A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, the Labour Party and Hackney - 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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

How the Lib Dems campaign

This is a very good comment on www.politicalbetting.com by East London Tory Agent Peter Golds about recent Lib Dem negative campaigning:

"Two weeks ago yesterday there was a by election in the Borough of Haringey, the third placed Liberal Democrats, swamped the ward with literature claiming that they were set to win, they used bar charts conjured from nothing and yet they came in a poor third.
Should they be ashamed of their deceit?

One week ago yesterday there was a by election in Bexley. The third placed Liberal Democrats, swamped the ward with literature claiming that they were set to win, they used bar charts conjured from nowhere and yet they came in a poor fourth.
Should they be ashamed of their deceit?

Yesterday there was a by election in Hackney. The third placed Liberal democrats swamped the ward with literature claiming they were set to win, they used bar charts conjured from nowhere and yet they came in a poor third.
Should they be ashamed of their deceit?

I am afraid it is what passes for elections where Liberal Democrats are involved and imitation can become the best form of flattery.

There was also a by election in Redbridge yesterday, which the Liberal Democrats won. Their literature concentrated on Redbridge Council’s foreign policy and used some pretty unpleasant pictures of Gaza. Interestingly they broke a cardinal rule by naming an opponent, just one - the Leader of the Council, Cllr Alan Weinberg.

I am also told from friends campaigning in the ward, that there were people knocking on doors, speaking of Gaza and mentioning what Conservative Cllr Weinberg and the Labour Foreign Secretary have in common - which was why their respective parties were not campaigning on the council’s foreign policy.

I wonder who should be ashamed of that deceit?

by Peter Golds January 30th, 2009 at 10:58 am"

Council By-Election Results

Slightly late posting today as I am recovering from polling day yesterday in Hackney's Stoke Newington Central Ward where I was Agent.

Stoke Newington Central Ward, LB Hackney. Lab hold. Lab 1162 (47.8%, +2.5), Green 783 (32.2%, +3.3), LD 297 (12.2%, -4.6), Con 169 (6.9%, -2.1), Communist 20 (0.8%, +0.8). Swing of 0.4% from Lab to Green since 2006.

Didsbury West Ward, Manchester City Council. LD hold. LD 1439 (55.6%, +8.4), Lab 638 (24.7%, +1.9), Con 336 (13%, -3.6), Green 173 (6.7%, -3.6). Swing of 3.3% from Lab to LD since 2008.

Fenham Ward, Newcastle-on-Tyne City Council. LD gain from Lab. LD 1049 (34%, -11.7), Lab 1025 (33.2%, -3.2), BNP 825 (26.7%, +17.7), Con 186 (6%, -2.9). Swing of 4.3% from LD to Lab since 2008.

Valentines Ward, LB Redbridge. LD gain from Lab. LD 963 (36.9%, +20.1), Con 781 (29.9%, +10.4), Lab 756 (28.3%, -0.9), Respect 112 (4.3%, +4.3). Swing of 4.9% from Con to LD since 2006. Strange numbers are result of an independent coming second in 2006 but not running this time. Apparently the LDs made Gaza a big issue in the campaign in a heavily Muslim area.

So a good night for the LDs except in Stoke Newington where we estimate they deliver 50,000 leaflets (2 addressed direct mails, 5 Focuses, 3 polling day leaflets) - 168 leaflets per vote! Lib Dem campaign was very professional with well-written material, but it was jarringly negative (indeed designed to depress turnout) and personalised when the tone in Stoke Newington politics is quite policy-focused and high-minded, and oddly focused on specific issues on very small social housing blocks in a ward that is 70% street properties.

The Greens looked gutted by the SNC result - to quote commenters on www.vote-2007.co.uk "they threw the kitchen sink plus into this one", bringing in activists from across the country. They seem unable to replicate the 1200 votes they can pull in in neighbouring and more middle-class Clissold Ward in this their number 2 target ward. This is primarily because they have absolutely nothing to say to or offer to working class or ethnic minority voters, which is a bit of a drawback in Hackney.

Congratulations to newly-elected councillor Louisa Thomson who was one of the hardest-working and most dedicated candidates I've ever been agent for.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

West needs to remember we are part of the West

I was a bit taken aback by Security Minister Lord West comments this morning about Gaza fueling terrorism.

