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.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Nottingham South

Christine Shawcroft (known as Christine Trotsky in the London Labour Party) has made it onto the shortlist for the parliamentary selection for Nottingham South, having been rejected by at least three CLPs (Reading East, Swindon South, Hackney South where I think she only got two votes out of 550 members) in the run up to 2005.

I have to ask how she got on the national parliamentary panel given that she has been turned down as unsuitable to be both a GLA candidate and a Tower Hamlets Council candidate.

I honestly can't think of anyone less likely to add anything positive to the PLP and more likely to be a wholly destructive factionalist rebel.

Asides from the, some might say carpet-bagging journey from Poplar & Canning Town via the afore-mentioned selection defeats and a candidacy in Meriden in 2001 to Nottingham, her CV consists of an encyclopedic range of offices held in overlapping Bennite factions:
  • Vice-Chair of the LRC (Labour Representation Committee)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Labour Left Briefing
  • Former Vice-Chair of CLPD

Still at least if she becomes an MP she can't be on the constituency section of the NEC anymore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

She isn't on the parliamentary panel. Labour members can go to www.labour.org.uk/membersnet
and browse everyone who is on the panel by name (first or surname) or constituency.

10:33 pm, March 04, 2008

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

I admire your commitment to keeping your blog about politics not personalities, Luke. Well done. Any chance of discussing the former in this instance?

You do seem awfully rattled by this.

1:23 am, March 05, 2008

Anonymous jdc said...

Oh that's a relief, thanks anonymous - I'm not on the panel.

I was puzzled las year when I got a letter saying that as I'd been on it previously I was on it again automatically for next time. Didn't think I'd been on it previously either!

8:26 am, March 05, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It is political. People shouldn't vote for her because she's too leftwing.

I haven't mentioned her personality at all.

10:41 am, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, this is absurd. Time was that the Labour party was a broad church and happy with it: you people demand absolute compliance to the undemocratic whims of the leader. Reading your blog makes me despair for this party. It's so sad. JB

11:08 am, March 05, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Why is it absurd to want to see the selection and election of people you agree with, and oppose the selection and election of people who oppose almost everything you support and who would not even abide by collective democracy and support 3-line whipped votes.

We are not talking about an independent-minded thoughtful potential backbencher here, we are talking about an ultra-leftist who would be wholly antagonistic and sectarian.

11:13 am, March 05, 2008

Blogger susan press said...

What a thoroughly nasty , but predictable post. Christine's politics may be different to yours but she is supported by a significant tranche of Labour Party members. I find it strange you urge support for Ken Livingstone whose views differ little from Christine's. She has earned her chance to be an MP and I hope she gets it. You make yourself look preposterous with comments of this kind.

11:42 am, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Isn't Labour a left wing party? And how the hell can you support a militant like Ken Livingstone and not her. You seem to support only those that can deliver victory, no matter what their beliefs.

If I remember correctly your opposed Ken Livingstone during the first Mayor elections. Would you support Boris if he was a member of the Labour party????

Don't beliefs stand for something in the Labour party, or is it all about winning elections.

Personally I will vote for a person who stands for what they believe in rather than a political club that stands for very little.

Labour have lost the plot.

12:09 pm, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Margaret Hodge said...

This Blog is a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of it.
Unless you start talking New Labour sense like me Luke you will never be selected.

p.s Don't mention my involvement in cover up the child abuse scandal when I was at Islington

1:43 pm, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who would be wholly antagonistic and sectarian." - unlike you then.

"You make yourself look preposterous with comments of this kind." - surely you mean even more preposterous.

1:49 pm, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Kevin said...

As Labour Party members consistently vote for her to be elected to the NEC, I would have thought that made her representative of the party as a whole and an eminently suitable MP.

2:03 pm, March 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Christine Shawcroft ever reported back to my CLP or me on her work on the NEC I might be able to form a view as to whether she was any good on it. I have never heard a word from her, although I always hear from Ellie Reeves, Peter Wheeler and Ann Black. Maybe you have to subscribe to Labour Left Briefing to know what Ms Shawcroft (and Pete Willsman and Walter Wolfgang) have had to say?

