Category Archives: Democracy

Paul Mason predicts that that Labour will govern under Corbyn

 

In June 2016, Mason (below left)  wrote in The Guardian “One thing I do know: Corbyn is incapable of lying to the British people; he is inured to elite politics; he didn’t spend his entire life in a Machiavellian project to gain power and an invitation to Oleg Deripaska‘s yacht. That’s why I voted for him and will do so again if you trigger a leadership vote.”

In a recent New Statesman article, summarised below, he sees the ongoing delegitimisation campaign as preparation for a destabilisation campaign in that eventuality:

“Wave after wave of smears are unleashed against Jeremy Corbyn – even if you accept, as I do, that he is an imperfect politician and that Labour has specific challenges with anti-Semitism, which it has handled badly . . . It is impossible to pick up a newspaper, or listen to a phone-in, without hearing some person earning six figures say the left is the main enemy of decent people and should be debarred from governing Britain until it becomes more like the right”.

He names some of the British establishment ‘players’ in each round of ‘anti-Corbyn mania’:

  • the Guido Fawkes website;
  • the Murdoch newspapers
  • senior decision-makers inside BBC News

Wannabe establishment Labour MPs – 30 or so – cannot reconcile themselves to the idea of a socialist party that fights for socialism.

Mason continues: “From the right-wing of the PLP, through to the golf clubs of Tory-shire and the chatrooms of the alt-right, a shared mythology is being created. It says: Corbyn is too dangerous to run Britain, Labour cannot be allowed to govern with him in charge; better that it loses and loses badly; better that something is done to stop him. For the Blairite MPs it’s the same game as in May 2017: diss the leader, lose the election, normal service in the interests of neoliberalism will shortly be resumed”.

He sees a riven party, with a dysfunctional head office . . . from compliance issues to the mechanisms for selecting candidates, there is a culture of horse-trading which must be stopped..

“The Tory party has been bought and sold to the Saudi monarchy and the Russian oligarchy, and when Corbyn comes to power, that sordid menage will be cleaned up”.

To avoid this, during the next election campaign there will be the overt use of tactics used covertly in the Brexit campaign: “the full Monty of digital dirty tricks. For companies that specialise in rigging elections and destabilising governments, there will be a queue of clients”.

He ends: “So Labour needs a step change on three fronts”: 

First, streamline the internal discipline

As it expanded, Labour began to attract people for whom the concept of being “left” was bound up – as has been pointed out by other contributors – with anti-imperialism and anti-elitism, rather than a coherent positive vision of socialism. Mason  stresses that we need to educate people in how to express differences respectfully; build a culture where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement: “If, amidst rising xenophobia and intolerance, an organisation – half a million-strong – is prepared to go out on rainy Saturdays and set up stalls arguing for migrants’ rights, or more generous welfare benefits, risking the ridicule of Guido Fawkes and Breitbart – what would be the logic of trying to smash it?”

Second, spread the load

There are numerous highly-talented centrist politicians sitting on Labour’s backbenches who could and should be in the shadow cabinet. Give them big positions and create a resilient alliance of necessity between the left and centre of the party, isolating the Blairite rump. Demand excellence from shadow cabinet members and replace those who can’t deliver it, regardless of past allegiances and reputations. That is Corbyn’s job.

Third, build a vibrant political culture

. . . where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement and its diverse traditions, not just given a manifesto, a rulebook and a list of doors to knock:

“We need a movement that helps people develop a belief in their own agency – not the agency of states, religions, autocrats or, for that matter, iconic Labour leaders. That part is up to us”.

 

 

 

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Worth revisiting: the words of 27 economists, “The Labour Party stands at a crossroads”

 Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle

 

In August 2015, the undersigned wrote:

“This is a moment of opportunity for the Labour party and the country.

“A new movement is emerging in British politics; party membership is growing rapidly, particularly among young people who had increasingly given up on politics and politicians.

“There is a possibility that academics who have always felt that their research – whether on social policy, public health, economics, sociology or other disciplines – was ignored by policymakers may now be more in tune with the leadership of the Labour party.

“And rather than a backward-looking “old Labour” approach to politics, this is about recognising the inspiring possibilities for a fairer and more equal society offered by an information economy in an interdependent world.

“We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature for leadership of the Labour party”.

