led the unsuccessful appeal to the NEC when Rahman was rightly deselected as Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2010. And Christine Shawcroft, suspended for defending Rahman and now not only back in the party but elected to the NEC. This is the respect for “democracy” which we are dealing with in Corbyn’s Labour, and that is why Labour HQ rightly fought back against it.

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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.

Wrong.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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