Posts Tagged ‘leadership election’

Len McCluskey is the conservative candidate in Unite’s leadership election

17/03/2017, 06:37:08 PM

by Dean Quick

Len McCluskey is being championed as the “left” candidate in the Unite general secretary election. Assuming that the label means something we have to think it means he’s the candidate that stands for greater equality, for challenging the unfairly powerful and undeservingly privileged and the person most committed to giving us a powerful trade union able to meet and match the worst a Tory government can throw at us.

But the truth is that McCluskey is none of these things. He’s the candidate of the status quo, of continued decline, of no change, of jobs for the boys and he’s armed with a backward looking programme because, in essence, he’s a candidate of the past and certainly not of the future.

McCluskey – unlike some of his chief lieutenants – has never been in the Communist Party or even aligned with one of its satellites, like the Straight Left faction that Jeremy Corbyn’s paladin Seumas Milne supported. But his approach to his job is fundamentally that of the “militant labourists” that formed the traditionalist internal opposition to the CP’s “Eurocommunist” leadership in the 1970s and 1980s.

That factional battle was at its height this time thirty years ago. But it would be a mistake to think that the issues involved collapsed with the Berlin Wall. For while the Communist Party was at heart a pathological organisation – how else can you think of a movement so tied into a history of defending dictatorship and murder – its influence was profound.

The “Euros” were influenced by the new left movement (itself born out of an earlier Communist fragmentation) of the 1960s and engaged with ideas like feminism and what they called “new social movements”. Above all it sought to build a broad coalition for social change through a cultural politics that encompassed much more than the traditional movement settings of the workplace meeting and the party committee.


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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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The Parliamentary Labour Party has displayed dreadful judgement and the situation could yet get worse

19/08/2016, 11:32:23 PM

by Trevor Fisher

Despite the legal issues being resolved, Labour’s political options are becoming more sharp-edged and legalistic. This situation is worsened by the antics of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a group whose political judgement and even grasp of political rules is dire.

I agree with Richard MacKinnon in the comments for my last piece questioning, “How can a party be trusted running a country when they can’t even run themselves?” though his call for a purge is unwise. But the key issue is that the MPs can’t get the most basic political issues right. Certainly the Labour rules and those of the British constitution seem to be beyond them.

The MPs were deeply foolish in acting to pass the vote of no confidence, which has had no effect other than to trigger the current leadership contest. That Corbyn simply ignored the vote is a sign the MPs did not understand the nature of the man, and once he called their bluff they had to challenge him… hoping it must be assumed that the NEC would exclude him from the ballot paper or perhaps the courts would.

Even before they made these foolish moves, which risks Corbyn winning a new and stronger mandate, the MPs had made many stupid decisions. Bob Crossley was right in his comment to me that the big mistake was letting JC onto the ballot paper, but it remains the case that the previous mistake was approving the Miliband reforms which only allowed the MPs to have the limited control of nominating. Which they then bungled as fools like Margaret Beckett and Frank Field nominated JC. He can’t be blamed for saying Thanks Very Much.


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The battle for the survival of Labour is on. Members have to fight

30/06/2016, 12:46:15 PM

by Samuel Dale

This is it. Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to fight on despite 81% of his parliamentary party expressing no confidence in his leadership. He’s shown his true colours today by drawing an equivalence between Israel and the Islamic State.

It’s time for members and supporters to fight.

The legal advice around whether he can get on the ballot for a membership vote is vague but irrelevant. As Atul Hatwal explained, he has to be on the ballot. He has to be defeated.

Ordinary members, and £3 sign-ups have to defeat Corbyn in a full election. That is the only way we can put the nightmare behind us.

This is going to incredibly difficult – perhaps impossibly so. But we have to try and here are some positives and negatives to consider.

Firstly, the latest YouGov poll shows 54% of Labour voters do not want Corbyn to resign compared to 35% who do. That’s voters, not members.

Despite the ludicrous unreliability of polling today, especially YouGov, it should give pause for thought. There is clearly still strong Corbyn support in the party.


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MPs are acting now on Corbyn to escape the cycle of defeat which dominates Labour’s history

29/06/2016, 09:00:54 PM

by Frederick Cowell

“Michael there are people who are going out to fight the election who won’t be coming back….” Gerald Kaufmann said “I implore you stand aside from the leadership.” Michael Foot listened carefully and then somewhat apologetically lent forward in his chair and said, “I’m sorry Gerald I just can’t do that.”

It was February 1983 – four months later went down to its second largest General Election defeat in history. From Attlee in 1954 to Brown in January 2010 the same conversation has been had – ‘we’re going to lose, your leadership is taking us there.’

History creates odd prisms through which to view things. It is hard to remember that there was once a Post-Miliband – Pre-Corbyn period in the Labour party. But that period was an attempt to confront the conversation that has dogged Labour’s history.