Richard Wilkinson Emeritus professor, University of Nottingham
Kate Pickett Professor, University of York
Steve Keen Professor, Kingston University
Elizabeth Dore Emeritus professor, University of Southampton
John Weeks Emeritus professor, Soas, University of London
Prem Sikka Professor, University of Essex
Alfredo Saad Filho Professor, Soas, University of London
Guy Standing Professor, Soas, University of London
Ozlem Onaran Professor, University of Greenwich
Christopher Cramer Professor, Soas, University of London
Jeff Powell Senior lecturer, University of Greenwich
Christine Cooper Professor, University of Strathclyde
Lawrence King Professor, University of Cambridge
Marjorie Mayo Emeritus professor, Goldsmiths, University of London
Hugo Radice Life fellow, University of Leeds
Susan Newman Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Elizabeth Wilson Professor emeritus, London Metropolitan University
Malcolm Sawyer Emeritus professor, University of Leeds
Jo Michell Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Susan Himmelweit Emeritus professor, Open University
Simon Mohun Emeritus professor, Queen Mary, University of London
Diane Reay Professor, University of Cambridge
Andrew Cumbers Professor, Glasgow University
Simon Deakin Professor, University of Cambridge
Roger Seifert Professor, University of Wolverhampton
George Irvin Professor, Soas, University of London
Engelbert Stockhammer Professor of economics, Kingston University

And thoughtful contributions from readers:

 

Mike Parr
Bath

Whoever wins the Labour leadership must not disappoint the thousands of party members, affiliates and supporters who have been energised and motivated by the election debate. There is a hunger for change within the party not just for a new vision for the future of the country but for a transformation of the way the party is organised and connects with its members and the electorate. The new leader should re-establish democracy within the party and build trust between members and the PLP. The party is strong when it operates as a community that shares ideas and builds policy from the ground up based on a full understanding of the issues that face all sections of society. There has never been a better opportunity to tap into the energy of new members and supporters and build a strong and successful political force. A leader who reverts back to the top-down focus group-tested soundbite politics of the Blair years will quickly find that the support they had will disappear and supporters will lose faith in politics.

David Thacker
London

There are two crucial points that your editorial (14 August) ignores. First, Jeremy Corbyn will prove to be an extremely popular and effective opponent of a government that most voters opposed. People will respect his straightforward, honest and principled exposure of Tory policies in practice. Second, unlike anyone who’s had power in the Labour party since Tony Blair, Corbyn is a true democrat. He’s not going to impose his policies on anyone. For the first time in decades members will be able to propose, debate, challenge and refine the party’s policies. And of course, “Events, dear boy, events” will play a major role in what transpires. If Corbyn can lead this collaboration of MPs and members, and withstand the onslaught from the media and from within the party, and if he still wants to be prime minister in 2020, the party will have strong policies and be electable. If he decides he shouldn’t be PM, another leader will emerge with policies that have been forged in the furnace of democratic debate by the membership. A better prospect, either way, than certain failure under any of the other three (unelectable) candidates.


Gordon Best
London

With Blair and the rest of the Labour establishment yet again urging the membership to play catch up with the Tories, is it any wonder that members are flocking to support Jeremy Corbyn? At long, long last, they are being offered a real choice.

Walter Wolfgang
Vice-chair, Labour CND

Polls show that most UK voters reject Trident, not just in Scotland. Corbyn is the only leadership candidate to represent this majority view. As Labour leader, Corbyn’s firm anti-Trident stance would win support in Scotland – and in the rest of the country too. He can promise voters to scrap Trident and spend the £100bn on reversing some of the cuts. He’d be backed by the TUC, Unison and many other unions who oppose Trident. Corbyn represents the public’s view on Trident, just as he stood with the public on Iraq. Corbyn has the policies and qualities to win a general election.

Stan Newens
Harlow, Essex

The critics of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election and, now, the Guardian (8 August), have argued that a leftwing programme, when Michael Foot was leader, led Labour in 1983 to “its worst result since universal franchise”. This is totally false.

In January 1981 Labour under Michael Foot was 13% ahead in the opinion polls and it was the launch of the Social Democratic party on 27 March 1981 by Roy Jenkins and three colleagues, followed by desertion by a section of rightwing Labour MPs, which destroyed Labour’s electoral lead. The behaviour of the left may not always have been faultless, but it was the disloyalty of a section of the right which was primarily responsible for our heavy defeat in 1983.

