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, July 05, 2007

Ultra left attack Brown party renewal proposals

Peter Kenyon proclaims that the "grassroots" of the Labour Party are asking for a rethink of Brown's recent proposal to reinvigorate party democracy.

He bases this on one resolution passed at a single branch in Walthamstow.

The mover is usefully listed. One Simon Deville. A quick google search reveals that Mr Deville is or was on the Editorial Board of Labour Left Briefing, a grouping/journal that even Clare Short was moved to denounce for its personalised attacks on any one to the right of it, most famously its "Class Traitor of the Month" column (which unfortunately was discontinued before I could acquire the honour of featuring in it). How very representative of mainstream grassroots opinion in the Labour Party.

Footnote:

People are getting over excited in the comments claiming that I am describing Peter Kenyon as "ultra left". I'm not. I'm describing Labour Left Briefing as ultra left, which I am sure they would see as a compliment. Peter himself is sui generis but seems to follows the 1930s Popular Front position of "no enemies to the left".

Footnote 2:

Wikipedia definition of ultra left:

"Used pejoratively, the term generally identifies and criticizes positions, especially by those in the mainstream historical Marxist parties, to describe a position which is adopted without taking notice of the current situation or of the consequences which would result from following a proposed course - leftist positions that, for example, over-state the tempo of events, propose initiatives that over-estimate the current level of militancy or which employ a highly militant tone in their propaganda."

So, Peter Kenyon isn't ultra left but Briefing are.

Susan Press (of Briefing) says over on Chris Paul's site that Peter "belongs to no faction". Strange. It says on the Save the Labour Party website that he is their national chair. They are affiliated to the Grassroots Alliance and take part in GRA NEC slate selection processes. Sounds pretty factional to me.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't seriously be calling Peter Kenyon "hard left"? It may have been proposed by a left winger but obviously to pass at a branch meeting and be endorsed by Kenyon it must have broader appeal than that.

7:14 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

The proposals are kinda out for consultation aren't they Luke? Are you demanding that this is met with a wall of silence? Gordon's Wonderwall?

7:44 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Yet again, an ultra-New Labourite posts something about the left that contains absolutely no attempt to address the actual policy issues raised, but instead resorts to smears and petty personal attacks.

I love the smell of intellectual bankruptcy of an evening.

8:37 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Clare Short write for Briefing in the early days ?

9:42 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leabridge branch of Hackney North & SN passed a similar resolution tonight.

I wonder how many BLPs must do so before they are recognised as being representative of part of the Party grassroots?

10:10 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Peter Kenyon the ultra leftist... Sometimes, Luke...

10:16 pm, July 05, 2007

 
Anonymous hovedan said...

good to meet you in person tonight. those of us on the social democratic left; Harriet and hazel supporters, alike, we will continue to debate issues, but i know that it is people like Luke, who work hard for the party, who will continue to strive for our values.

Dan

12:58 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

Chris Paul makes a good point.

Instead of smearing folk who criticise or discuss the proposals as ultra leftists, how about engaging on the issues?

After all, these propsals are up for discussion are they not?

Blimey, relax, chaps.

The Labour Party is so jumpy.

3:49 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Bill said...

Last I checked, as a former fully paid up member of the ultra-left, its definition included hostility to the Labour Party and trade unions (especially in far left circles), so I suspect this gadge, being a LP member isn't exactly ultra-left - try reading a few more ICC publications (for the giggle, obviously).

8:00 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Finsbury Park branch, Highbury West and Highbury East are all submitting similar motions to Islington North GC.

With Highbury East notably being the rogue Blairite ward in the CLP.

8:14 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Will all the comrades whose branches are passing resolutions - whether supportive or critical, in sorrow or in anger - about 'Extending and renewing party democracy' by Gordon Brown please send a copy to office AT savethelabourparty.org.

The Party's org sub meets on 10 July, it is not too early to start building a consensus around how our new Leader's ideas should be handled.

Many thanks in advance.

8:42 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year, all this lot actually had the cheek to meet in my ward, just down the road from a by-election hq and debate this kind of stuff. Needless to say, after the comrades were finished discussing, as Malclom Tucker would say: "how to count the Moon", no one actually turned up up for any canvassing.

9:26 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's your point, caller?

10:04 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Duncan, I was referring to Labour Left Briefing as ultra-left, not Peter, who is sui generis.

Anonymous - QED - Leabridge is the ward in Hackney North where Briefing are strongest. I.e. the opposition to Brown's proposals is coming from the paper-selling tendency.

Normal Labour Party branches spend their time organising campaigning or discussing issues, not passing resolutions.

10:16 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Normal Labour Party branches spend their time organising campaigning or discussing issues, not passing resolutions."

