Category Archives: Defence

‘A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party’, by Dr David Hookes, on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility  

Dr Hookes opened by saying that Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK-based membership organisation of hundreds of natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. Its members promote science, design and technology that contribute to peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. SGR’s work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament, climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology and emerging technologies.

Extracts from his introduction:  

Our view is that science and technology can be used to help implement the transformation of the socio-economic system on a global basis to create a cooperative, pluralist commonwealth based on fairness, mutuality and equality. In this economy humanity lives within ecological limits, now more commonly known as planetary boundaries.

One key to the long-term survival of industrial society is to develop a low carbon energy supply to avoid catastrophic climate change. This will involve technologies which harness renewable energy in all its forms (including solar, wind, waves, hydro, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal). Energy storage technologies will also be essential to help deal with problems of variability and intermittency, and some contribution from digital systems, that is, computers and digital instrumentation will be important in integrating these various sources of energy into smart local and national grids.

A background to this renewable energy revolution is that about 10,000 times more solar energy falls on the earth than we at present require for all our energy uses. For instance, a small patch of the Sahara, 100×100 square kilometres could supply all of Europe’s.

To read the submission click on this link: A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party David Hookes

Profile: David Hookes is a member of the Labour Party and a life-long trade unionist and socialist. He was born into a working class family close to the Liverpool dock road. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, he received a BA in Natural Sciences with a major in Physics. Being dissatisfied with the fact that there were so many conceptual problems in Physics, such as the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the unexplained constancy of the velocity of light in Special Relativity, Dr. Hookes decided to switch his studies. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology at Kings College, London University, with a thesis on the molecular structure of bio-membranes. He then spent a year in Germany as a post-doctoral fellow of the Von Humboldt Foundation and carried out, inter alia, theoretical work on the transport properties of bio-membranes. Back in England, Dr. Hookes was appointed Head of Physics at Kilburn Polytechnic. Some years later, he decided to take an MSc in Digital Electronic Engineering at the University of Westminster. As a result, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering at Coventry University, where he researched bio-sensors, robot tactile-sensing, and computer-interactive educational technology. This led to his developing a ‘Physics-is-Fun’ workstation. After his retirement, he became an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool University’s Computer Science Department. His present research interests are: how to save the planet from the threat of global warming; renewable energy technologies; application of ideas from physics to political economy and computer networks; computer-interactive educational technology; and foundational problems of physics. He was a founder member of The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and a member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA).

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn: rebel with just cause

Liam Young, a democratic socialist freelance political writer for the Independent and the New Statesman, writes: 

While Corbyn rebelled over academy conversion, foundation hospitals, the Iraq war, tuition fees and detention measures, Blairite MPs have offered their own warped form of ‘principled rebellion’ – airing their anti-Corbyn views in the press and decimating their party.  

This is not the sort of rebellion Corbyn ever stood for. 

It’s time to get real. Jeremy’s performance (on recent PMQs) has been powerful and statesmanlike and it is important to remember that he is the chosen leader, having taken more than 60% of the votes in leadership elections.  

With his clear principles, he is the total opposite of the PM’s hot air. Each PMQs session goes further towards proving that to the British public.

 

 

 

A Jamaican contact asks if 60+ serving MPs from the Cabinet of 2003 have the moral right to represent their constituents

An article on his blog ends: “As we digest the contents and impact of Chilcot’s report, I am reminded of the late Brian Haw (1949-2011) who lived in front of the Houses of Parliament for almost 10 years protesting against the Iraq War”.

brian-haw-2

A belated post: in July African Herbsman wrote: “One of the sad aspects of the Chilcot report is that most of its content was known at the time leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, through Whitehall & various media sources – e.g. Govt leaks, Private Eye magazine and documentaries made by Panorama and Dispatches”. He continues:

“That is why –  with the exception of the late Robin Cook – Tony Blair’s cabinet of 2002-3 must also shoulder blame for their support for the war. Former cabinet ministers such as Jack Straw, Jack Cunningham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Deputy PM John Prescott are as culpable as Tony Blair”.

