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.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lefties bearing gifts

One of the nicer aspects of getting seriously ill is that you find political opponents who you had expected would be organising street parties to celebrate your hospitalisation actually react with great kindness.

So thank you to Hackney Lib Dem Leader Ian Sharer and Tory Chief Whip Michael Levy for visiting me and to the Hackney Tory Group for their card.

And thanks to Labour Left Briefing Editor Graham Bash for visiting yesterday with all the back issues of his publication I have missed - including the one where the Periscope gossip column wished me a quick recovery so that Hackney North GC meetings get a bit livelier again.

And finally thank you to Janine Booth of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty for signing a copy of her new book, Guilty and Proud of it. It's a history of the Poplar case in the 1920s and rather well-written as you would expect from someone with Janine's academic background in history and skills as a Trot pamphleteer. She contrasts her leftwing heroes in Poplar who went to jail rather than collect the rates with the sell-out moderates in Hackney, led by my hero Herbert Morrison, which went down a route of legal budgeting. Plus ca change ... According to the introduction, a letter I wrote to the Hackney Gazette in 2001 suggesting it was not a great idea for Hackney Council to go bankrupt so outraged Janine that it inspired this book!


Blogger Hughes Views said...

In spite of the impression that some in the media seem anxious to convey, nearly everyone I've met in mainstream politics has been an agreeable and upstanding member of the human race. It's just a pity that some of them harbour such peculiar views!

12:20 pm, July 25, 2009

Blogger David Boothroyd said...

The Poplar case is so famous and worth celebrating, but as an instruction manual for Labour councillors it has been the rock on which many have foundered. Many councils voted to defy the Housing Finance Act and we were lucky it was only 11 in Clay Cross who got surcharged.

The ratecapping debacle of 1985 was much worse. Setting no rate was only ever going to lead to surcharge and while getting rid of the Militants on Liverpool was very satisfying, some of the other Labour councillors were non-militants just swept along.

The same applies with more force to Lambeth where it was a failure of political leadership for Ted Knight to convince the Labour group that it was going to work and they would not suffer. Plenty of excellent councillors were forced out of local government because they fell for it.

I've no doubt that, if we find ourselves in opposition again, there will be people calling for councils to do illegal things because 'it'll work just like Poplar in 1921'. No it won't.

11:46 am, July 26, 2009

Blogger stroppybird said...


Thought you might like to see the clips from the launch.


Best wishes


9:24 am, July 28, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Yet the Labour defence minister is trying to reduce the amount of compensation given to injured troops.

Some Labour government this is. Happy to rip off the tax payers through fraudulent expense claims yet deny injured troops compo.

How on earth do you expect to get re-elected when you act in this way. No matter what you views are on this conflict virtually every British person is behind our troops. You are in big big trouble come the election.

10:43 am, July 29, 2009

Blogger Harry Barnes said...

Labour : What Is To Be Done? See -

5:05 pm, July 29, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Harry, but does the Labour party represent working people? My view is that there are so many large private companies willing to fund the best odds in the run up to a general election. Huge PFI related contracts and hence huge donations to buy influence and obtain profitable public sector contracts.

The conservatives are keen to promote change but they too are more than happy to accept huge donations from companies with interests in PFI contracts.

What hope is there of the working class getting any change when this sort of thing is happening legally.

If I was the Labour party I would:

Scrap PFI and concentrate on providing good services with the money we have.

Scrap targets across the board and concentrate on services that people value and not rate them on meaningless targets.

Pour billions into education and get class sizes below 18.

Continue the work with the NHS.

Take back the power companies and the Railways.

Introduce a workers bill that protects all workers from the threat of globilisation.

Bring back Tony Benn

9:15 pm, July 29, 2009

Blogger Janine said...

Academic background in history?! I haven't a single qualification in history, not even an O Level. Glad you enjoyed the book though.

David - The abortive 'fightback' against ratecapping in the 1980s failed precisely because fake lefties did not see their fight through like the Poplar councillors did. Rather, they made like the Monkees in the opening sequence of their 1960s TV show - ran down to the water's edge, dipped in their toes, then scarpered back up the beach.

3:45 pm, August 01, 2009

Blogger David Boothroyd said...

Oh Janine, if only it were that simple that all you have to do to get your way is to break the law in a totally determined way. But it isn't. Poplar did not set out to break the law, they just backed into it. Similarly Liverpool in 1984 ended up delaying setting a rate without ever intending to. Remember that Herbert Morrison himself was not averse to direct action on occasion - personally breaking up the old Waterloo Bridge, for instance.

Deliberately adopting an illegal policy to make a point has never worked. It is usually counterproductive in turning the argument into one about the tactics of protest rather than the original wrong.

3:20 pm, August 02, 2009

Anonymous Janine said...

But David, you have changed the subject to: does defiance of the law work if used proactively or defensively? Before that, it was: can the Poplar struggle be a model for other socialists in local government? Unfortunately, you quoted examples of people in the 1980s who turned back from the Poplar strategy rather than seeing it through, and your reply does not address this point.

You also mentioned the Clay Cross councillors without acknowledging that they won ie. that the Housing Finance Act was repealed.

Your final point was one that Herbert Morrison made very articulately at the time. He was wrong.

6:30 pm, August 02, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you've learnt an important lesson - that despite the vitriol you've poured on the Liberal Democrats (and occasionally the Tories) in Hackney and elsewhere and the personal attacks, we are all human beings and not so entrenched in tribal warfare for the sake of it. People are sick of this type of yah boo politics

11:47 am, August 05, 2009

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1:38 pm, October 02, 2009


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