Category Archives: Government

The coming year could prove to be fruitful for the left in US, UK and Latin-America

Though deploring the situation, Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times (extract):

The race to be the next Democratic nominee for the US presidency has begun. Most of the energy in the party seems to be on its “progressive” wing, exemplified by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

These are politicians who attack the rich and privileged in a way that used to be taboo in mainstream US politics.

The populism of the left has an important Latin American branch. The election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of Mexico in 2018 was greeted enthusiastically by the far-left all over the world. Mr Corbyn, once an enthusiastic fan of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, is an old friend of Mr López Obrador and was a guest of honour at his inauguration.

In Britain, the post-Brexit blues could easily present Jeremy Corbyn with the chance to become prime minister.

A Corbyn victory in Britain would inspire left-populists around the world, much as Brexit persuaded rightwing populists (including the Trump campaign) that history was moving in their direction.

*Rachman is a writer I usually avoid, finding his views on many subjects distasteful. However his work is widely praised. The only quotable clue to my aversion is in this review:

“His first book, Zero-Sum World was published in 2010 in the UK. It was published under the title Zero-Sum Future in the US and translated into seven languages, including Chinese, German and Korean. The book argued that the thirty years from 1978–2008 had been shaped by a shared embrace of globalisation by the world’s major powers that had created a “win-win world”, leading to greater peace and prosperity”.

Really?

 

 

 

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A Europe-wide “project hope” agenda – a central role for Jeremy Corbyn

Colin Hines is one of several readers who responded to a report in the Guardian. He wrote:

Your chilling, but hardly surprising, front-page revelation that one in four Europeans vote populist was long on excellent analysis, but lacked any solutions. Reversing this trend and its fallout, including Brexit, will require tackling the reasons for its rise:

  • widespread concerns about inadequately controlled migration
  • and the economic insecurity now rife among both the employed and unemployed.

Tackling the latter will require spelling out a “project hope” agenda which reverses austerity and instead invests in the rebuilding of Europe’s social infrastructure, while also funding a massive green infrastructure programme for transforming the energy, energy-saving and transport systems continent-wide.

Europeans should take inspiration from the US, where progressive new congresswomen and men are now pushing the Democrats into adopting just such aGreen New Deal”.

They realise that a “jobs in every part of the country” programme is central to defeating Trump.

Here, Jeremy Corbyn could play a central role by capitalising on the present parliamentary chaos and asserting that Labour supports a people’s vote, but with the “remain and reform” agenda for Europe, similar to that he “campaigned” for in the run up to the referendum.

Putting rebuilding local economies at the heart of such reform would gain support from leave-voting areas and could be a rallying call for those fighting rightwing populism across Europe. It could also have the domestic payoff of forming the core of Labour’s next and hopefully successful election manifesto, whenever required.

 

 

 

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Policies presented at a WM Labour Party Regional Office meeting

Message received on Mon, 12 November: David Bailey presented Economics for the Many (link to slides) at an interesting event at the WM Labour Party regional office. Over a hundred people came and there was a great discussion.

David Bailey

Professor of Industrial Strategy

Aston Business School
The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK.
email: d.bailey@aston.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0)7981 925713 or +44 (0)121 204 5262
twitter: @dgbailey

David’s Blog: http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/authors/david-bailey/

Our projects:

http://www.makers-rise.org
http://www.foreurope.eu

 

 

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John McDonnell sets the record straight

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor of the Times, is one of many journalists insisting/hoping that there is a rift between Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor.

Hours after The Sunday Times’ claim, Harry Yorke reported that Mr McDonnell said that the pair had “for 40 years…been as one and always will be,” adding: “get used to solidarity in action”.

Coates had the grace to report that – in an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight – John McDonnell said that he and Jeremy Corbyn worked well together.

Yorke (Telegraph) added that the shadow chancellor praised the Labour leader’s knowledge and said:

“Jeremy has a steel about him that people out there will see increasingly. We complement one another all the time. In some ways we have different virtues . . . . And we work with each other in that way.”

