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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Progress column

My Progress column this week looks at the Autumn Statement and the November 30 strike:
 

Monday, November 28, 2011

David Cairns Tribute video

Tribute video about David Cairns MP produced for last week's first David Cairns Foundation Charity Dinner:





More about the Foundation and how to support its work here: http://www.davidcairnsfoundation.org/

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week looks at Lord Ashcroft's latest polling for the Tories on the economy: http://labourlist.org/2011/11/it%e2%80%99s-all-about-the-money-money-money/

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vintage Red by John Kotz

On Wednesday I popped into a reception at Hackney Town Hall to mark the launch of the memoirs of John Kotz, which he has titled "Vintage Red".

John was Leader of Hackney Council in 1981-82, having served on it from the early '50s. He is from a Bevanite traditional left background. I'd probably agree with his municipal socialist approach to council matters but disagree with him on some other issues like his passionate support for CND. He and the generation of Hackney Council stalwarts that had come up through the 1940s Labour League of Youth were ousted from running the council in 1982, when the Hard Left purged many council leaderships, including Hackney's, and started a period of chaos. This is explained in a later chapter of the book. Slightly confusing, but for John to explain, is why he now supports the LRC when it is the successor to the mob who ousted him as Leader.

The book also covers, in fascinating detail, council and Labour Party life in Hackney over a 40 year period. We could learn a lot from some of the rigorous campaigning techniques John and Eddie Millen (still a tenant activist and member of the local ward party where I am a councillor) practiced in the 1960s - teams of 40 canvassers making 1500 contacts in a morning!

There can't be many council wards that have had two former members publish books about their local political activity. My ward Chatham is one of them, with John's book covering the period immediately after that covered by Bob Darke, whose "The Communist Technique in Britain" was an expose of the Communist Party's tactics in Hackney (he was one of their two councillors). If Charles Clarke ever writes his memoirs we will get a third book about Chatham Ward, as Charles was started on his elected career by being John and Eddie's co-councillor in Chatham Ward from 1978.

I won't write a fuller review as another former Hackney resident, ex-MEP David Hallam, has done so very eloquently: http://methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/2011/09/vintage-red-by-john-kotz-book-review.html

If you are interested in Hackney politics or in getting a flavour of Labour Party life in the East End in the post-War era, you will enjoy this short but very readable book. Buy it here: http://www.manifestopress.org.uk/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Council by-elections

Tonight's results, with good results for Labour in Kent and Norfolk:

Beaver Ward, Ashford BC. Lab hold. Lab 336 (37.5%, -1.3), Con 249 (27.8%, -8.6), LD 173 (19.3%, +19.3), Ashford Ind 111 (12.4%, -12.4), Green 26 (2.9%, +2.9). Swing of 3.7% from Con to Lab since May this year.

Great Horton Ward, Bradford MBC. Lab hold. Lab 1993 (58.6%, -16.8), Con 705 (20.7%, +5.3), LD 337 (9.9%, +0.7), UKIP 294 (8.6%, +8.6), Green 73 (2.1%, +2.1). Swing of 11.1% from Lab to Con sonce May this year.

Wendron Division, Cornwall CC. MK gain from Ind. Mebyon Kernow 427 (36.4%, +16.5), LD 262 (22.3%, +12.3), Con 227 (19.4%, +3.9), Ind 177 (15.1%, -23.5), Lab 80 (6.8%, +3.8). Swing of 2.1% from LD to MK since 2009.

Lakenham Division, Norfolk CC. Lab gain from LD. Lab 1051 (43%, +1.4), LD 611 (25%, +3.7), Green 492 (20.1%, +1.6), Con 160 (6.5%, -5.3), UKIP 133 (5.4%, -1.3). Swing of 1.2% from Lab to LD since coterminous Norwich ward was fought in May this year.

Hazelmere South Ward, Wycombe BC. LD gain from Con. LD 412 (37.7%, +19), UKIP 365 (33.4%, +33.4), Cons 228 (20.9%, -33.8), Lab 88 (8.1%, +8.1). Swing  of 7.2% from LD to UKIP since May this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress column this week is about Ed Miliband's speech last week on the economy:

http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2011/11/23/building-the-new-economy/

Monday, November 21, 2011

NEC team announced

I’m pleased to announce I am re-standing for a second two year term as a constituency representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

The team I am part of consists of the following six candidates for the six places:
· Luke Akehurst (sitting NEC member)
· Joanne Milligan (National Policy Forum constituency rep)
· Florence Nosegbe (Lambeth Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Games)
· Ellie Reeves (sitting NEC member)
· Ruth Smeeth (parliamentary candidate for Burton in 2010)
· Peter Wheeler (long-serving NEC member until 2010)

All six of us are proud to be supported by Labour First and Progress.