Less than 10 days after the 2015 general election the Labour leader in the House of Lords said that party needed a break clause with their new leader in 2018. A day later the Guardian called for a two-year interim leader and suggested Alan Johnson for the role.

Alastair Campbell warned a week later that he would step in and remove any failing leader after three years and although this provoked a scornful reaction from John Prescott, Campbell stood his ground.

“If only the rest of Labour wanted to win as badly as he did” tweeted the FT’s political correspondent Jannan Ganesh.


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Labour is a party in flames

29/06/2016, 12:16:40 PM

by Robert Williams

It is now quite clear that Jeremy Corbyn is prepared to destroy the Labour Party in his desperate attempt to cling to office (but not power – he has never had any power). In any sane and rational world, a leader who suffers the resignation of more than half his shadow cabinet, and who can muster the support of barely 20% of his MPs would resign.

That would be the honourable thing to do. It’s what a decent, compassionate and humane leader would do.

Instead, we have the appalling spectacle of a man with cloth ears, a total absence of communication skills and the political nous of a dung beetle, refusing to engage with his own MPs and then addressing a cheering crowd consisting of a few labour members and an awful lot of Socialist Worker, Militant and other fringe groups from the wilder shores of political sanity, preaching the Mandate Gospel. Part of which is to harass and threaten Labour MPs who dare to disbelieve in Jeremy’s capacity to convince someone to jump out of a burning car, let alone to persuade the electorate to put him in high office, outside their offices and homes.

The hitherto hidden vanity and ego of a man who has sat at the margins of politics for a lifetime, and so decent and principled that he has only put his head above the parapet to sit on platforms with terrorist organisations, anti  Semites, Islamo-fascists and holocaust deniers is astonishing.

This honourable and decent man who thought the death of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy”. This political titan who thinks the way to regain the trust of the millions of voters across Britain is to offer the Falkland Islands to Argentina, and who hesitates about authorising a policy of shooting to kill terrorists in the process of murdering innocent civilians.


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Unite’s reaction to Jim Murphy’s candidacy tells us all we need to know about why it’s important

05/11/2014, 03:20:04 PM

by Rob Marchant

On Saturday, after some days of deliberation, Jim Murphy announced his candidacy for the Scottish leadership.

Within hours, Unite had put out a statement:

“Unite’s representative members will soon decide who to nominate on behalf of our union. On the basis of this speech, it is extremely difficult for them to find much to find hope that Jim Murphy is offering the genuine, positive change in Scottish Labour they seek.”

Notice first how Unite members are being given a completely free choice of candidate, and that its leadership is not trying to influence them at all. In fact, this effect of denying a level playing-field to leadership candidates in the union vote – that is, trying to distort the One Member, One Vote (OMOV) process – was one of the main reasons for the Collins reforms.

By Monday they had announced the results of a poll claiming that “working people” (i.e. Unite members: the union sees no irony in considering the two identical) wanted an MSP in the role and not an MP. Oh, wait a minute, which of the declared candidates is not an MSP…?

Why go to such lengths to trash the front-running candidate?

Because, apart from being probably the Shadow Cabinet’s most outspoken centrist, Murphy is widely known as being “his own man”, as Damian McBride describes him. There is little that would put Unite’s nose out of joint more than someone who didn’t play Scottish Labour according to the usual rules.

Scottish Labour, lest we forget, was the political Wild West land through the New Labour years, which survived virtually untouched under the protective gaze of Gordon Brown.

However, McBride’s sympathetic account of the trials of managing the Scottish party also gives away probably the greatest weakness of the Brown administration: its preference for managing genteel decline, rather than attack underlying problems at their root. Its preference for comfortable fiefdoms, where you did as you were told, over a healthy party full of competing ideas; a thousand flowers blooming. Scottish Labour was Brownism writ large.


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Continuity Miliband: Why it’s likely Ed Miliband will fight on if Labour lose next year

02/07/2014, 10:54:17 AM

by Rob Marchant

It’s a rollercoaster ride, this one. On the one hand, we continue to have a recovering economy, a relentlessly-downward-trending poll lead and pretty horrific personal polling for the Labour leader. The head of the policy review says “interesting ideas and remedies are not going to emerge through Labour’s policy review”. A well-meant piece on LabourList tries to argue “Why Miliband still matters”. Senior party figures, sensing a possible future leadership contest, are clearly on manoeuvres. The impression of disarray in Labour ranks is hard to avoid.

On the other, we have Michael Ashcroft’s analysis which shows that, surprisingly, Labour is still ahead in the marginals, where it counts. Incumbent parties do not generally increase their vote-share, either (although neither have we had a coalition for 70 years, so who knows).

Wiser heads realise that this is because the election really is still too close to call, ten months out. We can but set out the possible scenarios, without any real idea which will prevail. Whatever the result, the one thing we can say with a reasonable probability is that no-one is going to get a landslide. And this one thing that we can say, the relative closeness of it all, brings its own consequences.

