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Michael Meacher MP on Labour’s Defeat – Chartist AGM.

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Michael Meacher MP Backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader.

The Chartist AGM was held on Saturday at the University of Westminster. Around 40 people gathered to discuss, as democratic socialists, “post election perspectives”.

The meeting began with Michael Meacher, the veteran (as they say) MP for Oldham West and Royton. He talked of how we are on the left are in a “very bad place” after the election defeat.

Why had this happened ? – Meacher asked. While there is a need to look at detailed analysis of the polls, which will emerge – there are some points, the MP said, that could be made now.

The principal point is that the evidence is that the party lost because voters were not “prepared to trust Labour with finances”. The Conservatives had, during the whole Coalition period, been hammering away at the claim that the legacy of the Blair and the Brown years had been economic incompetence faced with the banking crisis and its aftermath. They had left a massive budget deficit that, the Tories claimed, only they were capable of dealing with.

The Labour Party had not met this message, repeated and repeated. They had not clearly pointed to the flimsy foundations of the Conservatives’ claims to economic competence. The ‘recovery’ was already “fizzling out”, wages had not recovered, and more employment (largely confined to London and the South-east) was above all in the precarious and badly paid work. The Coalition had not even been able to meet their own claims to resolve their own favourite problem – the deficit. Instead Ed Balls and the team around Miliband had accepted the right-wing premise that austerity was necessary.

With Labour unable to challenge the grounds of David Cameron and George Osborne’s economic strategy, the electorate preferred to place their confidence in the outgoing Tories instead of a new government.

Meacher then outlined an alternative to austerity, and long-term measures to deal with inequality. Fiscal policy should be a form of modern Keynesianism. Against “market fundamentalism” strategic areas of the economy would benefit from public intervention and control. The poor services offered by the privatised utilities and transport, had to be tackled, and manufacturing promoted.

Through the tax system and inside companies measures should be introduced to reduce, by a long-term and determined effort, the gulf between the sky-high salaries of the super-rich and ordinary people. This would also help increase public revenue and provide increased revenue for public services.

The AGM then heard a valuable contribution on the Greek left government, Syriza, by Isidoros Diakides (Greece Solidarity Campaign and a Haringey councillor). He painted a picture of just how severe the plight of the Greeks people had become.

The day’s debates that followed these well-argued talks were wide ranging. Many different points were raised. Meacher’s principal explanation for Labour’s defeat – the feeling that Miliband was not to be trusted with the economy – received support. However appealing Labour policies on issues such as the living wage and increased workers’ rights were, they had not stood up clearly to the Tories in this area. Accepting tight fiscal policy, and the need to cutting back on public spending, was a principal problem.

Austerity had to be fought. This was one of the reasons why Meacher had now “switched” support in the Labour Party leadership campaign to Jeremy Corbyn.

Yet some new Labour MPs had managed to win by reaching out into the community. The undermining of the ground of social democratic politics was discussed. The view that British politics could melt down and prepare the way for a Syriza or a Podemos did not get much backing. The differences between Greek, Spanish and our economies and politics were underlined, from the scale of the economic disaster in Greece to the extent of corruption in Spain, which stimulated the rise of these parties, were mentioned. Problems with Podemos, such as its vertical structure, were mentioned.

For others there was the issue of Scottish nationalism and the high vote for UKIP (despite their failure to secure more than one MP). It was suggested that constitutional issues remained central. A candidate who had stood for the Bermondsey  Republican Socialists in London took the view that the whole electoral process had become irrelevant.

Somebody pointed out that the Republican socialist had received 20 votes in the General Election (0.0%).

We think we can guess who that somebody was.

There was panel on migration, racism and nationalism.

Don Flynn (Migrant Rights Network) warned the meeting of a new clampdown on migrants. ‘Illegal’ workers will find their wages treated as criminal revenue and confiscated. Tehmina Kazi (Muslims for Secular Democracy) spoke on the twin threats of prejudice against Muslims and the rise of intolerant Islam. Secularism, universal rights, was the alternative to both. She cited, as a young woman her inspiration: Southall Black Sisters and the beloved Gita Segal.