As for Gerald Kaufman’s smear at the 1983 Labour manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”, it might be apposite for the critics to read it. It proposed “much closer control over bank lending” through the then publicly owned Bank of England, the need for which stood out in the 2008 crisis. It also proposed a plan to boost industry, improve training, enhance women’s rights, tackle the housing crisis and the balance of payments problem etc, etc. Was this wrong?

As one who lost my seat in the House of Commons in 1983, I am well attuned to the facts. If Jeremy is elected leader, as I hope, the lesson to be learned from the 1980s is that all sections of the Labour party should support him in that role.

Duncan Holley
Branch secretary of Bassa 1998-2012, Southampton

Labour supporting friends are perplexed why I should be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, it is conceivably true that “annihilation” could happen, but is the Labour party of today worth saving?

Just over five years ago I was one of the leaders of the British Airways cabin crew union (Bassa) which fought a truly bitter dispute with our employer. We were not seeking more money or better terms, just trying to hold on to certain conditions that made our jobs worthwhile. Under the leadership of Willie Walsh, strikers were sacked by BA (myself included, after 35 years), suspended and stripped of promotion. I was interviewed under caution by Heathrow police. It was a very foreboding time to lead a union in a dispute with a blue-chip company.

Against this backdrop, the usual suspects in the media blackened the reputations of union representatives, with lurid and exaggerated front-page stories to ensure, publicly, we had very few friends. It was a lonely place. There was also the 2010 general election looming, when you would have expected, or at least hoped, Labour leaders to keep a low profile, but far from it. In the days leading up to the first batch of strikes (which had been called on an 92% majority, with a massive turnout), I sat in the office of Tony Woodley, then leader of Unite, as he fielded – and to his credit rejected – a series of increasingly desperate phone calls from Labour to call off the dispute.

Perhaps naively, I was shocked at what the Labour party had become. So intent on middle-road power that they would even step on, or over, the very people they were created to protect and represent. There were a few Labour MPs who actively supported us, including, not surprisingly, John McDonnell and yes, Jeremy Corbyn. I will now gladly reciprocate that support given to us in our moment of need.

Do I care if the leader’s election destroys what the Labour party stands for in 2015, in its moribund, forgotten-its-roots, middle-ground-hugging persona? No, not any more. I backed Kinnock when he cleansed the party of its militancy, I supported Blair in those heady days of the late 90s, but any semblance of a decent, caring honourable party that caters for the underprivileged, has long been swallowed up by the unseemly, even sickening quest for power, irrespective of who gets trampled underfoot, on the way.

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Alternative Models of Ownership Conference (10.02.18)

 http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Q369GPank3G/Labour+Leaders+Host+Conference+Alternative/Jeremy+Corbyn

It is a pleasure to close today’s conference, which has shown once again that it is our Party that is coming up with big ideas.

And we’re not talking about ideas and policies dreamed up by corporate lobbyists and think tanks or the wonks of Westminster, but plans and policies rooted in the experience and understanding of our members and our movement; drawing on the ingenuity of each individual working together as part of a collective endeavour with a common goal.

Each of you here today is helping to develop the ideas and the policies that will define not just the next Labour Government but a whole new political era of real change.  An era that will be as John said earlier radically fairer, more equal and more democratic.

The questions of ownership and control that we’ve been discussing today go right to the heart of what is needed to create that different kind of society.

Because it cannot be right, economically effective, or socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.

We know that those services will be better run when they are directly accountable to the public in the hands of the workforce responsible for their front line delivery and of the people who use and rely on them.  It is those people not share price speculators who are the real experts.

That’s why, at last year’s general election, under the stewardship of Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Transport Secretary Andy McDonald and Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Labour pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run.

This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalisation but a catapult into 21st century public ownership.

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

We need to put Britain at the forefront of the wave of international change in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

From India to Canada, countries across the world are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed and are taking back control of their public services.

Research by the Transnational Institute identifies 835 international examples of privatisation being reversed. It really is happening: from water under citizen ownership and control in Grenoble, France to mail under national ownership and control in Argentina.

