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.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The conceit of Neal Lawson

That's enough about Trident.

Now let's resume normal service with a look at Compass Chair Neal Lawson.

Neal has been Down Under. Unfortunately for the British Labour Party he had a return ticket.

His trip was not, mind, a fact-finding trip to find out how the ALP has got a huge poll lead, is being rejuvinated by new moderate leader Kevin Rudd or is in power and governing well in every state and territory government.

Nope, he went to tell them "the lessons they could learn from" Compass.

I think that is what is known as a Pommie colonialist mentality.

Did anyone tell the dominant faction in the ALP, the Labor Right, that he was there?

And what lessons did he tell the bemused Aussies? How to publish tract after tract of pseudo-intellectual codswallop? How to undermine your party's current and next leader? How to regularly attack your own party in the Guardian? How to be wrong on almost every major issue? How to preach democracy but rig your consultation poll on the Deputy Leadership?

Here's what he actually said, in italics:

  • Don’t rely on or blame leaders: Neither Tony Blair, the new ALP leader Kevin Rudd, Gordon Brown or any other Labour leader has all the answers. Leaders always take the path of least resistance. They need to be channelled to take the best possible path. Crying betrayal just disempowers us. What a hypocrite. He spends all his time blaming leaders.
  • Don’t turn desperation into capitulation: The left in the UK gave Blair too much room and too much credit after 1997. We didn’t win as New Labour and we didn’t have to govern as New Labour. We won, like all oppositions, as not being like the previous failed government. More radical paths were open to us and still are. This probably one of the most politically illiterate single paragraphs I have ever read. A good example of Neal writing the diametrical opposite of the truth and thinking if he asserts it enough times it will be retrospectively true. And back in 1997 he was one of the worst "New, New, New, liquidate the Party" ultras.
  • Have an alternative economic policy: The left has been lazy on economic policy above all else. Its left just one route – too much accommodation with free market practices that lead to a social recession. The Compass report on A New Political Economy sets out the starting points of such an alternative. Yeah, an alternative economic policy - a real vote winner like it was in 1983. An alternative to the prosperity we actually have had for 10 years. We'll have to give that a try on the doorsteps: "let's pull you out of the misery of the social recession you didn't know you were in. You'll lose your job, but never mind, you'll get a yoghurt weaving class or esperanto lessons to make you feel more socially prosperous."
  • Have an alternative public service reform agenda: Don’t just be left with commercialisation as the only response to new demands on public services. Develop democratic and collectivist alternatives such as co-production. "Co-production"????? Oh I see, another made up concept from the Compass book of ideas generated by 2nd year sociology students...
  • Have an electoral strategy: New Labour has held a monopoly on this issue and must be challenged. Not least because 4 million votes have been lost since 1997 and more of the same strategy will see us lose the next election. Yep Neal's got an electoral strategy. It's called winning all the 400,000 Guardian readers but losing the other 99% of the population.
  • Believe a different world is possible: Left politics must be about transformation not just adaptation. People join Labour party’s and align themselves to left politics because they want to change the world. If we stop believing this is possible then we start to go backwards. Believe a different world is possible. But one only Compass members would want to live in.
  • Build a force of ideas and organisation: Ideas and beliefs are the starting point of politics but as Lenin said “the victory of ideas needs organising” and cannot be left to chance. Aha, a Lenin quote. Obviously a great inspiration for all democratic socialists (ignoring the few hundred thousand of us he had murdered in the Red Terror. I hope he quoted Lenin in Sydney. They expel people who quote Lenin there.

Welcome back Neal. I was missing your frequent reminders of exactly how pernicious and laughable Compass is.

34 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does Luke ignore the important points put forward by Owen?

In particular:

How about the Government stop ignoring Labour party policies passed at Conference?

Why should the PLP take collective responsibility for decisions it's never been party to?

Or have you nothing to say on these points, Luke?

7:40 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Mann said...

"How to preach democracy but rig your consultation poll on the Deputy Leadership"?

In my experience, people do not make (and particularly publish)false allegations without evidence.

I would hope that Mr Akehurst is able to present evidence to substantiate his allegations should particular individuals associated with Compass wish to challenge him on the grounds of making false and damaging allegations against their character.

9:58 am, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Dave said...

You won't be surprised to learn I quite like some of what Lawson is saying these days.

But I, too, remember the dude from the early nineties and can't quite take the Damascene conversion seriously.

Then again, as an ex-Trot, I probably shouldn't say that.