Now some of those ex-ministers are expressing various forms of denial, but the author is unrelenting: “Today, they say they didn’t have all the facts or felt shut out by Tony Blair at the time. Yet these ministers voted to commit young men and women to an illegal war. Unforgivable”.

African Herbsman, who formerly worked in Whitehall, continues:

“These cabinet and backbench Labour MPs voted for war only to boost their career prospects within the government. Gordon Brown was told bluntly that if he did not publicly support the war he would not succeed Tony Blair as PM.

“Today, almost 70 of those Labour MPs who voted in 2003 are still in the House of Commons.  Yet most of them have said little about Chilcot’s report or even apologised for their selfish act. The majority of whom are plotting the bring the current leader Jeremy Corbyn down via Angela Eagle – who voted for the war.

“Some Labour MPs did their devious best to block the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Some tried restricting the Inquiry’s terms of reference and even delay the report’s release.

“Do any of those MPs have the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?

“Friday morning 2 May 1997, was one of the happiest days to be in London. The sun was out and Labour had defeated John Major’s Tory government the night before. We couldn’t believe that for some of us we were witnessing a Labour government in our adult lives. But Tony Blair, his cabinet colleagues, his inner circle and pro-war backbench MPs just blew the goodwill they were given to make the UK a proud, honest and prosperous society”. 

 

Read article here: https://wingswithme.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/chilcot-report-dont-just-blame-blair/

 

 

 

Highlights from ‘In Defence of Radical Politics’ – 2

steve-statsThis paper by Steve Schofield has been republished from his new website in full on this site. It has attracted widespread interest (left, with most readers from UK ). In In Defence of Radical Politics, he continues to look at Labour Party strategies from the 1979 election defeat:

“(T)he over-riding objective of a new generation of parliamentary Labour leaders has been to carry out what, until recent events, was a remorseless elimination, both intellectually and organisationally, of any semblance of radical politics within the party . . .”

Though the rhetoric was of a radical centre and a ‘Third Way’ of providing public services through partnerships with business and through social enterprises, Schofield itemises the reality:

  • a form of creeping privatisation,
  • a distancing from the trade unions
  • and an even closer attachment to an aggressively militarist United States

He continues by looking at grass-roots actions: through the Occupy Movement initially across the United States and into Europe, millions of people came together to challenge the legitimacy of a system that had extended and accelerated the accumulation of wealth and power by a corporate elite at the expense of ordinary working people. Many grass-roots actions volunteer support in New York and New Jersey for communities affected by flooding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, stemmed from this experience of direct democracy, as did the Spanish anti-eviction campaign, Plataforma de Affectados, which spread across the country using civil disobedience and direct action to prevent thousands of families from being evicted. Those radical energies have also led to the growth of anti-austerity parties such as Syriza in Greece, Front de Gauche in France, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain, all of which have fundamentally challenged social-democratic orthodoxy.

Schofield then turns to the UK and the United States where that power struggle has been played out internally through the Labour Party and the Democratic Party respectively:

“Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have attempted to re-align their parties around social justice and anti-austerity policies, drawing on the sheer energy and enthusiasm that emerged from the Occupy movement. Sanders, after an extraordinary campaign based on grass-roots support and funding, ultimately failed to gain the nomination but challenged the establishment consensus in a way that would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier . . .”

He gives a brief, definitive explanation for Corbyn’s election:

“For the mass of ordinary members, and those encouraged to participate as supporters with voting rights, the virtual extinguishing of a radical alternative by the Labour elite was intolerable in the face of the crisis facing working class communities. Corbyn’s was an authentic alternative voice that represented how they felt about issues like austerity, privatisation and disarmament. In effect, the Labour movement was attempting to take back the power, through the leadership campaign, that had been lost during the Blairite years with the neutering of party constituencies and conferences, as well as the fracturing of the relationship with the trade unions”.

