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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kamikaze Wednesday

It's Kamikaze day over on the Labour left. I am having trouble keeping count of all the no-hope leadership or deputy leadership bids being launched: the latest one is Meacher.


Anonymous Andrea said...

Is Diane Abbott the only one left not running?!

4:23 pm, December 20, 2006

Blogger Harry Barnes said...

I was a member of the Socialist Campaign group from 1988 to my retirement from Parliament in 2005.
Unfortunately, they made a mess of
leadership elections in 1988 and 1992.
In 1988 (with opposition in the Group, including mine) they ran Tony Benn for the leadership. It was a counter-productive move, which set back the left. He ended up with only 11.4% of the vote and the threshold for MPs' nominations was raised.
They then (again with my and other opposition) ran Ken Livingstone for Leader in 1992 and he could not clear the new threshold.They did better in supporting Margaret Beckett from outside the Group, when Blair won the contest.

Running John4Leader is to return to acts of fuitility. But Michael Meacher isn't the answer. He can't rub out his years of loyalty in Blair's Government. For he was dismissed before he could make amends by re-signing. But if a current leftish Minister resigned to take up the cudgel, that might be different. Hence my suggestion of Peter4Leader. His past shows he knows what practical democractic socialism is about. I am afraid that Gordon Brown is just a grumpy Blairite and can't fit even a mild left agenda.Things are really problematic now for the left. But a creditable leadership campaign could place it back somewhere on the map.

6:32 pm, December 20, 2006

Anonymous Duncan said...

Harry - I can't understand the argument that Hain is somehow less tainted by association than Meacher is. Let's face it, even if Peter Hain decided to stand for the leadership (which he won't) there's no reason why he'd resign before doing so.

John McDonnell is the candidate. The only reason it would be counter-productive, etc. is if people all start jumping around looking for different candidates.

I see nothing to be gained from fighting a campaign for someone just because they aren't Gordon Brown: it has to be a campaign for a genuine alternative programme and to have a proper and full debate in the party. If people united alongside McDonnell now, we could have that, and I think it would be a positive thing for the whole party.

1:04 pm, December 21, 2006

Anonymous susan press calder valley CLP said...

Harry , you ought to stop blogging and get out there and talk to the grassroots. I think it's a gross insult to say the McDonnell campaign is an "act of futility." It also happens to be wrong. Along with many other supporters I believe McDonnell deserves credit abd our thanks for spending the last six months going out on the stump and putting forward his values without resorting to the kind of personality-based bitching we see elsewhere in the Party. Last night, we got over 50 Labour members to come out on awretched night in Halifax to hear what he had to say.That's not futile. I can't recall the last Party meeting I went to that was quorate.
McDonnell's campaign isn't necessarily about winning, it's about bringing hope to Labour members and putting down markers for a change in policy direction. Getting on the ballot paper is itself a victory given the way Blair-Brown ideas have destroyed the party but I think he can do it. We don't need nay-sayers dissing us from the "left"It's not helpful and not fair to the thousands of people who ARE being positive about reviving the Party. As for Hain, he is an apologist for Blair and all his works. Having illusions in him, or Meacher. now that really IS an act of futility.

5:48 pm, December 21, 2006

Blogger Harry Barnes said...

Duncan - On its own,the Socialist Campaign Group (or what is probably a main section of it) can not run a feasible leadership campaign. The Left can't win a vote in the current Labour Party, but it needs to recapture some of the considerable ground it has lost. The Campaign Group should have looked for an alternative candidate and tucked in behind his or her front line supporters.

Peter Hain would have fitted the bill exactly as he has had a clear understanding of the case for Libetarian Socialism for almost 4 decades now - and is still given to using its approach (whilst mouthing inappropriate support from
Gordon Brown).

All we can do from the sidelines is to say what ought to be happening. If we keep doing that, then if no-one follows this time they just might eventually do it.

It might be enjoyable to join in with John, but such adventurism will eventually lead to the disappearance of what is left of the left in the Labour Party.

6:02 pm, December 21, 2006

Blogger Harry Perkins said...

Yeah, yeah. As you yourself make clear, Harry, you're a complete maverick. You have repeatedly opposed the Left, not simply on the leadership, but on issues as diverse as Iraq and Ireland.