10:03 am, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Dave said...

BTW Luke - and completely off-topic - email me if you know of any reliable babysitters in Hackney, please.

10:13 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke "a joke" Akehurst slagging off Compass - no change there then from a man who is so far up the New Labour right's arse, he can see Eric Joyce MP's feet. The arrogance of both men is to behold. Pathetic.

10:14 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous susan calder valley CLP said...

Luke, you may enjoy being in a National Government under Tony Blair. Most of us don't. I am deeply ashamed to be in a Labour Party which relies on Tory support to get despicable policies through.The day can't come soon enough when people like you seek their natural home in the Conservative Party.Neal Lawson has gone to the left. So what? Tony Benn used to write speeches for Hugh Gaitskell, your mate. I sincerely hope people in Waltham stow read this blog and do not make the mistake of choosing you as PPC.

10:17 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan, if you are ashamed I suggestyo leave. Take it from me, you won't be missed.

10:20 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan from calder valley is of course a supporter of John McDonnell, and sums up why so many are dismayed by his campaign. If you disagree with her, not only are you mistaken but you are a Tory and should leave the party. Whatever happened to a broad consensus, or to comradeship?

As for this 'national government' trash, both the Atlee and Wilson / Callaghan governments faced votes where they would have been deffeated if the Conservatives had voted with Labour rebels. Unlike those two governments, however, the supposedly centralising and secretive Blair government has allowed Parliament to vote on nuclear weapons instead of taknig the decisions in private.

11:16 am, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ted - Compass ran a poll re. the Deputy Leadership that more or less instructed members to vote for one pre-endorsed candidate and excluded another from the ballot paper completely. Enough evidence?

11:52 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

....er, the other candidate - Blair's little helper Ms Blears - failed to do Party Members the courtesy of telling them earlier (and before the Compass ballot) that she would be abusing her position and standing in the contest; you can hardly blame Compass if, having used her position to promote herself, she entered the fray after they sent out their ballot papers. ....and where was the "instruction" to Compass members - it was a recommendation!

For "instruction" to members and ballots, I refer you to your wonderful Blair's interference in the London mayoral and Welsh Assembly leadership elections circa 2000 - Luke, I don't recall hearing you bleating then.

11:59 am, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My, how times change.

Luke, I don't remember this much antipathy from you when you sat on the LCC Executive.

12:02 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Derek said...

Re.Walthamstow - I,like many others, have seen your pompous email to my Cllrs telling them of your decision to stand for selection here; well bring it on! - we will have great pleasure sending you packing. Luke - you are a Blairite fanatic and if we wanted to turn this safe Labour seat Tory (never mind towards Respect), we could do no better than select you...which is why we would do so over my dead body! (not to mention the boies of many other members here). You, your idol Blair, Mandelson , Blears, Milburn and the rest are the past - we will be looking to the future.

12:12 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous susan calder valley CLP said...

Nice to see Sham back doing anonymous posting.
Yes, I support John McDonnell and so do thousands of other socialists in the Labour Party.Why wouldn't I? What Blair and his clique have done to this Party in the last three years is despicable.When the history books cometo be writen,Blair's name will be up there with Ramsay MacDonald as one of the most treacherous politicians we've ever had the misfortune to be linked with.We had a marvellous opportunity in 1997.It's been utterly squandered

12:59 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous FRUIT & NUT said...

"We had a marvellous opportunity in 1997.It's been utterly squandered"

No it hasn't. You're clearly deranged if you think so. Just as I think Luke is demented in his ultra-loyalism, you are clearly a loon if you can't see the benefits this Labour government has brought.

2:19 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Niall said...

What is going on?

How bad has it got that, regardless of which wing of the party you consider yourself to be on, we can't agree that Compass is total cack.

Finally, Susan - John McDonnell - because a nutter's world is possible. If you think that for even one second that we were elected in 1997 on a platform similar or even in the same post code as one you might espouse yourself then you are soooooooo deluded.

2:33 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous susan calder valley clp said...