3:05 pm, March 05, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Pathetic. If the Labour party is going to end up full of right-wing Blairite Stalinists who cannot accept that the left do have a place within the party - then they don't deserve my vote and plenty of others will feel the same.

There are aspects about the workerist right, usually to be spotted by their support for union links despite their right wing views, which are every bit as stalinist as the far left.

I certainly hope she gets selected - when Labour lose the next election which they certainly will if they don't get their act together and soon, the Left MUST be part of the necessary restructure as they move on past the Blair-Brown experiment

If there are no left wing MP's then it will not be the Labour party which has always included its left wing

3:49 pm, March 05, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Mike is right; we must be a united party.
I can't believe the majority of members stalwart New Labourites as there can't be a majority of party comrades who share my politics. The majority labour people have a view point somewhere in between which I think is quite healthy. When are you going to realise Luke both wings are interdependent; we can't have a Labour government without both elements, otherwise we resemble our opponents on both sides of the political spectrum.
We are all socialists here; I've agreed with you on many issues ranging from keeping the NHS public, TU and worker rights to same sex/cohabiting couples. There are so many more things that unify us than divide us so shouldn’t we try and emphasize these?
Let’s show some party unity and accept voices from the left as we do the right, or are you uncertain of the strengths of your own politics? I’m willing to hear right wing views in the party but I have to say only when the facts change then I’ll change my politics!

5:34 pm, March 05, 2008

Anonymous David said...

Mersey Mike:

Hard left manifesto (1983) - record defeat in post war period. Years more of underinvestment followed under rightwing Thatcher Government.

Moderate manifestors (1997,2001,2005) - large Labour majorities leading to positive policies tackling social injustices

Please can you explain how winning election is "failure". You may have missed the point that if we're not in Government, we can't do anything...

5:56 pm, March 05, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

David, our loss in '83 can be mainly placed on the Falklands bounce, as Mrs T was very unpopular before the war. You can probably argue if that manifesto was adopted we probably would not be living in such a selfish society. My view the '83 manifesto was ahead of it's time.

I don't want to speak for Mike as he is more than capable to do that for himself, but I don't think he was advocating a return to hard left policies (after all he is quite close politically to Luke) just a return of moderate socialist ones of which both wings of the party can be happy with.

You're right to say we must be in office to implement social justice, but if "The Project" continues to push lefties out of the party it will cause us to fragment and no one votes for a divided party.

By the way the best labour government by far was Attlee's (the best PM we ever had), he delivered far more change for the better in this country than any party since including New Labour. To me that government was a gold standard in how Labour should govern Britain, putting the needs of the many above that of the few.

11:42 am, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

David: I am not 'hard left' and if you have read my contributions, you would realise that.

But get real. labour won in 97 and 2001 because of the state of the Tories above all. In 2005, the result was far closer and would have been closer still without Dracula's presence.

We are now in a different situation, where the Tories have regained a measure of credibility. At the same time, there are aspects of Labour's record which have quite simply failed. NHS dentistry. Provision of low-cost housing. The situation for part-time workers.

To try and pretend that all we need is to stick by the Blairite mantras which sounded fine in 97 but have been seen to have failed on many areas is naive in the extreme, and to oppose people just because they are of the left is equally daft. the Left may well have some good ideas which are worth considering - and the Right of the party have, frankly, run into the ground - they appear tired and stale.

Stop fighting the battles of the past - Labour need to be distinctive from the Tories and to offer some vision. 1997 was a long time ago.

12:44 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

Good post Luke. I believe she also failed to get selected in Leeds North West for 2005.

This isn't about personalities, it's about politics. The Labour Party is a broad church, but it has walls.

If she ever gets selected for a winnable seat, the NEC should refuse to endorse her candidacy as happened to Liz Davies when she was selected for Leeds North East in 1995.