But anyway, you're entitled to your opinion. As a member of the Labour party, you have one vote like the rest of us. If you want to use it to back a candidate who backed the war, Foundation Hospitals, top-up fees, attacks on civil liberties, Trust Schools etc etc, then go ahead and do it. Just don't expect anyone to take you seriously when claim to be on the Labour Left.

6:42 pm, December 21, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

"You have repeatedly opposed the Left, not simply on the leadership, but on issues as diverse as Iraq "

? I thought Harry Barnes opposed Iraq War in the last Parliament.

" As a member of the Labour party, you have one vote like the rest of us."

but if he's also a trade union member and a member of some Socialist Societies, he can more more than one vote! :-)

7:04 pm, December 21, 2006

Blogger Harry Barnes said...

andrea - Thanks. My position on Iraq is spelt out in my "Iraq: the Third Big Issue."

harry perkins - It should be reasonably easy to discover that I am a member of the Labour Party, Amicus and the Fabian Society. It is impossible discover what Harry Perkins is a member of. He could even have nominating rights in the.
Leadership elections.

9:36 pm, December 21, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

"andrea - Thanks. My position on Iraq is spelt out in my "Iraq: the Third Big Issue."

ah, yes! I suppose Harry Perkins referred to your leaving "Labour against the war" in early 2005 and your stance about troops withdrawal.
I confess that I completely forgot about it at the time of my early comment.

10:55 pm, December 21, 2006

Anonymous Duncan said...

Harry - the option now (really) is to support John McDonnell for the leadership, or to bow out and watch a Gordon Brown coronation. I think the latter would represent a much bigger danger to the future of the left in the Labour Party, if people felt we were so defeated and marginalised that we couldn't do this thing: and let's face it - we're doing it! As Susan pointed out in her message.

Though I didn't agree with you in '88 (I was only 13 so what did I know?) this is a very different situation. This isn't a challenge to a sitting leader; this could be our only chance in a decade or more to use the opportunity that a leadership election provides to put forward a clear alternative and have a full debate in the Labour Party. I'd like to think we had you on side, Harry (there's quite a former MP supporters club building with Tony B and Alice, etc.)

12:12 pm, December 22, 2006

Anonymous David Floyd said...

"I'd like to think we had you on side, Harry (there's quite a former MP supporters club building with Tony B and Alice, etc.)"

Ken's backing Brown, isn't he?

6:11 pm, December 22, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me it either has to be McDonnell with everyone backing him, persuading some PLP democrats who won't necessarily vote for him to nominate him, and then let's see what happens. Certainly a media platform, certainly a battle of ideas not egos, certainly a chance to draw Labour's centre and future policy towards the left.

Or it has to be Harry B's way, though hopefully not Hain for all his delightful maverick lefty moments (but not votes), and a combination of forces between every left caucus and those in the centre too - for a campaign that actually has a better chance of beating New Labour back.

While Harry Perkins can call Meacher Simpson and Axis of Egos there is an inevitable problem with the way this has all gone, from the word go. There really probably needed to be caucusing and proper discussing and even, damn it, some sort of Centre Left primaries.

If we are genuinely trying to get 51% of the electoral college we are not going the right way about it.

If we are trying to get a platform for democratic socialist principles ditto.

Nice spoof on NewerLabour saying all members of the SCG have now decided to stand ...

8:23 pm, December 22, 2006

Anonymous David Floyd said...

"If we are genuinely trying to get 51% of the electoral college we are not going the right way about it.

If we are trying to get a platform for democratic socialist principles ditto."

Yes, the first option has obviously never been realistically possible but a left candidate getting on the ballot to force Brown to say what he thinks would be a good thing and is a possibility.

Like Harry - though I'm not actually a huge fan of Hain - I would have liked to see someone like Hain running a centre-left leadership bid. But that's not going to happen.

I'm genuinely baffled as to why McDonnell didn't have a chat to Alan Simpson before launching his bid.

I'm equally baffled as to why anyone sees Meacher as a more mainstream candidate.

On foreign policy, he's less mainstream than George Galloway.

Whatever their thinking, the Campaign Group have turned the straightforwardly difficult task of getting McDonnell on the ballot into a hilarious dark farce.

And they're as a far as ever from a role in real life national politics.

3:39 pm, December 23, 2006


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