Replying to an assertions that Corbyn is a ‘dreamer’, Mr McDonnell said: “This idea that Jeremy is a dreamer is absolutely rubbish. Look at the work he has done on detailed policy. He had led on housing for years, well in advance of anyone else. He is a specialist in international affairs, always has been.”

The BBC adds that Mr McDonnell insists he and Jeremy Corbyn have never had a political difference despite reports that the Labour leader had sympathised with the centrist Labour MPs on the Tory tax cuts.

Mr McDonnell insists that Mr Corbyn is serious about serving as prime minister even though he agreed to stand as the Socialist Campaign Group candidate in the 2015 Labour leadership contest with the words: “Oh go on then I’ll do it.”

The shadow chancellor said: “That is the sort of leader I want. I don’t want someone who comes into Parliament with that back of an envelope: MP at such an age, minister at such an age, prime minister at such an age. I want someone who isn’t motivated by career but by principle.”

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn: is The Times hedging its bets?

An article by Jade Frances Azim, a Labour activist and writer opens:

There has been a sense of crisis in the ideological confidence of Tories roaming the grandiose floor of the Hyatt Regency for Conservative Party conference. More than once, you could hear delegates muttering among themselves the word “capitalism”, and the phrase “battle of ideas . . .”.

Reports from left and right wing publications stress the poor attendance at many sessions, though fringe meetings with Priti Patel and Boris Johnson were over-subscribed.

Photo: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/10/ministers-leave-plenty-of-empty-seats-at-conservative-party-conference/

Jade adds:

“The crisis in the confidence of capitalism must surely be brought about by the images of youthful dynamism at Labour conference – and by the ideas that enthused its young audiences. There is surely a fear that that enthusiasm is spreading beyond Liverpool, too”.

“The spectre of Mr Corbyn haunts the halls here”

Jade thinks that Labour’s recent video around the theme of rescuing deprived towns must be inspiring a fear that Corbyn’s Labour is finally building an election-winning coalition – a fear compounded by apprehension as, “the very purpose of the Conservative Party, to defend capitalism as it is, has fallen out of favour with the outside world”. She continues:

More Tories are urging their party to listen, to understand the threat of Corbynism, which increases as moderate Conservative MPs are drowned out by the voices of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, drawing up plans for a Brexit that merely builds a tax haven Britain.

Read Jade’s article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/the-spectre-of-corbyn-haunts-conservative-conference-rnn7w3vvv

 

 

 

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Michael Williams: “Will Labour help to form a national government?”

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On July 10, the FT reported that Theresa May might be left “with no choice other than to apply to extend the Article 50 exit process while she holds a general election to try to break the [Brexit] impasse”.

Michael Williams (politics, history) commented: “There is another way, which would depend on the response of the other political parties, above all Labour”. He recalls:

“In 1940, at a moment of supreme national peril, the Labour party took the decision to allow its leaders Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood to sit down around the cabinet table with the leaders of the Conservative party to face the challenge from Hitler.

“Five years later in 1945, after showing its mettle in running the Home Front during the war, Labour gained its reward with a landslide victory in the general election that allowed it to transform the country.

Today, at another moment of national peril, a similar opportunity beckons — to help form a national government to resolve Britain’s relations with the EU”. And ends:

“Will Labour earn the gratitude of the nation by seizing this new opportunity like its predecessors did in 1940?”

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn, a reluctant tribute: “only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”

Kevin Pringle, former strategic communications director for the SNP, opens his latest Times article:

“Here are words I never thought I’d write: Jeremy Corbyn could save the country. But only if he wants to.

“Brexit is an Anglo-Saxon farce, revealing a depth of incompetence, division and utter lack of preparedness on the part of the UK government that has plumbed even my low expectations. The antics of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis are about as funny as a Carry On film long after the franchise went stale. The issues at stake are too serious”.

Pringle continues with a summary of recent cabinet discussions and warnings from big business of the risks of relocation, withdrawal of investment and job losses.

