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, December 07, 2007

Inside the world of "Save the Labour Party"

The latest Save the Labour Party newsletter - http://www.savethelabourparty.org/0711.pdf - is full of gems.

We learn that:
  • the problem with conference is the wrong kind of delegates are getting elected - "only about 11 % the delegates consistently supported our interests"; "It also appears that CLPs are sending increasingly right wing/anti-democratic delegates or, at any rate, those who are easily influenced by Party staff." (translation: left policies are unpopular both with 89% of Labour activists elected as conference delegates, and the activists on GCs who elect them)
  • "The Centre-Left Grass Roots Alliance did far worse in these elections than it has done for a long time polling overall 10% fewer votes than usual." (translation: not only do 89% of the Labour Party think left policies are bonkers, they don't like left candidates either)
  • "When visiting South Africa earlier in the year STLP Secretary Gaye Johnston asked herself what would have happened in South Africa if Nelson Mandela and the ANC had given up the struggle in the face of odds far greater than we face?" Message from Luke to STLP: you are not the ANC, Gaye Johnston is not Nelson Mandela, New Labour is not the Apartheid Regime. Please see a psychiatrist now to get your delusions treated. Then refer them to the similarly delusional Compass who think they are comparable to Ghandi.
  • "The PLP has become increasingly New Labour." Yes, because not only do ordinary Labour Party members not elect left wing fruitloops as conference delegates, they don't select them as parliamentary candidates either.
  • The CLGA slate for the NEC is: Ann Black and Peter Kenyon (STLP), Pete Willsman (CLPD), Mohammed Azam (BASG), Christine Shawcroft (NSCGN) plus a woman still being selected by CLPD. Walter Wolfgang is retiring. No doubt Peter will repeat his triumph in the NCC election this year.
  • The internal STLP ballot reveals that on a 52% poll 55 votes were cast i.e. this mass organisation which is poised to seize the Labour Party - and gives it lectures about recruitment - has a nationwide total of 106 members. An average of 0.16 per CLP. No wonder they don't get many conference delegates elected. Within this thriving model of democracy Ann Black (who is occasionally sensible) got 38 first preference votes and Tom Davidson –5, Susan Press-5, Peter Kenyon 4, Stefan Cholewka 3. So Peter Kenyon has got on the CLGA NEC slate on the basis of 4 first preference votes!
  • Finally we learn that not only is STLP comparable to the ANC, it's actually a religious movement: "Save the Labour Party is a crusade, or it is nothing." A crusade, but just a very small, very unsuccessful one.


Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

It didn't really require your translations, Luke - the meaning was perfectly apparent: it was an honest, self-critical piece of reflection. Others should try it.

1:02 pm, December 07, 2007

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Akehurst said ...
"Please see a psyciatrist (sic) now to get your delusions treated."

Ha, ha! Talk about the kettle calling the pot black!

2:17 pm, December 07, 2007

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Crusade - definition (2): a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm.

Religious? Wrong again, Akehurst!

2:23 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

I look forward to a transparent report on the selection of every other candidate that stands for the NEC elections next year, starting with the Labour First slate.

Everyone whom I know who is a member of or sympathises with the aims of Save the Labour Party really doesn't want to be a member of a separate organisation. We just want the Labour Party to be a mass-membership, solvent, ethical and democratically run organisation able to win elections for Labour candidates for public office at whatever level.

Any objections to that?

2:32 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Hughes Views said...

Err - why do they need to save a party that's now in its eleventh year of government? Or is that the problem? Perhaps the easy certainties of opposition are so much more appealing than the hard slog of actually getting something done...

5:22 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Now, let's see.....