Of course he is right that foreign policy can drive radicalisation, but that doesn't mean you should temper your foreign policy to avoid upsetting radical Islamists, any more than you should shape your immigration policy to appease the BNP.

Reacting to bits of UK foreign policy you don't like - or in this case bits of Israel's policies you don't like - by wanting to blow yourself and innocent people up, rather than by making some placards or writing to your MP or voting Liberal Democrat - suggests a degree of alienation and indeed pathological nuttiness that isn't going to be satisfied by slight changes to foreign policy.

It isn't foreign policy or Iraq or Palestine that are the ideological root grievances of Al-Qaeda and its copycat organisations - those are just "transitional demands" that help recruit people - the root grievance of the people doing the recruiting is with the existence of liberal democracies and the way of life they nurture - just as it wasn't the rather reasonable sounding "peace, bread and land" that Lenin actually wanted - what he sought was the overthrow of the existing society and that set of issues/grievances was a neat way of conning some cannon fodder into the arms of the Bolshevik cadres.

Which brings me to the bit of what Lord West said that I had real trouble with - his statement that "in the mind of people making hate, there is a linkage between the US, Israel and the UK" - as though that linkage doesn't exist and should be disowned.

I think that's appeasing the terrorists. There is a linkage between the US and the UK - they are our main military and political ally. And there may not be a formal alliance or treaty between Israel and the UK but there is a profound "linkage" - Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. People there live in a way that is broadly similar to the UK in terms of civic life, freedom and the way society and the economy function. It is home to many thousands of former and current UK citizens. Because it is a liberal democracy with cultural links and contributions to the West its enemies are the same as our enemies - global Islamist terrorism and Iran's attempts to build a nuclear arsenal and the ballistic missile technology to deliver it.

We may deplore some of the tactics used by the IDF in Gaza, or disagree with the actual decision of Israel to use force, but the fight it is in is the same fight Lord West is conducting as Security Minister - against terror wielded in the name of a perverted interpretation of religion - whether it is by suicide bombers on tubes in London, or in restaurants in Tel Aviv, or by random rocket attacks, or by Presidents threatening to wipe out with nuclear weapons a nearby state for having the temerity to have a majority Jewish population.

Trying to distance ourselves from other democracies won't appease potential terrorists. It will make us look like the cowardly, decadent and self-interested people they think we are, and lead them to believe that we are so ashamed of our own values and way-of-life that we won't defend them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A few links

John Mann MP's call for guarantees for Child Trust Funds.

Joe Goldberg explains how he won the Seven Sisters by-election - some good tips except the bit about 90 minute canvassing sessions (I'm a proponent of 2.5 hours as the optimal canvass session length at weekends - short enough not to reduce life expectancy of canvassers, long enough to have a meaningful impact on contact rate)

Hackney South CLP Secretary Daniel Carey-Jones calls for a series of "national challenges" to bring forward new policy solutions.

Four Lords Allegedly a-Lobbying

Reading the Sunday Times stuff about Lords Snape, Truscott, Moonie and Taylor has reinforced my belief that Labour shot itself in the foot by not fundamentally reforming the Lords years ago.

The problem is that unless a Peer is a Minister, they don't get paid a salary. So they have to have outside jobs. And if you are allowed as a Peer (as long as you declare all the relevant interests) to own a company, to run a charity or NGO, be a non-exec or executive director of a company, a lawyer for various clients, or a PR person for various clients, it is understandable that the current fudged position exists whereby you can sell political consultancy in the form of advice to clients, but not offer paid advocacy i.e. not talk to people on behalf of clients. The argument over the Sunday Times story is whether or not any of the four peers offered to advocate for clients rather than just advise them - if they did then they definitely broke the rules.

As readers may know, I work for a public affairs agency myself. Our trade body, the APPC, goes further than the House of Lords does and bans the employment of or any payment to Peers by member companies (as well as MPs, MSPs, WAMs, LAMs and MEPs). It says "In the view of APPC, it is inappropriate for a person to be both a legislator and a political consultant." As a lowly councillor, I'm banned from lobbying my own authority by my professional code of conduct - it's an obvious conflict of interest - and would lose my job if I did as the code is part of my contract of employment.

We need to have a House of Lords than is full-time, salaried, elected rather than appointed (preferably by a proportional voting system to counter-balance the FPTP elected Commons), and a lot smaller. Probably 200 full-time peers could do the necessary work of amending and scrutinising legislation.

