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FT: Corbyn’s ‘rapturous reception’ in Brussels


Today the FT reports that Jeremy Corbyn was given a ‘rapturous reception’ in Brussels on Thursday, as he warned that leaving the EU without a Brexit deal would be “catastrophic” for the UK economy. Mr Corbyn met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator (above), the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the prime ministers of Portugal, Italy and Sweden on Thursday in Brussels.

Mr Corbyn received a standing ovation from Europe’s centre-left parties as he addressed delegates at the Europe Together conference, just hours before prime minister Theresa May was scheduled to meet her EU counterparts at a European leaders’ summit. He said:

“We’re here to make sure that negotiations get on track, that we defend jobs in Britain, and that we make sure there is trade access to Europe in the future . . . We cannot countenance the idea that we rush headlong into a no deal with Europe. No deal would be very dangerous for employment and jobs in Britain. We are clear in our priorities: a jobs-first Brexit which maintains free access to the single market.”

He advocated “radical alternatives” for Europeans after years of austerity, rising job insecurity and falling living standards.  “The neoliberal economic model is broken. It doesn’t work for most people,” he said, adding: “Our broken system has provided fertile ground for the growth of nationalist and xenophobic politics.”

The FT ends: “Mr Corbyn’s enthusiastic reception was in stark contrast to Mrs May’s arrival in Brussels on Thursday. The UK prime minister was rebuffed from attending a meeting of Britain’s traditional European allies — including the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic countries — on the sidelines of the summit, though Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, was invited to that meeting.”

 

 

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Corbyn, Labour and public opinion can break down the secret world of lobbying

Tamasin Cave’s article – which may be read here – ends:

The UK’s commercial lobbying industry expanded beyond the back streets of Westminster to become an estimated £2 billion industry today, the third largest in the world. For decades, undisturbed, it has helped business influence the decisions of government.

Except glitches are now starting to appear in this system.

  • Fewer messages are landing with the public (see the campaigns for HS2 and fracking).
  • The power of the press to influence opinion is far from broken, but it has been shaken by scandal and an apparent tin ear for public opinion.
  • The recent downfall of the most notorious of London’s lobby shops, Bell Pottinger, brought about by its secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa, is a symbolic victory too. For decades, it laundered the reputations of some profoundly anti-democratic clients around the world.
  • The current Labour leadership is also a disrupting force.

Lobbyists, whose business relies to a large extent on relationships – often built over years, or shortcut by hiring former colleagues of the target politician – didn’t bother with Corbyn. They are now. Don’t misunderstand me: there are legions of corporate persuaders with links to the Labour Party and some industries –  property developers, the for-profit healthcare industry, nuclear power – appear as if embedded in it.

But, in the words of one industry insider, lobbyists with strong links to Team Corbyn “can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and you might still have five fingers spare”.

Perhaps the most powerful change, however, is the demonstration of how things can be different. The World Transformed in Brighton last month was a place to participate in policy debates, which was open to all. The Institute for Free Trade, by contrast, is a women-free zone, funded by hidden corporate backers, which presented a persuasion campaign as its response to public dissatisfaction with the form of capitalism currently on offer.

The UK needs to open up the activities of lobbyists to public scrutiny as a matter of urgency. As important, though, is showing that an alternative exists to the “cosy club at the top”.

Tamasin Cave is a lobbyist for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, a campaigner with Spinwatch and co-author of A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain (Vintage, 2015)

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn on security

From the archives:

The Tories talk about economic and family security being at risk from us the Labour party, or perhaps even more particularly, from me.

I’ve been told never to repeat your opponents’ lines in a political debate. But I want to tackle one thing head on.

 

I say this to them. How dare these people talk about security for families and people in Britain?

 

  • Where’s the security for families shuttled around the private rented sector on six month tenancies – with children endlessly having to change schools?

