A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, the Labour Party and Hackney - 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, July 27, 2007

Renewing the Party

I spent yesterday evening debating against Graham Bash of Labour Left Briefing at my CLP GC in Hackney North & Stoke Newington.

The subject was Gordon Brown's proposals on renewing Party democracy, plus a more general reaction to Brown's first month.

As you might expect, I was upbeat and welcomed the way things are heading.

Graham presented a gloomy picture of a Party in terminal decline, about to be subjected to a regime of control-freakery that he described variously as "Orwellian" and "Kafkaesque". It is fair to say that Graham thinks Brown is more of a threat to the left than Blair was because he will be more focused on the internal politics of the Party. You can read Briefing's position on the proposals here.

We voted on the proposals one by one:

Proposal 1: greater support to local Labour Parties in holding Policy Forums etc. PASSED 14-0 (3 abstentions)
Proposal 2: Strengthen the NPF with a regular work plan etc. PASSED 15-0 (2 abstentions)
Proposal 3: The JPC will take on an enhanced executive function etc. PASSED 9-8
Proposal 4: Annual Conference to be given a more substantial role in directing and monitoring the work of the NPF, 12 new NPF reps elected at Conference etc. PASSED 8-8 on chair's casting vote
Proposal 5: A new contemporary issues process replaced contemporary resolutions. FELL with no votes against and 1 abstention
Proposal 6: The final policy documents agreed by the National Policy Forum will be the subject of an OMOV ballot. PASSED 8-7
Proposal 7: Support for local parties and Labour Groups to consult and engage their communities. PASSED 12-3

Then we added our own Proposal 8: CLP Representatives on the NPF to be elected by OMOV: PASSED 11-2

9% and rising

I can't remember the last time I bought a copy of the Daily Torygraph - unlike some of my relatives I am neither a football nor crossword fan, so its undoubted strengths in reporting the former and publishing the latter would not counterbalance having to wade through multiple pages of reactionary drivel.

This morning though they got my 70p because I wanted to read about this poll.

41%-32%-16% sounds remarkably like the outcome of the 2001 landslide to me.

I understand the PLP are being encouraged to help canvass Tory marginal constituencies.

I have cleared Thursday October 25 in my diary.

Feels quite good to be Labour at the moment, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Accountancy for sectarians

Dave Osler (http://davidosler.com/) my comrade in Stoke Newington Central Ward Labour Party, has already had a look at the 2006 accounts of various political parties just posted on the Electoral Commission website:

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/regulatory-issues/soayearend2002.cfm

Some snippets:

The Communist Party of Britain (i.e. the Stalinist wing that refused to join Democratic Left in 1990) has 923 members but an income last year of nearly £100,000. It's key objective this year was to "maximise support for a left challenge in the Labour Party leadership elections". Hmmm, less than successful.

Green Party membership is declining - down from 7,110 to 7,019 last year, which is odd given levels of public interest in the environment.

Membership of our local rival in Haggerston Ward, Hackney Independent, is soaring - up from 12 in 2005 to 13 in 2006!

£15,000 of the £17,710 income of the Independent Working Class Association was from the out of court settlement of a libel action.

By means of comparison with the smaller far left groups, the Official Monster Raving Looney Party GB has 198 members.

Respect has 5,739 members, up from 5,674 - and costs £10 a year less to join than Labour.

The Revolutionary Communist Party Britain (Marxist/Leninist) appears to only have three members.

The SNP has 12, 571 members with an average age of 51.9.

The century-old admirably anti-Leninist SPGB has "continued its core activity of campaigning for a society based on common ownership, democratic control, production for use not profit and distribution on the principle "from each their ability, to each their need" , as the only framework within which the problems generated by the capitalist profit system can be successfully remedied. This involved publishing the Socialist Standard each month, producing and distributing pamphlets and leaflets, organising day-schools, holding and attending meetings, and maintaining a website (www.worldsocialism.org/spgb) on the internet." Electorally it was less successful in 2006 though, garnering 62 votes in Lambeth and 80 in Kingston. It has net assets worth £828,000 and says "The Party has no "Leader"; the person registered as such with the Electoral Commission is merely a member originally chosen by lot, with no power whatsoever, merely to conform to this provision of the registration process."

UKIP says it has 16,700 members.

Workers Liberty had an annual income of £81,674 - and didn't let its status as a registered political party stop it publishing leaflets urging its members to infiltrate the Hackney Labour Party.