Andy Greeg (Race on the Agenda) outlined the issues involved in different ethnic or ‘race’ policies and the problems of politics which depended on ‘community leaders’. He mentioned that the Conservatives had actively sought support from Hindus. The election results showed that the Tories had scored well in this constituency, and amongst Sikhs. Labour could not take the Black and Minority Vote for granted.

A high-point of the day was a talk, “Cartooning against the Coalition’, illustrated by magic lantern, by the cartoonist, Martin Rowson.

It is hard to recall the name of the politician whose face he described as resembling a “balloon full of sick”.

We will leave it to readers to imagine who it is.

More on Chartist Magazine

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn launches bid for the Party Leadership on Anti-austerity Platform.

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Jeremy Corbyn in Bid for Labour Leadership.

After the election John  McDonnell MP  made this analysis (LRC).

THIS IS THE DARKEST HOUR THAT SOCIALISTS IN BRITAIN HAVE FACED since the Attlee government fell in 1951. It isn’t just the scale of the electoral defeat – but the overwhelming incorporation of so much of the Labour Party into the political and economic system that the Labour Party was founded to transform.

…..

There are three immediate tasks. First, we have to recognise – even more than before – that with a Tory majority government the main forms of effective resistance will be on the streets, in occupations and on picket lines. This is a time for intensive activism. This is not some form of displacement activity from other forms of political engagement, but an essential role that the left, especially the Labour left, must now grasp more enthusiastically and with more determination than ever. ….

Second, the Labour left may not have the resources in Parliament to secure a left candidate on the ballot paper for the Labour leadership election but we do have the intellectual resources to dominate the ideological and policy debate in this leadership election……

Third, the crisis our class now faces means that the left needs to get real and get together. This is no time for sectarian division. Anyone who divides us is aiding and abetting the Tories and other forces of reaction. I do not think the threat of UKIP has gone away.

It is the first and second points which make the most impact (because frankly there are divisions about, above all, the EU Referendum which are not due to ‘sectarianism’ but to very deep divisions over Europe which are not going to go away).

Now we hear.

Jeremy Corbyn runs for Labour leader: Veteran MP launches surprise bid declaring other contenders are too right-wing reports the Daily Mirror,

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn tonight launches a surprise bid for the party leadership.

The left-winger revealed he wanted to give Labour members “a proper choice” when they elected a new chief.

He becomes the fifth MP to throw his hat into the ring, joining four already firmly-established contenders.

They are Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Coooper, Shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall and Shadow International Development Secretary Mary Creagh.

 Mr Corbyn believed the four declared candidates were too similar, saying: “They are not offering a clear enough alternative on the economic strategy and austerity, and our attitude to welfare expenditure.

“We think the left members of the party need to have a chance of a debate.”

On his Blog site Jeremy Corbyn wrote after the election,

Voting Revealed A Disjointed Britain: Labour’s Task Is To Unify And Equalise It.

The real issue is of course austerity. Ed Miliband made some brilliant points during the campaign about wages, working conditions, education opportunities and housing, and clearly was mobilising quite a lot of younger voters to support the party.

The problem was that while Chancellor George Osborne was claiming that austerity was working and thus ignoring the inequality and poverty created, Ed Balls was in essence saying that the only difference in Labour’s policy was that his economic strategy would simply take longer to deal with the deficit.

He was not offering to restore the funding that the Tories have cut in local government particularly, or reverse cuts to benefits over the past five years.

The reality is that within a few months the Tories are going to be in disarray over Europe and many will rapidly realise the horror of what has happened when they see rising poverty and further attacks on working conditions. Surely the need for Labour is to examine the economic strategy needed to develop a more equal society with full employment, decent housing and a fully funded and public NHS, rather than taking the advice of Peter Mandelson and Lord Sugar that we weren’t “appealing to big business.” By September we will know who the new Labour leader is, and the rules require that 35 Labour MPs nominate an individual to be a candidate. I hope there are enough Labour MPs prepared to support an anti-austerity candidate in the leadership election so that party members and affiliated supporters have a real choice.