There are very good reasons for what’s taking place. The neoliberal ideology that drove the privatisation frenzy forgot a key lesson that’s understood even by conventional neoclassical economics; that where there are natural monopolies, markets fail.

The architect of Thatcherite privatisation, Professor Stephen Littlechild thought regulators could mimic market competition but he was wrong. The regulators have proved too weak to close to the companies they’re supposed to be regulating and too prone to corporate capture which is why we’ve seen productivity increases of just 1% a year since our water industry was privatised despite all the new technology that the water industry has at its disposal.

Without genuine competition or public accountability private ownership of key utilities has meant customers at the mercy of rip-off price fixing. Water bills have increased 40% in real terms since privatisation but we don’t have anywhere else to go for our water when prices go up.

It’s this ridiculous and highly profitable situation that the water companies are so desperate to protect. The case for public ownership is so clear and so popular and we’ve demonstrated how it’s an investment with no net cost for the taxpayer. The water companies are so frightened that some have commissioned a so-called independent report to make the public believe nothing can change.

But as we know, things can and will change.

And they must when we’ve all seen how the big energy companies jack up prices too knowing full well most people don’t switch suppliers. And the energy grids are even worse, overcharging customers by £7.5bn over the last 8 years, according to Citizens Advice.

Climate change

But Labour’s plans are responding to an even bigger market failure than natural monopolies. We need to take back control of our energy system because, as Nicholas Stern described, “the greatest market failure the world has seen” is climate change.

Now, it pains me to have to contradict the US President, especially using data from a US government agency but according to NASA, the world’s average temperature in 2017 was 0.9 degrees Celsius above the 1951 to 1980 average.

We are long past debating whether global warming is happening, or if it is man-made. It is. And it is not just a threat to our future on this planet it is fuelling wars, natural disasters and the refugee crisis right now.

To avoid a future of extreme heatwaves, shortages of fresh water, falling crop yields, increased flooding, dangerous rises in sea levels, and the mass loss of biodiversity in both land and sea we need, as a bare minimum, to meet our Paris obligations and seek to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organise our economy.

In 1945, elected to govern a country ravaged by six years of war, Clem Attlee’s Labour Government knew that the only way to rebuild our economy was through a decisive turn to collective action. Necessary action to help avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical.

Tackling global warming won’t be achieved by warm words. Nobody is fooled by Michael Gove’s reinvention of himself as an eco-warrior. Behind the rhetoric lies a trail of environmental destruction.

This is a Government that has licensed fracking, declared a moratorium on renewable levies, while massively subsidising fossil fuels dithered over tidal, held back onshore wind, U-turned on making all new homes zero carbon and is failing to take the necessary measures to meet our legal commitments to reduce CO2 emissions.

At last year’s election by contrast, Labour pledged to ban fracking, insulate four million homes, invest in rail and bus networks to reduce traffic on our roads, invest in tidal and wind, and deliver 60% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Public ownership of our energy system

A green energy system will look radically different to the one we have today. The past is a centralised system with a few large plants. The future is decentralised, flexible and diverse with new sources of energy large and small, from tidal to solar.

Smart technologies will optimise usage so that instead of keeping gas plants running just in case there is a lull in renewable generation the system fulfils needs by identifying the greenest, most local energy source. There will be much more use of local, micro grids and of batteries to store and balance fluctuating renewable energy.

We will still need a grid to match energy supply with demand and import and export renewable energy abroad because the wind won’t always blow where energy is needed. But it will be a smart grid, radically transformed.

Transforming the grid will require investment and planning on a scale that is simply not happening under the current system.

Price cap regulation encourages private grid operators to cut costs and pay money out in dividends, not to plan how the grid will need to work in 25 years’ time, or to make the necessary long-term investments we need to get there.

Grid operators are notorious for overcharging and causing delays in connecting renewables because they have no incentive to make it easy for clean, community generators to connect to the grid, or to encourage community grid initiatives that might end up undermining their profits.

The greenest energy is usually the most local but people have been queuing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind. Investing to connect renewable energy to the grid, giving impetus to the kind of research and innovation that will make our grids smarter, more flexible, and capable of genuine optimisation.

And actively devolving power to local communities, by giving community energy practical support and encouragement. Energy transition will depend on the initiative and ingenuity of the many to localise the production and consumption of energy.