The WRP (or the bit of it that kept the name) held a jumble sale in 2005 but not in 2006 (it only raised £168.20).

Weekly Worker

Weekly Worker, journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain, has an admirably open debate policy regarding its letters page.

This week they published this gem:

"[expletive deleted] reds

Dear red English comrads!
Sorry for my English. I want just to say, enough dream about [expletive deleted] communizm. I am already was living with him. No money, no food, no freedom, nothing. Even no sex ...

Igor
Russia"

Monday, July 23, 2007

GRA slate for elections at conference

CLPD has published the Grassroots Alliance slate for elections at Annual Conference:

http://home.freeuk.com/clpd/2007elections.htm

As I'm standing for the NPF I'm not allowed to comment on the other people running.

Instead I'll comment on the extraordinary number of gaps - i.e. non-runners.

To stand for the NPF you need your own and 2 other CLP nominations. In each region there are 4 seats up.

So this implies the GRA - a broad coalition of the various different left groups - can't field a full set of four candidates in any of the regions - or that the people they tried to run couldn't all get even three CLPs to nominate them. In the West Midlands they seem to have no one at all on the ballot paper.

So much for fears that the McDonnell campaign has re-energised the left on the ground in CLPs.

Excuses, excuses

Following in the Iain Dale school of by-election analysis, Respect has this take on Southall: "the short timescale of the election made for difficult terrain. Respect came fifth with 1.6 percent of the vote " and "The snap election was designed by New Labour to disadvantage other parties and was extremely undeomocratic [sic]. The timing of the scandalous suspension of George Galloway from parliament two days before the poll was clearly designed to affect the vote in Southall."

Carry on believing that comrades, if it makes you feel better. It will be interesting to see how you explain away losing the Shadwell Ward by-election in Tower Hamlets on 9 August if that happens (wrong kind of voters perhaps, or that old Leninist standby, "false consciousness"?).

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cash NOT for honours - cash for democracy to be able to function

I was going to try to write something about the CPS decision, but instead I'll link to what Benjamin Wegg-Prosser has written:

http://wpbenjamin.livejournal.com/

My primary reaction is not happiness at the CPS decision but deep anger that fundamentally decent people who were motivated by the desire to see Labour properly funded and able to compete on a level playing field at general elections with the plutocrat-backed Tories have had their reputations dragged through the mud for so long because of a vexatious, politically-motivated complaint by a nationalist MP trying to make a name for themselves. Of course the Police have to take complaints seriously - but surely this could have been resolved faster and with fewer leaks given the personal impact on the people concerned, on their ability to do their day jobs in government and on the reputation of the political process.

Lord Levy is a good man who has spent his life engaged in fundraising for charities and good causes - one of them being the Labour Party. I am delighted that he has been vindicated.

It was the bus wot won it

Virendra Sharma's battle bus in action, polling day, Southall.

Virendra Sharma is 60

... not 72 as the LDs smeared ... and he has just demolished David Cameron's hopes of becoming PM.

Cameron is toast.

Southall & Sedgefield results

First electoral tests of Brown's leadership passed with flying colours.

The allegedly invincible Lib Dem by-election machine created by Lord Rennard over decades shown by Tom Watson, Joan Ryan and new London Labour Party Regional Director Ken Clark to be eminently beatable (by over 5,000!).

Cameron a busted flush - and deservedly given Tory opportunism in terms of community politics in Southall.

Roll on the General Election and a 4th Labour term!

And a Labour Gain

My Agent in the 2001 General Election in Aldershot, Terry Bridgeman, gained a council seat off the Lib Dems tonight:

RUSHMOOR BC, HERON WOOD BY ELECTION RESULT -
Labour: 423
Liberal: 382
Conservative: 330
Spoilt papers: 3
Labour Gain from Lib Dem

Well done to Terry and the rest of Aldershot CLP.

Tory Tears

Third place in both seats. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2007/07/live-blog-on-se.html

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back from Southall

Forgot to pack Factor 40 suncream, so burnt lobster pink after leafletting and GOTV from 6.15am to 9.15pm.

Turnout alleged to be higher in non-Southall wards than Southall (i.e. in the bad areas for Labour).

My hunch - Lab over LD by under 1,000 with the Tories up to a couple of thousand behind that?

Hanwell where I was in the morning swamped by LDs, who had run a number of micro-level issue-based campaigns in that part of the seat on planning and traffic.

