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.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The new General Secretary

Congraulations and good luck to David Pitt-Watson in his new job.

He's the first Gen Sec since Larry Whitty who I haven't known because his previous period as AGS was just after I stopped working for the Party.

I therefore don't have a take on what he's going to be like, but he's got off to a flying start by causing a fight between Peter Kenyon and Susan Press. Neat work.


Blogger susan press said...

Peter's inexplicable support for a candidate backed by the Right is hardly to his credit. I rest my case.

11:34 pm, March 10, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Luke

Thanks for the puff. I'm puzzled by the so-called Left support for a GS candidate who was a member of the NEC when the previous Leader plunged the Party into debt, and lined up the votes that allowed the new Leader to take away CLP and TU delegate rights at Conference.

As you know I have been interested in a solvent, mass membership party for longer than I've known Susan Press. I don't envy David, but as I have written in my blog and latterly in Tribune I think we need an inclusive, financially savvy GS who can win the confidence of the PM to change the way he leads the Party.

A solvent party will need a mass membership, we won't start recruiting lots of members until they have a say. Don't you agree?

11:55 pm, March 10, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter, having just read what you've written on this on your blog/comments elsewhere and having a general (and perhaps false) impression of other stuff that you've said, would the following be fair?:

You think there is a conflict between the membership of the party and the trade unions. You think that historically the trade unions have pulled the membership rightwards and that if we could get the procedures by which the Labour Party operates right then the membership would act as a balance and pull the party leftwards.

Please let me know if that's unfair, but that is overwhelmingly the impression I get from you. An impression which quite frankly ignores the class dimension and puts trust in a disproportionately middle class segment (okay, our membership may be more working class than any other party, but it is still less working class than Britain as a whole).

If the impression I've gathered of you is wrong and you want to correct it then I apologise, but it might be worth considering that this is probably how you come over to more people than just me.

12:14 am, March 11, 2008

Blogger susan press said...

So a close personal crony of Gordon's will change the way he leads the Party.....the only thing which will change the Party is winning people back who are of a democratic socialist persuasion. This is just another cynical appointee.Rubber-stamped by New Labour. For the record, I've been in this Party 30 years. We won't start recruiting members until we change political direction and start representing the working-class again. Which is hardly going to be progressed by this appointment.

12:26 am, March 11, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...


For a start, the role of General Secretary requires someone who is competent above all else. It is not a role of political leadership. It is a managerial role. A competent any-winger is what is needed.

Second, I do not think that Labour can only concentrate on one group of the population. I do think that there were people who voted Labour in 97 who will probably never do so again, and I think winning Castle Point and Romford was a blip.
Only relying on winning back working class votes won't be enough. There simply are not enough of them in the population. Labour also need to give serious consideration to the liberal middle-class supporters who have switched to the LD's (and at 19% in that poll, many have stayed there) and also people who simply find the Government tired and stale which I think covers all social class groups.

I do not necessarily think that there needs to be a sharp swing to a strongly left-wing programme, but I do think that there needs to be a degree of self-criticism in New Labour which isn't currently apparent.

Most of all, a realisation that this is not 1997.

10:07 am, March 11, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

The more I read about the new GS the more concerned I am. Not primarily because he was Brown's choice, nor yet because he 'beat' someone from a union background - my worry is his personal and ideological/intellectual attachment to big business. I'd have thought the lesson of donorgate was to get more arms-length with big business, not to invite it in to take over.

9:11 pm, March 11, 2008

Blogger Dave Brinson said...

I have to admit, I'm not particularly worried about the personal politics of the new GS as long as he's Labour: (which D.P-W clearly is)the priority is getting finances and organisation in good order before the next election. D.P-W may be a right winger, but his background suggests he is a right winger with good financial acumen- I'll settle for that...

10:08 pm, March 11, 2008


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