More info here: http://labourlist.org/2011/11/nec-candidate-team-backed-by-labour-first-and-progress-announced/

Friday, November 18, 2011

By-election results

Last night's results:

Hillhead Ward, Glasgow City Council. SNP hold. 1st round votes: SNP 1026 (32.8%, +11.9), Lab 945 (30.2%, +4.1), Green 435 (13.9%, -4.6), Con 372 (11.9%, +1.8), LD 307 (9.8%, -8.4), UKIP 36 (1.1%, +1.1), Britannica 11 (0.4%, +0.4). Swing of 3.9% from Lab to SNP since 2007.

West Wight Ward, Isle Of Wight UA. Con hold. Con 640 (76.7%, +30.2); LD 116 (13.9%, +13.9); UKIP 78 (9.4%, +9.4). Swing of 8.2% from LD to Con since 2009.

Zetland Ward, Redcar & Cleveland UA. 2 LD holds. LD 661 + 633 (45.3%, -4.7), Lab 531 + 512 (36.4%, +1), Con 217 + 102 (14.9%, +0.3), UKIP 50 (3.4%, +3.4). Swing of 1.9% from LD to Lab since this May.

Salthill Ward, Ribble Valley DC. Con gain from LD. Con 208 (34.0%, +4.6), LD 204 (33.4%, +9.2), UKIP 159 (26%, +5.7), Lab 40 (6.5%, -3.5). Swing of 1.8% from Con to LD since May this year.

Poulton North Ward, Warrington UA. LD hold. LD 776 (44.7%, -3.6), Lab 733 (42.2%, +3.1), Con 147 (8.5%, +0.2), UKIP 79 (4.6%, +0.4). Swing of 3.4% from LD to Lab since July this year.

Ruabon Ward, Wrexham CBC. Lab gain from PC. Lab 231 (34.2%, +10.3), PC 230 (34.1%, -9.6), Ind 155 (23%, -9.2), Con 59 (8.7%, +8.7). Swing of 10% from PC to Lab since 2008.

Ed on Israel

As a lot of readers will know, I have recently started a new day job working for a pro-Israel grassroots campaign - a cause I have supported as a lay activist for 20 years.

I was therefore delighted to see what Ed Miliband said in his speech to the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch on Tuesday. Here are some of the key quotes:

"the thing I feel overwhelmingly about the State of Israel is that out of the darkness of the war and the Holocaust it gave light to my family. And I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the State of Israel and what it has achieved, and I wanted to make that clear."

"see Israel also from the point of view of a political leader. A democracy in a region where autocracy is commonplace, and it is important to say that. A country where this summer the tent protests began as thousands of ordinary Israelis mobilised. But Israel is a country known for its thriving small business sector, renowned for its venture capital industry and from which we can learn. And it is a country also, and if I can put it this way, where we have a new Labor party with a new leader, Shelly Yachimovich, who is charting a new course for her party."

"The reason I tell this story is because I want to say very clearly I’m grateful to Israel, I respect Israel, I admire Israel and that is why I’m proud to be here to be here, to be part of Labour Friends of Israel. And I give you my word that under my leadership I will ensure that the Labour Party remains a strong and steadfast friend of Israel."

"like LFI, I remain absolutely committed to seeing progress towards a stable two state solution. That is the only way forward, it seems to me. With Israel and Palestine living side by side; and with each enjoying self-determination and mutual recognition. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with all those Israelis and Palestinians that share this vision."

"I understand and share the anger of people in this room and people in the Jewish community about the 10years of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza. The most recent of which happened just yesterday and indeed two weeks ago in Ashkelon an innocent civilian was killed. It is wrong, it is the murder of innocent people and we all condemn it.I understand also the fear that is generated when we hear people question Israel’s very right to exist. We should condemn completely, and have no tolerance of those who question the state of Israel wherever their voices are raised. And I understand too, and reference was made to it, about the fear of what is happening in Iran. We know that Iran has supplied thousands of missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah and we must stand up to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. The international community must speak with one voice and apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime."

"And I’m proud of the work .... of .... Tony Blair, in his vital work as Quartet representative in the Middle East.(APPLAUSE)It’s good to hear applause when Tony Blair’s name is mentioned."

"as a party we will have no tolerance for anti-Semitism in Britain. That is the way it must be. I know as leader of the Labour Party,it is our role not just to keep the debate in the Middle East sensible and balanced, but to ensure the labour party challenges speakers of hate and those that seek to marginalise Jewish voices and shout down those who make the case for the State of Israel. And it is why I’m also against the current calls for boycotts which frankly would cause isolation not progress in the Middle East peace process."