Southall where I was from 3pm showing lots of Labour posters in windows (domestic as well as shops), didn't see many LDs and Tories out and about but some impression of errosion of Sikh vote to the opposition parties (though not sure which one).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not clever

Ealing Southall Tory campaign allegedly not that up to speed with electoral law:

http://www.politicalpenguin.org.uk/blog/p,223/

The Retreat from Southall

Mr Dale appears to have heeded my words earlier this week about depressing expectations of victory. Second place will be a victory now, apparently. Strange, I thought we had a First-Past-the-Post election system.

I was also under the impression that the Tories believed Cameron was the Tory Blair, and the next election would be the Tory 1997. But whatever the outcome tomorrow, it looks unlikely to be similar to Labour's by-election gains of 1992-1997, which heralded the 1997 win:

Dudley West - Con to Lab swing of 29%, Lab maj of over 20,000 in a former Tory seat

SE Staffs - Con to Lab swing of 22%, Lab maj of nearly 14,000 in a former Tory seat

Wirral South - Con to Lab swing of 17%, Lab maj of nearly 8,000 in a former Tory seat

I can't remember any by-election in that parliament where there was the slightest doubt that the then government would lose the seat. The question was always how badly the Tories would be humiliated. This is not the scenario Labour are in now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Southall

Back to Southall tonight (or more correctly to Elthorne Ward - Hanwell - the mainly white non-Labour end of the constituency) with a team of Hackney councillors.

Unlike the Southall end of the seat, virtually no posters up, and impossible to call based on the canvass returns (I was holding the canvass board so saw all the data).

This one is going down to the wire.

I'll be back there at 6am on Thursday.

Another sad loss to the PLP

As regular readers can imagine, I am crying into my keyboard at Bob Marshall-Andrews' decision to retire.

Maybe next time they might get a Labour MP in Medway (i.e. one that actually votes with and doesn't attack their own government).

It's in my home county of Kent, so maybe I might be persuaded to give it a go, just to see Bob's reaction ...

I make that just 17 MPs restanding from the incredible shrinking Socialist Campaign Group.

Boff vs Boris

Boris Johnson may have frightened off Steve Norris but he has competition in the person of former Hackney Tory Councillor Andrew Boff.

Mr Boff, also former Leader of Hillingdon Council, says "Whoever becomes the Tory candidate for mayor will have a high profile - you don't need to acquire it prior to the selection." Good job really.

Ken Livingstone will be quaking in his boots at the prospect of a challenge from Andrew. He's a man whose personal vote is such that he lost Hornsey and Wood Green to Labour in the 1992 General Election after Hornsey had been held by the Tories since 1885, and chalked up a stunning 16% of the vote running for Mayor of Hackney last year (13,000 behind Labour winner Jules Pipe) as well as losing his Queensbridge Ward council seat to us on the same day, at precisely the same time the Tories managed to gain 130 seats elsewhere in the capital.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting the expectations game wrong

I went away at the weekend to celebrate my dad's 69th birthday (which puts him in the right age bracket to be a Labour by-election candidate nowadays) and therefore missed the opportunity to react to Labour hitting 40% in the opinion polls and Tory Ealing candidate Tony Lit turning out to be even less partisan than anyone realised.

It strikes me that the Tories have not learnt two important things about by-elections:

1) The degree of scrutiny your candidate will come under in a by-election means you need a ruthless panel process to weed out, for instance, folk who just attended the other party's fundraising dinner, had their photo taken with the other party's leader and made a large donation to do so. It doesn't mean that you headhunt people with local status without checking their background. Labour learnt all about the need for really hardline selection procedures in by-elections the hard way, after Deirdre Wood lost us the Greenwich by-election and Bob Gillespie lost us the Govan by-election. In by-elections a dull candidate who offers no hostages to fortune is preferable to a controversial one.

2) Managing expectations is critical. If the Tories had said they hoped to move from third to second in a safe Labour seat, they might be on track to match that expectation and get good coverage. But they've implied they could win and sent Cameron down to the seat 4 times so that success or failure is linked to him personally. That's created a situation where as long as Labour just holds on, it will be portrayed as a Tory failure to match expectations.

David Cameron has gambled the credibility of his leadership by associating himself so personally with this by-election.

If Lit loses on Thursday - which I think he will - the vultures on the David Davis wing of the Tories will be circling. And that could make an autumn general election very tempting - how about Thursday 27 September as polling day so that Labour benefits from the PM's speech to conference on Monday 24th, then scraps the rest of the event, and the Tory conference is after polling day? Just an idea.

