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.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to readers and I hope you had a less flu-afflicted Christmas than my family did.

Congratulations to elected Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe who was appointed a CBE in the New Year Honours. I'm not a great fan of the honours system but this was an appropriate way of recognising the contribution Jules has made to improving Hackney Council. As the council website I've linked to says, the council is expected to get a 3 star rating (out of 4) in February, up from zero stars at the start of Jules' period of leadership. I certainly never thought I would see Hackney Council officially described as "good" when I volunteered for a tour of duty in the then political equivalent of Apocalypse Now back in 1998. And when I met him two years earlier I didn't think the reluctant press ganged young candidate for the 1996 South Defoe by-election - who seemed far too nice and too normal for the internecine warfare of Hackney politics - would 12 years later be in his second term as Mayor and winning national recognition for his transformation of the borough.

Congratulations too to the consistently underestimated Stephen Byers for the most sensible contribution to internal Labour debate over the holiday period - in Sunday's Observer - calling on Blairites to rally behind Brown, for the tough policy questions to be tackled and for the Party "to start seeing Labour party members as assets to be valued and not as irritants to be tolerated. They will need to have a far more significant role than they are given at present." Byers has been wasted sat on the backbenches for too long. Labour people in local government know he was a superb Secretary of State at DTLR. It's time he was brought back into the political front line.

Congratulations to the Labour Party on the final opinion polls of 2007:
YouGov - CON 40% (-3), LAB 35% (+4), LDEM 15% (-1) i.e. Tory lead down from 12% to 5%.
ComRes - CON 41% (+1), LAB 30% (+3), LDEM 16% (-2) i.e. Tory lead down from 13% to 11%.
ICM - CON 39% (-2), LAB 34% (+4), LDEM 18% (-1) i.e. Tory lead down from 11% to 5%

My political wish list for 2008 (I got 5 and 2 half of my 10 wishes for 2007):
1) The UK getting through the year without suffering a major terrorist attack
2) The UK starts building some new nuclear power stations so we can tackle climate change
3) People to give Gordon Brown the space to actually get on with the job of running the country
4) The Grassroots Alliance to lose some (hopefully all) of their members in the election of the CLP section of the Labour Party National Executive Committee
5) A reduction in inequality and poverty in the UK and some government policy initiatives on this that will be as memorable as the Minimum Wage
6) Ken to thrash Boris for London Mayor in May, and the BNP to be kept off the GLA
7) Regime change to democracy in Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Burma
8) Pakistan and Kenya not descending any further into anarchy
9) No council by-elections in the London Borough of Hackney, or if there have to be any, let them be in the summer, not December
10) Labour to retake opinion poll lead and Cameron to get sacked

17 Comments:

Blogger Phil BC said...

Re: nuclear power stations, do you support their construction primarily because of their "green" credentials, a pragmatic response to Britain's energy needs, or a bit of both?

Btw, happy new year to you too.

3:05 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Bit of both. I think we are facing such a big energy gap we need to pursue every alternative available - can't see renewables being enough without nuclear or vice versa.

3:35 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Anonymous rich said...

I think you need to get a reality check.

First of all the gap between the rich and poor has grown under Labour. Labour policies have failed to make a difference.

More and more British workers are seeing there pay packets frozen as the result of imported cheaper labour and foreign competition. We are also seeing growing numbers of people dependent of tax credits, which is a form of subsidising low pay.

Nuclear power, truly a poor assessment of the reality of nuclear power. The truth is that it's too expensive and short sighted. Please have a look at what Germany are doing, you might learn something rather than trust what the government is saying.

Cameron's lead is growing almost as fast as Brown is failing to convice the electorate. Labour face a humiliating defeat if this trend continues. My opinion is that there won't be a Labour party after 2010 as they will have lost nearly all it's grass root support and funding.


The conservatives look more vibrant, have better ideas and a more articulate leader.

How can Labour possibly reverse the polls while continuing with the same policies.

It's also worth noting that Brown has a very ambitious spending plan at a time when tax receipts are predicted to fall.

It's a sad day when so many loyal labour voters are looking forward to seeing the back of this government.

3:58 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

We had the same policies 2 months ago and had a 13% lead so of course we can reverse it - indeed the last 3 polls that I quoted already show that starting to happen.