After an overview of what he sees as ‘irreconcilable differences’ he expresses the need for a new party of the left, combining the traditional strengths of Labour with the new politics of participatory democracy and embracing a range of social movements. It would have to bring together both organised labour and workers without any trade union representation in the precarious world of zero-hour contracts and self-employment; as well as attract left-wing members of other parties like the Greens and the SNP, and the many millions of working people who have become so alienated from politics that they simply don’t vote.

In essence, Schofield writes, this party will be rebuilding a world-view that was second-nature to past generations, steeped as they were in a culture of working-class radicalism.

(Ed: perhaps like the Common Wealth Party?)

Past radical generations would have witnessed the latest crisis as further evidence that capitalism as a system only survives by further extracting the surplus value of labour through profit; they would have looked at the legacy of social democracy as, at best marginal and fragile, and at worst, by embracing much of the neo-liberal economic agenda, a capitulation to the power of capital; finally, they would have been disgusted by the behaviour of the New Labour elite who used their status as senior politicians, only gained through the support of the labour movement, to secure lucrative directorships and consultancies with the very corporations that have benefited from privatisations decimating public services and eroding workers’ pay and conditions. Schofield continues:

“There has never been a better time for organising around a new radical programme. Over recent years, grass-roots initiatives such as community renewable energy projects, co-operative housing schemes and local food networks have provided signposts, albeit on a small scale, of how the economy might break free from the tethers of capitalism”.

He asks: “How can we develop a social wage to reconcile new technologies with the loss of traditional work, or how can we achieve a no-growth economy with zero-carbon emissions that restores the integrity of planetary eco-systems and diversity of life while still providing a material base that benefits all working people?”

Campaigns like the Green New Deal and the Just Transition movement have brought together trade unions and environmental groups in support of just such radical programmes. But the challenge is to embrace the very diversity of these ideas and approaches in a way that can mobilise mass support for radical politics and create a common ground based on a strong ideological vision of a post-capitalist society. This can only be achieved through a vigorous but also generous debate on political and economic priorities, such as on the balance between parliamentary representation and extra-parliamentary action. A vibrant and confident political movement with a strong ideological base and sense of purpose can achieve precisely that. Some core elements are clear in the short-term:

  • public ownership of major utilities and the railways,
  • the reversal of privatisation in the NHS and local government,
  • accelerated council house building and renewable energy programmes
  • and nuclear and conventional disarmament.

However, individual policy areas should only be seen as part of a medium to long-term strategy for a fundamental redistribution of power to working people through devolution and economic democracy leading to a post-capitalist society.

For example, the democratic consensus might be to create a decentralised energy infrastructure based on renewable energy and community ownership. By having increased control over the means of production, working people will be able directly to assess the merits of any economic activity, weighing all issues including employment and environmental factors. If the balance of the argument is that quality of life considerations lead to the rejection of a particular form of production, this can be done in the knowledge that public investment is taking place across a range of socially-useful activities and that necessary work is being equally shared. The traditional threat of unemployment without destructive and wasteful capitalist development will be consigned to history where it belongs.

My own interpretation of the legacy of the radical left has remained the same throughout my lifetime, that it is impossible for working people to realise their own creative capabilities without removing the shackles of capitalist exploitation. Fundamentally, post-capitalism isn’t about a form of economic rationality but human creativity.

The utopia of shared work and the emancipation of time to realise the full potential of every human being is worth any amount of struggle in the face of grotesque inequalities and environmental breakdown that could, if we let the capitalist elite prevail, lead to the destruction of all life on the planet.

 

Read the full article here: http://stevenschofield.co.uk/?page_id=63

 

 

 

Are journalists unaware of McDonnell’s worth or just under orders?

What is going on when even the so-called Labour List bulletin anonymously writes under a headline – outdoing even the Times:

McDonnell: We won’t save Hilary Benn from deselection threat

john mcdonnell smallThat is literally not true. Yesterday the writer heard John McDonnell speaking on Pienaar’s Politics; he warmly described Hilary Benn as a friend and explained more than once, as a response to  Pienaar’s prodding, that “Labour leadership doesn’t involve itself in local selections to the local party. That’s democracy”.