We need public ownership and democratic control to make that happen and use the skills and knowledge of the workforce and communities across the country.

There are some who hanker after a Thatcherite so-called “prosumer” model where people produce and consume their own energy and whole communities opt out of the grid. But not everyone has the resources – natural or financial – to go it alone. Energy independence for some will mean rising bills and unreliable energy for the rest.

We need a publicly-owned grid to act as the great leveller, distributing energy from where it is plentiful to where it is scarce and guaranteeing that everyone has access to clean, affordable energy  all of the time. Anything else is not only unjust, it risks doing immeasurable harm to the climate cause.

Because we will only win support for the changes that are needed if we make sure that everyone shares in the benefits. And there are many benefits, not just in cheaper energy, an end to fuel poverty, cleaner air, and a sustainable planet, but also in the creation of new good jobs and industries in renewable energy and green tech across the country.

In short, to go green, we must take control of our energy.

Just Transition

This is why it is so important that these changes are planned democratically. Many people and communities in Britain are economically reliant on fossil fuels. Our energy system needs to change but it cannot be workers and local communities who pay the price.The devastation wreaked when our coal mines were closed, leaving a legacy of decline that former mining communities are still living with, is a brutal reminder of what can happen when those communities are silenced and disregarded in the process of change.

Never again.

In public hands, under democratic control, workforces and their unions will be the managers of this change, not its casualties. The growth of green energy and green tech offers huge opportunities for job creation. Our publicly owned energy system will ensure a smooth transition and protect workers and communities, seizing those opportunities for the many, not the few.

So let me make this commitment here today. Just as the US GI Bill gave education, housing and income support to every unemployed veteran returning from the Second World War, the next Labour Government will guarantee that all energy workers are offered retraining, a new job on equivalent terms and conditions, covered by collective agreements and fully supported in their housing and income needs through transition.

We will make good the words of the Canadian campaigner Naomi Klein, when she said: “The real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system, one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power.”

Conclusion 

Comrades and friends, a blinkered faith in untrammelled markets and a doctrinal rejection of the power of collective action are the twin dogmas that have blighted political thinking in this country for nearly 40 years, have been brutally exposed for the destructive blind alley they are.

Who can maintain that handing the private sector control of our public services delivers economic or social efficiency and best value after the havoc wreaked by the collapse of Carillion, or the £2 billion public bailout of the East Coast Mainline rail franchise?

An overriding obsession with what is claimed to be “efficiency” but which almost always turns out to mean simply “the cheapest” has fixated on cutting costs for the private providers while loading them on to the public purse and suffocated the public service ethos in the process.

By taking our public services back into public hands, we will not only put a stop to rip-off monopoly pricing, we will put our shared values and collective goals at the heart of how those public services are run. Whether that’s:

  • an energy system that doesn’t jeopardise the future of our planet,
  • a joined up transport system that helps us, rather than hinders us,
  • moving away from reliance on fossil fuels,
  • a postal service that delivers for everyone across the UK and which invests for technological change rather than managing decline,
  • a water system which puts an end to wasteful leakage and environmental degradation,
  • a society which puts its most valuable resources, the creations of our collective endeavour, in the hands of everyone who is part of that society,
  • extending the principle of universalism, right across our basic services.
  • eree at the point of use to all who use them:

 

That’s real, everyday, practical socialism. And we’re going to build it together.

 

 

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London Mayor: a democratic decision

London mayor Sadiq Khan sets out his new housing policy on Friday with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He unveiled plans to require councils to ballot residents – tenants, leaseholders and freeholders – on housing estates earmarked for demolition, if they want city hall funding for the work.

The Financial Times account is summarised here – stripped of derogatory adjectives and adverbs.

FT journalists describe this move as ‘a backlash against lucrative redevelopment schemes in the capital’ and one council leader, who declined to be identified, said Mr Khan was “playing to different galleries” because he was worried about his reselection in the summer.

The National Housing Federation welcomed Mr Khan’s plans and pointed out they already speak to tenants about development schemes.

Haringey’s £4bn plans to redevelop estates with Lendlease, an Australian property company, are currently the subject of a legal challenge.  

Several councils in the capital, including Haringey, have encountered widespread opposition to redevelopment plans involving private companies, because of concerns about inadequate levels of social housing.

