Monday, August 29, 2016

Labour and Socialism

With the permission of its author, I give below a link to a fine 22 page pamphlet written by Steve Thompson entitled "Labour and Socialism".  Please note that Steve holds the copyright.

Click here -  http://www.principle5.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Labour-Socilalism.pdf

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Housing In Crisis

Independent Labour Publication (ILP) have produced a fine pamphlet about the terrible housing crisis we face in this country and the avenues we need to pursue to tackle this desperate situation. The pamphlet is based upon a first rate ILP Conference which was held in Leeds in March. Immediately after the Conference I rushed out my own report in a blog item which can be found here. But now via the words of major contributors themselves, we have a fine authorized version of their expert and important coverage. We now need to be act upon this work to start to tackle one of society's major contemporary problems.


For details of how to obtained this key pamphlet, click here. 

  Housing Pamphlet cover

Monday, August 22, 2016

60 Years of Labour Leadership Contests.

I give below the results of Labour Leadership elections which I have been aware of in my lifetime. I hope that I have not missed any. From 1955 to 1980 only Labour parliamentarians were entitled to vote. The system has varied since then . There have been 13 elections in all. 31 Candidates (some standing more than once) make up a total of 39 contestants.

A strange characteristic for me of the present contest is that at its announcement I found that I knew less about Owen Smith than I had of any of the candidates on this list. On the other hand, I know more about Jeremy Corbyn than about any of the others, as I met him regularly during my 18 year period as an MP as we were both members of the Socialist Campaign Group. But I still have not made up my mind on how (or whether) to vote this time. For I would like to know how the contestants propose to bring about peace and reconciliation within the Labour Party should they be elected. Has anyone heard them say anything on this matter?

 Vicky, cartoon showing Harold Wilson, Aneurin Bevan, Michael Foot, Ian Mikardo attacking Herbert Morrison, Clement Attlee and Hugh Gaitskell (July, 1951)


1955 Gaitskell 157 Bevan 70 Morrison 40.

1960 Gaitskell 166 Wilson 81

1961 Gaitskell 171 Greenwood 59

1963 Wilson 115 Brown 88 Callaghan 41
                        144           103

1978 Callaghan 84 Foot 90 Jenkins 56 Benn 37 Healy 30 Crosland 17
                            141       133                                            38
                            178       137

1980 Foot 83 Healy 112 Silkin 38 Shore 32
                 139            129

1983 Kinnock 71.2% Hattersley 19.29%

1988 Kinnock 88.6% Benn 11.4%

1992 Smith 91.0% Gould 9.0%

1994 Blair 57.0% Prescott 24.13% Beckett 18.87%

2007 Brown unopposed

2010 E Miliband 34.33% D Miliband 37.78%
                               50.65%                     49.35% 
Also -  (Balls 11.8% Burnham 8.7% Abbott 7.4%)

2015 Corbyn 59.5% Burnham 19.0% Cooper 17.0% Kendall 4.5%



Monday, August 01, 2016

Hello Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith


 Image result for Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith
The candidates for the leadership should be pushed to come to an agreement to stand by Labour Party policies as these have been (and will come to be) agreed by Labour Party Conference. This does not unreasonably bind them. They should still be free to suggest changes that they would like to seek in future Conference's policies, whilst sticking by what has been established in the meantime. Furthermore leaders and the PLP can still have a say about the priorities, timing and the detail when acting on Conference decisions. They will also often have to act on new and passing items, without having specific Conference guidance at the time. This is currently the case (until the coming Conference ?) on  policies over leaving the EU. 

Most of current Conference policies formed the basis of our last election manifesto. Any alterations, additions or elaborations (e.g. on Syria) have only emerged so far from last year's Conference.  Most of Conference policies arise (of course) from the work of the Policy Forums. Prior to the General Election, I summarised these in a number of blog items. These can be found via links in this item.    These proposals should form the basis of Labour"s current parliamentary approach, until subject to later Conference alterations.

It is also possible for candidates to press for the further democratisation of the Labour Party. It is also a difficult approach for candidates to argue against when facing the votes of the membership in a leadership contest.