I don't have a problem with the title Lord this or that being dished out to retired politicians, academics, senior generals and coppers etc. but it shouldn't carry with it a seat and a vote in the legislature. Thus removing the current potential for conflicts of interest.

Then the people with the honorific title "Lord Whatever" who aren't in parliament anymore can lobby away to their hearts' content, leaving the 200 elected ones - let's call them Senators - to get on with legislating and scrutinising without any distracting or corrupting second jobs.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In another place

I've been taking a look at the half-mad (in some cases wholly mad) ideas being generated by Compass members.

Local Labour Roundup 3

Cllr Cowan has done the latest local Labour round-up.

Council By-Election Results

Last night's council by-election results:

East Wickham Ward, LB Bexley. Con hold. Con 798 (26.8%, -4.4), BNP 790 (26.5%, +12.4), Lab 700 (23.5%, +1.5), Lib Dem 564 (18.9%, +2.9), Eng Dem 128 (4.3%, -4.9). Swing of 8.4% from Con to BNP.

Bentswood Ward, Mid Sussex DC. LD hold. LD 514 (36.9%, +1.4), Lab 456 (32.7%, -2.6), Con 332 (23.8%, -5.4), BNP 92 (6.6%, +6.6). Swing of 2% from Lab to LD since 2007.

New Duston Ward, Northampton BC. Con hold. Con 1072 (53.0%, +9.7), Lab 322 (15.9%, -1.3), Ind 320 (15.8%, -3.8), LD 307 (15.2%, +7). Swing of 5.5% from Lab to Con since 2007.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Labourspace.com

This looks potentially interesting: http://www.labourspace.com/home.

LabourSpace is the Labour Party's new campaign social networking site which provides a home for NGOs and individuals to host and promote their campaigns - organisations can register on the website and they receive their own page to promote their campaign ideas.

Over on labourlist

I've got round to posting on labourlist. It's about Gaza so that should give people something to get their teeth into in the comments: http://www.labourlist.org/the_right_kind_of_ceasefire

London Labour Councils lead the way on keeping down Council Tax

Local Government Minister, John Healey MP, is today touring the East London Labour Boroughs who are freezing their council tax for the next year.

Labour boroughs have recognised the tough times their residents are facing and are providing real help now by keeping council tax low.

Three Labour boroughs are freezing council tax completely for next year; Hackney where I'm a councillor, Newham and Greenwich. Hackney is freezing its tax for the fourth successive year and Newham now has the lowest council tax in outer London.

Hackney Labour's four years of freezes mean that residents in Band D are £256.03 better off than if we had increased it by the London average in each of the last three years and by 2.5% this year.

We've done this while investing in services, whilst Tory councils in London have been slashing and burning public services at a time when people need them most.

Promoted by Luke Akehurst of Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, London, N16 8EB on behalf of Louisa Thomson of 81A Farleigh Road, London, N16 7TD. Hosted (printed) by Blogger.com (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of this post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Those polls

14% Tory lead?

Well, with apologies to Neil Kinnock for leaving out one sentence of his 1983 speech, if that's the General Election result:

"I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can't pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient ... I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income."

If David Cameron wins .. ."I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old."

Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle

http://www.labour.org.uk/shadow_cabinet_reshuffle

Monday, January 19, 2009

John McDonnell's odd taste in trade unionists

I didn't quite get the level of anger involved in John McDonnell's outburst about the Heathrow third runway decision.

I can understand that many of his constituents are concerned about noise polution and about the demolition involved in clearing land for the new runway.

But there must be just as many Hayes & Harlington residents who actually earn their living at Heathrow and who have a huge vested interest in it being able to compete with other European airport hubs.

Even if, on balance, McDonnell was going to decide he opposed it, surely it would have been prudent for him to present a more balanced (in every sense of the word) response, showing that he cared about the jobs of his constituents as well as the environmental issues, and had weighed up the pros and cons before reaching his position of opposition, rather than just slamming the whole idea.

As it is his position may end up looking as electorally sensible as Albert Booth's opposition to Trident submarines when he was MP for submarine-building Barrow-in-Furness. It would be as though the MP for a mining seat was saying they were against coal-mining because of the environmental impact.

