Category Archives: Democracy

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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The John Peel of Politics (Jeremy Corbyn, August 2015) and sequel

I came across this gem, written for the Birmingham Press a month before this website was set up and quoted in Political Concern, and have added a media sequel

Britain’s next Prime Minister could be a 70-year old former winner of Beard of the Year who’s become a hit with young voters. Steve Beauchampé assesses Jeremy Corbyn’s chances.

My only surprise is that anyone was surprised. From the moment Jeremy Corbyn received sufficient nominations to qualify as a candidate in the Labour Party leadership contest, it was clear that here was someone who could articulate and represent the opinions of a considerable number of left leaning voters, both within the Labour Party and without. After two decades of Blairites, Blair lites and the worthy but unelectable Ed Milliband, Labour voters were being offered the choice of more Blair/Brown in the form of either Yvette Cooper or the unspeakably vapid Liz Kendall (strategy: ‘the Tories won the last two elections, so let’s adopt policies that are indistinguishable from theirs’) or decent, honest and likeable Andy Burnham, a slightly more radical version of Ed Milliband but without the geeky visage and voice.

That Corbyn has forged a sizeable and potentially decisive lead over his rivals under Labour’s new ‘one member one vote’ electoral system has caused a mixture of consternation and outrage amongst many of the party’s grandees (most of whom are backing either Cooper or Kendall) and demonstrates how disconnected with a large section of potential Labour voters they have become (the more so with opinion polls placing Burnham second). Meanwhile Corbyn, demonised and subjected to vitriolic attacks by some within his own party, and inaccurately dismissed as a 1980s throwback from the hard left of the political spectrum by Tories and most sections of the media, has fended off both the criticism and caricatures with ease, as befits a man with decades of experience of being outwith the political zeitgeist.

However, following several weeks of lazy, ignorant mis-characterisation of him across the press (not least by the BBC), a realisation finally seems to be dawning amongst the more thoughtful political commentators and scribes that Jeremy Corbyn is no joke candidate, no passing fad, but is instead a serious politician, and one with an agenda appealing to many voters previously disengaged from party politics. No cartoon firebrand Marxist he but a man of conviction and humility with a track record of being on the right side of the argument years before those in the ‘mainstream’ adopted the policies he espoused (Corbyn opposed Britain’s arming of Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s, supported Nelson Mandela and the ANC when the British Government was helping South Africa’s apartheid regime, held talks with the IRA nearly a decade or more before the Major and Blair governments did likewise, campaigned for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so and voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003).

And just as in Scotland, where the rise of the SNP, under the charismatic leaderships of first Alec Salmond and now Nicola Sturgeon, have helped invigorate politics, particularly amongst the young, so Corbyn’s leadership hustings have been passionate and at times electrifying affairs, populated by a sizeable number of youthful voters. A victory for Corbyn on September 12th could energise and transform British politics, providing a narrative with which a substantial number of the electorate – many of whom currently feel disenfranchised and perhaps don’t even bother to vote – can feel comfortable and might coalesce around. Because, with every media appearance, every public speaking engagement, all but the most politically jaundiced can see that Jeremy Corbyn is at least a man of integrity, putting an argument that has long been absent from mainstream British politics. Agree with him or not, but here is a politician to be respected and reckoned with, who is shifting the terms of the debate.

Thus those in the Conservative Party and its media cheerleaders who view a Corbyn victory as almost a guarantee of a third term in office may be in for a shock. Because, whilst the opprobrium directed at Corbyn from his opponents both outside and inside the Labour Party will only intensify if he becomes Labour leader, with a coherent and plausible genuine alternative to the Cameron/Osborne ideology and its attendant relentless tacking to the right of what constitutes the political centre ground, the Conservative’s agenda will be thrown into sharper definition in a way that a Labour Party offering merely a less extreme alternative to the Tories never can.

So could Jeremy Corbyn win a general election for Labour and become Prime Minister? Well, despite his current sizeable lead in opinion polls Corbyn’s campaign could be scuppered by Labour’s second preference voting system, whereby the second choices of the lowest ranked candidate (who drops out) are added to the cumulative totals of those remaining, this procedure being repeated until one candidate has over half of the votes cast, a system expected to benefit Burnham or Cooper the most.

If Corbyn can overcome that hurdle, and any subsequent move to oust him from the New Labour wing of the party, then don’t write Jeremy Corbyn off for Prime Minister. Few of life’s earthquake moments are ever foretold and by May 2020 who knows how bloodied and riven the Conservatives might be following the forthcoming EU referendum. Public appetite for the Tories and in particular George Osborne might have waned after two terms and ten years (and barely a quarter of the eligible electorate voted for them in 2015), with the Conservatives needing only to lose eight seats for there to be hung parliament. So a Corbyn prime ministership is not out of the question.

Perhaps the most likely – and intriguing – scenario to that coming to pass would be a coalition between a Corbyn-led Labour, the Liberal Democrats under the auspices of social democrat leftie Tim Farron, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. Now that really would scare the Daily Mail readers!