12:53 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

But if walls shut out people who are certainly on the legitimate left of the party, then there is something wrong.

And I speak as someone who was totally in favour of expelling militant and was removed from a GMC for saying so!

Christine Shawcroft is not a trotskyite infiltrator but a Labour left-winger. If she goes then the logical step is to get rid of the left of the party altogether. Although I am not on the left, I would not wish to support a party of such narrowness and intolerance that left-wing socialists cannot be members

And look what happens when you do that - using Germany as an example, where the Left party has now established itself as the third force and is almost certain to increase its membership in the next elections there.

2:15 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If she was a Trotskyite infiltrator surely the whole point is she wouldn't say she was one because entryism is by definition secretive?

I'm trying to think of an issue where she doesn't take a position in line with the main Trot groups. Is there one?

2:43 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

Why don't you ask her then make up your mind rather than relying on snide innuendo.

Perhaps you could list some of these "issues" for the rest of us as well so that we can find out if we pass or fail your test for appropriate opinions?

2:55 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

OK, then, Luke. It seems that your position is actually to expel a whole slew of other left-wingers from the Labour party.

Because if Christine Shawcroft goes, that would extend to all on the left, wouldn't it?

I think you know well what the difference is between left wing democratic socialists and Trotskyites.

or maybe you don't. And that is the problem and why, frankly, I don;t regard you as any sort of ally. You are in the machine politician tradition of the old-style union fixers who you are so desperate to see maintain control of the party finances.

Old fashioned right wing workerism. There has always been a clear difference between this approach and that espoused by Crosland et al who were genuine progressives.

You're not. Politically, you could easily be a Tory if it wasn't for the tribal allegiances and the sentimental attachment to the unions which progressive right wingers such as I certainly don't have!

I am probably as far away from Christine Shawcroft's politics as you. Thing is, I'm liberal (small L) and you, Luke, are really a conservative (small C)

4:12 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

a) I don't know if she's a Trot. My friendly local self-confessed Trot Graham Bash said to me of the journal they are both on the Editorial Board of (funny how factions of a certain hue disguise themselves as journals with Editorial Boards and readers' meetings rather than politburos and caucuses), Labour Briefing thus: "Labour Briefing isn't a Trotskyist organisation but I am a Trotskyist entryist into Labour Briefing". So she could be part of the Trot/Bash faction in Briefing or the non-Trot faction in it. I genuinely don't know.

b) if she is a revolutionary she shouldn't be in a democratic socialist party. That's the boundary line - not leftness on policy but whether you believe in parliamentary democracy or in revolution and whether you are an entryist from another political tradition (i.e. the Trotskyist 4th International). Like I said I don't know where she stands. The fact that her position isn't clear worries me. I'd like to hear a public condemnation of Leninism and Trotskyism from her. She can post one here if she wants.

c) Even if the criteria was "leftness" Christine is in a different place on the spectrum to most of the rest of the Labour left. Shawcroft is positioned well to the left of the other 5 candidates she runs with for the NEC on a “Grassroots Alliance” ticket. Respect-supporting blogger Andy Newman describes her as “the most hard left candidate” on the slate. Andrew Berry of UNISON describes her as “in my view is to the political left of Galloway” (intended by Berry as a compliment).

Is "You are in the machine politician tradition of the old-style union fixers who you are so desperate to see maintain control of the party finances" supposed to be an insult? I should employ you as a spin doctor.

5:38 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I happen to agree with you with regard to revolutionaries and the labour party.

But you said earlier that you opposed her because she was too left wing. Not because she wasn't a democratic socialist - and I don't think you have any evidence for that. You can't judge people purely by some who share organisational links with them. Ken Livingstone has staffers with previous connections to Socialist Action, but you support him although his politics are close to that faction in many ways.

If you are really wanting to associate yourself with the old-style conservative right, that's your choice, but if that is really what the future of the right wing of the party is to be about, then I'll vote Liberal Democrat. No time for macho workerism.