There are very sensible leftwing reasons for backing a third runway:

- it's difficult to have a Keynesian fiscal stimulus if you object to the largest and most job-creating public infrastructure schemes in that stimulus on environmental grounds
- and the major trade unions such as Unite and the GMB are pushing hard for the scheme on the basis of it preserving existing jobs

I find it strange that McDonnell has not listened to the powerful case being put forward by Unite's London region, Labour's largest regional affiliate, who estimate they have 50,000 members dependent on Heathrow.

Instead the unions McDonnell is spending time listening to are the mysterious Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG), which he serves as Parliamentary Convenor of, and which is launching at the Commons on 21 January. The TUCG consists of BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, PCS, POA and RMT. Only BFAWU is affiliated to the Labour Party. FBU disaffiliated, RMT was chucked out for backing the Scottish Socialist Party, and the others have never been affiliated. All of them have very leftwing leaderships. the TUCG wants to give "unions a new and stronger representative voice in Parliament" - interesting wording as one reading of that phrase is i.e. not the Labour Party.

What is McDonnell up to acting as the parliamentary front man for a bunch of non-affiliated unions, and pretty much ignoring the large Labour-affiliated ones? Maybe Jon Cruddas was right to speculate at a recent IPPR event that McDonnell's LRC is a breakaway party in waiting, with its own union affiliates and conference?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Politicians in glass houses

Tory MP David Ruffley says the police shouldn't have second jobs.

But he doesn't practice what he preaches, as the register of interests reveals he has second jobs worth up to £80k a year:

"RUFFLEY, David (Bury St. Edmunds)
2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Adviser on economic affairs to Lotus Asset Management (with effect from 26 May 2005). (£15,001-£20,000)
Adviser to Dentons Pension Management Ltd, giving general strategic business advice. (£25,001-£30,000)
Adviser to Partnership Group Holdings Limited, giving strategic business advice (with effect from 19 April 2007). (£25,001-£30,000)"

Council By-Election Results

Last night's council by-election results:

Newent Central Ward, Forest of Dean DC. Con hold. Con 306 (49.2%, +6.5), Ind 166 (26.7%, -12.5), Lab 96 (15.4%, -1.7), Ind 54 (8.7%, +8.7). Swing of 9.5% from Ind to Con since 2007.

Seven Sisters Ward, LB Haringey. Lab hold. Lab 1032 (37.1%, -9.3), Con 968 (34.8%, +7), LD 581 (20.9%, +8.2), Green 166 (6%, -7.1), Ind 36 (1.3%, +1.3). Swing of 8.2% from Lab to Con since 2006. This was one I helped in on the day - see my reaction in post below.

Labour holds Seven Sisters

I spent today helping get out the Labour vote in the Seven Sisters Ward in Haringey.

I've just heard from the candidate, Joe Goldberg, that he has won with 1032 votes to 968 for the Tories, 581 for LDs, 166 for the Greens, 36 for the independent.

This is quite an achievement for Labour given the context in Haringey of the Baby P scandal, and a humiliation for the Lib Dems who ran a gutter campaign trying to make political capital out of the case.

The Tory vote came almost entirely from the polling district containing the Haringey part of the Stamford Hill Chassidic Jewish community.

This means that even in extreme circumstances the LDs cannot break into wards in Tottenham and hence cannot take control of Haringey in May 2010.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A rift in Erith

Word reaches me of NEC Member and veteran Bennite organiser Pete Willsman falling out a bit with his Erith & Thamesmead CLP.

They are picking a new parliamentary candidate to replace Campaign Group MP John Austin (once John Austin-Walker). At a consultation meeting activists voted by 34 to 2 to have an "open" selection rather than an All Women Shortlist. Willsman was one of the two.

But at the NEC Org Sub today which determines which seats are AWSs, rather than voting the way his own CLP wanted, Willsman voted again to make the seat AWS.

The intended left beneficiary is Cllr Angela Cornforth.

But Willsman's push for AWS may unintentionally deliver a rather different kind of Labour MP for his home patch as fellow NEC member Ellie Reeves stands a good chance of beating Cornforth.

Amicus/Unite General Secretary Election

Nominations have now closed in the Amicus section of Unite General Secretary election.

According to the union's website:

Incumbent Derek Simpson has got 164 branch and 151 workplace rep nominations.

