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.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bits & pieces

An interesting few days, what with finding out I am now paying my mortgage to Alistair Darling (does living in a nationalised house add to my socialist street cred?).

Good to see the people of Kosovo finally get their independence - much to the joy of my Albanian colleague at work, Ralf Gjoni (http://ralfgjoni.blogspot.com/).

I'm writing this whilst watching Skins on E4, a slightly surreal feeling as it is filmed in Bristol and features all the council blocks I leafletted and canvassed in 1993 as a 21 year old candidate for Cabot Ward of Avon County Council (I get a similar sensation watching Casualty as the exterior of the hospital is actually a mixture of the University of Bristol Union and what was then called Brunel FE College when I was an NUS Convenor).

But enough nostalgia.

The Labour parliamentary selection down in Streatham is proving lively, with Steve Reed automatically through onto the final shortlist having won wards with a majority of the CLP membership in the "open" section. Steve is the Leader of Lambeth Council and has been responsible both for gaining Lambeth back for Labour from a hung council with a stunning victory against the national tide in the May 2006 elections, and taking the council from 1 star to 3 stars in the performance rankings, making it the fastest improving in the country. I understand he has taken about 110 votes so far to 65ish for another councillor, Dave Malley, who took 3 smaller wards by narrow margins.

Also through onto the shortlist automatically are Chuka Umunna (through the reserved BME nominations) and Cathy Ashley (through the reserved nominations for women candidates). Chuka is heavily involved in anti-leadership faction Compass. As you might expect I therefore do not believe he would be a helpful addition to the PLP. I also think he needs to go away and do an apprenticeship as a councillor to get experience of holding public office before becoming an MP. Cathy was on the LCC Executive with me. I think she has followed the bit of the ex-LCC that has gone bonkers and founded Compass - happy to be corrected if this is not the case (Postscript - I have been corrected - a mutual friend has rung to explain that whilst Cathy was involved in setting up Compass she didn't support its move towards full-frontal attacks on the government - good for her). She was rather patronising to those of us from NOLS at that time (something to do with a previous generation of students oversleeping in the conference print flat and not arriving in time for the early morning leaflet tunnel), and memorably followed Neal Lawson's declaration of the final victory of Blairism to the last executive meeting of LCC with an exhortation "not to forget that the real enemy was Labour First" (cue much shifting in seats by the three of us that were involved in both organisations).

The other person with a nomination so far who I do rate is Dora Dixon-Fyle, a Southwark councillor originally from Sierra Leone who works for Harriet Harman and came a very strong second when Meg Hillier was selected in Hackney South. I don't think Dora can win in Streatham but I hope she does become a Labour MP soon.

Finally, I was very sorry to hear about the death of Sir Dick Knowles, former Leader of Birmingham City Council and one of Labour's most effective grassroots organisers. Coming so soon after the death of former Camden Leader Roy Shaw it feels as though we are seeing the passing of a generation of stalwart municipal leaders who kept commonsense Labour politics going in town halls whilst the national party lost its way.


Anonymous jdc said...

Probably. Alistair Darling, on that logic, is paying his mortgage to himself. Even I could afford a house on the model!

11:13 pm, February 18, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your party moves from one big disaster from one day to the next and 75% of the country can't wait to kick you lefties out!

11:54 pm, February 18, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

It's not the fact the Bank has been nationalised it's how we got into this position in the first place.

Brown is the man to blame as he has fired up the economy on cheap imports and debt and now we're going to pay.

British Tax payers are now keeping banks afloat...I don't see these banks sharing the profits with the tax payer.

12:00 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I am a Reed fan, I read your blurb about Streatham with interest and can't help but think, sadly as I do with so much of what you write, that you are so stuck in the past - yesterday's man for yesterday's people.

12:51 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous sean said...

Your house only gets nationalised if you default on the repayments, but good try!