Owen Jones notes (just published on the Guardian website),

It is up to Labour MPs whether party members and trade unionists will have the opportunity to have a meaningful debate. Under Ed Miliband’s leadership the threshold for how many nominations a leadership candidate must receive to appear on the ballot paper was raised to 15%. Unless 35 Labour MPs nominate Corbyn, this farce of a leadership contest will continue and the Labour party – and the country as a whole – will learn nothing from it.

Back in 2007, I worked for the prospective Labour leadership campaign of John McDonnell, a close ally of Corbyn. But after McDonnell outshone Gordon Brown in a single leadership hustings – with the soon-to-be-unopposed leader becoming evidently flustered during the course of the evening – the Brownite goons roared into action. They knew their man would win, but they feared an unexpectedly positive showing by McDonnell in both the debates and the final result. Arm-twisting and arm-breaking followed, and a coronation ensued. Brown never defined himself, and arguably fatally wounded his premiership from the outset.

……

Corbyn was an arch critic of New Labour, and ironically would be the sole real defender of New Labour’s record in the contest. He would fight a rearguard offensive against the lie that Blair and Brown caused the crisis by spending too much money on schools and hospitals – spending backed, penny for penny, by the Tories until the end of 2008. He will be able to draw from the findings of Britain’s leading pollster, John Curtice – who accurately predicted the outcome of the election; these findings dispute that Labour lost for being too leftwing, and underline that Labour lost Scotland partly for being too rightwing.

Corbyn could also draw on the conclusion of Peter Kellner, the YouGov pollster, that however Ed Miliband allowed himself to be portrayed, his policies were less radical than those of Tony Blair in 1997. He could nail why Labour lost: the implosion in Scotland, and the consequent anti-SNP hysteria; the lie of “overspending”; and the lack of any coherent alternative.

If Labour MPs deny the party and the country a genuine debate, it will reflect disastrously on them. It will do whoever emerges victorious no good, either. Labour has just suffered one of the worst defeats in its history. If the party doesn’t have the good sense to have a meaningful debate now, you might wonder why it doesn’t just pack up. So come on, Labour MPs. Put your future careers aside for party and national interest. Lend Corbyn a nomination, and let a real debate begin.

I agree with Owen Jones.

A Corbyn candidacy would allow us to have a real debate, on a range of issues.

Whether we agree with Corbyn on every stand he’s ever taken is irrelevant.

He is the only one stand up against austerity.

That is the main issue.

Let’s not forget that it’s not only Labour members who will have a say in the end: it’s us affiliated trade unionists.

Our unions have taken a stand against austerity.

We have campaigned with organisations like the People’s Assembly against austerity.

Many of us also campaigned for the Labour Party.

We deserve a chance to back a candidate who expresses our views.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeremyCorbyn4Leader?hc_location=ufi

Derek Hatton re-joins Labour Party 29 years after expulsion. But…………

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He was once dubbed a ‘firebrand’, was a member of the far-left Militant organisation and was one of Labour’s most controversial figures in the 1980s.

Now, 29 years after he was expelled, the former Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council, Derek Hatton, is returning to the Labour Party.

In an exclusive interview with ITV Granada’s political programme Party People, 67-year-old Hatton revealed he re-joined the party on the 9th of May, two days after it suffered one of its worst ever electoral defeats, to ‘have one more go at having a say in the way the Labour Party is going’.

He told Party People Presenter Rob McLoughlin:

‘I just felt that I should do something. I think for too long now the Labour Party has drifted and drifted and drifted. There has now become no difference between the parties. It was the same type of Oxford/Eton person going forward. People now need to see there is a clear choice when they go into the voting booth.’

To some it will be a surprise to see Hatton re-admitted to the Labour Party, given the list of controversies which followed him in his political career and the way his relationship with the party broke down back in 1985.