His main challenger is moderate candidate Kevin Coyne with 94 branch nominations and 150 workplace rep nominations.

Former SWP activist Jerry Hicks has got 58 branch and 55 workplace rep nominations.

Laurence Faircloth, official candidate of the leftwing Unity Gazette caucus, has got 44 branch and 49 workplace rep nominations.

Another candidate, Paul Reuter, got 28 branch and 47 workplace rep nominations. I'm not sure if he has got enough branches to go on the ballot, does anyone know?

Tories: Gerrymanders R us

Today's FT carries an interview with David Cameron where he calls for a 10% cut in the number of MPs.

Fair enough, maybe we could manage with say under 600 instead of 650 given that the House of Commons is on the large side compared to other lower chambers in other countries.

But the catch is that Cameron has already decided which 50 seats he wants to chop - and guess what, they are Labour ones.

I think that is known in the trade as Gerrymandering.

He wants to cut the number of seats in Wales, which has always had a minimum number to ensure its distinctive voice as a separate nation is heard. But unlike in the recent reduction in Scottish MPs he is not linking this to greater devolved powers for the Welsh Assembly.

The articles says he also wants to scrap "inner city constituencies in places such as Liverpool ... to reflect the shift in population to the Tory suburbs". But we've only just had a parliamentary boundary review that did exactly that - and the next one isn't due for about a decade. The law already requires the Boundary Commission to aim to get constituencies of roughly equal size. And since when did politicians pre-judge and try to steer the outcomes of the strictly neutral boundary reviews conducted by the Boundary Commission?

He wants to break the current - and historic rule - whereby the Boundary Commission never cross County boundaries when they draw up constituencies, so we'd end up with absurd combinations bringing together communities that had been in different local authorities throughout their history (bits of East Lancs & West Yorks?), just to squeeze in an extra Tory seat here or there.

In the article Prof John Curtice says that a smaller Commons would in itself “improve the Tory chances of winning”.

Tory strategist Rob Hayward - who I had the pleasure of helping eject from the Commons when I worked on Roger Berry MP's campaign in Kingswood in 1992 - "said speedier boundary reviews would favour the Tories as they would reflect Britain’s shift from urban to rural areas."

But is the Boundary Commission capable of running speedier reviews in a way which allows for proper public consultation and consideration, and do voters really want the disruption of having their constituencies chopped and changed around every 5 years?

This whole scheme sounds as though it is more about partisan advantage than anything else. But what would we expect from the party that abolished the GLC and Metropolitan counties when they inconveniently elected Labour administrations?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tory economic narrative

John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy has this to say:

"December 28th
Conservative Economic Narrative

The Conservative Party narrative on the economy is shot to pieces. Yet George Osborne still goes on about "Labour did not fix the roof while the sun was shining". How different would it have been if the Conservatives had been in power? They were committed to the same spending as Labour. They were committed to maintaining the same tax take as Labour. That means they were committed to the same borrowing as labour, so just where would the money have come from to fix the roof? I think we should be told, or stop using this ridiculous slogan."

Compass' funders

The latest begging letter from Gavin Hayes of Compass whinges that they "don’t have millionaire donors".

But er... didn't their Chair Neal Lawson sell his shares in the public affairs company he co-founded, LLM, in 2004 - did he really get less than £1m from that transaction? Or maybe he doesn't donate any of it to Compass?

Labourlist.org goes live

The new Labourlist.org website went live over the weekend.

It's taken a while to get there - Derek Draper who is the editor was discussing the project with Labour bloggers back in the summer when the political context was a very different one of imminent meltdown.

I think it's going to be a very important resource for Labour activists in the run-up to the election.

The critical thing to note is that it won't just be a multi-writer blog like LabourHome - as the header on the webpage says it will be the home of "an independent grassroots e-network" - where you can sign-up to get email alerts and daily briefings sent to your inbox. That provides quite a powerful tool for keeping Labour supporters updated with the latest political developments by email. That's why the name is not "Laboursite" or "Labournet" but "Labourlist" as in email list.

The Guardian has picked up on my involvement saying I am a "respected Labour blogger". I think this must be a typo - surely it should read "detested Labour blogger"?

Anyone got any suggested on what my first post on Labourlist should be about?

