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, February 16, 2009

Another new(ish) blog

West Lancs Labour Councillor Paul Cotterill complained yesterday that I've linked to my friend Matt Cain and never to his worthy publication.

As he has done rather a neat riposte to my and Matt's attacks on Compass, and just to test Cllr Cotterill's theory that a link from me will bring untold hordes of readers, here's his post.

P.S. Cllr Cotterill, I'm not best pleased with your reference to me having "less in the way of traditional Labour values" than Bob Piper. It might be a different tradition, but Ernie Bevin, Herbert Morrison, Hugh Gaitskell, Denis Healey represent just as legitimate a tradition in Labour thinking as the left does - indeed historically the dominant one except for an aberrant few years in the late '70s and early '80s when some alien traditions were imported by the followers of Tony Benn. Discuss.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed they do, you will however notice that Healey has recently criticised a whole raft of New Labour policies like foundation hospitals and city academies, yet you spend your time slagging off organisations like compass which have been campaigning against such policies and trying to change the party's direction in a constructive manner.

11:32 pm, February 16, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

But the problem is, Luke, that I don't really regard much of what you write in that tradition.

Gaitskell or Crosland would have had absolutely no truck with worship of the free market - and I doubt whether the strongly internationalist right of the party would have been all that impressed with the Iraq war, either.

Roy Hattersley and Denis Healey do represent the traditional social democratic right of the party - but that's not the same as the crypto-Tories of Ultra New Labour. Do you really think that any of them would support PFI, privatisation of the post office or the Welfare reform Bill, written by a convinced Tory undercover?

11:44 pm, February 16, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


I publicly opposed foundation hospitals as a Labour parliamentary candidate in 2005, and called for their governance structures to be radically democratised in a recent Progress pamphlet.

My attitude on city academies though is simply that as a local councillor in Hackney I can see they have transformed the life chances of kids from deprived estates and are wildly popular with their parents.

8:12 am, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cllr Akehurst

I am happy to drop the formalities of office if you are. Please do just call me Paul. Or comrade.

So, my cunning plan to draw you into my evil leftwing lair worked. I thought you wouldn't be able to resist, in bloggerhero fashion, coming in to save your noble but less experienced campaigner Matt from a fate worse than a Compass conference, having bravely but somewhat foolishly allowed himself to be ensnared in actua substantive debate about what might come out of the 21st Century Living thing, rather than just slag the whole thing off as a rubbish idea because Compass probably want our money, and you'd rather HQ had that to pay for another special adviser or something.

Now that I have you in my grip, I am of course happy to take up your offer to discuss the legitimacy of your claim to being part of a Labout tradition - a doubting of which I knew would also be too much for you to resist.

In fact Merseymike (above) has already stolen a little bit of my thunder, but I'll do a longer post around both this theme - that the New Labour doctrine you espouse is actually drawn from quite a different tradition (communiarianism meets neoliberalism to make an intellectually incoherent and now in-practice-seen-to-be ineffective whole) - and pick up some of the older history stuff about the original claim of the Labour right (of which you claim membership but I dispute) to have been equal ideological partners in the movement; I'm half in agreement with you on this, but I think there's still some critiquing to be done, for example of exactly how influential Sydney Webb was on 'restraining' the SDF/ILP, and how we got to have Clause 4 anyway (though i don't deny it was very cleverly worded).

While I will cast horrid aspersions on your claim to be a bearer of Labour 'doctrine', I do accept wholeheartedly the claim you'd make, if you accept the distinction, to a deeply-rooted Labour ethos, not least evidenced in your deep loyalty to the current party; the ethos of loyalty runs deep in you, probably more deeply than it does in me. Whether that is a good or a bad thing, we might also discuss.

Unfortunately, time precludes further typing on this today, but perhaps we might engage later this week.

As weaponry, I think I'll choose light arms for the duel - Henry Pelling's 'Short History of the Labour Party' and Henry Drucker's D'octrine and Ethos in the Labour Party', both of which will make me light on my feet, though the lack of Marxian theory in either of them may make me open to attack. Ill also bring along the SDP's, for surprise attack purposes, founding statement and associated commentary, if that's ok. Please choose yours.

Oh, and thanks for the link. I'll check if it worked - readership wise.

8:50 am, February 17, 2009

Blogger Hughes Views said...

I think the tradition they hanker after is the tradition of losing general elections. Life for leftie theorists is so much more agreeable in opposition.

10:27 am, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr/Ms Hughes with your views

Small factual corrective: this particular loser lefie won his Council seat with a 600% increase in the Labour vote (2002-2007) and in so doing took for Labour the hitherto 'safest' Tory seat in West Lancashire, with a turnout amongst the top 2% in the country that year. Look it up on UK polling report, where the pundits gathered to discuss what the buggery happened there then.

I wrote a report about how it was done (single-handedly until a couple of comrades realised what was going on in the last month). It was ignored totally by the Regional party, because I'm considered a leftie. It's on my blog somewhere. Do a search on 600% or something.

No, not a general election, but then Luke's (very correct) advice to us all has been to get locally focused.

Oh, and I'm sure Luke may try to appropriate the 1945 general election for his side, but that will be contested in the forthcoming fight.

11:07 am, February 17, 2009

Blogger Hughes Views said...

I'll grant Paul that, should we have another six year war in Europe, then Labour might win a general election at the end of it whatever the manifesto contained.

But Mr Atlee's government operated rather more like "New Labour" than many misty-eyed romantics would like to admit. How about their sending troops to bolster an unpopular US-led war in the east in order to maintain the “special relationship” for starters? Best not to get me going about how they appeased the City by paying way over the odds for worthless railway and mine shares. Even Nye Bevan had to admit that he’d “stuffed [the doctors’] mouths with gold” to get the NHS up and running.

Unlike New Labour they weren’t much good at winning subsequent general elections, nor were Roy Hattersley or Denis Healey ...

1:18 pm, February 17, 2009

Blogger anonymous said...

My guess is that the 600% can be explained by one thing; Iraq.

We saw Harriet Harman get elected as Deputy Leader with nothing really to say except ensure that we were left in no doubt about her opposition to the war. She did say that we needed a woman in the job, but did nothing to ensure that Hazel Blears got the vote in case she failed.

I went to a hustings for that election and everyone else had much to say about the policies that they believed and she only talked about what an enjoyable time she had campaigning for the deputy leadership.

Someone may argue that if this analysis is correct then Cruddus would have won the vote, however Harman's secret was to allow people to think that she was a famous face who was on their side. Cruddas would not have tried too hard to get elected in any case as hard lefties do not really want to be in positions of responsibilty, they just want to moan on the sidelines.

A similar thing happened when the Democrats were choosing their candidate for the Presidency. Clinton was ahead until people realised that they had someone who was against the war from the start and they chose him instead.

Mind you, the views of a party on Iraq will not be enough to win a general election in this country, otherwise the Liberal Democrats would have got in in 2005. The Lib Dems have failed to really crack that nut despite being the most left-wing of the three.

1:57 pm, February 17, 2009

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2:08 pm, February 17, 2009

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

Cruddas hard left?


2:27 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Luke Akehurst's a bit batty ain't he?

The tradition he clings to above all else is slavish loyalty to the party top brass. I doubt he's got an honest bone in his body!

Tell me, Luke, why did you join the Labour party in the first place?

3:42 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:47 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Luke you're such a card. We all know you secretly like to knock one off whilst reading Labour's 1983 manifesto

5:49 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

MerseyMike, the new Welform Reform makes the Thatcher government look left wing. It is a dreadful bill and has nothing to do with helping the unemployed.

In Germany and France you pay an insurance to cover sickness and unemployment. Losing you job would mean that you get benefits equal to a years salary. In this country you can work for 30-40 years without a break, lose you job and be thrown into poverty.....£50.00 per week.

I thought the whole point of a Labour party was to help the working class not to cripple them.

I agree the welfare system needs reform but what you are about to do is make it even harder for those people who has just lost their jobs.

7:58 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the Mr/Mrs Anonymouses

I'll admit to nearly falling off my chair laughing when you ascribed a 600% increase in the Labour vote in my ward solely to the 'Iraq factor'.

At least you've identified something Luke and I will be able to agree on: basing the next general election campaign around a leaflet saying Labour wasn't in support of the invasion of Iraq at all really may not increase the vote be 600%, and we may have to think of something else as well.

8:26 pm, February 17, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Had a quick look at my 'hits'as promised. Increased 3x after your (and hopi sen's) intervention, from small to not quite so small Cheers,comrade.


9:19 am, February 18, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Rich: read my post again and you will see that I think that the new Welfare Reform Bill is appalling - Tory through and through. Written by a Tory and going to be implemented by another one!

3:44 pm, February 18, 2009


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