Using words like "nutter" and "loon" is pretty offensive but it's the standard response of the New Labour right in this Party. I have been a member since 1976 . The way people like Luke talk, you would think Harold Wilson was a Trot. It would be funny if you weren't aspiring to be MPs.
I do not dispute New Labour has done some good things. SureStart, minimum wage, etc. But since 2003 and Iraq Blair has moved ever more sharply to the right and now Brown is doing the same to a horrifying degree ( see this week's New Statesman) . Neal Lawson is a decent guy with moderate ,democratic socialist ideas. Not some far-left revolutionary. He does not deserve to be trashed. People can change their minds.I actually voted for Blair in 1994 but 13 years ago he was saying very different things which no-one could possibly disagree with. You talk about John McDonnell in terms which are pretty hysterical. His platform - no more PFI,re-nationalise the railways, more council housing , as you well know is Labour Conference policy.I well recall how glad we all were when Labour won in 1997. The sun was shining and there was a profound sense of relief.It is that hope, that idealism,which has been squandered by Blair and his colleagues. Since 2003, we have been running low on political credit. And the electorate will punish us hugely in May.

3:01 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Mann said...

"Ted - Compass ran a poll re. the Deputy Leadership that more or less instructed members to vote for one pre-endorsed candidate".

Ah, so now it's "more or less". If you are not sure of your facts I'd advise to withdraw the serious allegation you have made accusing certain members of Compass of "rigging" their ballot on the deputy leadership.

Your choice but you are skating on extremely thin ice.

4:46 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Derek

I look forward to meeting you in Walthamstow. It sound like you are approaching the selection with an admirably open mind! I don't share your analysis that it is a safe seat - the Tories won it in 1987 and in the late '60s by-election. The current threat is from the Lib Dems and I have a good record of beating them. Whether you choose to judge me on the record of what I've actually done in Hackney and the policies I actually espouse or just use me as a local proxy for kicking the soon to be ex-PM is up to you. My experience in other selections is that OMOV tends to reveal that the number of members who share your critique of Blair even in allegedly "leftwing" CLPs is really very small. A good example is Hackney South, traditionally seen as a left CLP but where 2 moderate candidates came 1st and 2nd by a long way in the 2004 selection and the nationally well known Christine Shawcroft, despite heavy canvassing, got precisely 2 votes out of the couple of hundred cast at branch nomination meetings.

4:53 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anonymous - you say "I don't remember this much antipathy from you when you sat on the LCC Executive". Correct, but my politics have been consistent unlike Neal's sudden born-again leftism. I actually like Neal - I knew him in Bristol before I was on the LCC Exec - but feel personally betrayed by his espousal of the opposite politics now to that he promoted then. I'm not the only then member of the LCC Exec who feels the same way.

4:57 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Derek said...

"use me as a local proxy for kicking the soon to be ex-PM" - Luke, who on earth do you think you are!? Don't flatter yourself - I do not need to have issues with the PM to recognise that YOU are totally unsuitable for our area.

"It sound like you are approaching the selection with an admirably open mind!" - beleive it or not, I am; I am happy to consider the many other contenders who have thrown their hat in the ring; it does not follow that because I will not vote for you, I have a "closed" mind (though I appreciate you may have difficulty understanding that)

...and another thing; it is clear to all and sundry that you have done a deal with another ultra Blairite from the New Labour right, former Cllr Creasey - I don't have much time for her either...otherwise I am, of an open mind. Cheerio...I look forward to seeing you at the hustings (....if you get on to the shortlist). D

5:33 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Sarah said...

Derek - I could not agree more. A jumped up New Labour lobbyist for the Defence industry as Walthamstow's PPC....what a joke. Luke will not be getting my vote either - looking forward to what the other contenders have to say. It would be nice to see someone with some experience out of public affairs get it, rather than these blatant MP wannabes like Akehurst and his friends; I mean, just look at his photo which he plasters all over this blog - it is not exactly a vote winner is it!? Blair's politics may be lousy but at least he looks half decent; Akehurst looks 30 odd going on 13. I may be old Labour but I know image matters.

5:39 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On reflection, this post should maybe have been headed "The conceit of Luke Akehurst." If he came out with these views in my constituency, I could not vouch for his personal safety.Nor, I have to say, would I wish to.

5:52 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Oh I'd come on to this thread to do some Neal Lawson bashing (the idea that that man has anything to do with the left is ridiculous), but it's developed in such a way that I think I'll have to play a different role instead...

To say we had a marvellous opportunity in 1997 and that we, to a large extent, wasted that opportunity, is not to claim that the '97 programme was one that people on the left emphatically shared. I tramped the pavements and worked as hard as anyone to get us that victory in '97 and - unlike Susan who I think from things she's said elsewhere was quite optimistic - I had low expectations from the off (delighted though of course I was to be rid of the Tories). In fact there were areas where this government have exceeded my expectations. But other areas where they have been a lot more than disappointing, even to me. And I'm emphatically not the mainstream of the party and the mainstream of Labour supporters who I suspect are a lot more disappointed and let down than I am, because they had higher expectations and hopes from the off.