Last year Jeremy Corbyn, set out plans for all new regeneration projects to involve ballots of residents. He welcomed Mr Khan’s move, saying:

“Regeneration must put local people first, not property speculators. Too often these large projects have led to social cleansing, jacking up of rents and communities broken apart.”

Outlining his policy, Mr Khan said he wanted to make sure people living on housing estates were “at the heart of any decisions from the outset”. Sir Stuart Lipton, a veteran property developer who wrote a report on Tottenham for city hall following riots in 2011, advocated allowing some residents to stay in their homes during estate overhauls, while other parts are redeveloped.

Stuart Lipton agreed: “People like their community and their friendship with their neighbours, and we should be respecting that”. He added that balloting residents of estates before demolishing them was “absolutely the right idea . . . The local community have often been forgotten in London”.

 

 

 

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A community campaign unit to draw on the talents and experience of party members

Jeremy Corbyn has set up a “community campaign unit”, a small but growing department in his office that will focus on working with communities and groups of employees, helping them to organise and campaign on local and workplace issues.

Richard Power Sayeed, whose recently published book on the New Labour years (left) is being well-received, wonders if this will turn out to be one of the most transformative political decisions of the Labour leader’s career.

“In 2018,” Corbyn predicted in the Sunday Mirror, “we will win by organising with communities that have been held back.” Corbyn hopes this make it easier for ordinary people to engage in grassroots politics and this, he hopes, will further strengthen the left.

Sayeed adds, in the Independent, “Corbyn’s popularity gives him the authority to try again, and the plan seems at least feasible now because Labour has many more members: more than half a million, compared with the Tories’ rumoured 70,000”.

He points out that ‘the Corbynistas’ – we prefer ‘Corbynieres’ – are drawn both from trade unions and from social movements: environmentalists, students, feminists, anti-racists, disability campaigners and LGBT activists.

Though not traditional political campaigners, leafletting and knocking on doors pre-election, many have been organising in communities and work places for decades so might well work with the new unit.

Laura Pidcock, the Labour MP for North West Durham, told her Facebook followers that the unit will allow their party to have an impact on people’s lives even while it’s still in opposition:

 

“We need to get rid of this awful, destructive government, but we don’t have to wait for that to be effective locally”.

 

 

 

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Participatory politics: what will the 1922 Committee decide at the Conservative Convention, March 2018?

As Gary Younge wrote:

“Corbyn emerged in the wake of a global financial crisis, in a country rocked by the phone hacking scandal, the MPs’ expenses scandal and Operation Yewtree. His ascendancy represents a desire for a more participatory, bottom-up kind of politics that takes on not only the Tories in parliament, but inequality in the economy, unfairness in society and power where it has not previously been held to account”.

Though title-trouncing Labour’s ‘hard left’ whom the Times’ Lucy Fisher alleges are forcing out so-called ‘moderates’ (aka New Labour Blairites) in a ‘purge’ she does at least present the truly democratic approach actually being taken:

“A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Labour members select their candidates by democratic processes as laid out in the rule book. We do not comment on individual selections.’ A spokesman for Momentum told The Times: ‘We think it’s fantastic that hundreds of thousands of people new to politics have felt so inspired that they’ve joined the Labour Party. We should trust local members to be the best judge of who should represent their community”.

Times reader James comments: “We seem to be living in a parallel universe where the party that is open to all to join, all members have a vote to choose local candidates and party leader is being regularly criticised for being oppressive”.

David Hencke reports that on November 25 the Conservative Party held a convention in Birmingham attended by 100 invited people which rewrote sections of the party’s constitution.

The document was sent out by Rob Semple chairman of the Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board (above, with Theresa May). The Draft Proposed Rule Changes for discussion at a meeting of the National Conservative Convention on 25 November 2017 included plans to:

  • rewrite the party constitution to remove references to constituencies altogether;
  • limit the right of local associations to choose their own candidates;
  • scrap the annual meeting of the Conservative Convention where people could listen and vote for candidates for top posts and
  • use on-line voting for all top posts in the party.

Will final approval be given for these changes in the Conservative Party constitution at a meeting of the 1922 Committee (the Commons parliamentary group of the Conservative Party) at the March 2018 meeting of the Conservative Convention in Westminster?