 

  • Where’s the security for those tenants afraid to ask a landlord to fix a dangerous structure in their own homes because they might be evicted because they’ve gone to the local authority to seek the justice they’re entitled to? (Shades of Grenfell Tower)

 

  • Where’s the security for the carers struggling to support family members as Tory local government cuts destroy social care and take away the help they need?  (See recent UN report on the UK’s disability cuts)

 

  • Where’s the security for young people starting out on careers knowing they are locked out of any prospect of ever buying their own home by soaring house prices?

 

  • Where’s the security for families driven away from their children’s schools, their community and family ties by these welfare cuts?

 

  • Where’s the security for the hundreds of thousands taking on self-employment with uncertain income, no sick pay, no maternity pay, no paid leave, no pension now facing the loss of the tax credits that keep them and their families afloat?

 

  • And where the security for the 2.8 million households in Britain forced into debt by stagnating wages and the longest fall in living standards since records began?

 

And that’s the nub of it.

Tory economic failure.

Manufacturing still in decline.

An economy that works for the few, not for the many.

 

Extract from:   http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2015/09/jeremy-corbyns-labour-party-conference-speech-2015-full-text

 

 

 

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The Conservative Party is Just About Managing: Redbrick

Comment Writer Jamie Aspden, a third year political science student at the University of Birmingham, argues that that the Conservative Party Conference was the conclusive sign that the government needs to change. A ‘wake-up call’ – read the article here: http://www.redbrick.me/comment/brexit/conservative-party-just-managing/. Some extracts follow.

“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn”.

After referring to the lost majority and questionable DUP deal, a Cabinet at war with themselves, little good news along the way and detailing the conference mishaps Aspden comments, “Theresa May has just about managed to get through it, whilst being tripped up by countless political debacles”. He ends:

“If the Conservative Party wishes to keep its reputation as one of the oldest, greatest and most successful political parties in the free world, it needs to get its act together and fast. The cost of indecision is too high.

“The United Kingdom can no longer afford this brand of governance. As at this time, when it faces some of the greatest challenges since the Second World War: an ageing population, a changing climate and the departure from the EU, we need a, dare I say it, ’strong and stable’ government. One with innovative and inspired ideas, and with the unity and discipline needed to enact them. ‘Just about managing’ will no longer cut it.

“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. A party which is ‘just about managing’ to hold itself together is of little use in the fight against such an opposition. Instead the party must unite and move forward as one. If not, the electorate will never forgive it for falling apart right at the moment it needed to come together.

“The country deserves and needs a government that succeeds, and it needs it now”.

 

 

 

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Labour Party members, grassroots support and Jeremy Corbyn: Financial Times readers comment

“The current Labour party is made up of dangerous and sinister people”

Athar Yawar from Surbiton comments on Michael Stapleton’s assertion (Letters, September 30) that “the current Labour party is made up of dangerous and sinister people”. Has he ever met any Labour party members? I have. So far, none of them has struck me as especially dangerous or sinister.

Labour party membership has, of course, roughly tripled to 600,000 in the two years since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Recent polls show that his policies are overwhelmingly popular with the British people.

Are the British people, as a whole, “dangerous and sinister”? Or do they recognise, in Mr Corbyn, a man of integrity, ability and compassion?

Kath Woodward from Worksop believes that the surprising and misjudged decision to call a general election was the result of Mrs May and her advisers failing to grasp the existing scale of substantive grassroots support for Mr Corbyn. She says that this has also been understated by the media’s insistent representation of the Labour leader as a “scruffy, rambling anti-hero”, to quote Nick Pearce.

She continues: “Mr Corbyn has ideas that need to be taken seriously, as they are by his many supporters and, I would have thought, by the Financial Times, in light of the crises of neoliberalism.“

Emma Jones from  Abingdon comments on economist Martin Wolf’s warning that Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to put power “in the hands of the people” is “astonishingly close” to words spoken by Donald Trump on January 20 this year (“The calamitous consequences of Corbynomics”, October 6).

She ends: “It might be more worthwhile to point out that the leader of the opposition is one of Mr Trump’s most consistent British critics, and that the prospect of an independent foreign policy is a considerable part of Mr Corbyn’s current appeal”.

