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.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friends' Meeting

My Saturday morning took me to the Friends' Meeting House in Euston Road for the London Region Political Conference of Amicus, consisting of all the union's delegates to London CLPs.

I was re-elected to the Regional Political Committee - the "forces of light" took all 20 places on the committee and curiously the Hard Left was a lot less well represented than a year ago, when they ran us quite close.

The delegates included on our side included John Spellar and on the defeated side former Cabinet Minister Albert Booth, Jim Mortimer (the Labour Party General Secretary who ran the 1983 General Election Campaign) and "Red" Ted Knight. Comrades Mortimer and Knight treated us to "questions" to Deputy General Secretary Graham Goddard which attacked him and Derek Simpson from the left and lasted the best part of ten minutes each (during which the chair told off Spellar & me for heckling, though she did say what we had shouted was "funny").

Booth, Mortimer and Knight also had a go at guest speaker Jon Cruddas. I thought Jon was personable, human, intelligent and had a good organisational analysis about re-building the party. He also won brownie points for praising Tony Blair and quoting Paul Keating. On the minus side it was all a bit anecdotal - based on what people have said to him at surgeries in Dagenham - and the political conclusions were vague and muddled - all about keeping the coalition of swing voters and core voters together ( a - does anyone think we shouldn't? and b - he seemed to have strong views on appealing to the latter but not the former). The big theme seemed to be that we have ignored our core working class vote. But this doesn't stack up. The votes Labour lost in 2005 to the Lib Dems were disproportionately the liberal anti-war middle classes, not the core vote (hence seats lost were places like Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green and Bristol West). And I represent a council ward that is a lot more working class and deprived than Dagenham but remains enthusiastic about voting Labour - when I look around it, it needs loads more done but it certainly hasn't been ignored in the last ten years: all the estates are getting revamped with huge investment under Decent Homes, there's a 3* hospital in the ward, a new city academy in the pipeline, more frequent buses, crime is down since we got a 6-strong ward policing team, and more people have jobs - and those that do get the minimum wage and WFTC. Saying Labour hasn't delivered for its core voters just isn't true.

Anyway, I doubt, knowing the politics of most of the people in the room, that Cruddas came away having converted anyone, and like most of the other Amicus Regional Political Conferences our one was again a bastion of sensible politics.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Andrea said...

"Comrades Mortimer and Knight treated us to "questions" to Deputy General Secretary Graham Goddard which attacked him and Derek Simpson from the left"

who is the "him" referring to?

" The votes Labour lost in 2005 to the Lib Dems were disproportionately the liberal anti-war middle classes, not the core vote (hence seats lost were places like Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green and Bristol West). And I represent a council ward that is a lot more working class and deprived than Dagenham but remains ethusiastic about voting Labour"

At the 2005 GE Labour % fall in Hackney seats wasn't very different from the fall in Cambridge or Hornsey*.
So was the fall produced just by "guardinistas" also in Hackney? Following this logic, being more working class your ward should have showed a less big drop. Did it happen?


* Actually almost all Lab/LD seats in that part of London produced similar falls in Labour % at 2005 GE: Hackney North (-12.4%), Hackney South (-11.3%), Holborn and St Pancras (-10.7%), Islington North (-10.7%), Islington South (-14%), Hornsey (-11.6%), Tottenham (-9.6%),Leyton & Wanstead (-12.2%) and Walthamstow (-11.9%)

9:38 pm, January 27, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

him = Graham Goddard i.e. the far left attacked the Amicus leadership less far left.

Annecdotally Diane Abbott has said that she felt our vote held up well on estates in the GE and the erosion was in owner-occupied bits of Stoke Newington.

That's certainly my impression from canvass returns & local election results - the council estates are better for us than in 1990s partly due to improved council performance whereas the streets are going Green (or in GE LD) on national/international issues.

10:20 pm, January 27, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrea said...

Thanks for both the "him" (I misunderstood the sentence when I first read it. I thought that you were saying that Goddard was attacking "him" from the left) and the estates/"streets" voting trend differences in Hackney

10:41 pm, January 27, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The left in amicus got what they wanted with the election of Derek Simpson. What is their problem with him?

9:53 pm, January 28, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrew Brown said...

I remember talking to the late John Golding about Albert Booth. This was in the early days of this government and John was suggesting that Blair ought to use the experience of people like Booth to help him understand how government can work.

4:55 pm, January 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Pete Gillard said...

Just out of interest Luke, which Amicus branch are you delegated from?

4:44 am, February 01, 2007

 

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