UPDATE: someone has correctly commented that my idea above would fall foul of media coverage impartiality rules. So maybe another scenario is that GB announces the date of the election during conference week, with a four week campaign ending on 25 Oct?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Membership up

The July quarterly report I get as a CLP membership secretary shows Labour membership growing again in Hackney North for the second successive quarter. Taking into account the tighter rules on members in arrears that have been brought in, it is now back to pre-Iraq War levels.

What are other CLPs finding?

Boris

So, Boris Johnson is going to run as Tory candidate for Mayor of London.

I am sure that the Old Etonian MP for leafy Henley will really understand the problems facing Hackney and other inner city boroughs.

And his experience as Brackenbury Scholar in classics at Balliol College, Chief Political commentator on the Daily Telegraph, and Editor of the Spectator makes him an obvious choice for a demanding executive role representing Europe's most diverse city and delivering policing and public transport to 8 million people.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Swansea West selection

Interesting selection contest going on in Swansea West CLP, a seat with a Labour majority of 4269 over the LDs, where Father of the House Alan Williams is retiring as MP at the next election.

On politicalbetting.com the nominations are reported as:

Dr Parvaiz Ali: nominated by Castle, Cockett, Dunvant, Killay, Mayals, Sketty and Townhill Wards, Amicus 0257, 0901, Swansea University Labour Students.

Alana Davies: nominated by Castle & Cockett Wards.

Geraint Davies: nominated by Castle Ward & Co-operative Party.

Tamsin Dunwoody: Nominated by Uplands Ward, Unison City & County of Swansea, TSSA, USDAW A208,A030,A180, A194, A196.

Sophie Howe: nominated by Dunvant, Killay, Mayals, Sketty & Townhill Wards, Swansea University Labour Students.

Derek Vaughan: nominated by Uplands Ward, ASLEF, TGWU 4/1, 4/1400/2, 4/72, Unison Health, Unison City & County of Swansea.

The selection takes place on Friday.

Geraint Davies is the former MP for Croydon Central (1997-2005), Tamsin Dunwoody is Gwyneth Dunwoody MP's daughter and was Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire from 2003-2007 and a Deputy Minister in the pre-election Welsh Assembly Government.

Does anyone know anything about the other candidates?


UPDATE: The selection was won by Geraint Davies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Once upon a time in West London

... well about a week ago to be exact, there was a Southall Labour councillor of many years' standing who was very keen to shout about his admiration for Piara Khabra, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair on his website. And then he didn't get shortlisted as candidate so suddenly the bits of the website below disappeared in an electronic puff of smoke, replaced by his new boss "Dave" who he has even more admiration for:







Aren't consistency and loyalty wonderful attributes in politics?

Self-serving drivel

Newly-Tory Ealing Councillor Gurcharan Singh has done a rapid make-over of his website, removing a recent post praising Tony Blair and inserting a convoluted attempt to justify his defection to the Tories.

This includes such gems as:

"we have become increasingly disillusioned with the Labour Party in Ealing primarily due to the ever more prevalent in-fighting and factionalism" which is a bit rich as my limited understanding of Ealing politics was that he was the originator of most of the in-fighting;

"councillors were being excluded from positions of cabinet and other responsible posts despite being suitably qualified" - I think that Ealing having become a Tory-controlled council was probably the reason why Labour councillors were not in the Cabinet;

It's all the fault of the nasty NEC for "imposing" (sic) an All Women Shortlist - "The last straw came when at the time of selecting of the Parliamentary candidate, despite more than 900 members, 5 of the 7 ward secretaries and 9 of the 15 Southall councillors requesting an open selection, the National Executive Council of the Labour Party decided to impose an all women short list." except a) it wasn't the last straw because he didn't resign when the AWS was agreed and b) he neglects to mention the large petition and formal GC vote by a large majority calling for an AWS;

"This slap in the face would have deprived local members of the opportunity to choose from a set of candidates whom they knew, trusted and could chose fairly to represent them." i.e. candidates called Gurcharan Singh couldn't stand;

but then the same NEC - those dastardly plotters - confused everyone by scrapping the AWS and allowing Gurcharan to be interviewed for the by-election... but "The shortlist was non-representative to say the least" i.e. did not include our hero, Gurcharan Singh.