"hope can overcome fear,but I learn the lesson also that political will can breed hope, which can overcome fear. And16 years ago this month we mark the death of Yitzhak Rabin, and this is what he said on the signing of the Oslo Accords. He said: “We all love the same children, weep the same tears,hate the same enmity and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no borders, here is where we were born; here is where we created a nation. But we are not alone here on this soil in this land. Our neighbours are Palestinian people. We all see you in your difficulties, we saw you for generations; we who have killed and been killed are walking beside you now toward a common future and we want to be good neighbours.” "

"To create political will though requires dialogue, debate and understanding. And that’s why I want to reiterate my support for the work that Labour Friends of Israel does. Ultimately we all know what the solution is. We know the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. Let us all pledge to do our best to make this peace a reality. And I make this pledge thinking of the deep ties that exist between Britain and Israel and Labour and Israel. Ties of cooperation, of culture, of common purpose."

Standard annual Labour Friends of Israel membership is £15. Please follow this link to join https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dGp2ZHAxVXI1VDVidXZIZXczN21ySkE6MQ#gid=0

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week is about the future of the Labour/trade union link:

http://labourlist.org/2011/11/my-biggest-worry-about-labour%e2%80%99s-future/

Friday, November 11, 2011

Council by-elections

There were four by-elections yesterday, with some excellent results for Labour, boding well for the London and Birmingham elections in May:

Sparkbrook Ward, Birmingham MBC. Lab gain from Respect. Lab 3932 (56.7%, +6.9), Respect 2301 (33.2%, -5.6), LD 395 (5.7%, -0.8), Green 179 (2.6%, +0.4), Con 133 (1.9%, -0.9). Swing of 6.3% from Respect to Lab since May this year. This was Respect Leader Salma Yaqoob's seat on the council until she resigned due to ill-health.

St Margarets Ward, Ipswich BC. LD gain from Con. LD 942 (41.8%, +6.7), Con 871 (38.7%, +1.7), Lab 439 (19.5%, -0.8). Swing of 2.5% from Con to LD since May this year.

St Marys Ward, LB Islington. Lab hold. Lab 1,120 (47%, +14.1), LD 640 (26.9%, -5.1), Green 317 (13.3%, +1.4), Con 282 (11.8%, -8.3), BNP 22 (0.9%, +0.9). Swing of 9.6% from LD to Lab since 2010. This was a split ward with 2 Lab/1 LD councillors in 2010.

Aldborough Ward, LB Redbridge. Lab hold. Lab 1436 (51.7%, +10.4), Con 1071 (38.6%, -4.9), LD 87 (3.1%, -12.1), UKIP 83 (3%, +3), Green 64 (2.3%, +2.3), BNP 34 (1.2%, +1.2). Swing of 7.7% from Con to Lab since 2010. This was a split ward with 2 Con/1 Lab councillors in 2010.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress column this week is about Labour's traditional right: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2011/11/09/the-story-of-the-labour-right/

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Drop the Bill

Sign this if you oppose the Coalition's NHS reforms: http://www.dropthebill.com/

Monday, November 07, 2011

Labourlist Column

My Labourlist column this week is about Ed Miliband and the Occupy protests:

http://labourlist.org/2011/11/occupy-what-eds-article-was-about/

Friday, November 04, 2011

NEC Report

My latest NEC report: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2011/11/01/nec-report-%e2%80%93-november-2011/

Council by-elections

There were four by-elections yesterday:

Oban North & and Lorn Ward, Argyll & Bute UA. SNP hold. First preferences: SNP 1081 (44.1%, +21.7), Con 505 (20.6%, +12.1), Ind 438 (17.9%, -36.7), LD 260 (10.6%, -4), Ind 165 (6.7%, +6.7). Swing of 4.8% from Con to SNP since 2007.

Yoxall Ward, East Staffordshire DC. Con hold. Con 478 (84.3%, +5), Lab 89 (15.7%, -5). Swing of 5% from Lab to Con since May this year.

Inverness South Ward, Highland UA. LD gain from Lab. First preferences: SNP 885 (33.9%, +6.9), LD Carolyn Caddick 747 (28.7%, +5.7), Lab 308 (11.8%, -5.3), Con 290 (11.1%, +0.6), Green 157 (6%, +6), Christian Party 126 (4.8%, +4.8), Ind 94 (3.6%, -18.8). Swing of 0.6% from LD to SNP since 2007.

Syston Ridgeway Division, Leicestershire CC. Con hold. Con 981 (52.1%, -0.5), Lab 490 (26.0%, +15.4), BNP 279 (14.8%, -5.6), LD 132 (7.0%, -10.4). Swing of 8% from Con to Lab since 2009. Labour moved from 4th place in 2009 to 2nd place now.

 
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