So, those scenarios.

One: Labour has won a majority. Theoretically possible and should always be the public aim but, at this point, surely more prayer than probability.

Two: Labour in minority government or coalition. Whilst not an ideal situation, it is possible to conceive a government that could go the full five years. And it’s better than being in opposition. Risk: “Hollande syndrome”. Government perceived as weak, we promise a bunch of things that we can’t deliver and end up out of government, quite probably for a long time. Note that this syndrome might also happen in scenario one, but the parliamentary arithmetic here makes it worse.

Three: Labour has lost, Miliband resigns. We explored that in another Uncut piece here. It’s not pretty: whether or not the Unite-PCS merger goes ahead, or Len McCluskey carries out his threat to disaffiliate from Labour, a much messier transition than 2010 seems certain and a battle for the heart and soul of the Labour Party quite a real possibility. All in the context of a not-yet-bedded-down set of rule changes over who gets to vote for the new leader. Not for the faint-hearted.

Four: Labour has lost, Miliband looks to stay on. This is a scenario which has been the subject of much speculation over recent days. While we must take the Daily Mail’s stirring on this with a pinch of salt, and it is easy to view such things as the feverish imaginings of over-ambitious colleagues with their eyes on the prize, Uncut’s intelligence indicates that it is, on the contrary, a real possibility.

Now think about why.


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“290 seats and Ed stays”

27/06/2014, 03:32:37 PM

Much rumour and speculation in recent days on the aftermath of a potential Labour defeat next year. The Guardian splashed last Saturday with an anonymous frontbencher demanding Ed Miliband’s resignation if Labour loses the next election. The Mail followed up earlier this week with “friends” of the Labour leader talking up his chances of “doing a Kinnock” and fighting on in the event of a loss.

To party members these types of stories often seem to erupt into the news without warning.  But in reality they represent the cresting waves above currents that are surging below the surface.

Uncut has now spoken to four parliamentary sources that have highlighted a specific operation by team Miliband to reset expectations in the PLP. Rather than an outright victory, or even being the largest party, this endeavour is focused on setting a new benchmark: the minimum number of seats Ed Miliband needs to stay on as leader.

The magic number currently being touted is 290, a gain of 32 on Labour’s current voting strength.

290 seats for Labour would almost certainly mean the Tories were the largest party with the Lib Dems in the high 20s to low 30s. Labour would be facing another five years in opposition.

The leadership operation has involved senior parliamentarians, political advisers and friendly journalists, all giving a similar narrative on why Ed should stay. Common phrases include, “two term journey,” “changing the terms of the debate,” and “Labour needs to stay unified.”

In the event of Labour securing 290 seats, the leader’s pitch would offer the prospect of a return to office if Labour could stay unified under Miliband and make another 30 or so gains at the next election. He would have a track record on making this type of progress and the fear of a divisive leadership election would be used to discourage rival candidates supporters declaring publicly.

This is the context for the recent press stories. They haven’t just happened randomly. They are the reaction to a concerted lobbying campaign by the leader’s team that prepares the ground for defeat and the internal battle to come. Expect more over the coming weeks and months.

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If party reform goes through as advertised, it is a major triumph. But it ain’t over till it’s over

05/02/2014, 01:56:27 PM

by Rob Marchant

It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for Labour. It started with Miliband’s ideas on how to change competition in banking, and ran through Balls’ announcement on fiscal probity, of which the only story newspapers wanted to print was about the retention of the 50p tax rate. Indeed, the economic story that they tell is one which could yet be Labour’s undoing.

But let us give credit where it is undoubtedly due. The settlement announced at the weekend was, for the long-term future of the party, an undeniable success. It did not go as far as some of us might have wanted. But given where we are in the electoral cycle and the importance of not facing a general election broke, it was surely about as good as anyone could have hoped for.

If you can secure the fulsome praise of Andrew Rawnsley and John Rentoul – no Miliband cheerleaders they – for reforms which they describe as “bold” and “brave” respectively, you must know that you have done something out of the ordinary.

In summary: move to individual affiliation for union members – tick. Primary in London – tick. End of electoral college in leadership elections – tick. Most importantly, it leaves the door open for further reform. If the London primary is a success, then the argument for using them to select parliamentary candidates could become unstoppable. We didn’t get changes on conference voting, but then no-one expected we would.

Now, let’s assume the best of all worlds, and that this all goes through on the nod. Not a particularly safe assumption, but let’s assume it does.

Is there still a caveat? Of course there is. This is Labour Uncut, and we know how to sit amongst the most churlish of churls, if there is an uncomfortable truth to be told. And to do so, we have to get down into a nerdiness of procedural detail that even respected political journalists might baulk at.

And it is this. What happens if there is a leadership election next year?


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