1. Whether you like it or not, Luke, the labour party has lost more than half its membership since 1997 and many local parties are moribund. many who have stayed probably do have the same 'leadership can do no wrong' beliefs as you do, but that doesn't appear to be reflected in terms of voters enthusiasm
2. Hence the votes for the GrassRoots alliance will be lower. When I was a member I always voted for a mix of candidates: it was a pity that those not on a slate like Val Price were never elected.
3. Whilst I share the scepticism about exaggerated comparisons, the same certainly goes for the messianic delusions of Blair and the Government with regard to their foreign policy
4. See 1 and 2.
5. I hope that people who actually want a broad based Labour party will consider voting for a balanced slate - or it will continue to lose ground to a reinvigorated Tory party. The aim should surely be to win back members - but you seem to want 'only members who think like you'. They simply aren't there, Luke.
6. This is the problem, though - non-participation in politics full stop. But people won;t join organisations like the Labour party unless they can have an impact. Why bother, otherwise?
7. I can't think of anything more 'religious' than some New Labour rhetoric!

I am currently not a party member, I've always been unaffiliated with any one faction, but have always seen myself as a pro-European social democrat on the progressive centre-right in Labour terms. Roy Hattersley has said much the same.
But he, like me, now finds himself classified as 'on the left' for simply remaining social democrats.

I've been visiting this blog for a while, Luke, and essentially, I think you are ideologically right-of-centre. Your views are simply not social democratic.

7:10 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


If you are not even a member of the Labour Party, which is the British affiliate to the Socialist International, I won't take any lectures from you about whether or not I'm a democratic socialist.

7:18 pm, December 07, 2007

Anonymous Mike said...

good post and the South African comparison they make is particularly offensive

one language issue - please don't use the term 'see a psychiatrist'. I'm sure you didn't intend to cause offence, but this post might cause just that, especially to Labour modernisers with metal health problems

9:22 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Luke: and that explains exactly why you are heading for defeat at the next election.

Because you are not interested in dialogue with anyone who doesn't see things the way you do - like those 250,000 people who haven't bothered to renew their Labour party subs since 1997.

The fact is that Labour are heading for defeat next time, but I think you would prefer that than to change direction. Reminds me of the far left in the early 80's! This isn't 1997, Luke, and too many people just don't believe in New Labour any more.

As for the Socialist International, tell me how many of them agreed with Blair's foreign policy? Or did they look on disgusted as Blair smooched with Aznar and Bush?

10:57 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

You are correct - I am interested in politically defeating people who disagree with me, not appeasing them. Given that I think they are wrong, why would I adjust my position to make it more like their's i.e. more wrong.

I think you may be in for the same kind of surprise at the next election that we got from the Tories in 1992.

11:11 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

...I am interested in politically defeating people who disagree with me, not appeasing them.

Well, no one could say, for example, you didn't make a good fist of the 2000 London Mayoral election, when extraordinary tactics were deployed by the machine to try and defeat Ken Livingstone.

A tragic style of politics that will lose us the next election if we don't save the Labour Party from your brand of political culture.

11:51 pm, December 07, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


I would find your protestations about pluralism more believable if STLP didn't form alliances of convenience with jaded Bennite and Trot hacks who are fairly blatant in their desire to make the party as small, unelectable and extreme as possible, and who frankly make us on the right look like amateurs when it comes to fixes.

I'm enthusiastically backing Ken against Boris so I don't know why you have raked up 2000. All I'd say is what about Andrew MacIntosh in 1982. Ken's an internal party fixer and hatchet man par-excellance - just in 2000 he got a taste of his own medicine. I'm pleased he's moved on and now we're all on the same team.

I can honestly say that my experience over the last 20 years is that the right of the party are more welcoming, open to new members, open to debate and better defenders of internal party democracy than the left.

I'm not sure you really care about the democracy issue per se at all. You want the Labour Party to be more left wing and to get that you need to smash the existing power structures and restore power to the small clique that temporarily ran it in the eary '80s. Good luck to you but please don't expect us to roll over and let the left put the Tories in for a generation like they did before.

12:10 am, December 08, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

But can't you see , Luke, that many who would have agreed with you in 1997 have made the perfectly rational decision that whilst some of the things that the Government did and are doing are good, others need revision or have not proved to be successful?