Friday, January 09, 2009

David Cameron's economic policy

http://www.davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk/

Left undermine Labour's staff

Labour's hard left are engaging in one of their oldest tricks - attacking and undermining the Party's hard-working staff.

They choose to do this publicly, with NEC Member Peter Kenyon, the website Grassroots Labour and Tribune magazine all making public accusations against staff who cannot argue back because of the terms of their employment. If you are going to make serious allegations of breach of employment contract against people you do it through their line manager or HR department, not on a blog or in a magazine. Particularly not if you are an NEC member who is technically one of their employers. I assume GMB Labour Organisers branch will be dusting off the law on constructive dismissal.

Labour Party staff work ridiculously hard, often at evenings and weekends, to secure the re-election of a Labour government. They do this for pay that is frankly derisory, because they love the Party.

By the nature of the people they have their own political views - why else would you work in politics? - but have to take a Trappist vow on internal party matters.

Some of them are actually from the left themselves - I can think of a Regional Organiser who was definitely a Bennite when he was a lay activist in my CLP, and former senior staff from my own region who in one case started out close to Labour Briefing and in another is the partner of the main conference organiser of the Bennite CLPD. But whatever their personal politics they put these aside and loyally serve the party as a whole.

The accusations relate to such "crimes" as writing a list of delegates to conference with ratings of their political views against them, asking conference delegates to meet a Minister to discuss how to vote on a motion, and sending someone a text message suggesting who to vote for for the Conference Arrangements Committee.

I have no idea if these alleged "crimes" took place or whether or not they constitute a breach of the code, but it does seem a bit wet for the left to be complaining that this constitutes a 'corrupt and scary regime', particularly for anyone that has ever seen the strong arming that goes on in Labour's affiliated unions, often by left General Secretaries and their paid full-time henchmen, to deliver the votes on positions and policies they want.

Are lefty CLP delegates to conference really so feeble and easy to intimidate that a conversation with a Minister is seen as bullying, or an alleged text message recommending a candidate is enough to reduce them to a quivering wreck, abandoning their deeply held desire to vote for the GRA and instead plumping for the likes of me or Maggie Cosin?

The left are particularly upset that a CLP and NPF delegate called Andy Furlong dared to do well in this year's CAC election against Mick Murphy of the TGWU. Has it crossed their minds that the delegates backed Furlong because he was ideologically closer to them than Murphy was, or because he canvassed them and they liked what they saw? But no, the left can't entertain the concept that thousands of Labour activists are moderates by choice and conviction, they can only explain it with conspiracy theories and smears alleging bullying by party staff. How patronising their view is of the actual grassroots delegates they claim to represent!

The left should back off and stop smearing Labour's hard-working staff.

My complaint is the opposite - the daft code of conduct stops Labour staff doing their job. They should not be neutral referees. They should be able to promote the candidates and policies of the elected leadership of the party against their internal critics. Back in Morgan Phillips' day as General Secretary or Herbert Morrison's as London Regional Secretary there was none of this nonsense about neutrality, the party staff explicitly had a role in giving the left a kicking. Ah, the good old days!

More twittering

More twittering from Stoke Newington Green by-election candidate Matt Hanley (https://twitter.com/MattHanley) who helpfully tells us where on the ideological spectrum the oh-so-leftwing Hackney Greens are going vote-hunting, posting yesterday:

"Out convassing [sic] again - starting to actually almost enjoy canvassing now - had my second Tory put up a Green poster last night."

This confirms the experience of Labour canvassers that alongside those Green voters who genuinely care about the environment or think they are backing a left alternative to Labour are a substantial number who are basically just very middle class people who hate the Labour Party and think the Greens are a convenient local vehicle for giving us a kicking, and would vote Tory if they lived in Notting Hill rather than Stoke Newington.

Promoted by Luke Akehurst of Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, London, N16 8EB on behalf of Louisa Thomson of 81A Farleigh Road, London, N16 7TD. Hosted (printed) by Blogger.com (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of this post.

Council By-Election Results

Last night's council by-election results:

Bush Hill Park Ward, LB Enfield. Con hold. Con 1320 (63.4%, +23.4), Lab 413 (19.8%, +6.6), LD 129 (6.2%, -3), UKIP 123 (5.9%< +0.9), Green 97 (4.7%, -5.5). Swing of 8.4% from Lab t0 Con since 2006. The numbers look a bit odd because second place in 2006 was taken by an independent Save Chase Farm Hospital candidate.