If so, as David Hencke comments, “the contrast could not be much starker. Labour will go into the next general election as a mass movement with a mass membership who can influence policy and decide on who stands for Parliament, the police and the local council”.

 

 

 

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FT readers’ positive comments on ‘Standing ovation for Jeremy Corbyn in Brussels’ (FT)

In addition to many vitriolic responses in the Financial Times: which might be subject to paywall, nine readers wrote:

Great news – a British politician prepared to travel over the Channel with an international perspective and a passionate vision.  Ultimately we have to engage with Europe on several levels beyond tariffs and regulations.  Corbyn is right – no deal will be a catastrophe and must be fought passionately.

Corbyn surprises again. Plausibly prime-ministerial verging on embryonic statesman. As Labour cohesion increases, the Conservative seem more and more on the point of disintegration. Labour have a much better position on Brexit both politically and economically than the Conservatives who are in disarray. Corbyn’s direction of travel from Europhobe to pragmatic European is heartening. Let us hope his gathering momentum takes him even further in this direction.

The opportunity is to stay friends with our neighbours, be respectful, trade fairly, build bridges across the ever-widening English Channel which Teresa and the Toxics are digging deep holes in.

Corbyn is a socialist whose economic policies, if implemented, would lead to the sort of mixed economy model that is more or less mainstream in much of Europe. It is the UK that is the outlier. And it has become the outlier thanks to the systematic grooming of a decreasingly well-educated population by an extremely right-wing press and the adoption by the Tories and others of the political elite of any Chicago School nonsense that helped them feather their own nests. Meanwhile these so-called patriots happily fostered the destruction of stable and industrious communities in the country’s industrial heartlands.  Allez Jezer, with the EU, or without, stick it to ’em.

Do not underestimate Corbyn.  He is a populist with a genuine alternative (albeit one which may not appeal to many readers of the FT).  Corbyn wants to overturn the entire Wilson-Thatcher-Blair consensus around equality of opportunity, and replace it with a UK built around equality of outcome. Reason: if everyone achieves their full potential, then that half of the people with below average potential will have below average outcomes, and they are getting angry.

The irony is, as I say somewhere in an earlier comment, if Corbyn performed an about-turn and decided Labour would be pro EU and pro Remain (as the majority of his party members and MPs actually are), I suspect he would win an absolute landslide in an election and wipe out the Conservatives. I’d vote for him in a shot.  (I’m still holding out hope for a LibDem revival next time, but first past the post always makes it difficult. At least Vince Cable is a very plausible PM which will help).

It is very much in Corbyn’s interest to let the fumbling May government struggle on until 2019, sign a deal that will be denounced on all sides, and then exhausted by its efforts disintegrate. That will leave the way clear for a landslide Labour victory and an incoming radical government intent on building socialism in one country, with no tiresome eurocrats capable of diluting its ideological purity.

Unlike the current PM he is showing signs of growing into the job and learning the art of compromise.

I cannot wait for Jeremy Corbyn to be given the chance to build an independent, creative, robust and wide-ranging structure for the UK economic and political system. It would make a big difference to the unimaginative, unproductive, uninspired and scavenging Tories.

 

 

 

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Lancashire Evening Post reports Corbyn’s major speech on public ownership and the economy

October: in a major speech on public ownership and the economywhich may be read in full here – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn singled out Preston Council.

Preston’s skyline, by Carl Ji, a Chinese student, at the University of Central Lancashire

Relevant extracts from the speech:

The Tories have devolved austerity to local councils and, perversely, areas with higher levels of poverty have been hit hardest. Councils have on average faced 40 per cent cuts in their budgets. But in the face of this adversity councils such as Preston have responded with inspiring innovation.

They brought together major local employers in their community, what academics call the anchor institutions, and Preston Council worked with them to drive through a local programme of economic transformation.

By changing their procurement policies, these anchor institutions were able to drive up spending locally protecting businesses and jobs.

And they’re looking at the council’s own pension fund to see where investment can support local businesses keeping the money circulating in their town.

Alice Thomson of the Times writes, “Jeremy Corbyn in a recent speech hailed Preston for showing the way to a new post-Brexit Jerusalem” but ends “A move by Preston council to employ more of the talent in its area deserves to be copied, but not by Jeremy Corbyn . . . “

More from her article will be quoted next week on the LWM blog.

 

 

 

 

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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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