If you stop listening to people, then you become exactly as the Tories were - and so when a credible opposition cane along in the form of Labour in 97, they lost.

We are not at that stage yet. But you still seem to be fighting the battles of 1997, whereas we now have a very different scenario.

And that last statement really did sound just like those on the far left who back in the early 80's, removed me from the GMC for not 'toeing the line'

I would argue that the public just don't have the instinctive trust in Labour which they once had. And I think that the first step to rebuilding that trust includes a little humility in terms of winning back a majority - not from those who flirted with us in 97, but the natural Labour voters who either didn't vote or voted LD last time. Your strategy did work in hoovering up soft Tory voters back in 97. But in 2001 and 2005 Labour only won because of Tory abstentions given an unelectable Tory party.

Its a different world now. The Tories are an opposition to be reckoned with - and that means that 'more of the same' will not be enough.

12:18 am, December 08, 2007

Blogger susan said...

What exactly do you think you are achieving by slagging off decent people on the centre-left? I happen to be well to the left of STLP but still remain a member. The LabOUR Commission instigated by Peter Kenyon involved ALL wings of the Party and was an excellent attempt to point the way forward ro restore democracy.The fact the leadership has chosen to ignore its findings is, frankly, a disgrace.

1:06 am, December 08, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Luke, none of your contributions to the discussions on this thread, and others, have given any indication that you've thrown off your 1997 mindset of "This Way Is The Only Way". Stop arguing against an imaginary 1982-Left in your head and start dealing with the fact that our party is losing members, support and credibility.

Because it's the New Labour right that's now living in the past, not the left.

3:18 am, December 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I was Labour not New Labour now I feel like a communist just for being Labour.

11:45 am, December 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep sticking it into them! Very funny post and it is true - the hard left are very much on the retreat in the party and that's a good thing. Just so long as they are not replaced by their mirror image of the old right (and so far they are not) that is all good news

12:07 pm, December 08, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


it isn't an imaginery 1982 left. It's the same people just 25 years older and more cynical.

P.S. I'm not stuck in 1997 - this is an older fight than that - I'm still in Gaitskellite vs Bevanite mode.

3:38 pm, December 08, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

1. STLP are not "hard left", ridiculous

2. CLGA are not even hard left as they contain groups of various shades

3. ANC comparison is silly

4. Luke NL line on this reminds me of those other line mongers the SWP though they have principles

5. Meanwhile back in the real struggle between good and evil the devil incarnate Iain Dale can't tell the difference between frontline jobs and bureaucrats. He is throwing his toys. Comments and links most welcome.

5:04 pm, December 08, 2007

Blogger susan said...

Yes, The "hard left" is really in retreat. Three regional LRC groups this week alone in Newcastle, Southampton and Merseyside.........

5:57 pm, December 08, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

But you criticise just about everyone who has any criticism to make of the government, Luke, including those of us who don't even think of themselves as on the left. Just straightforward social democrats who nevertheless have retained critical faculty....you need to remember that Labour won the last two elections largely because of a totally unelectable opposition. It is now a different situation and the profile of 1997 is no longer relevant. Simply repeating the same old mantras won't help convince anyone.

6:00 pm, December 09, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

"it isn't an imaginery 1982 left. It's the same people just 25 years older and more cynical."

That's odd, because most people I know on the Labour left weren't old enough to vote in 1982. Still, you just keep convincing yourself that it is - so much better than indulging in any sort of self-reflection.

For someone who's perpetually banging on about how small, irrelevant and unpopular the left is, you do seem strangely rattled and bothered by them

7:01 pm, December 09, 2007

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Mike you really should rejoin the party (which I think and hope what Comrade Akehurst was impling about your lack of membership) and help bring some sensible debate back into our ranks.
I actually agree with Luke, I think the next election is winable, Camron does not look credable, don't write us off just yet!!!

4:12 pm, December 11, 2007


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