He describes the prospect of Britain’s alignment to EU regulations in some sectors as a ludicrous mishmash that should be unacceptable to remainers and leavers alike – a ‘dud destination’, adding:

“Corbyn needs to take a long view of the country’s best interests and act accordingly. He should commit Labour to backing a fresh referendum so that people have an opportunity to exit Brexit when its final form is known. In these circumstances, the SNP would come on board alongside the Lib Dems and others. Such a bold move could attract the relatively small number of Tory MPs needed to deliver a House of Commons majority for a people’s vote.

“I’m no fan of Labour but I recognise that in times of need it has been the agent of Britain’s deliverance.

“One of the best-ever Commons speeches was by Michael Foot at the end of the no-confidence debate in March 1979, which the Labour government lost by a single vote. Foot argued that Labour had “come to the rescue of the country” on at least two occasions: “It is in the most difficult and painful moments of our history sometimes that this country of ours has turned to the Labour Party for salvation, and they’ve never turned in vain so far. We saved the country in 1940; we saved the country again in 1945.”

“He was right.

“It was Labour that forced a vote in the House of Commons in May 1940 after the debate on the military fiasco of the Norway campaign. The result precipitated the fall of Chamberlain as prime minister, and creation of the wartime coalition under Churchill’s leadership that was an essential element of victory.

“And in 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party had the ideas and determination to rebuild an exhausted Britain, including creating the NHS 70 years ago.

“This is another historic moment, and once again only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Northern Ireland speech: May 24th 2018

The full text may be read here. Some points made follow:

Twenty years ago, this week, the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland voted in a referendum to accept the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. That vote changed the course of history on this island and represented the clearing of the final hurdle of a long and difficult process that opened the door to two decades of sustained peace.

Many young people across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain do not remember a time when the bloody hand of conflict held a grip on our respective lands. Communities from Derry to Omagh to Warrington were afflicted by the plague of violence for a generation, leaving deep and long-lasting scars for all those who lived through those troubled times.

All too often in that period, the willingness to use force and reach for weapons instead of dialogue and diplomacy inflicted unnecessary suffering on innocent people.

So as we rightly celebrate the anniversary of the end to those years of violence, it’s important we remember the effort and determination it took on all sides to get where we are today.

I stand here as leader of the British Labour Party, a party that is proud of the part it played in helping to bring peace and stability to this region. Something many believed could never be achieved.

The transformation we have seen in Belfast alone since 1998 is remarkable. I visited this city long before today’s peace became a reality and have witnessed the very visible and cultural transformation that has taken place here.

After paying tribute to Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, men who led the Republican movement from conflict to negotiation and diplomacy, arts they both mastered in the cause of peace, Corbyn added: “I can’t think of a greater sign of the progress made over the last two decades, when at Martin’s funeral last year, not only were there people in attendance from republican and nationalist communities, but also representatives of the loyalist and unionist side, including First Minister Arlene Foster. It is also right to recognise the work of the British and Irish government leaders of the time, whose determination made the impossible possible. For that, both Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair should both be given credit for their work.”

He also extolled the work of Mo Mowlam in negotiating the peace process, continuing: “I have always believed that to bring about real change, to end conflict, to bring communities together, you have to talk to people with whom you don’t agree. In 1998 we were fortunate to have leaders who were prepared to put that principle into practice . . .

“It was essential we recognised the traditions of each community and recognised and respected the identity of people on either side of the divide. This was and still is important for strong and healthy long-term relationships here, across communities and across borders. Perhaps where the agreement was at it boldest was in its radical reform of Northern Ireland’s political and institutional structures, as well as in creating a framework for North-South relations, and the relationship between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. That gave all parties a basis to find a route out of a generation of conflict together.

“For all the current problems and deadlock, there can be no doubt that devolution and power-sharing have given every community a voice and helped maintain the peace process.

He added that the move to establish the Northern Ireland Victims Commission helped both to promote reconciliation and preserve the memory of victims, bringing a new beginning and laying the ground for the vital work of decommissioning of arms and the removal of military infrastructure.