Note links are probably ‘paywalled’.

 

 

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Electing Scotland’s next Labour Party leader

Mure Dickie in the Financial Times writes about the favourite to become the party’s next Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, who is regarded by Ladbrokes as the clear favourite to defeat Anas Sarwar.

Richard believes that a leftwing vision of greater economic planning, support for indigenous industry and redistribution of wealth could propel Labour into power in Scotland in just four years, as there is growing discontent with the SNP’s record in government since 2007.

Labour’s better than expected result in Scotland in this year’s general election showed that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto of extending public ownership, redistributing wealth and power, and reversing austerity resonated in Scotland, Leonard said.

He added that Scotland should use its devolved powers to greater economic effect, including giving trade unions a much greater influence over government efforts to develop workforce skills. Sectors such as renewable energy showed Scottish industry was not getting enough benefit from state support and investment, with big overseas-owned utilities dictating the terms of construction and operation: “I want to make the argument for less reliance on the market and a bit more planning in the economy”.

He suggested that Scotland’s ageing population requires a shift away from commercial and non-profit care provision on a scale akin to the creation of the National Health Service in the 1940s. “Personally I would prefer a socialised system in the public sector,” he said.

Mr Leonard, who won a regional list seat in the Scottish parliament only last year, is keen to find ways to promote employee ownership of companies, suggesting staff could be given the right to buy an enterprise when it is put up for sale, go through a succession or facing closure: “I want to see . . . whether we can look at the structures of the economy so that we are less prone to predatory takeovers”.

 

 

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From the archives: Jeremy Corbyn writing in the Times: ‘Power to the people can tackle climate change’

Edited extracts:

Britain must empower citizen suppliers and direct private investment into green technology

In December 2015, Jeremy Corbyn wrote about the final phase in world leaders’ attempt to reach a deal to keep global warming below 2C. He agreed that such a deal would be an important step in the fight against climate change, even if the targets and mechanisms don’t go far enough. He continues:

But we need to look beyond Paris and ask ourselves more fundamental questions that the problem of global warming raises.

I believe that climate change is a problem of imagination — of the limits to our imagination. It cannot be solved unless we open up our imaginations, unless we begin to think, talk and act as if we cared about the future. This means we must use our imaginations to ask: what would our world look like if we allow global temperatures to rise by 2-3C? It would be a world with a hostile climate: more of the storms, flooding and droughts we have begun to see over the last few decades. Events such as the flooding in Cumbria this week will become more frequent — these are entirely consistent with scientists’ predictions.

Moreover, if we do not turn back this government’s austerity drive, our weakened public services will not be able to cope with the consequences of such events. Despite Cameron’s pledge that “money is no object” in dealing with flooding, savage cuts to public services and flood defences have left people vulnerable.

A world 2-3C warmer would also be a world of war, in which millions will be displaced and forced to migrate in search of peace and security.

However perilously close we may be to this world, we must also imagine the world we want to create. That world is a more equal world, a more just world, and a world in which where you live is based on the quality of the air you breathe. It is a world in which businesses are producing products and services we cannot yet imagine, but with lower energy and operating costs.

We want a world where governments shape rules that promote public goods — where they protect the ultimate public good of a stable climate in which humanity can survive and prosper. To do that, we need a state that invests.

We need an entrepreneurial, nimble state that neither wages war with markets nor bows in their presence, but shapes them. It is the rules set out by the state that allows markets to flourish.

This means we can shape competitive markets and shape the goods they produce, so that we can all start making the right choices for our future. We need carbon budgeting to be the centrepiece of trade and commerce, taking the planet back to sustainable levels of CO2 emissions. 

Reader’s comment: Those with coal, nuclear, oil and gas interests will naturally dislike Corbyn’s approach and their pain during the transition process should be alleviated – though not at the expense of those experiencing the current costs of climate instability and dreading future displacement.

We can choose to follow Germany’s lead, transforming an energy market previously dominated by four big corporations into one with two million citizen-suppliers. Democracy in developing energy jobs: three quarters of all jobs in Germany’s energy transition are now involved in turning homes into “energy-zero buildings”.