Does McDonnell merit the Times’ description (19.9.15) as ‘universally unpopular’, having ‘strained relations’ with unions, ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’? 

Not so, he has many friends, co-operative colleagues in all parties and admirers in this country and the United States.

And though his versatility is shown in his inspiring and wide-ranging book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour, putting forward a set of attractive new ideas, principles and policies, his most sustained work has been directed towards peace-building.

Without peace there can be no real prosperity for the 99% – only for the arms manufacturers and traders and politicians acting as their non-executive directors

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He will – of course – be anathema to partyfunding arms manufacturers, arms traders and the politicians who need their cash and non-executive directorships, because of the following activities.

In 2003 he was inspired by Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who was calling for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace within the Executive Branch of the US Government. His bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace was repeatedly reintroduced in each session of Congress, attracting 72 cross-party co-sponsors. This work was later carried forward by the Peace Alliance.

jmcdonnell-in-america1This ‘unpopular man’ was heartily welcomed in the States (right) where city councils across the country welcomed the practical impact a Department of Peace would have on reducing violence in their nation and abroad. 18 cities -representing a collective population of over 6.5 million people – had endorsed it at the time of writing. They included Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, San Jose and more. 

John McDonnell advocated a ministry for the promotion of peace in all areas of life from the “playground to the Government” to embrace education and conflict resolution within business, prisons, homes, the media and the whole of life. He pointed out that this would be in line with developments in the USA and Europe, adding that Gordon Brown had set aside £500m in a “united Govt approach to reduce conflict in society and specifically to promote conflict resolution”.

Ministry for Peace meetings often attracted 70 & 80 people from peace organisations, lawyers and individuals committed to the idea – despite his ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’ behaviour? Unlikely.

John McDonnell introduced a Ten Minute Bill, the Ministry for Peace (Interim Provisions) Bill, passed unopposed on Tuesday 14th October, 2003. A second reading is planned for 21 November. The Bill’s second reading was passed unopposed but it was unable to go through all its parliamentary stages before the end of the session in November.

The other cross-party sponsors joining the less than ‘universally unpopular’ John McDonnell were the much-missed Elfyn Llwyd – Plaid Cymru, Jeremy Corbyn – Lab, Alex Salmond – SNP, John Randall – Con, Rudi Vis – Lab and the excellent also-missed Alan Simpson – Lab, who has become a great asset to the environmental movement.

Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrat) and Gary Streeter MP (Conservative, current chair) were also moved to work with John McDonnell to set up All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues in September 2006. 

This holds meetings such as a series of three with young Israelis and Palestinians who presented their visions and aspirations for changes they wished to see in the region during the next 20 years.

The APPG provides a forum for dialogue between Parliamentarians, Her Majesty’s Government and civil society on alternative methods of preventing and resolving violent conflict, on the basis of expert information and opinion from across the political spectrum, in dialogue with officials from the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as well as various conflict NGOs, academics, members of the business community and the media. The Group currently consists of twenty named members from both Houses of Parliament. Others in the new Parliament who express support or interest will be added to this list.

Hansard recorded words summarising McDonnell’s message in a Commons debate: “The most civilised form of defence is actually securing peace and preventing conflict.”

 

 

 

An apology for invading Iraq and a resolve to learn the lessons of Chilcot

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn today committed the party:

JC large rally

·         to uphold international law,

·         to seek peaceful solutions to international disputes,

·         to respect the role and authority of the United Nations

·         and always to treat war as the last resort.

In addition to his earlier public statement Jeremy Corbyn has written directly to Labour members and supporters after the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry report on Wednesday, following his apology on behalf of the Labour Party, for deciding to go to war in Iraq. He made these statements because he believes that politicians and political parties grow stronger when they face up to their mistakes.

This apology was owed to the people of Iraq, the families of those UK soldiers who died in Iraq or returned home injured or incapacitated, and to the millions of British citizens who feel our democracy was undermined when the decision to go to war was made.