6:07 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

This is just fighting the battles of the past... and not very well.

Luke has here essentially declared a dozen or so MPs and many hundreds of party members as being beyond the 'walls' of our broad church. Including me.

Well tough. You're stuck with us, as we are with you!

I support Christine for Nottingham South, but manage to stop short of calling for the expulsion of any of the other candidates!

It's amazing how you can veer from being quite sensible through mildly annoying to being somebody who seriously needs to grow up! We all like reliving our student politics days from time to time, but I really don't think there's a career to be made in it!

6:25 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

I don't want Christine Shawcroft expelled, I just don't think she should be endorsed as a parliamentary candidate for a winnable seat, should she be selected (and fingers crosses, she won't be) because everything in her record of activism in the party suggests she would be utterly incapable of abiding by the disciplinary rules of the PLP, ie. following the whip most of the time and not bringing the PLP and wider party into disrepute.

6:47 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous Andrea said...

"and not bringing the PLP and wider party into disrepute."

it would be funny if the NEC would consider not to endorse all those ministers and senior MPs who have brought the party into disrepute in the last few months...Hain, Harman, Clarke, Flint, Wendy Alexander...they have lost Labour much more votes in the last year than Shawcroft in all her life

6:58 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

And given the sheer incompetence of the government's recent activities, they need a few more rebellions to keep them on their toes.

Let's be frank. Brown isn't delivering the goods. Miliband gave Hague a good run for his money the other day on a radio interview, and I actually trust his instincts more - more liberal, more pro-Europe.

8:23 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Dave Brinson said...

"I just don't think she should be endorsed as a parliamentary candidate for a winnable seat"

But she was endorsed for the not-totally-impossible seat of Meriden in 2001. It would be rather embarrassing for the Party to say she was OK under Blair in '01, but isnt't now.

8:47 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

Luke, your willingness to give Tories in Nottingham South ammunition by making unfounded allegations you admit you cannot prove of Trotskyism makes me question which is stronger - your loyalty to the Party or your loyalty to your faction.

You might disagree with Christine Shawcroft's politics but the politics of Nottingham South's current MP and the fact that the CLP backed John McDonnell for leader suggest that she has a good chance of winning their support. If she is the candidate then your remarks will not have helped Labour hold the seat in the next GE.

I previously agreed with you that the most important electoral battlefield right now is the South East. But that battlefield will be irrelevant if we aid the enemy by making pointless and vicious attacks on people who may well end up the candidate for seats elsewhere that were Tory during the 80s. Do you want a Labour majority or are you more interested in factional infighting?

I think you should apologise and retract the unfair and unfounded allegations that you've made.

9:14 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If the new rule is that you can't criticise any one who wants to be an MP, can I demand that no one criticises any of my views or affiliations?

No, thought not.

If she is worried about electability she should have thought about that before embarking on her chosen positioning in the party. There is quite enough that Christine has said herself that can be used against her in an election - and which will make it extremely difficult for her to get through an endorsement interview - without anyone needing to worry about me saying what I think about her.

9:40 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

It's not you criticising her that I'm arguing against, it's the unfounded allegations that you admit are at best a guess.

Although I thought your original post was mean-spirited, it did at least stop short of making unfounded allegations. Your comments did not.

If you were on the shortlist for a seat whose CLP shared your politics and you stood a good chance of being selected there, I would extend the same logic to you and criticise people who made unfair allegations against you.

9:58 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I don't see why any progressive voters would want to choose a lackey of the warmonger industry as their candidate - anyone with that job is a Tory by default.

10:06 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

So MM, it's not alright for Luke to call Shawcroft a trot, but you can call Luke a stalinist and a tory? Hmmm, the words kettle, pot and black spring to mind......

10:28 pm, March 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone explain if its true that Christine really lives in Poplar and works in London (in a children's centre i think) yet is running round Nottingham telling the members she lives in Nottingham - actually isn't that the real issue of concern here, that she appears to be somewhat dishonest with people in Nottingham?

