Posts Tagged ‘Robin Cook’

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

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Cook and Prezza can teach the shadow cabinet how to do opposition

28/09/2011, 01:15:51 PM

by Kevin Meagher

“My top demand of my shadow cabinet, my party, my team, is this: ambition”.

So said Ed yesterday. But not all agree that message has been getting through.

“This is a Tory government that’s doing some outrageous things and we haven’t had many words of protest”, says a less than impressed John Prescott. “Ed, you’re the leader, get a shadow cabinet who’ll do that”.

Fortuitously, the rule change passed earlier this week now allows a Labour leader to dispense with the ritual shadow cabinet elections, thus presenting Ed with a tempting new freedom. But rather than release his inner Alan Sugar, he should withhold firing any of his coasting colleagues. For now.

Like any responsible manager, Ed should look to see how he can develop his team rather than hand them their marching orders. After all, that is what “good” business people do.

Anyway, a reshuffle at this stage looks like a panic measure, an implicit acceptance that this first year has not yielded all that it might have against the backdrop of the government’s swingeing cuts and inept economic management.

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We’ve had dissent and discipline, it’s time for debate and dialogue

05/11/2010, 03:00:08 PM

by Jessica Asato

This week I did something 99.9% of the population didn’t. I took part in a Labour party branch discussion about reform of partnership in power (PiP) – the party’s policy-making process introduced in 1997.

Liam Byrne has been put in charge of leading the review process which will conclude in June next year and changes to policy arrangements will be agreed by party conference. As Pat McFadden states at the start of the consultation document, “now, in opposition, the time is right to have a fundamental review of our policy making process”. Actually, I don’t quite agree with that. We should have reviewed and improved policy making when we knew the top of the party was failing to communicate with the membership and nipped it in the bud. If your footsoldiers are unhappy about the direction of the top brass they will be less willing to do their best in the fight on the ground.

In fact, a number of things about the document don’t quite make the grade. It states “Partnership in Power has in most people’s eyes been considered a success”. What, seriously? No one at my branch meeting seemed to think it had. Even its assertion that PiP helped to “deliver election winning manifestos in 2001 and 2005” is pushing it a bit far when a) most of the new policy in those manifestos were formulated in the Downing St policy unit and b) PiP also helped to procure an election losing manifesto in 2010. (more…)

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