He was at the centre of one of the great political storms of Thatcher’s Britain when Liverpool Council refused to comply with the Conservative government’s mandate to limit local council spending.

Hatton and the left-wing Labour Council refused to set a legal budget for the 1985/86 year, putting council jobs at risk and causing a financial crisis in the city.

Their rebellion was eventually defeated and at the Labour Party conference Neil Kinnock denounced the ‘grotesque chaos’ of Hatton and the Liverpool City Council before the National Executive Committee suspended the Liverpool district Labour Party and ordered an investigation.

The result was the expulsion of all Militant Tendency members from Labour.

DEREK HATTON REJOINS LABOUR

Good morning – we’ve got all the reaction this morning to the breaking story that Derek Hatton has applied to rejoin the Labour party.

Degsy’s back!

Derek Hatton has applied to rejoin the Labour Party, having been kicked out of it 29 years ago.

He rejoined – online – the day after Labour’s general election defeat, and told the ECHO he wants to ensure that the party maintains its historical links with the trade unions.

But at 67, Degsy has no desire to seek high office – so he won’t be challenging Joe Anderson, then, in a bid to become Mayor of Liverpool!

He told the ECHO: “I have no intention of being a main player. I have not joined to stand as a politician, I am just giving my opinion.”

Hatton wouldn’t be drawn on Andy Burnham’s bid to be the next Labour leader, saying only: “He’s a great Evertonian.”

Liverpool Echo.

But……

Labour’s general secretary has objected to a bid by former firebrand councillor Derek Hatton to rejoin the party.

Mr Hatton, the former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, was thrown out of Labour in 1986 for belonging to the left-wing Militant faction.

The 67-year-old told ITV Granada he had rejoined the party two days after its general election defeat.

“I just felt I should do something,” he said, saying there was now “no difference between the parties”.

However he will need to appeal against the objection, from general secretary Iain McNicol, if he wants to continue with his application.

The Militant Tendency, which emerged from a Trotskyist group called the Revolutionary Socialist League, held key positions in the Liverpool Labour Party as it battled the Conservative Thatcher government in the 1980s.

BBC

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

His Lordship Mandelson Stabs Labour Party in the Back -Again.

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Mandelson: Long History of Backstabbing. *

Labour is “headed downward” as the main leadership contenders are “unwilling to make hard policy choices” and break the link with the past, Lord Mandelson has said.  The former Labour business secretary said that the challenge facing the party is worse than it was in the 1980s as he accused Ed Miliband of embarking on an “unconvincing ideological crusade” and trying to wage “class war”.
He said that voters had been “justly cautious” about backing the party as he accused the former Labour leader of “pitting one half of the nation against the other”.

In a direct criticism of the candidates for the leadership, he accused them of trying to focus on party unity and continuity, “a luxury that is not open to them if they want to win”.

Telegraph.

 

* 1999 January  Mandelson branded back-stabber

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm

General Election: From Despair to Defiance – and Galloway Lost to Naz Shah.

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One Good Piece of News at least.

The visit of Lewis the Eighteenth, April 1814.

“There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel, and immense applause; the mob crying out, ‘God bless your Majesty!” as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives.”

((Zechariah Coleman, a radical and dissenter) “who did not hooray, and did not even lift his hat when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps” is challenged by a drayman for not saluting the Bourbon King.

A full fight ensures.

Zechariah is rescued by Major Cartwright, “Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear.”

The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane. Mark Rutherford. 1887.

But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine,
Amen, Amen!

Holy Willie’s Prayer. 1785. Robert Burns.

“Election 2015: Ed Miliband resignation imminent as Conservatives win stunning majority”

Election results: Conservatives on course for majority.”

Ed Balls loses Morley & Outwood seat.”

Election 2015: SNP wins 56 of 59 seats in Scots landslide.”

Today is not a good day.

Not a good day at all.

The People have dealt us a nasty lick.

The vote for common decency – the Labour Party – did not succeed in squaring up to the Right.

Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to step down later after his party’s disappointing general election showing, the BBC has learned.

Labour suffered heavy losses at the hands of the SNP, with the Tories forecast to achieve a majority.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Miliband was expected to address party staff, with two senior sources saying he would quit.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was among the party’s big-name casualties.

It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy.

BBC

In England the electorate of Eatanswill has returned, like a dog to its vomit,  to David Cameron.

In Scotland, the alliance of Holy Willie and Oor Wullie has dealt a blow to more than the Labour Party – it’s hit socialism itself.

Those who imagine that the SNP’s politics of looking after their “ain folk” has managed to strike a blow against the British Imperial state, heralding a new politics of the ‘anti-austerity’ left, in association with Rupert Murdoch,  will soon find that reading Tom Nairn is no substitute for the realities of the egoistic and narrow goals of the nationalists.

Farage looks on course to fail to win a seat for UKIP.

If we can draw some further (meager) comfort from the results this is it:  George Galloway blames ‘racists and Zionists’ for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West.

There must be a lot of racists and Zionists in Bradford West as this was the vote, “The Respect party MP, lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.”

And hyenas “George Galloway has vowed to return to politics after losing his Bradford West seat, with a bizarre speech where he talked about lions and hyenas.”

So much for the strategy of aligning with Islamism.

There was no breakthrough for the left of the Labour Party.

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  was, and remains, irrelevant.

Its votes were derisory.

In Ipswich we have this, much more depressing, news, “Election 2015: Ben Gummer increases his majority as he fights off David Ellesmere to hold Ipswich seat.”

Yesterday about 5 pm, as I was passing down Upper Brook Street, there was a street person on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and Ipswich ‘Rangers’. Walking round the corner, in Dog’s Head Street, one of another group,  obviously buzzing on a mixture of illegal and legal highs, asked me for dosh. Back in the Street, entering Sainsbury’s a woman tried to reassure her tiny daughter, “You see things like this in London all the time”.

Quite.

We’ll see a lot more of that with Cameron’s victory.

I am in the mood to make sure that we fight this every inch of the way.

Vote Labour! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory.

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Vote Labour Tomorrow!

SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY: WHERE WE STAND

Another Tory government – ruling by themselves, with the Lib Dems or, worst of all, in coalition with UKIP – would be a disaster for the working class. As socialists, we want a Labour victory, not because we support Labour’s current position – a softer version of austerity and anti-migrant politics – but to throw out the Coalition, and because Labour is linked to workers’ basic organisations, trade unions. If the unions choose to fight, they can change Labour’s direction.

We don’t want to “hold our noses” and vote Labour as a lesser evil. We want to combine campaigning for a Labour government with making clear working-class demands, to boost working-class confidence, and strengthen and transform our labour movement so it is fit to fight.

We must challenge the idea that the working class should pay for the capitalist crisis through increased inequality, lower pay, job insecurity, workplace stress, draconian ‘performance management’ and cuts to services. The labour movement should be championing every working-class fightback against the bosses’ drive to squeeze more and more profit out of our work and our lives.

In place of the dog-eat-dog, exploiting society of capitalism, we socialists are fighting for a world of collective ownership, equality and sustainable planning for people’s needs, not profit. We want to spread these ideas in the working class and among young people.

A socialist transformation of society is not immediately on the cards. Socialism is only possible when a majority of workers are convinced and organised to make it happen. But if we work to strengthen the left and working-class struggles, and reinject socialist ideas into political debate, we can push Labour to shift course and deliver at least some positive changes for the working class.

Whether on the Living Wage or the NHS, free education or zero hours contracts, rail renationalisation or fracking, we need to up the pressure on Labour. We need to advocate radical policies like reversing all cuts, taxing the rich and taking the banks into democratic public ownership. The labour movement should aim for a government that serves the working class as the Coalition serves the rich.

We are fighting for democracy in the Labour Party so that working-class voices, muffled by the New Labour machine and union bureaucracy, can be heard.