He ended by stressing that the Iraq war divided the party and the country; the lessons of Chilcot — and what has taken place since 2003 — need to be learnt for the future.

 

 

 

Voters enthused by ethical politicians working for the common good in Britain & America

Stop press: as socialist democrat Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, building on recent victories in the Western states: Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington, winning seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries … most of them with ‘overwhelming, landslide numbers’, Sanders looks forward to Wyoming, where he’s hoping to get another victory in the state’s caucuses on Saturday. Like Jeremy Corbyn, according to exit polls, Sanders performed well with his usual strongholds of younger voters.

The guest speaker for the QSS conference on Saturday, March 12th: Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South.

clive lewisBorn in London in 1971, Lewis was brought up on a council estate in Northampton by a single-parent father.

After studying economics at the University of Bradford, he worked for the BBC and became an officer in the Territorial Army in 2006, serving for three months in Afghanistan.

In 2015 he was elected as MP for Norwich South with a large majority. 

He is currently chair of the Parliamentary Humanist Group and a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Lisa Nandy.

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After the Quaker Socialist AGM Clive Lewis was introduced by Chris Newsam, the new QSS Clerk.

Clive Lewis served on the panel of Radio 4’s Any Questions show, held in Thornbury,  Gloucestershire. The audience was ‘conservative Middle-England’ and Lewis described the other panel members as ‘formidable’:

clive aq

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (above left)  is an anti-EU climate change denier who supported cuts to renewables, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (second left), is also a high-powered anti-EU climate-change denier and Juliet Devonport, CEO of Good Energy is an advocate of renewable energy.

Clive Lewis pointed out that the majority of Conservative ‘green’ cuts were not mentioned in their election manifesto and by implementing them, they’d broken election promises to be greener:

  • Cameron had cut the solar energy and bio-gas subsidies and blocked on-shore wind-farms.
  • He has taxed renewables – and cuts mean that they will miss EU targets by 25% in 2020 and could be fined.
  • Cut-backs have led renewable energy companies in the UK to hold back on further investment.
  • The government has given tax-breaks to the oil and gas industry, thus making the UK the only G7 country to subsidise oil and gas companies.
  • Cameron has kept petrol tax down when oil prices had fallen and
  • has privatised the Green Investment Bank, which destroyed its point.

Lewis was astonished to receive loud applause from such a conservative audience. Indeed, when Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to the threat of “socialist green taxes” the Thornbury audience was silent, and when Rees-Mogg said Cameron’s was “the greatest government ever” he was heckled. 

The lesson he drew from this episode was that even at Thornbury, a Conservative stronghold, ‘natural Tories’ were prepared to oppose Cameron on climate change.

He then answered questions from the audience, advocating the integration of common policies on poverty, equality and climate change. John McDonnell, for example, could incorporate climate change and energy efficiency into his economic policies as part of creating the broad alliance necessary for winning in 2020.

When asked if the scientific evidence for man-made climate change is strong enough to base a broad alliance around it – and if it is really an “existential threat” to humanity, Clive said 97% of scientists thought so and in any case, supporting renewables was worthwhile just on grounds of efficiency, jobs and a clean environment (below).

climate change hoax 2

Clive thought Jeremy was capable of compromise – for example, he was not against civil nuclear power as much as he had been. Jeremy would not shift personally on Trident renewal but the Labour Party as a whole might compromise in September and Jeremy would have to recognise this. Like Jeremy, Clive was against Trident on moral grounds but he recognised that full unilateralism might not be achievable. Compromise was a political necessity.

There are divisions in the Labour Party; the New Labour stalwarts had a “sense of entitlement” and, in order to remove Jeremy, they would be prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of members. The PLP was still overwhelmingly Blairite in its views. Not only that, but the machinery of the Labour Party – the officials – were also Blairite. The Blairite grip on the party would take a long time to loosen.

Q: Could a Labour foreign policy work without Trident?

Clive thought it could, provided there was an increase in conventional military expenditure. Labour could support a level above 2%, and even take defence spending to 2.5%, in return for non-renewal of Trident. With extra money soldiers could be looked after better and equipment updated.