Steve Beauchampé

August 5th 2015

Jeremy Corbyn’s policies include:

 

Re-introduction of a top rate 50% income tax

Tighter regulation of banks and the financial sector to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis (George Osborne is currently proposing to loosen these controls)

Substantial increase in the number of affordable homes being built

Re-introduction of rent controls to reduce the amount the state pays to private landlords

Support for Britain’s manufacturers rather than the financial services sector

The establishment of a National Investment Bank to pay for major public infrastructure programmes such as house building, improved rail, renewable energy projects and super fast broadband

The minimum wage to apply to apprentices

Removing all elements of privatisation from the NHS

Taking the railways, gas, water and electricity back into public ownership

Bringing Free Schools and Academies under the direct control of local authorities

Budget deficit reduction, but at a slower rate than that currently proposed

Scrapping Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent (Trident)

Support for significant devolution of power from London and opposition to unless voted for in a referendum

An elected second chamber

 

On the EU referendum, Corbyn has said that he is likely to vote to stay in, and then fight for change from inside.

 

Sequel

Inside story: Corbyn’s campaign – the political shock of a generation

Go to: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/25/jeremy-corbyn-earthquake-labour-party

With thanks to the reader who sent this link.

 

 

 

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Austerity for the poor and bonuses for the rich? Corbyn says no

Corbyn counters proposals which would mean marooned older people with lower incomes, spending more on heating

Today the Times reports that Jeremy Corbyn will reaffirm his party’s commitment to the concessionary travel scheme on his tour of marginal seats in Scotland.

The SNP has confirmed plans to raise the age at which Scots become eligible from 60 so that only those eligible for a state pension have a free pass – which is fine for those still employed . . . Ministers say it would protect the long-term viability of the scheme, which costs taxpayers £192 million a year.

Mr Corbyn plans to meet pensioners in Fife today and is expected to say: “Labour will protect pensioner incomes, by legislating to keep the triple lock, protecting the pensions of over one million Scottish pensioners . . . We’ll protect benefits like the free bus pass and the winter fuel allowance.”

An octogenarian reader who has an income slightly above the national average wage and uses only public transport, comments that her life would be adversely affected. As bus fares are so high she would limit journeys to two a week.

Millions of pensioners on lower incomes would be marooned in their locality most of the time – a locality which might or might not meet everyday needs as cuts close post offices and libraries.

How can affluent Conservative politicians  (above, MP Kenneth Clarke) even contemplate such inhumane measures, whilst increasing capital gains and corporation tax relief to the affluent?

 

 

 

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“Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity”

Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:

“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.

She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.

“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.

The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.

But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?

She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past.  Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:

“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.

As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.

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.

Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf

Kate Hudson,  British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

 

 

 

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Wolmar: wait for government to crumble . . .

Like many others, I have read and appreciated Christian Wolmar’s input on transport issues over the years – HS2 of late. I know nothing of his political views though, and so was intrigued to come across this article a couple of days ago. The last four paragraphs of  Wolmar’s thoughtful but pugnacious argument follow:

Labour’s strategy of equivocation on Brexit actually worked on polling day. Far from alienating both sides in the debate, as I had predicted, the party managed, to some extent, to attract both Leavers and Remainers. Suggesting that the benefits of the single market and customs union should be retained while leaving the EU was, however, a conjuring trick that cannot be repeated. At some stage, when Theresa May discovers that she cannot have her cake and eat it, Labour is going to have to decide whether the deal she has negotiated is acceptable or not.

But not now. At the moment, the best strategy is simply to watch the Tories tear themselves apart. This is not Labour’s problem, but theirs. They got us into this mess and therefore they must be held accountable. There is no doubt that once the eight, highly complex Brexit bills start to reach the Commons, then there will be a battle royale between the pro-European and Europhobe wings of the Tory party. It will be a great spectacle but such fights, like boxing matches, are better watched than entered into. 

Ultimately, we do not know which way Labour will go. There is no doubt that Corbyn and John McDonnell are sceptical of the present structure and policies of the European Union but that does not necessarily mean they feel Britain’s future is better out of it.

Rather like Corbyn’s brilliant decision to enter the TV leadership debate at the last moment, Labour should wait to pounce until the chaos within government is so apparent that it is about to crumble. My hope is that Labour would then announce it will hold a second referendum because the implications of leaving prove to be so dire, and the advantages so nebulous. But then I have always been an optimist.

 

Christian Wolmar is a British journalist, author, railway historian and Labour Party politician He is known for his commentary on transport, named as Journalist of the Year in the National Transport Awards in 2007. He is also an advocate for cycling. Wolmar’s books and columns mainly analyse the current state of the British railway industry. He is a critic of rail privatisation and opposes the construction of HS2, the planned high-speed railway between London and Birmingham and further points north.

 

(Just added to ‘favourites’: https://twitter.com/christianwolmar. No need to sign up- anyone can read this.)

 

 

 

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