"For the past three years, we have been continuously hounded by the leadership and remaining in the Labour party since was a measure of our resilience and staunchness to not fold at the hands of these bullies, not for their lack of trying to hasten our departure" - therefore Gurcharan has er... shown his "resilience and staunchness" by joining the Tories;

This is of course, nothing to do with careers or ambition but in fact a decision "made with a primary focus to realise benefits that will most serve the community."

Yeah, right.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Throwing your toys out of the pram...

is never attractive.

Ealing Councillor Gurcharan Singh has demonstrated why he didn't get on Labour's shortlist for the Southall by-election by defecting to the Tories.

It's a shame, as he has been around a long time and been the local GLA candidate on at least one occasion.

But he doesn't seem to have worked out that not everyone can be an MP - particularly if you don't perform well in your NEC by-election panel interview - and that being a member of a political party is about what you believe in, not what position you want.

The Tories may find they get more than they bargained for as their rather less robust constituency association structures may not be well suited to dealing with Cllr Singh's heavy-handed style of factional/communal politics.

"Should cowards flinch, and traitors sneer, we'll keep the red flag flying here."

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Southall Sunday

And so with a couple of fellow Hackney councillors to Southall for a morning's campaigning, a part of London I last visited in 1996 when I tried and failed to become their full-time Organiser (Southall CLP wanted me, Ealing N and Ealing Action didn't, so they readvertised and ended up appointing Parmjit Dhanda, now the MP for Gloucester and helping run the current by-election).


The campaign seems well organised, with a second full-colour leaflet going out featuring Virendra only 4 days after his selection and posters up in a huge number of local shops and restaurants.

I saw the Lib Dem candidate out and about (but with only one helper) and the LD single-transferable black-and-white leaflet featuring shonky bar chart of the 2005 result was in evidence.

The Tories are clearly chucking money at the campaign, with huge Tony Lit posters on the side of a local cinema and loudspeaker cars going round, but I didn't see much evidence of activists on the ground. This could reflect the local party going on strike in protest at Cameron imposing a brand new member on them as candidate.

The real story seems to be a battle for second place between the Tories and Lib Dems - for high stakes as either Cameron's or Campbell's leadership could be on the line if they come third.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The heart of Hackney

Any Hackney residents with small kids could do a lot worse to entertain them on a hot day than go to the walled garden in St John's Churchyard where we took Jed (aged 1.75) for a picnic today after helping on the Chatham Ward Labour Party tombolla stall and seeing Meg Hillier MP open the St John's Church fete.

Details are here: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/cp-st-johns.htm

A £1.79 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Groundwork East London, as well as Council funding has turned the Churchyard into a far safer, greener place than it was and the walled garden is really nice place for a picnic, with a children's play area and fountain that Jed and other toddlers turned into an impromptu paddling pool.

If you are in that part of town the other attraction in my ward (unless you are a Japanese tourist looking for the Burberry factory outlet shop in Chatham Place) is Tudor Sutton House, a National Trust property that is the oldest house in East London, about 100 yards from the Churchyard.

Tomorrow I'm venturing into the unknown territory of West London with a morning's canvassing in the Ealing Southall by-election.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My credo: Preposterous Uber-Brownism

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Cllr Susan Press of Labour Left Briefing and http://grimmerupnorth.blogspot.com/ as my personal spin doctor and image consultant.

Susan has kindly described me in her post today as a "preposterous uber-Brownite".

As there are hordes of parliamentary wannabees who would give their right arm to earn this description, and are even now air-brushing all references to that other bloke from the last 13 years of their political CVs in a bid to get in with the new management at No10, I am extremely grateful.

In fact I might even quote it on the cover of my next selection leaflet.

Your first month's consultancy fee is in the post, Comrade Susan.

Ealing campaign Lit up

The Mirror's Kevin Maguire points out in his blog that Southall Labour's Virendra Sharma was picked by 515 more people than Mr Lit junior, the Tory Candidate, who was picked by Mr D Cameron of Notting Hill, not Southall.

He also reminds us that Sunrise Radio was fined £10k "after it broke political impariality laws, unfairly promoting his dad, Dr Atvar Lit, when Lit Senior stood as an independent in the 2001 election."

More here.

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.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Virendra Sharma selected

Virendra Sharma has been selected as Labour's candidate for the Ealing Southall by-election.