10:37 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


if it wasn't for the existence of a defence industry we would all have been either a) dead or b) speaking German for the last 60 years.

You live in the North West where thousands of working people earn their living and the regional economy depends on building submarines in Barrow, fighter aircraft near Preston and Chorley, or missiles in Bolton. Luckily most of those people reject your label of "Tory" and vote Labour - otherwise we would not be in government.

11:14 pm, March 06, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I'm thinking more and more that Labour needs time OUT of government to regroup and rejuvenate. Can't see the point of having a Labour government as uninspiring as this one.

Defend your immoral job if you wish. You'd never get my vote irrespective of your party label.

12:08 am, March 07, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't want your vote.

I think you are immoral for not wanting this country's armed forces to be properly equipped.

12:15 am, March 07, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

We spend far too much money on 'defence', most of which is spent on mistaken forages into foreign territories which we should not be interfering in, on the coat-tails of the Americans.

Neo-con ideology has precisely nothing to do with anything remotely left-of-centre. It is a policy of the expansionist right.

12:17 am, March 07, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

"mistaken forages into foreign territories which we should not be interfering in"

didn't Chamberlain betray the Czechs in 1938 with a similar phrase?

Should we
- have let the Serbs ethnically cleanse Kosovo?
- have let the RUF carry on their butchery in Sierra Leone?
- have left the Taliban in power?
- have left Saddam in power?

12:21 am, March 07, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Quite simply, yes.

The UK is not the world's policeman. I don't object to UN intervention, under very limited circumstances, but in at least two of those cases, the replacement regime is no better than that which it replaced.

Change should be encouraged from within and help can certainly be given (recalling the work of AAM, for example) but I do not and will never support the liberal interventionist approach. Even if it means that unacceptable things go on short-term. They always have and they always will. It is not up to the UK to sort them out. Colonialism isn't appropriate even if we mean well in intervening!

12:40 am, March 07, 2008

Blogger Owen said...

"I'd like to hear a public condemnation of Leninism and Trotskyism from her. She can post one here if she wants."

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?"

10:46 am, March 07, 2008

Anonymous Pro Grass Roots Alliance but anti Christine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:35 pm, March 07, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I have deleted the comment above because I was concerned that parts of it were libellous.

The rest of it is reproduced here:

"Pro Grass Roots Alliance but anti Christine said...
Speaking as someone who actually knows Christine personally and not merely as some kind of an icon, [REDACTED]
She is not the great hope of the left, believe me, [REDACTED]
I dont think even Peter Willsman or Ann Black would choose her to go on their slate if the political world was an easier place to manage.

Vote for Ann by all means, she is a very good representative of constituency democracy.

Christine never makes decent contributions at NEC meetings, they usually relate to some obscure point related to members of her family.

She does not take the time that Ann does, to request responses or analyse them. She doesnt have the full picture. [REDACTED]. She is not the person you think she is.

If this was a thread about Ann Black I would be in 100% support because I know she is marvellous, Christine however is a light-weight [REDACTED], they should not be mentioned in the same breath."

8:34 am, March 08, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Just to give you a start Luke:

Christine has a different position to any and all independent Trots in that she is 100% committed to the Labour Party and trying to improve the lot of working people through that means.

Nottingham South is Alan Simpson's seat currently. I think it is a huge shame that he is not continuing in Westminster but it must be said that he has carried the support of the CLP for a good time and that he is a thoughtful thorn in the side of the LP leadership.

Alan did not support John M on the leadership and his lack of marshalling of the Campaign Group e.g. on Short's Bill has been disappointing - he had a rubbish excuse for that and his supposed alternate strategy did not materialise - but he has been good e.g. on socialism and green issues.

I would be interested to hear from Nottingham South on whether there have been any membership drives, new union affiliations and the like going on over recent months??

Good luck to Christine. I don't know the other candidates and it is clearly for the CLP to decide without "orders" from Commandant Akehurst.

1:08 pm, March 08, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:45 pm, March 08, 2008

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