Why can't people have an honest discussion about that without shouting about accusing participants of being 'insane'? It seems odd to make an appeal to the broad church in the same post as brandishing people's allegiances in the upcoming elections as if they are hidden or secret (Susan has hardly made any secret of being a McDonnell supporter!!)

6:12 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

Luke, let's be fair, you do take quite a bit of inspiration from old V.I. yourself...

10:58 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

This all looks wonderful. Let's get personal in places where opposition candidates can have a read (just like Withington).

You should all be ashamed of yourselves. You have each other's email addresses. Use them.

11:03 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yep Neal's got an electoral strategy. It's called winning all the 400,000 Guardian readers but losing the other 99% of the population."

I'm not sure there's ever been a political current to rival Blairism in its use of tired abuse in place of constructive arguments. The above quote is par for the course. Sneering and inaccurate, but not prepared to address one's opponents' actual arguments.

As a Walthamstow CLP member I'll bear this in mind. And Luke, perhaps you'd care to consider WHY the Lib Dems are a threat to Labour in Walthamstow (not that I think they are, particularly).

Tom

11:34 am, March 17, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Susan, was offline all day yesterday, first time I've been on the computer since Thursday night.

The anonymous who insulted you wasn't me.

5:28 pm, March 17, 2007

 
Anonymous susan calder valley CLP said...

Sorry, Sham As your mission is normally to "out" McDonnell supporters I made the wrong assumption.

9:44 am, March 18, 2007

 
Anonymous david said...

Oh look, Luke's attacking members of his own party again.

Akehurst attacks the Labour party far better than any Tory can!

And as for Sham using his "I was off-line" excuse again - *cough* bollocks *cough*

1:10 pm, March 18, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

"David", as you've no doubt realised, I have no hesitation in criticising McDonnell or his supporters under my own name, so why would I do so anonymously?

Speaking of which, how about your own pathetic, virtually anonymous tirades against myself and Luke ... how's about giving us a surname, "Dave"???

3:21 pm, March 18, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Gosh. I go away for a nice weekend to celebrate mother's day and come back to reams of abuse, including the awful accusation that I look too young for my age. And apparently the political formula that seems to work fine in council elections in Hackney won't work on the other side of the river Lea, which is so leftwing it had a Tory MP from 1987-92 (surely some mistake?).

I am also intrigued by the frankly paranoid allegation that I "have done a deal with another ultra Blairite from the New Labour right, former Cllr Creasey" not least because Cllr Creasey's previous employment by high-profile Brownite Minister Douglas Alexander suggests she is not an "ultra Blairite". Incidently, given my hostility to the Clarke/Milburn 2020 vision stuff, and my scepiticism about public services reform, do I still qualify for that label?

I can't quite work out, if Walthamstow CLP is so leftwing, why my possible candidature merits such a lot of excitement. Surely I'll just crash and burn?

7:08 pm, March 18, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

To the anonymous poster who charmingly said "if he came out with these views in my constituency, I could not vouch for his personal safety. Nor, I have to say, would I wish to."

a) is that really true that there is a CLP where you run the risk of violence for expressing support for the Labour leadership? I think someone should tell your Regional Director.

b) as I don't think it is true, I would be happy to come and debate at your GC (maybe against Neal Lawson?). I love a challenge. Do get in touch with an invite.

7:16 pm, March 18, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't meant literally.So sorry, a bit OTT but you dpn't half come out with some utterly dreadful stuff.Our GCs once or twice have almost ended in fisticuffs.People usually leave the room before someone gets thumped.......

10:16 am, March 19, 2007

 
Anonymous Stan Rosenthal said...

I think the main misdemeanour about the Compass Deputy Leader poll was its failure to distinguish between the vote of Labour Party members and non-Party members of Compass, despite several requests from members to do so. This was probably due to the likelihood that the latter heavily outnumbers the former, something that Compass is curiously unwilling to declare.

If there was any rigging it was regarding the Trident ballot which went out to 2000 Compass member and no less than 14,000 non-members (including no doubt many CND'ers). The result was then presented as Compass membership authorisation (as required under the resolution passed at the last AGM) of the Compass anti-Trident campaign.

4:24 pm, March 19, 2007

 

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