I hope that Labour Party members will push such a line. It could be a position which any candidate could find it difficult to reject in current circumstances.
For those without a blog facility, it should be possible to comment at this version of the above.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hard Labour

 Image result for Corbyn, Eagle, Owen Smith

Labour Party members whose email addresses are correctly recorded by the Labour Party should now have received a communication from their General Secretary saying that normal and scheduled CLP (and Branch) meetings are postponed until after the completion of the leadership election – which takes us to the eve of the start of the Annual Labour Party Conference. Whilst I think that this overall move is a democratic disgrace, how can Labour Party members make the best of a bad situation ?

For the General Secretary also says that as an exception to the above rule we can have CLP meetings to (a) support a nomination for the leadership (which I assume can only take place after the close of nominations themselves at noon on 21 July) and (b) for essential Annual Conference Business. From (b) I assume that we can seemingly have a meeting to submit a contemporary and/or emergency resolution to Conference. But we then have a problem, where would the contemporary and emergency resolutions come from, unless they have already been submitted to a CLP ? Not from branches or from a CLP’s EC as these seem to have been closed down until 24 September. Perhaps they could come from affiliated bodies only – which I grant is rather unlikely to happen. Could Contemporary and Emergency motions, however, be moved from the floor of the above form of specially convened Constituency Meeting? Would we even be allowed to mandate our Conference delegate if we could somehow find out what is on the Conference Agenda?

Perhaps a Constituency meeting restricted to considering support for a leadership nominee and to consider the above Conference issues could be authorised by the local Regional Office of the Labour Party – under the complexities of the General Secretary’s ruling. Yet given that we are into a holiday period, such a meeting might not be able to be called until early September.

But we should clearly make use of the limited avenues of inner-party democracy which remain open to us up to Party Conference. The lessons of the current shambles then need to shape future constitutional and political changes in the Labour Party – given that if by then Labour still remains a feasible avenue for the advance of “democratic” socialism.

Added 18 July - This is the line I am trying to peddle with the leadership candidates and some of their supporters .............
"The candidates for the leadership should be pushed to come to an agreement to stand by Labour Party Policies as these have been (and will come to be) agreed by Labour Party Conference. This does not unreasonably bind them. They should be free to suggest changes that they would like to seek in future Conference's policies, whilst sticking by what has been established in the meantime. Furthermore leaders and the PLP can still have a say about the priorities, timing and the detail when acting on Conference decisions. They also will often have to act on new and passing items, without having specific Conference guidance at the time. This is currently the case (until the coming Conference ?) on  policies over the leaving the EU. 

Most of current Conference policies formed the basis of our last election manifesto. Any alterations, additions or elaborations (e.g. on Syria) have only emerged so far from last year's Conference.  Most of Conference policies arise (of course) from the work of the Policy Forums. Prior to the General Election, I summarised these in a number of blog items. These can be found via links to this item.    They should form the basis of Labour"s current parliamentary approach until subject to later Conference alterations.

It is also possible for candidates to press for the further democratisation of the Labour Party. It is also a difficult approach for candidates to argue against when facing the votes of the membership in a leadership contest.

I hope that you can press such a line. It could be a position which any candidate could find it difficult to reject in current circumstances. If the argument is that we have just lost a General Election on these overall proposals, then I am afraid they are the policies as they exist at the moment. If changes are sort, then the Party's internal  procedures will need to be pursued."

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Labour Needs To Agree A Concordat

 Image result for Corbyn and Eagle
Easier said than done, but both the parliamentary Corbynites and their opponents amongst Labour MPs need to make an accommodation. Namely, that parliamentary policy should be based on the Manifesto which we stood on at the recent General Election, as drawn from Labour's Policy Forum procedure - plus any adjustments made at the last Party Conference. Positions should then only have to be adjusted as the policy shifts (perhaps under new procedures) at coming Party Conferences. This need not mean that Corbyn and others should not in the meantime recommend changes in direction, but that until there are any changes in party policies achieved via Conference they all need to vote in parliament in line with established party positions. New issues (such as the response to tomorrow's Chilcott Report) can be left as unwhipped positions – until a line is later taken by Party Conference.

If Corbyn’s critics force a leadership contest, then we need to press this concordat upon all the candidates. Those who do not agree should not get Labour Party members votes - even if this means members being obliged to make positive abstentions.  Then if Corbyn remains leader without a contest, this is also how we (and he) should continue to act - with various ex-members of the Shadow Cabinet then accepting current vacancies under these conditions.

Problem solved.

(See here for Labour"s Manifesto and here for links to 180 of Labour's current policy forum positions.)