We need a labour movement responsive and accessible to the working class in all its diversity, fighting bigotry and oppression. We oppose Labour’s shameful accommodation to anti-migrant agitation by UKIP and other right-wingers. British and migrant workers have the same interests. We support freedom of movement and equal rights for all. We want working-class solidarity across Europe and the world.

In the run up to the election, we are building a network of socialists to carry out this fight. Help us, get involved!

Demands:

As part of fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism, we are fighting for the labour movement to campaign around a “workers’ plan” of demands in the interests of the working-class, such as:

1. Stop and reverse the cuts. Make the rich pay to rebuild public services. Tax the rich! Expropriate the banks!

2. A decent income for everyone: attack inequality and precariousness. Tax the rich, curb high pay. Nationalise companies that axe jobs; create decent, secure jobs in the public sector. Wage rises that at least match inflation for all workers. Raise the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage. Full, equal rights for part-time and agency workers; ban zero hours contracts. Stop the war on the poor, unemployed and disabled: decent benefits. Good pensions for all, public or private, at no older than 60.

3. Rebuild the NHS. A comprehensive public health service providing high quality care for all, not a logo above a marketplace of profit-making companies. End outsourcing, marketisation and PFI. A free, public social care system.

4. End privatisation and outsourcing. Expand public ownership, starting with the railways, Royal Mail, the energy companies and other utilities, under democratic and workers’ control.

5. Stop scapegoating migrants. Freedom of movement and equal rights for all. End deportations and detention.

6. Promote workers’ rights. Scrap the anti-union laws. Introduce strong rights to strike, picket and take solidarity action, and for union recognition and collective bargaining, in individual units and sectorally.

7. End the housing crisis. Build millions of council houses. Repopulate empty homes and estates; take over property left empty; tax second homes; end the sell-off of public land. Control rents.

8. Free education. A good local, comprehensive school for every child. Abolish “free schools”, academies, grammar schools, public funding for religious schools. Reverse cuts in FE. Scrap tuition fees, a living grant for every student. Reverse cuts to Sure Start, invest in early years education.

9. Strong action for equality. Crack down on police and state racism. Ensure and make real civil rights for LGBT, black, disabled people and women, and expanded social provision and redistribution to fight inequality. Universal, free public childcare and nursery provision so no parent is forced to choose between work and care. Ensure equal pay and a Living Wage for all. Free abortion on demand.

10. Slash military spending: scrap Trident. Aid for working-class and democratic movements around the world, not support for dictatorships and imperialism.

11. Drive down carbon emissions. Public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Stop fracking. A public, integrated transport system with radically reduced fares. Workers’ plans for a just transition to a sustainable economy.

12. Expand democracy. A federal republic of Britain: abolish the monarchy and House of Lords. Votes at 16. Re-empower local government. Extend civil liberties and rights to organise and protest. Disband MI5 and special police squads, disarm the police. MPs should only be paid a worker’s wage.

We need to transform our unions so we stop just adopting good policies on paper and start fighting effectively for the interests of the working class – in strikes and struggles, but also by putting forward a working-class political alternative, including demands on Labour. What we can win depends on to what extent we can convince, organise and mobilise people to fight, and in the process renew our movement and change it for the better.

We will prioritise support for Labour candidates who advocate these kinds of policies and represent a voice of working-class opposition within the party.

Tendance Coatesy supports this campaign (see list of signatories).

With  our own secularist angle:

Russell Brand: A Note from the Ministry of Truth.

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Note from Ministry of Truth – Minitrue – Dayorder Rectify.

Delete, Brand, Russell Prolefeed, Ownlife: conspiracy nutter, vain pontificating idiot, cretin, overpaid fool who knits own yoghurt.

Replace Brand, Russell, Doubleplus Class Hero.

Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc Russell Brand Ungood.

Facecrime, Duckspeak: Joycamp.

Demonstration to thank Russell Brand, Corn Hill Ipswich 14.00.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2015 at 10:33 am