If you are Labour and live anywhere where Southall is nearer than Sedgefield, get there and get campaigning - only 2 weeks to Polling Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The NEC moves in mysterious ways

Hmmm.... interesting move by Labour's NEC in only shortlisting 2 candidates, both male, for tomorrow's Ealing Southall by-election selection: Jo Sidhu and Virendra Sharma.

A shame for Sonika Nirwal who had my union's support (see below). I hope she finds a good seat to fight in the General Election.

However, both the 2 candidates shortlisted are strong.

I don't know Jo but Virendra is a good man and a wise operator. We served together on the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform executive and I'm also aware of his work in the past as Ethnic Minorities Officer at Party HQ and as an Ealing Councillor.

Whichever one gets it I shall be out canvassing for them this Sunday morning.

Details of the campaign are here for those who want to help: http://www.laboursouthall.com/

Meanwhile up in Sedgefield the local members have tonight selected Phil Wilson, who will be an excellent candidate - he was one of the team with John Burton who organised to get Blair selected back in 1983.

Amicus backs Streatham and Ealing Candidates

Last night I participated in a meeting of the London Region Political Committee of the Amicus section of Unite, which voted to give the union's backing (and any branch nominations where appropriate) to the following candidates in parliamentary selections:

Ealing Southall - Sonika Nirwal (Ealing Council Labour Group Leader)

Ealing C & Acton - Seema Malhotra (former GLA candidate and Fabians Chair)

Streatham - Steve Reed (Lambeth Council Leader)

The Streatham nomination in particular was hotly contested by a number of very strong candidates.

Union rules require all other members of the Amicus panel to now stand aside in those seats.

All 3 are excellent candidates and stand a very good chance of being selected.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A seamless transition

The usual suspects have gone straight from bemoaning betrayal by Blair to bemoaning betrayal by Brown.

Brown tabled a fairly innocuous set of party structural proposals at the NEC meeting on the day he became leader - the document is here - designed to give members more power in policy making - which you would think would be popular:

"Proposal 1: A commitment to give greater support to local Labour Parties in holding Policy Forums and creating a duty on the NPF to better consult, engage and involve party members in policy discussions.
Proposal 2: Strengthen the NPF with a regular work plan and meeting schedule, an open and constant dialogue with ministers and a greater ability to provide feedback to party members and stakeholders.
Proposal 3: The JPC will take on an enhanced executive function in relation to the operation of the NPF and the PiP process, meeting every two months. A new group of JPC Officers will lead the committee and have regular meetings with government ministers to ensure ongoing dialogue.
Proposal 4: Annual Conference to be given a more substantial role in directing and monitoring the work of the NPF. 12 NPF representatives will be directly elected by Conference in order to reinforce the links between the two institutions in light of the new contemporary issues process.
Proposal 5: A new contemporary issues process through which party units would be able to submit issues, following proper consultation, for consideration in the priorities ballot at Annual Conference. Each issue that succeeds in the ballot will be debated at Conference and be included in a work programme in the relevant policy commission.
Proposal 6: The final policy documents agreed by the National Policy Forum will be the subject of an OMOV ballot.
Proposal 7: Support for local parties and Labour Groups to consult and engage their communities."

We need to think carefully about the detail of this, but the thrust is a genuine effort to give members more power over real policy making - as opposed to the meaningless political theatre of contemporary resolutions at Conference.

The knee-jerk reaction and howls of outrage from Peter Kenyon and Susan Press about this and about the new mechanisms for involving backbench MPs more in the manifesto-writing process suggests there are some in the party who are more interested in perpetuating a culture of grievance, betrayal and distrust of the leadership, just because they are the leadership, rather than taking at face value what they are trying to do.

People of a less cynical disposition can submit constructive comments via their Party MpURL.

Branding

From PR Week, 29 June:

"The top PRO on Harriet Harman's deputy leadership campaign ... Janice Muir ... told PR Week: "We had to create the Harman brand. We had to position her [as] radical, but we couldn't position her as leftwing."

Coming soon to a CLP near you

To their credit, McDonnell's lot don't give up. I've just received this email:

"Comrades,
To build on the successes of the John4Leader campaign in mobilising thousands of activists, we're setting up local LRC groups right across the country.The LRC is a national network of Labour party activists and trade unionists who are fighting for socialism in the Labour party. Membership is open to members of the Labour party or of no party at all."

If the John4Leader campaign was a "success" to be built on, I'd hate to know what a failure looked like.

Note that you don't actually have to be a Labour Party member to get involved in all this fun.

 
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