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.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Very little Prospect of success

The press are getting a bit desperate in their search for evidence of a fight brewing at Labour conference.

Today's News of the World reported excitedly that "rebels will table motions calling for the rules to be changed to make it easier to unseat the Prime Minister".

This seems to be a reference to the rule change being promoted by Susan Press and the LRC which concedes that the Hard Left can't even get 1/8 of Labour MPs to nominate their candidates, so are seeking to move the goalposts.

NoTW says this has backing from "at least a dozen local Labour parties" - out of a possible 629!

Even more strangely it says "members from the Prospect trade union will table the rebel motions". But Prospect isn't one of the 15 unions affiliated to the Labour Party so they won't be able to do this.


Anonymous tim f said...

I don't think the Calder Valley motion is intended to make it easier to unseat a sitting PM. It does however make it easier to ensure there is a contest in the event of a future leadership election.

It constantly amazes me how ignorant the press are of internal Labour Party procedures. You wouldn't have thought it would be that difficult for national newspapers to check. There is a considerable difference between a procedure to select a new leader in the event of a vacancy and a procedure to challenge an existing leader.

11:20 pm, September 07, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

What you are forgetting is the ability of Brown to go on while the party continues to plunge in popularity.

Brown won't be here in 2009 if the slide continues and there is growing evidence that things are getting tougher for Brown.

I think what the papers are looking for is the list of people who will stand if Brown stands down due to mounting pressure from the party.

The problem for Labour is that time is running out fast. There is less than 18 months until the next election....not a lot of time to build a come back and change leaders.

4:32 pm, September 08, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

The status quo prevails under Brown-No change at all. He was the Chancellor who allowed astronomical inflation in the housing market by not putting controls in place, causing a bigger housing crisis and he wrecked pensions.We needed change from Blair, but all we have now is Blair with a Scottish accent!!

5:29 pm, September 08, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

Your (financial) masters the TUC are about to hammer the final nails in your party's government as they have always done. Every labour government I can remember has been ousted by strikes at the first signs of recession and or increasing inflation, orchestrated by the guys who profess to want Labour in power. I can only think its a sort of inexplicable, suicidal drive to make Labour unelectable again - Why?

Still, it's great for those of us with differing political views from your good self

7:46 pm, September 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News Of The World story is grossly inaccurate. The rule change is when there is a vacancy. However, I think you will find many more than a dozen CLPs support it.

8:03 pm, September 08, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Even if someone did try to challenge Brown in a leadership contest I'm not convinced they would get enough support. Labour doesn't normally remove it's leader in such a fashion.

I can't rule out Brown stepping down but I think it is more likely that Brown will be there at the next general election. If Brown steps down then Labour will find it very difficult to to avoid calling an election, the electorate will not tolerate another leader without public consensus not matter what the rule book says.

No body can lead Labour to a election victory now. The conservatives will have a mandate to do pretty much what ever they want when they take power which is pretty much what Labour had when they took power from the tories.

Unfortunately Labour failed to give the people what they expected from a Labour government and they wasted 10 years on PFI and an illegal war.

To Andy. Why people dislike the TUC is beyond me, all they are doing is trying to protect the interests of its members. And a 2% pay rise for some of the poorest paid workers in the country is not what I would call fair. This is what turns me off about conservative supporters....the opinion that the unions should be smashed. The unions are there to protect the interests of it's members, just the same as lobby groups protect the interests of theirs. Working people need representation and irrelevant of politics they will seek to put pressure on who ever is in power. If this means bringing down a Labour government then this is because this government is refusing to listen.

Andy if I get a sniff that a conservative government seeks to further weaken our influence then the conservatives won't have our support. But at the moment the conservatives are talking to the unions and are offering support. The conservatives have changed their spots and I don't think that the shadow cabinet wishes to damage the unions, if anything the country needs them.

You must remember that a strike is the last option, no one wants to lose a days pay.....but what other options are available when we have a Labour government refusing to listen.

9:31 pm, September 08, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Luke - even if you don't support the Calder Valley rule change (and I can't for a moment think why anybody with Labour's best interests at heart would oppose it) surely it would be better to point out why the NOTW article has misunderstood/misrepresented the proposal rather than trying to paint it as some hard-left plot. The proposal is to ensure no more coronations, no more no less. It can have no impact on the sitting leader whatsoever.

So let's make that clear whenever we comment on it, otherwise you contribute to the idea that the air is full of plotting, rather than people are trying to update our rules to make them better.

9:37 pm, September 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Calder Valley proposed rule change is hardly news - the amendment was submitted last year!

10:18 pm, September 08, 2008

Anonymous Ian Gilbert said...

Personally I can't see how anybody who can't even persuade 1/8th of his or her parliamentary colleagues to nominate them could possibly be a credible leader, and having such a person on the ballot would be a complete waste of time and effort.

This isn't a right/left factional point - I just genuinely think that the 1/8th rule is an entirely reasonable threashold.

11:24 am, September 09, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

What's the point of an NLP Conference. The membership vote on resolutions and are unanimously passed then the Leadership tear them up? They also have old age pensioners arrested at conference? All those years I belonged to the Labour Party and got out delivering leaflets and canvassing was a complete waste of time its just another anti trade Union Tory Party

4:24 pm, September 09, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Ian - why shouldn't the election process itself reveal who is or isn't a credible candidate rather than a nomination threshold from the group already hugely over-represented in the process?

7:45 pm, September 09, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

(This was part of my comment on the same topic on Labourhome)

I feel very strongly that the 12.5% threshold is unnecessary, unfair and bad for the party.

It is unfair for a variety of reasons:

a) It is the only part of the process that is public. It has to be public because MPs should be accountable for how they nominate; but it does mean that people have a huge incentive to back the person they think will win: their future career depends on keeping that person happy.

b) It gives the most powerful part of the electoral college a veto on who can stand, essentially giving MPs a veto at both ends of a process, and the ability to prevent a contest at all. (Remember, all we're talking about here is in the event of a vacancy).

c) It doesn't matter how many CLP or union nominations a candidate gets (each decided by groups of people, on behalf of large numbers) the whims of a handful of MPs - who don't have to consult anybody, and can ignore them even if they do - wipes those nominations from the history books. I don't think that's the sort of party we are in; of course the leader needs the confidence of the MPs; but we are party that was built outside parliament and MPs should not operate as if they are above the rest of the movement (some MPs should be applauded for nominating as requested by the local parties, in some cases differently from how they intended to vote - but they are a minority).

It is unecessary because:

a) Even if there ever was a danger that some entryist group could muster 5% (as the threshold used to be) and somehow so much dominate the CLP and union sections of the college to win, that danger clearly has nothing to do with the modern age. Really it was always an absurd fiction.

b) The PLP massively dominate the college - each of their votes is worth many times more than those of members and trade unionists. Only an absolute landslide in those other sections could over-turn an overwhelming PLP vote. And I'd like to think that if somebody managed a landslide in those sections, they'd have convinced a fair number of MPs too. Surely MPs aren't that much out of touch?

It is bad for the party because:

Requiring a high nomination threshold requires great compromise and lesser-evilism at the nominations stage rather than through our preferential voting system. All this achieves is to make the process less democratic and to make the policy debate less interesting and worthwhile. It forces out radical, interesting or unusual ideas, and ensures that only safe and conservative (small 'c') ideas can be debated. It makes it more likely to be about personality, and less likely to be about policy and ideas.

6:18 pm, September 10, 2008


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