4:12 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About time Byers came out batting for our side. Quite frankly it was a disgrace that he and others have taken so long to do so. Its really weakened Gordon for no purpose what so ever. Hopefully Byers and co will keep it up, or else!

5:23 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Anonymous observer's friend said...

Luke Akehurst's priority number 4:
4) The Grassroots Alliance to lose some (hopefully all) of their members in the election of the CLP section of the Labour Party National Executive Committee.

Luke Akehurst's priority number 5:
5) A reduction in inequality and poverty in the UK and some government policy initiatives on this that will be as memorable as the Minimum Wage.

Ah Luke! So good to see you honestly getting your priorities in order again.

Rich is absolutely right. The poor have got even poorer in the past ten years and people on benefit (pensioners and disabled people and refugees) have got the worst of it. You should hang your head in shame rather than act out in your (usual) arrogant boastful manner.

6:08 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Blogger Phil BC said...

Re: nuclear power. But it is far from green or carbon neutral. Carbon released from extraction of uranium, its transportation, and refinement produce more carbon than can be made up by the "carbon neutral" process of electricity generation. And there's the small matter of transporting waste and constructing secure storage facilities.

I suspect the government is keen on nuclear because it is a way of hiding emissions. Carbon released from mining and transportation would not count toward Britain's overall carbon footprint, in the same way commodities manufactured in China by British companies for the British market count toward the Chinese total.

Still keen on nuclear?

Rich is right about inequalities of wealth. Not so long ago to have presided over such a record would be a source of shame.

6:41 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

But what's the carbon footprint of constructing and maintaining huge hydro dams, photoelectric cells, wind turbines or wave turbines then - and connecting them to the national grid and maintaining those connections? I don't understand why it would be massively less than that of building some new nuclear power stations and mining some uranium. Where do you thing the raw materials come from to make a wind turbine or a dam? I thought it had been on the news this xmas that the urnanium we already mined for our weapons programme was sat in Sellafield and could be reused for power for about 60 years with the right type of reactor - indeed seeing as I support nuclear weapons I believe we have to mine the stuff anyway so why not recycle it for a second civil use?

Another great thing about nuclear power is that it really upsets ultra-lefts, Lib Dems, Greens etc, which keeps me amused and means there must be something good about it.

I love the criticism of me raising the inequality issue - aren't Labour members allowed to aspire for 2008 to bring better progress on that than previous years? I didn't - though I could - say anything in defence of the govt record which has been good on diminishing absolute poverty but not on removing relative inequality. If anything my "wish" was intended to be seen as a criticism of prior government performance. I will try not to be so subtle in future.

7:06 pm, January 02, 2008

 
Anonymous rich said...

Luke your arguments are the reason why so many once loyal working people will not vote Labour at the next general election. In fact I represent millions of people that will probably vote conservative for the first time just to remove Labour.

You say "we had the same policies two months ago", well people were expecting Brown to change them not keep them.

When I hear Brown talk I don't hear a leader. He sounds like a proffessor in economics and not someone who can address the real problems facing millions of working people.

Poverty in some parts of the UK is shocking and it's getting worse. We are going to end up with a generation of young people reliant on benefits and crippled with poor health.

Immigration ,EU and Non EU, is a big issue for most working people but Brown is arrogantly ignoring the this. Take a walk around our factories Luke and witness the real situation and not just what Gordon is saying. Luke we have a housing shortage, our roads are some of the most congested in Europe, public transport can't cope, NHS is at breaking point and public services are under threat. Brown must go back to Brussels and get a restriction on EU migrants.

Nuclear power is extremely unpopular and traditionally Labour has been against such a policy. Germany has made a whole industry around green energy in just 10 years yet in the UK we are still debating it.

You talk about aspiring to 2008 for change, but the policies that are destroying the lives of working people are still there. This together with rising inflation and transport costs is going to make 2008 very difficult.

Look at our export market, I've never known it this bad. We can't continue to rely on domestic spending, but Brown seems to think we can?

Labour must change rapidly or face extinction. Labour will not survive a big defeat.

11:07 am, January 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If we restricted EU migrants the economy would collapse. They come here because there are more jobs than people prepared to do them in this country.

We Brits also migrate in our millions to retire to Spain and other warmer countries thanks to the same rules.

