A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, September 22, 2006

In a galaxy far, far away...

From the parallel universe that is the Hackney bit of the John McDonnell leadership campaign I received the following meeting invitation:

I think I shall attend, even though I doubt the invitation was aimed at me.

I can only assume it is a gathering of some kind of political equivalent of the English Civil War re-enactment societies - "The Sealed Trot" rather than the "Sealed Knot" - dedicated to reenacting the golden age of the 1980s ultra left.

Particularly retro are:

  • the use of a Labour Party logo last in circulation in 1985 before the Rose was adopted
  • the presence on the platform of a meeting about the Labour leadership of Gill George, a Respect Party council candidate, and Matt Wrack the General Secretary of a union that threw away its vote in the election by disaffiliating from Labour

As a comrade has pointed out, the only thing missing from the list of speakers is "Gordon Brown (invited)".

In the spirit of re-enacting the '80s I could go dressed as Neil Kinnock and try expelling them all. Now that would be fun.

19 Comments:

Blogger John said...

"Personal capacity" always strikes me as a bit of an odd idea. It would suggest to a cynic that you know full well that the organisation which you are using as your only claim to any authority to speak, doesn't want anything to do with you on this. Which kind of looks like you're shooting yourself in the foot before you even start.

Better maybe to do it just in your name and leave it at that? Those people who've heard your name will know who you are anyway (and base their opinion of the event accordingly), whilst those who don't know who you are might not be swayed particularly by such a half-cocked endorsement.

1:02 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

Luke

Perhaps they regard you as living in a parallel galaxy too - I suspect so.

You seem to use the word "Trot" a lot. I presume this is a standard appellation used by the New Labour crew to describe anyone to the left of Roy Hattersley. I can't imagine you using it any technical sense.

The irony is (do you do irony?) is that your use of the term is strangely nostalgic in itself. Perhaps you are still stuck in the 1980s yourself.

2:28 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Benjamin I am stuck in the 1950s not the 80s.

They regard me as living about half a mile away from them on Stoke Newington High Street.

I am very careful to only use the word Trot to describe Trotskyists rather than as a general term of abuse for the Hard Left - some of whom are merely fellow travellers and others of whom are Stalinists not Trots.

The people involved in this meeting are mainly self-confessed Trots who would not see it as an insult. The speakers include one from Respect, one from AWL, and one formerly in Militant, all of which are in the Leninist/Trotskyist tradition.

"Do you do irony?" must be one of the most unobservant questions ever asked on this site.

2:38 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

"Do you do irony?" must be one of the most unobservant questions ever asked on this site.

Luke, forgive me old boy. I have only just stumbled upon your site (from the Daily.)

3:03 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Benjamin I forgive you. Some of my posts are a semi-humorous look at politics, other times I am deadly serious. Depends on my mood and the gravity of events. Welcome to the site as a new reader.

4:05 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got the red hair, Luke, so go for it.

Perhaps they'll stage a walkout and then you can finish them off at a very very lengthy meeting down Walworth way.

5:02 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Anonymous Thomas said...

I am very careful to only use the word Trot to describe Trotskyists rather than as a general term of abuse for the Hard Left...

Respect aren't trots - try telling this to George Galloway and the Muslim Association of Britain.

10:42 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Anonymous Janine said...

Pay attention, Luke, Respect is a *break* from the Trotskyist tradition.

And I always think it's kind of weak (to say the least) to have a pop at a political stance for being "old-fashioned", rather than saying what you think is wrong with it.

10:50 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Anonymous Janine said...

Here's an example of a *really* old-fashioned policy.

In the 19th century, before the labour movement won the right to free state schooling for all kids, what schools there were used to be run by charities, religions, philanthropists and businesses. Now, under the Academies programme, New Labour is handing control of state schools to ... charities, religions, philanthropists and businesses. Super-retro or what?

10:52 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Do you do irony?

Do I do anything else?

11:03 pm, September 22, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Janine, I stand corrected on Respect. But are their largest component, the SWP, Trotskyists or some other kind of Leninists?

You are right, I'm in no position to laugh at '80s leftists for being old fashioned when my own politics are mainly informed by nostalgia for Herbert Morrison's heyday.

10:34 am, September 23, 2006

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Are you Morrisonian, Luke? (in any way other than a fondness for the politics of his grandson?) I'm intrigued. Although there were lots of facets to the politics of Morrison (is involvement in London Labour cultural politics in the 1930s was interesting - and perhaps reflects your own hitherto-referred-to penchant for socialist anthems) - but he is mostly remembered, I suppose (from his government days rather than his municipal days), for a particular model of state ownership: centralised, yet at arms length from poltical control. Are you a closet Clause Four man, or is it other aspects of Herbert Morrison's polity that appeal to you? (I ask this from a position of genuine interest, as a labour historian, not of mickey-taking as a perceived political opponent).