Reader’s comment: A welcome change from the usual negativity about the Labour leader. True, Corbyn is no technician, but neither are his counterparts in the House. Industry experts will supply the substance and hope for a thriving renewable energy sector – see Germany, Denmark and other countries – notably Uruguay.

In the world we want, ordinary people, trade unions and businesses will have the power to shape the future they want, not just through government but because democracy is meaningful and real. How do we get to this world?

First, the transition must be just. Environmental politics must include people working in today’s economy. Governments must invest in the skills and technologies we need to take advantage of the millions of new jobs that the low-carbon sector can create, protecting working families in the transition.

Second, we must resist measures set out by our government that take us backwards. The Conservatives simply do not understand the huge opportunities that the low-carbon sector offers, or that investment and borrowing can enable future generations to contribute to the upfront costs of a fairer, greener world. They are blinded to simple economic logic: that now is the time to invest, when the cost of borrowing is as low as it ever has been. 

Third, governments must not only commit public investment to cleaner energy and infrastructure, but channel private trillions too. They must use a range of policy levers to direct investment and shape markets.

Fourth, all of us — towns and cities, businesses and investors, activists and trade unions — must localise the production and consumption of energy. Already 6,500 towns and city regions in Europe have committed to becoming tomorrow’s sustainable cities. We must follow their lead. We must get organised, harnessing the extraordinary powers of connectivity humanity has developed for itself.

I was elected on a message of hope. Call for the world you want; do not accept the one you have. This is a world we can create for ourselves: through our collective efforts, through democracy and investment.

Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/power-to-the-people-can-tackle-climate-change-m9tng7xpvvj

 

 

 

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Two readers send Jeremy Corbyn a wish-list

Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.

 

The wish-list: spot the contradictions!

  • scrap Trident,
  • scrap HS2 and replace with local rail infrastructure projects, scrap metro extensions where they take space used by buses,
  • scrap government funding of Hinkley Point B,
  • introduce a financial transactions tax,
  • increase corporation tax,
  • increase income tax for those at the top,
  • build more council houses,
  • stop funding private landlords with public money,
  • scrap the public funding of free schools,
  • allow local government to introduce investment bonds
  • increase VAT to 25%,
  • reduce corporation tax,
  • keep income tax at current levels,
  • close 10 universities and
  • add more bands to council tax and revalue properties sensibly.

Can you add to this?

 

 

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Naomi Klein ‘standing with the transformed Labour Party and the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’

Extracts from the seven-page speech delivered at the 2017 Labour Party conference by author and campaigner Naomi Klein.

It’s been such a privilege to be part of this historic convention. To feel its energy and optimism. Because friends, it’s bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany.

Most days there is simply too much to take in. So I want to start with an example that might seem small against such a vast backdrop. The Caribbean and Southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season: pounded by storm after record-breaking storm.

As we meet, Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is without power and could be for months. It’s water and communication systems are also severely compromised. Three and half million US citizens on that island are in desperate need of their government’s help . . .but as if all this weren’t enough, the vultures are now buzzing. The business press is filled with articles about how the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility. Maybe its roads and bridges too.

This is a phenomenon I have called The Shock Doctrine – the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite . . .

But here is my message to you today: Moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route – they do not need to become opportunities for the already obscenely wealthy to grab still more. They can also go the opposite way.  They can be moments when we find our best selves…. when we locate reserves of strength and focus we never knew we had. We see it at the grassroots level every time disaster strikes. We all witnessed it in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe. When the people responsible were MIA……. the community came together…… Held one another in their care, organized the donations and advocated for the living — and for the dead. And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire. When there is still no justice and, scandalously, only a handful of survivors have been rehoused.

There is also a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a society-wide scale. Think of the victories won by working people for social housing and old age pensions during the Great Depression…. Or for the NHS after the horrors of the Second World War. This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not necessarily need to knock us backwards . . .