The idea that we can have a common market without free movement of labour is a non-starter.

You say "traditionally Labour has been against" nuclear power but my understanding is that it was supported by all the 1960s and 70s Labour governments - indeed a strong supporter of the initial expansion of nuclear energy was Tony Benn.

On poverty I agree it is still too widespread but immense progress has been made in the last ten years in cutting child poverty and pensioner poverty - and unemployment which was a major cause of poverty under the Tories.

You must have a short memory if you think life for ordinary working people would be better under the Tories.

11:58 am, January 03, 2008

 
Anonymous rich said...

Luke you're argument on immigration is completely flawed. We have huge levels of unemployment in the UK and there is no reason to import labour at all, the problem is the pay is often so poor that people are better off working part time and claiming tax credits.

30,000 British workers are now out of work as a direct result of the governments immigration policy. 4 our of 5 jobs created in the last 2years have been taken by migrant workers. These are the hard facts Luke.

Please have a look at the latest YouGov Poll. 57% of people are worried about the level of immigration.

I'm not saying there should be no immigration but to allow millions of people to flood in over two years is simply crazy.

No progress has been made on poverty, the gap has grown. Handouts are no good for people wanting and able to work. They need training, jobs and fair pay.


Luke if the Labour policies are so right then why are people switching to Cameron? Labour need to start listening and be a lot more creative about the solutions they have to offer. I'm fed up with charters and spin.

12:44 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

"Another great thing about nuclear power is that it really upsets ultra-lefts, Lib Dems, Greens etc, which keeps me amused and means there must be something good about it."

Luke, do you have any idea how spectacularly infantile this sort of tribal crap comes across as?

I too share your aspirations re inequality, though I'm intrigued that you listed it as a lesser priority than giving another kicking to people within the party who you don't like (not to say that the two aims are a bit contradictory too IMO).

12:59 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It was supposed to be infantile - I was being facetious/self-mocking.

The order in which I listed my wishes was random and not intended to represent an order of priority.

1:21 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Anonymous observer's friend said...

Luke Akehurst said...

It was supposed to be infantile - I was being facetious/self-mocking.

The order in which I listed my wishes was random and not intended to represent an order of priority.


Alright, we might let you off ... this time. But you still can't claim "immense progress has been made in the last ten years" when things have gotten worse.

12:01 am, January 04, 2008

 
Anonymous norman tebbit jr said...

Can we just take it as read in future that you're being infantile whenever you post?

9:36 pm, January 04, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

1) The UK getting through the year without suffering a major terrorist attack
Perhaps, but the genie is somewhat out of the bottle here
2) The UK starts building some new nuclear power stations so we can tackle climate change
Oh, yeah, and what about all the environmental problems which nuclear power brings? Still, we all know its really about the military-industrial complex, and Tories in the "defence" (war) industry support this all the way...
3) People to give Gordon Brown the space to actually get on with the job of running the country
They already do so, but he has managed some presentational and decision-making cock-up's. All by himself. There is plenty of time to recover, though
4) The Grassroots Alliance to lose some (hopefully all) of their members in the election of the CLP section of the Labour Party National Executive Committee
Nope, all that will do is make the party even smaller and more narrow. A mass party means a party where the democratic left can also belong (and I probably have as many disagreements with them as you do)
5) A reduction in inequality and poverty in the UK and some government policy initiatives on this that will be as memorable as the Minimum Wage
Definitely. The problem is that these things take time. However, I think that the taxation system will have to be made more progressive and less prone to the continuing poverty trap which tax credits have failed to get to grips with.
6) Ken to thrash Boris for London Mayor in May, and the BNP to be kept off the GLA
Hope so on both counts.
7) Regime change to democracy in Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Burma
Again, hope so, but this must happen from within, not imposed from outside.
8) Pakistan and Kenya not descending any further into anarchy
Same as before. Propping up discredited leaders isn't helping, though.
9) No council by-elections in the London Borough of Hackney, or if there have to be any, let them be in the summer, not December
But remember that in the long run they aren't all that important....
10) Labour to retake opinion poll lead and Cameron to get sacked
The former is a possibility, the latter no chance!

1:54 am, January 06, 2008

 
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6:42 am, January 18, 2008

 

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