Drypool Ward, Hull City Council. LD regain after their cllr defected to Con. LD 1306 (52.3%, -11.6), Lab 891 (35.7%, +8), NF 184 (7.4%, +7.4), Con 117 (4.7%, -3.6). Swing of 9.8% from LD to Lab since 2008.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pre-emptive whipping

The Tories seem to be a bit worried about some of their PPCs according to Newsnight.

Which ones though? Any guesses from readers?

Gaza

I haven't got round to blogging about Gaza yet but my colleague at work, former NUS NEC member Daniel Rosenstone has just started a blog -http://danielrosenstone.blogspot.com/ - and the current crisis in the Middle East is what he's been writing about, so I thought I'd link to him.


As regular readers might expect, I agree with him on this.

Monday, January 05, 2009

There is an alternative?

Will need to stick an imprint on this post as it relates to the council by-election where I'm agent - Stoke Newington Central.

Nominations have now closed and there are 5 candidates:

Matt Hanley, Green (who is on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MattHanley proclaiming that "I'm well chuffed - over 15 Hackney Green activists out, leafleting ward almost complete, SNC canvassing putting the shits up Labour!". Interesting language for a candidate for public office, and er... no you didn't. (main theme of leaflets - Greens are second in this ward)).

Patricia Napier, Conservative (main theme of leaflets - printed on green paper - Tories are second in Stoke Newington area, if you happen to include 2 wards from Stamford Hill)

Karelia Scott, Lib Dem (main theme of leaflets - Lib Dems are second in this constituency)

Nusret Sen, Direct Democracy (Communist) Party (no leaflets so far but picture of Stalin on party website here: http://www.directdemocracy4u.org/ENG/index.php gives you an idea of general ideological millieu he's coming from, as do party slogans listed on the Electoral Commission website:

Achieve abundance - get rid of money
Defeat the bourgeoisie - present day barbarians
Fully automated-continuous production, transportation, communication
Make machines slave to men
Party of Direct Democracy - of abundance
Party of proletarians - of communists
Party of Stalin - of building communism
Party of World Proletarians - World Communists
Production, distribution, communication - owned in common)

However, he got 504 votes in Haggerston Ward in 2002 as an Independent, so not to be sniffed at.

And last but not least:

Louisa Thomson, Labour


It's looking like being a lively campaign, lots of posters up already from different parties, lots of activists of all parties out campaigning this weekend despite the bitter cold.

Promoted by Luke Akehurst of Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, London, N16 8EB on behalf of Louisa Thomson of 81A Farleigh Road, London, N16 7TD. Hosted (printed) by Blogger.com (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of this post.

Web Cabinet (Shadow Version)

http://www.labour.org.uk/webcabinet

Boris' stealth tax

Given that we are said to be entering a period of deflation, i.e. falling prices, what is the justification for Boris Johnson racking up the cost of my daily 243 bus commute by 11% each way from today?

This inflation-busting increase - a single Oyster fare goes up from 90p to £1 - will hit the least well-off most because they use buses the most, and will particularly hit people in my borough, Hackney, as we are not on the tube network and depend on buses.

Basically Boris is nicking over £20 a year off us daily bus commuters. He has increased all fares by an average of 6% but bus Oyster fares by nearly double that, 11%. Maybe he thinks Oyster card users won't notice because you pre-pay the card, in which case it is a pretty cynical move.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Gong for turncoat

The New Year's Honours list brought the extraordinary news of an OBE "for services to local government" for Islington Lib Dem Cllr Meral Ece.

Had the people at No10 dishing out gongs bothered consulting the Labour Party's filing system, they would have found dusty copies of the 1995 NEC Report into the Hackney Labour Group, outlining the role being played by Ece, then Labour Deputy Leader of Hackney, as one of five ringleaders of the "group within a group" that eventually quit Labour and brought about a five year hung council period during which local government services in Hackney were almost destroyed through botched privatisations, budget meltdowns and savage cuts. Having screwed up local government in Hackney she then carpet-bagged it across to Islington to continue her new career as a Lib Dem there.

Her appointment discredits and devalues the honours system and calls into question the vetting and nomination process at No10.

What next, a gong for services to local democracy for her fellow Hackney defector, Tory vote-rigger Isaac Liebowitz?

 
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