To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking “yes”- a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes. And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating. We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world. And that is why I am so honoured to be standing with you today. With the transformed Labour Party in 2017. And with the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn. Your party and your leader presented voters with a bold and detailed Manifesto. One that laid out a plan for millions of people to have tangibly better lives:

  • free tuition,
  • fully funded health care,
  • aggressive climate action.

You showed us another way. One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess – no matter how powerful. And that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good, like wealth redistribution and nationalising essential public services.

It’s a winning strategy. It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether. If you can keep doing that between now and the next election, you will be unbeatable.

You showed us something else in the last election too, and it’s just as important. Let’s be honest: political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control. . . but we are now seeing in the remarkable relationship between Labour and grassroots Momentum, and with other wonderful campaign organizations, that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds.

If we listen and learn from each other, we can create a force that is both stronger and more nimble than anything either parties or movements can pull off on their own . . . It’s a wave led by young people who came into adulthood just as the global financial system was collapsing and just as climate disruption was banging down the door. . .

We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries…. which was powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future. By the way…. Bernie, is the most popular politician in the United States today.

So let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy – that treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treats the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. . .

I applaud the clear stand Labour has taken against fracking and for clean energy. Now we need to up our ambition and show exactly how battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy. Because as we rapidly transition off fossil fuels, we cannot replicate the wealth concentration and the injustices of the oil and coal economy, in which hundreds of billions in profits have been privatized and the tremendous risks are socialized. We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning off fossil fuels. And where we keep green energy in public and community hands. That way revenues stay in your communities, to pay for childcare and firefighters and other crucial services. And it’s the only way to make sure that the green jobs that are created are union jobs that pay a living wage. The motto needs to be: leave the oil and gas in the ground, but leave no worker behind. . . A good start would be divesting your pensions from fossil fuels and investing that money in low carbon social housing and green energy cooperatives.

Trump going rogue is no excuse to demand less of ourselves in the UK and Canada or anywhere else for that matter. It means the opposite -that we have to demand more of ourselves, to pick up the slack until the United States manages to get its sewer system unclogged.

I firmly believe that all of this work, challenging as it is, is a crucial part of the path to victory. That the more ambitious, consistent and holistic you can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become. Because you went and showed us all that you can win. Now you have to win. We all do. Winning is a moral imperative. The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Thank you.

Read the full text here: https://labourlist.org/2017/09/naomi-klein-bernie-sanders-is-the-most-popular-politician-in-the-us-and-corbyn-will-win-in-Britain/

 

 

 

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The Labour Party conference: David Hencke

Extracts from David Hencke’s article which may be read in full here.

The Labour Party conference this year was like one huge political iceberg. The 10% that was visible was dominated by the passionate, support for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – as the architects of a Labour revival that had seen membership soar to 569,500.

  • It unveiled new and radical policies.
  • It suppressed a public row over Brexit which I notice Danny Finkelstein on The Times saw as shrewd politics, leaving divided Tories to take the flak.
  • It contained a dispute about whether there was anti-semitism among Left wingers despite the best efforts of Guido Fawkes, the Daily Mail and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to stir the pot.

But under the eyes of the media (who were given very restricted access to the conference hall) the hidden 90% of the Labour conference was carrying out another revolution which will ensure that the current revival of political activism among the young has a long-term future.

Contrary to what most Conservatives would like to think the 369,000 new party members who joined after Corbyn became leader are not all former card-carrying members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Communist Party and other Left wing groupings. And that even applies to those who joined Momentum

No the truth is they have ideals, strong views but little hard knowledge of how to participate in a political democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn has already transformed interest in politics by doubling the percentage of people involved in party membership in Britain. Now it looks as though Labour is going to get the new membership to engage in democracy to help them win the next election. Even if only 10% of the membership become fervent activists – that is still some 57,000 people – more than half the total Tory membership, I am told.

The transcript of Jeremy Corbyn’s conference address may be seen here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/jeremy-corbyns-2017-conference-address/

 

 

 

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