Drawing on his own experience as an army officer, Clive Lewis said, “MPs would think twice about bombing Syria if they had served in the army”.

Instead of interventions for regime change ( Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya) the armed forces could undertake humanitarian interventions.

children drone killed

They would assist foreign countries, not bomb them: a humanitarian foreign policy. 

He called for an anti-Tory alliance at the 2020 election. The core of such an alliance had to be climate change, though poverty was another area that could unite the left, as was opposition to military intervention for the purpose of regime change.

Clive summed up by pointing out that last May only 1 in 5 voted Conservative so there was hope, if the opposition parties could unite. The problem was more amongst the rank and file than amongst the leaders. Rank-and-file Greens, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems were aggressively against such alliances. Thus Jeremy Corbyn and MP Caroline Lucas were close politically, and were even friends, but their supporters were too tribal to unite.  

He was convinced that climate change was the key to an alliance, or co-operation across parties. It is an existential threat to humanity. In the world war of 1939-45 there was an existential threat to humanity from fascism and “we did not respond with neo-liberalism and privatisation” but with alliances, co-operation and socialism.

Clive Lewis had aroused enthusiasm in a Quaker audience despite calling for a sizeable increase in military expenditure. It was felt that the left of the Labour Party had acquired a major talent. His arguments had been sure-footed and convincing. and his eloquent speech drew extended applause.

The IN campaign: Neena Gill & Jeremy Corbyn

neena 3 gillIn her latest newsletter, MEP Neena Gill circulates her thoughts on the forthcoming referendum on which the Labour Party stands united in its support for the EU.

She says – correctly – that the EU isn’t perfect and some changes are needed – adding they can only be made by having a seat at the table.

Jeremy Corbyn has been in Brussels to continue discussions about the issues with Labour MPs and socialists from other countries, which began after his election in 2015.

He emphasises the vital importance of the EU’s strong track record on human rights and workers’ rights and the need to remain the EU to protect these, stressing that the IN campaign will stand up for rights in the workplace, champion equality and challenge unfair discrimination.

JC meeting european socialist leaders 15Arriving for a meeting with other socialist leaders in Brussels, 2015

Corbyn also argues that the EU brought investments and jobs for workers and consumers in Britain. The European Union, in his words, is a core framework for cooperation and trade in the 21st century.

He points out that Labour’s IN campaign is quite different from the Conservatives’ as it advocates an end to EU-backed austerity regime and rules designed to enforce market competition, including parts of the giant EU-US TTIP free trade deal backed by the Cameron cabinet.

Though agreeing with Neena Gill on the need for EU reform, Jeremy Corbyn made no reference, on this occasion, to the fact that auditors have not approved the EU’s accounts for many years, but focussed on the need to ensure that it includes more democracy, safeguarding workers’ rights and stopping enforced privatisation of public services, in short: “It has to be based on the rights of people all across Europe”.

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Jeremy Corbyn added that, during a previous visit to Brussels, a socialist colleague had told him: “We are discussing the future of a continent and one English Tory has reduced it to the issue of taking away benefits from workers and children”.

A Moseley reader sent a thought-provoking email: “I’m voting to leave, by the way. Once Cameron stupidly promised a referendum the only result is that we should vote to leave or be subject to all the whims of a European Parliament. If we vote to remain we should: 

  • give the Palace of Westminster to the National Trust,
  • sack all the MPs,
  • transfer sovereign power and currency to Brussels
  • just have regional assemblies to micro-manage local issues
  • and hand over the MoD to the Germans”. 

 

Well before the election, MP Caroline Lucas wrote an inspiring open letter to Jeremy Corbyn: “I can help you build a progressive majority”

Written in September 2015, found in drafts: well worth publishing

Highlights:

caroline lucas 3These are exciting times for progressive politics.

In the space of just a few weeks you’ve brought something into your party that’s been missing for far too long: hope.

I’ve never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party. For the first time in my memory, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee looks likely to be led again by someone who dares to stand up for the radical changes demanded by the challenges we face.