Looking at Stormont’s achievements, Corbyn noted that it had resisted many of the worst aspects of the government’s punitive social security policies using the powers provided by devolution.

His message to the people of this island: “Labour is as committed to the Good Friday Agreement as we have ever been. It has served us well for twenty years and, with commitment and determination, will provide us with the framework for the next 20. And with that in mind I want to make a plea to all parties and all sides. We must do all we can to make power sharing work again in Stormont. We need all sides to come together and make devolution work again. That means tough choices. It means compromise and give and take. But we owe it to the people of these islands not to allow political disagreements to open the way for any return to the grim days of the past”.

Stormont must be an example throughout the world of how dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy can defeat conflict. Now let’s show we can continue to build on that peace through democracy.

He called on the UK government to reconvene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference if the current stalemate in Stormont cannot be sorted out in Belfast and to find a creative solution in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement that avoids a return to direct Westminster rule, and lays the ground for further progress for all communities.

Peace can and must be extended through real social and economic advances for all communities, with the state at regional and national level prepared to act to bring about a full-scale upgrade of the economy.

A Labour government in Westminster would make sure that Northern Ireland has more money to invest in its people and its public services, though many economic decisions for Northern Ireland would rightly be decided in Stormont,

He gave a commitment to supporting manufacturing in Northern Ireland and to reverse the decision to put the £1 billion contract to build the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships out to international tender, in order to keep jobs and prosperity in Britain’s shipyards and benefit Belfast. Northern Ireland can have a high tech, high skilled and exciting future.

Brexit, and the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland must be discussed, in particular the securing of future prosperity and peace on these islands:

“Labour will not support any Brexit deal that includes the return of a hard border to this island . . . By negotiating a new and comprehensive customs union with the EU, which includes a British say in future trade deals, we can ensure trade on this island stays frictionless and free flowing and prevent communities being divided . . . Opposition to the idea of bringing back a hard border to this land isn’t just about avoiding paperwork or tariffs, important though that is. It’s about deep rooted cultural and community ties. An open border is a symbol of peace, two communities living and working together after years of conflict, communities who no longer feel that their traditions are under threat”.

He emphasised that, as we leave the European Union, it is essential to ensure our manufacturers have access to markets and on-time supply chains and the communities of Northern Ireland continue to have access to vital funding for energy, research, agriculture and cultural projects.

Powers returned from Brussels to intervene, upgrade and reshape our economy for the 21st century may be used to deliver real social and economic advances for all our communities.

He ended:

I’m proud to be here in Belfast as leader of the Labour party, a party with a strong record in helping to deliver peace and greater prosperity. I hope to use this visit to talk to people from different communities and listen to their concerns and hopes for the future. We are here to celebrate twenty years of peace, twenty years as an example to the rest of the world of how communities can turn conflict into co-operation.

Let’s work together in the spirit of friendship, co-operation and hope for another twenty and beyond.

 

 

 

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Wanda Lozinska’s reflections on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

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Who is to blame for Labour’s current problems? Not Jeremy Corbyn, but selfish, self-indulgent right-wing New Labour MPs refusing to do their handsomely paid jobs and continually undermining him – fuelling the flagrant press and TV who are biassed against him, serving a privileged Establishment terrified at the prospect of a Corbyn victory putting an end to their greedy, tax-evading ways.

Blair and right-wing Labour MPs ‘took over’ the party’ in the 1990s, eventually rendering it indistinguishable from the Tories. Labour lost five million core voters – a major reason for the 2010 and 2015 defeats.

Corbyn in York, May 2017

Many are now returning to Labour as they see Corbyn bringing Labour back to the Party’s original values, in a forward-looking way. Corbyn has attracted at least 350,000 new members, which at approaching 600,000 makes Labour Europe’s largest political party.

He has inspired many people, young and old – people with no previous interest in politics, to whom he relates, unlike previous Labour leaders. All are far more likely to vote for a Corbyn-led party.

Non-voters, mostly the poorest in our society, felt the previous Labour Party would be of no help to them. Corbyn is determined that everyone should have a better life.

In Corbyn’s first nine months as leader, Labour provided strong and effective opposition, forcing numerous embarrassing U-turns, defeating the Tories at least 22 times and preventing some of their worst excesses.

A Corbyn-led Labour Party represents ordinary people, ‘the many’, the 99% and won’t give tax breaks to multi-millionaires whilst children go hungry and ever-more working people have to resort to food banks.

wanda el graphic

Wanda urges all to get behind him with all the support we can muster, to help this good man deliver his vision for a better, kinder, fairer and more equal society, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

 

 

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Housing for the Many: Labour’s Green Paper.

 

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the launch of Labour’s Housing Green Paper.

 

He opened by referring to the sky-high rents and house prices, luxury flats proliferating across our big cities, while social housing is starved of investment and a million are on housing waiting lists. Tens of thousands of children are in temporary accommodation and homelessness is up by 50% since 2010.

Housing has become a means of speculation for a wealthy few, leaving many unable to access a decent, secure home.

Labour’s plan to turn this around involves two simple steps:

  • build enough housing
  • and make sure that housing is affordable to those who need it.

The promise: the next Labour Government will deliver one million genuinely affordable homes over ten years, the majority of which will be for social rent.

Fifty years ago, local authorities were responsible for nearly half of all new housing completions. Nowadays it is just 2%. Private housebuilders openly acknowledge that it is simply not profitable for them to build houses for the less well-off. We need to do it ourselves.

At the beginning of the Thatcher years, nearly a third of housing in this country was for social rent. That figure is now less than 20%. Council building has been in decline since the Right to Buy was introduced and councils were prohibited from using the proceeds to replace the houses sold.

Sadiq Khan has announced that the number of affordable homes and the number of homes for social rent started in London in the last year, is higher than in any year since the GLA was given control of affordable housing funding in the capital.

That is the difference Labour can make in Office. But Sadiq and his team are starting from an extremely low base and working within the crippling constraints imposed by this Government, cutting social housing grants time and time again, redefining affordable housing so that it’s no such thing and forcing councils to sell their best stock.

This Green Paper sets out many of the radical measures needed to transform the planning system:

  • ending the “viability” loophole so that commercial developers aren’t let off the hook;
  • giving councils new powers to acquire land to build on and better use land the public already owns;
  • and the financial backing to actually deliver, which means the ability to borrow to build restored to all councils; and extra support from central government too.

When the post-war Labour government built hundreds of thousands of council houses in a single term in office, they transformed the lives of millions of people who emerged from six years of brutal war to be lifted out of over-crowded and unhygienic slums into high quality new homes and introduced to hitherto unknown luxuries such as indoor toilets and their own gardens.

Setting new benchmarks in size and energy efficiency, something that old council stock still does to this day council housing was not a last resort but a place where people were proud to live.

In the Green Paper it was good to see an emphasis on retrofitting the housing stock and hopefully bringing back the thousands of empty houses back into use.

Having previously blocked and voted down Labour legislation to give tenants the right, the Government now say they support the basic legal right for tenants to take a landlord to court if they fail to make or maintain their home ‘fit for human habitation’, a right included in MP Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill.

A Labour Government would introduce and fast-track this legislation, if the current Government fails to ensure it is enacted before the next Election.

The next Labour Government would launch a new programme to complete the job – Decent Homes 2. Following the Grenfell Tower fire it would update regulations to include fire safety measures and consult on a new fire safety standard to add to the existing four Decent Homes criteria, including retro-fitting sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

A Labour Government will deliver a new era of social housing, in which councils are once again the major deliverers of social and genuinely affordable housing and set the benchmark for the highest size and environmental standards.

The full text: https://labourlist.org/2018/04/a-decent-home-is-not-a-privilege-for-the-few-but-a-right-owed-to-all-corbyns-full-speech-on-housing

 

 

 

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