I tried to get Ccathy Aashley selected for Uxbridge in '96, but on the night she tied in votes before losing on a coin toss to Dave Williams (who came up about 100 odd votes short in the '97 General and then got knobbled by the NEC when he was left off the shortlist for the rematch after Sir Mike Shersby's death). I wonder if she would still have gone compassite bonkers if she'd been an MP for the past decade?

2:09 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

I get similar feelings of weird deja vu when watching bits of The Bill filmed on the Heygate estate in Walworth, which I spent a fair bit of time leafleting and canvassing as Dora's agent in a Southwark council by-election at about this time of year 12 years ago.....

I see that Rich's economic analysis is as incisive as his political analysis. Yawn.

9:47 am, February 19, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I would prefer "consistent" to "stuck in the past".

9:54 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Well you could argue that it's the BofE fault, but the regulatory controls were devised by Brown.

It's really funny how everything Brown touches ends up being a complete disaster.

London Underground £2 billion tax payer bail out....Browns plans

Record Budget Deficit....Brown

Northern Rock.....Brown

Trade Deficit 7.57 billion....Brown

Record Debt Boom....Brown

Housing Crash.....Brown

MOD bankrupt.....Brown


How can you defend this man....he is rubbish...please remove him before his destroys everything.

10:42 am, February 19, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I may not agree with Rich when it comes to immigration or the Iraq war but I think he is right to point out Brown's culpability with regards to our economic postion.

Most people seem to agree Gordon has held fast to Thatcherite policies (Martin Jaques being one of them) which has led to the current economic stalemate. Part of that was flooding our market with cheap goods some of which are manufactured using slave labour as a means to ontrol inflation.
As for basing the growth of our economy on cheap and easy credit it will prove a disaster.

As for the nationalisation of a bank I would rather we nationalised the utilities and the transport system. My main worry about The Rock is that it will have to function like a normal high street bank but be constrained by all the private banks watching its every move incase they use state funds to corner the market

11:17 am, February 19, 2008

Blogger Ralf Gjoni said...

Thank you Luke. I was having a good time at SKY NEWS commenting on Kosovo's independence until Darling broke the news with the 'Northern Rock' announcement - marking the cadenza of the day's excitement in across the newsroom. What an interesting day to choose for the announcement.

11:18 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Andrea said...

Interesting info about Streatham...since Chuka Umunna and Cathy Ashley competed in the female and BMA field for nominations, they were not directly up against Reed, so it's difficult to judge their chances just looking at number of nominations. What are the current thoughts? Can any of them compete closely against Reed?

11:25 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Maybe the spin doctors thought it would dilute media attention from NR.

I really can't understand why it's taken 6 months to come to the decision to Nationalise the Rock.

I truly hope the economic situation doesn't worsen as it could end up bankrupting this country.

11:26 am, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

which three members of the LCC exec in 1996 were also supporters of Labour First?

12:21 pm, February 19, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm protecting the identities of the other 2 unless they want to out themselves here, but they were twin-tracking a lot earlier than I was (I was only "turned"/saw the light in 1995).

I think if you were there we were the three arguing most for the LCC's remaining funds to be spent on stopping Liz Davies in the NEC election.

12:39 pm, February 19, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Consistent, maybe, but stuck in 1997. Blair/Brownism hasn't a wide enough appeal to win the next election. I only voted Labour last time because of the civil partnerships issue and felt that I wanted to thank the government for that.

But in terms of what the parties are actually saying, then I prefer what the LibDems are saying overall. Labour is too authoritarian : all three parties are too beholden to market economics.

3:58 pm, February 19, 2008

Anonymous The end is near said...

Don't forget flogging the country's entire gold reserve at record low gold prices that are now at a record high. Another Brown gem

4:41 pm, February 19, 2008

Anonymous RICH said...



5:30 pm, February 19, 2008

Anonymous VcB said...

Hey Luke, remember when Hackney South had an MP with a conscience?

6:54 pm, February 19, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Were you thinking of Ron Brown, Herbert Butler, Herbert Morrison or Horatio Bottomley?

9:11 am, February 20, 2008

Anonymous VcB said...


6:01 pm, February 26, 2008

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