I’ve shared many platforms with you, from opposing Britain’s disastrous and bloody war in Iraq to supporting investment in the economy in place of relentless and cruel austerity. Your inspiring campaign has put so many of our shared values into the centre of the debate in British politics.

The beauty of this moment, and what scares the political establishment most, is that the power of your campaign is coming from thousands of grassroots voices – not a diktat from above.

It hardly seems a coincidence that the first truly democratic leadership election in your party’s recent history is producing such a powerful resurgence in optimism. People do indeed vote differently when they know their vote counts.

However, to fully embrace this moment – and if Labour is to truly become part of a movement rather than remain just a machine – it’s crucial to recognise the multi-party nature of modern British politics. 

No one party has a monopoly on wisdom, or is capable of making the transformation alone: a diversity of progressive voices is essential for our democracy.

Greens, for example, bring vital and distinctive issues to the table – most crucially, and at the heart of our politics, is the fundamental belief that a new social contract will only ever be possible if it’s built upon the foundations of “one planet living”. Without a safe climate at the heart of our policymaking, progressive politics won’t ever take root. Indeed, there is no better argument for abandoning tribalism than the looming climate crisis we face.

If we’re going to stabilise our environment and build a secure economy that serves our children and grandchildren, we have to work together.

corbyn young 2

For that reason, one of my few disappointments about your campaign is that it hasn’t focused more on reforming our ailing democracy

A truly progressive politics fit for the 21st century requires a voting system which trusts people to cast a ballot for the party they believe in.

If you do win this contest I believe you should take this opportunity – and the huge amount of momentum behind you – to call a constitutional convention to allow people across the country to have a say in remodelling Britain for the future. A convention has the potential to energise even more people than your leadership campaign, or the Green surge, and to inspire the kind of feeling across the UK that swept Scotland in 2014.

In the short term, for the next general election – which will still be contested under First Past the Post – my personal view is that there is potential in considering local grassroots electoral pacts where progressive candidates are standing . . . It’s only by winning that we have the chance to implement positive change.

By working together in the coming weeks and months we can continue to build upon the movement you’ve played such a huge role in creating.

Not only can we provide real economic alternatives to austerity, defend the trade unions and make the argument for urgent climate action, but we can also start to imagine an entirely different future – of a new social settlement, an economy that provides decent pay and allows people to flourish outside of work too. Crucially, a new politics will provide a constitutional framework which hands power from Westminster back into the hands of voters

The old politics is crumbling, not just in Britain but across our continent. We now have the chance to embrace a movement based not on greed or fear, but on resilient local communities, people working together and a stable economy that works for generations to come. I truly hope you win the contest on 12 September – and I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years.

In solidarity,

Caroline Lucas
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion

 

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/my-message-to-jeremy-corbyn-i-can-help-you-build-a-progressive-majority-10469934.html

Metro readers write in about Jeremy Corbyn

Blair’s Labour Party: nothing more than a second-hand, bewildered Conservative Party?

JC 4 smallMr Corbyn’s speeches are all about policy with zero personal attacks – so refreshing. Perhaps it will introduce a new political style in Britain? 

I don’t mind if Jeremy Corbyn is electable or not. What matters to me is that we now have a caring credible force to hinder the Conservative Party which, under the austerity green light, is removing many of the achievements that working people have gained over the centuries.

keir hardieJeremy Corbyn has finally given Labour some kind of moral compass. I’m an SNP supporter but I respect the fact that Mr Corbyn represents Keir Hardie’s Labour style. (Keir Hardie, right)

He is more representative of the British public as a whole, far more than the dozen or so self-serving Tory millionaires sitting round the table will ever be.

The only delusion I can see is the suggestion that this wrecking ball of a government has any kind of mandate, considering the lack lustre electoral result it scraped through on in May.

Who needs a Labour Party that is nothing more than a second-hand, bewildered Conservative Party?

Time will tell if Labour actually does what it pledges and fights austerity and Trident in a progressive alliance with the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru.