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, January 30, 2012

Labourlist column

Better news in the polls this week: http://labourlist.org/2012/01/who-were-winning-back-and-why/

Friday, January 27, 2012

Council By-election

Only one tonight:

Uppingham Ward, Rutland County Council. Con gain from Ind. Con 424 (50.8%, +16.3), Lab 211 (25.3%, +25.3), LD 200 (24%, -7.5). Swing of 4.5% from Con to Lab since 2011. Good result for Labour in a seat where we had not stood since 2003.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NEC Report

My report of yesterday's NEC meeting is here: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/01/25/nec-report-%e2%80%93-january-2012/

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week is about the recent dip in the opinion polls:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ed Balls writes to George Osborne on delivering fairness on pay restraint

Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has today written to George Osborne calling on the Government to deliver fairness in pay restraint.

This follows his article at the weekend in which he said the Government should “ask the pay review bodies to deliver the 1% average settlement cap in a fair way – being tougher to those at the top in order to offer more protection to those at the bottom.”

The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear George,
I am writing to you to raise the question of fair pay in the public sector, and fairness in delivering the further pay restraint which you have been forced to announce to deal with the consequences of the failure of your deficit reduction plan.

In 2009 Labour recognised the need for restraint on pay in the public sector as part of a balanced plan to get the deficit down and secure the recovery. We announced a 1% pay cap for two years, but we sought to impose pay restraint in a fair way, including freezing pay for the highest paid workers like senior civil servants and NHS managers.

In your 2010 budget you continued Labour’s policy and went further. But in announcing a two year pay freeze, you also promised a £250 a year increase for the 1.7 million lowest paid workers. In reality you failed to guarantee that rise for, according to House of Commons Library estimates, around one million low paid workers mainly in local government. That is wrong and unfair. Can you explain whether you intend to deliver on this promise?

As we have consistently warned over the last 18 months, cutting spending and raising taxes too far and too fast has choked off the recovery and pushed up unemployment. That is why Labour is calling on the government to adopt our five point plan for jobs and growth to get the economy moving again and unemployment down.

But with your refusal to change course and the costs of rising unemployment pushing up borrowing projections so massively to pay for this government’s economic failure, Labour will not oppose your decision to extend pay restraint for a further two years with a one per cent cap. Jobs must be the priority before higher pay.

As I said on Saturday, discipline in the public and private sector needs to be accompanied by fairness.
Your failure to deliver on your promises to  low paid public sector workers so far shows why public sector workers deserve a real guarantee that this settlement for the two subsequent years will be delivered fairly.

The difference between a pay settlement delivered fairly and one which is not is stark. Two years of a one per cent increase in the salary of a local government chief executive earning £190,000 a year is over £3800 a year, or more than £316 a month.

For a teaching assistant earning just £15,000 two years of a one per cent increase represents just £300 a year – or just £25 a month.

By being tougher on those at the top we believe that, going forward, rises of at least the £250 a year which you promised but failed to deliver can be achieved for the lower paid – which in this case would leave a teaching assistant £200 a year better off at the end of the two years than a settlement which does not reflect difference in salary.

That is why I am calling on you to write again to the pay review bodies and the local government employers and this time ask them to consult and report on how you and they can guarantee to deliver the 1% average settlement cap in a fairer way than you have delivered so far – being tougher to those at the top in order to offer more protection to those at the bottom.
But as I said this weekend, we will oppose any moves to undermine the pay review bodies by shifting wholesale to regional and local bargaining in the public sector. Of course, as has been the case for some time, pay needs to reflect local circumstances, for example the need to recruit teachers in London. But I believe the consequence of breaking up national pay setting through the pay review bodies will be to make pay restraint harder, and real reforms more difficult - with costs getting out of control. That is what the previous Conservative government found when they failed to deliver regional pay in the NHS in the 1990s.

Pay restraint in the public sector in this parliament would have been necessary whoever was in government. But your economic mistakes mean more difficult decisions on tax, spending and pay. It is now inevitable that public sector pay restraint will have to continue for longer, but it should be done in a fair way. I hope you will agree and act to guarantee a fairer way forward.
Ed Balls MP

Council By-elections

There were 2 by-elections yesterday, both gains for Labour:

Newcomen Ward, Redcar & Cleveland UA. Lab gain from LD. Lab 539 (49%, +15.6), LD 484 (44%, -15), Con 76 (6.9%, -0.7). Swing of 15.3% from LD to Lab since May 2011.

Batchwood Ward, St Albans DC. Lab gain from LD. Lab 1002 (55.1%, +14.2), LD 395 (21.7%, -2.7), Con 347 (19.1%, -7.8), Green 76 (4.2%, +2.5). Swing of 8.5% from LD to Lab since May 2011. This is a fantastic result for Labour in a part of Hertfordshire where we had seemed to be suffering a steady decline. The new councillor is Roma Mills, who previously represented the same ward and was parliamentary candidate in 2010.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Progress Column

My Progress column this week is about the union link:


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week is about ... well, everything that's going on: http://labourlist.org/2012/01/three-different-labour-parties/

Friday, January 13, 2012

NEC Campaign

Unite and PCS

Something in today's FT for those of us who are Labour supporters and Unite trade union members to plan our response to.

I can't quote it all as it's behind a pay wall, you'll need to buy the paper to read the whole article:

"Leftwing union leader eyes private sector

By Brian Groom and Jim Pickard

The union movement’s future lies in spreading militancy to the private sector, says the leftwing civil service leader who has rejected a pensions deal with the government.

The view of Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, matters because, if his union merges with Unite, he could within four years become leader of a super-union with nearly 1.8m members.

A merger between Unite, Britain’s largest union with 1.5m members mostly in the private sector, with 282,000-strong PCS would have serious implications. Unite is Labour’s biggest backer and Mr Serwotka, a non-member who has supported parties left of Labour, is one of the party’s biggest critics.

The unions are not yet in formal merger talks, but Mr Serwotka made clear in an interview with the Financial Times that he wanted to deepen the “ever closer developing relationship” the two have formed since signing a co-operation agreement a year ago.

In a merged union he would probably be deputy general secretary and leftwing candidate to succeed fellow militant Len McCluskey, Unite’s leader, who is 61.

“I never speculate on who might end up where,” said Mr Serwotka..."

... The PCS is considering running its own candidates in by-elections. Unite is Labour-affiliated while PCS is not, but Mr Serwotka saw that as no barrier to merger because they could maintain separate political funds. “We [the PCS] see no logic in paying millions of pounds to organisations that just don’t speak for you.” Affiliation was for members to decide but, he added: “Would I have a different view if I was somewhere else? No.”"

Council by-elections

Only one council by-election yesterday:

Cinderford West Ward, Forest of Dean DC. Lab hold. Lab 496 (52.8%, +2.7), C 236 (25.1%, +6.2), UKIP 119 (12.7%, +12.7), LD 89 (9.5%, -3.5). Swing of 1.8% from Lab to Con since May this year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Progress Column

My Progress column this week is about Ed's speech yesterday:


Monday, January 09, 2012

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week is about the #spartacusreport on DLA reform:


NEC Re-election

Today I'm launching the website for my re-election campaign for Labour's National Executive Committee: http://www.luke4nec.org.uk/

Your Constituency Labour Party is entitled to nominate up to six candidates as there are six

vacancies. This needs to be done at a General Committee or All Members' Meeting. The deadline is 30 March.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Progress Column

Some New Year's resolutions for Labour:


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