Ever considered doing both?

10:41 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:43 am, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Dan said...

I think a headline featuring news of a repsonse by the "Ultra left" followed by someone's name is a pretty stong link, never mind your "clarification" later on.

But perhaps worse is your claim that normal members don't pass resolutions and campaign instead. The attempt by New labour to remove politics from Labour Party meetings led to normal members leaving in their thousands and the party being so short of activists we didn't have the bodies to go and do the campaigning of which you fondly speak. As the previous commenter said, we need to do both - otherwise the membership implosion will continue.

11:44 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

My Branch has a resolution on Tuesday condemnning Brown for inviting Tories and Lib dems into the Govt.We also oppose Brown's moves to curb Party conference even further. I have known Peter Kenyon for four years and the idea he is "ultra left" is ludicrous. Peter is fair and open-minded. I speak, of course, as a Labour Briefing supporter.

11:57 am, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

People left the party because there weren't enough resolutions at meetings!!!!!

Beyond parody...

12:16 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

Plenty of people have left the party because it feels increasingly like whatever they do at meetings makes no difference.

12:46 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The vast majorioty of the people who have left since 1997 never attended a single meeting during their time as members. Nor do up to 90% of current members. Given that 200,000 people quit membership and the total national participation rate at branch meetings is probably about 20-40,000 it is highly unlikely that the potency of resolution passing was a big factor.

12:49 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

PS any chance of some more of you resigning as it's so awful? Go on ...

12:50 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Labour First is very welcome to join Save the Labour Party, as Gordon Brown said to Ming Campbell: "My door is always open."

We want to be a campaign of all the talents.

1:01 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Would that mean that we could input indirectly into the selection of the GRA NEC slate? Perhaps I could be on it, being both from the grassroots and centre-left.

1:07 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Dan said...

Fair enough, a badly worded comment to follow a badly worded post. Like Luke, I will try to clarify: I was making a point about the general removal of politics, not specifically about resolutions. There are plenty of other examples, including the rallification of conference, which Gordon Brown and Luke apparently wish to take even further. Sheffield 1992 anyone?

1:32 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think that conference - a meeting with over 1,000 delegates and 3 minute speeches is ever going to be a place to meaningfully develop policy. So yes I would rather be honest about conference being a jamboree and public showcase - but empowered to elect key decision-makers - and the real policy-development happen in policy fora and the NPF.

1:47 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Luke, I have to say that many of those who have left in our constituency were amongst the most active members 8 to 10 years ago; those who were never active but paid their subs have - for the most part - continued to do so. Our CLP may be atypical, but I doubt it (in that respect, at least).

I don't really know what these labels mean. Am I ultra-left? Obviously I think I'm a moderate (only office jokers go around saying 'I'm mad, me!') but self-definition is always problematic... I've always rather liked Briefing as a publication, and 'Class Traitor of the Month' (or whatever it was) was no more to be taken seriously than those 'hilarious' Labour Students 'games' (such as a quiz I recall when the answer to every question was 'Socialist Organiser') The Brown/Blair position seems extreme to me in many respects (bombing people for example, must be ultra-something) but the language seems to get set from the so-called 'centre'.

Does the fact that someone associated with Briefing has supported an issue immediately render that issue unworthy of being taken seriously? There must have been editorial lines in Briefing you've agreed with over the years (we're all in the same party after all)!

5:02 pm, July 06, 2007

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

"I don't think that conference - a meeting with over 1,000 delegates and 3 minute speeches is ever going to be a place to meaningfully develop policy"

So come on Luke, tell is, what IS a meaningful place to develop policy? Because through reading your blog over time I've not detected any real ideas from you on how internal party democracy can be improved, or even whether you agree with it.

So let's have that democratic debate eh? (assuming you believe in such things, of which I've seen very little evidence on this blog, admittedly, but still...) We won't bite.

4:27 am, July 07, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

It is very naughty indeed of you "PUB" or not to re-write your appallingly badly expressed initial post - which did tar comrades Deville and Kenyon with the same brush and then jeer at people for pointing this out. This is very dishonest Luke. I'd expect you to er, admit you were wrong this time.

Instead you have perpetrated a cover up!

I wonder how many people took the precaution of archiving your original words and are saving them up for a rainy day?

6:06 pm, July 07, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

On the three minute speech point:

(a) If there are enough of such speeches then a debate can be had;
(b) One person having a 60 minute speech instead is not the answer;
(c) Sticking in a panel of Amos and Faulkner telling us how to engage with the electorate of letting D Skinner run 30 minutes over are not the way to remedy matters.

6:10 pm, July 07, 2007

 

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