10:55 am, September 23, 2006

 
Blogger Dave said...

And whose bright idea was it to invite Respect, anyway? What the hell has the Labour leadership contest got to do with them?

12:46 pm, September 24, 2006

 
Anonymous Janine said...

Ah, Herbert Morrison, one of my favourite subjects. In a bad way.

One of the more interesting episodes from his time as Hackney Mayor was during the Poplar Rates Rebellion in 1921 (read all about it here: http://www.workersliberty.org/node/3156). While George Lansbury and 29 other councillors were fighting the unfair rating system and going to prison in support of a just cause, Herbert was determined to stick to the law (even the unfair law) and prove how trustworthy and respectable he was. He deluded himself that chasing Lloyd George round Scotland was the way to win a change in the law, even sitting on the lap of Sir Alfred Mond (fat-cat industrialist and Liberal Heatlh Minister in the Coalition Government) during his forlorn chase.

It was Poplar's defiance rather than Morrison's brown-nosing that won a change in the law - even his political co-thinkers such as Jimmy Thomas admitted it.

I don't agree with everything that George Lansbury stood for, but in this instance, he and Morrison neatly encapsulated the 'two souls of socialism'. And I prefer Lansbury's soul.

12:47 pm, September 24, 2006

 
Blogger Barryb said...

Dave as you can probably guess it wasant my idea to invite anyone from Respect.

Will we have the pleasure of your company?

I hope to be accompanied by a mutual lady friend of ours.

11:24 pm, September 25, 2006

 
Blogger Chris-F said...

Last I checked my union AMICUS was affiliated to the Labour Party. As an elected member of the AMICUS NEC, Gill George has as much right to speak on a Trade Union Council platform as anyone else. Not to mention being a leading campaigner against the privatisation of the NHS.

11:04 am, September 26, 2006

 
Blogger barryb1 said...

I understand that Hackney Independent will be picketing the meeting. Not sure if its because Luke is attending or what. Should add to the excitement of the evening.

12:56 pm, September 26, 2006

 
Anonymous Pete said...

Gill as an NEC member of Amicus, the union with the largest affiliated membership, has, with other Respect members on the NEC, been pushing for the union to support John. In particular they have been calling for the Parliamentary Group, the largest union group of MPs, to ensure that John gets his 44 nominations. They are aldo working for a ballot reccomendation for John. The broad left in Amicus, Amicus Unity Gazette, of which Gill is a supporter, and I, another Respect member, am the London convenor, has endorsed John. We are committed to organising a public meeting for London trade unionists early next year for John to address and to mobilise union members for the campaign. We all pay the political levy and therefore, under the rules of the Labour Party, have a voice in the leadership election.

So Gill has every right to appear on the platform with John - as she did in Crawley just a couple of weeks ago.

To say this does not mean that we all agree on the way forward. I think it important, as John says, that the campaign is about policies not personalities. If John's campaign strengthens the resolve of public sector trade unionist to resist New Labour privatisation, then it will be positive. If it strengthens the labour movement's commitment to oppose further imperialst adventures then that is a step forward. If, however, it is just about personality, and the only criteria for success is whether or not John gets elected, that is has the danger of further demoralising activists if Brown or Reid are elected. I don't think John wants that, and I know we don't.

They key task at the moment is to make this meeting a large rally of working people in hackney who want to say no to 10 more years of Blairism.

11:23 am, October 05, 2006

 
Anonymous Pete said...

Gill as an NEC member of Amicus, the union with the largest affiliated membership, has, with other Respect members on the NEC, been pushing for the union to support John. In particular they have been calling for the Parliamentary Group, the largest union group of MPs, to ensure that John gets his 44 nominations. They are aldo working for a ballot reccomendation for John. The broad left in Amicus, Amicus Unity Gazette, of which Gill is a supporter, and I, another Respect member, am the London convenor, has endorsed John. We are committed to organising a public meeting for London trade unionists early next year for John to address and to mobilise union members for the campaign. We all pay the political levy and therefore, under the rules of the Labour Party, have a voice in the leadership election.

So Gill has every right to appear on the platform with John - as she did in Crawley just a couple of weeks ago.

To say this does not mean that we all agree on the way forward. I think it important, as John says, that the campaign is about policies not personalities. If John's campaign strengthens the resolve of public sector trade unionist to resist New Labour privatisation, then it will be positive. If it strengthens the labour movement's commitment to oppose further imperialst adventures then that is a step forward. If, however, it is just about personality, and the only criteria for success is whether or not John gets elected, that has the danger of further demoralising activists if either Brown or Reid wins. I don't think John wants that, and I know we don't.

They key task at the moment is to make this meeting a large rally of working people of Hackney who want to say no to 10 more years of Blairism.

11:38 am, October 05, 2006

 

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