Category Archives: Lesley Docksey

A movement that is not going to disappear

The Watershed site was set up by and for people who supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the Labour leadership and – when it was successful – believed that this could be a ‘watershed’ in Britain’s history.

The title was chosen by Lesley Docksey for that reason when the mailing list was asked for suggestions. Those who replied approved of the choice.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, a man of peace, compassion and justice, was and is a watershed in British history – so this website will not be closed.  Once more we were guided by Lesley, who answered:

“Where will we go?  Already there is a feeling that we will reorganise, get back on our feet and somehow retrieve our relationship with the EU.  Yes, it needs reforming – most of Europe knows that and are working on it. I was going to conferences about that reform well before the 2016 referendum. It makes no sense to leave the biggest trading block there is, but Brexit has been led by ideology, not sense.

“People are talking more than ever about reforming politics, getting rid of first-past-the-post and having genuine proportional representation, taking Parliament well away from Westminster (Manchester is an option!) 

“We need citizens’ assemblies and bottom-up politics, we need politicians that put the country and its people and environment before any party, let alone personal interests.  We need politicians that work together, irrespective of ‘party’ loyalty. 

“I personally would like to see English politicians respecting the fact that the island of Britain has three distinct nations, and respecting the views of the Scots and Welsh instead of ignoring them.  How can you claim that you belong to the ‘United Kingdom’  when the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish are walked all over?  I love driving over the Welsh border and seeing the sign ‘Croeso y Cymru’.  I loved visiting Scotland and knowing I was in a different country.  So I would support turning the UK into a federation of small countries that work together for our combined good”.

The next futures thinking posted on this site will be by the FT editorial board and George Monbiot.








A rarity: a senior politician not beholden to the wealthy

Lesley Docksey alerts us: the ‘Blairite-controlled Labour HQ’ is withholding resources from Jeremy Corbyn’s office – and The Times adds a footnote

Lesley writes: “In September last year, I sat through an excruciating session at Labour’s annual Conference, listening to the party’s treasurer (right) patting herself and the platform on the back over the abundant condition of the party’s debt-free finances – with no acknowledgement whatever of the fact that the party owes that state of affairs to the massive surge in the Corbyn-supporting membership, which now generates annual income for the party of £50 million.

She recommends an informative article which gives a number of relevant facts, including “As the largest party in opposition, Labour receives around £5.5 million in Short money for the current financial year – plus £789,000 specifically for the purpose of funding the office of the Labour leader”.

Lesley continues: “The Labour Party is not ‘short’ of cash (Ed see BBC report). So there is no excuse for what you’re about to read”.

The release of Corbyn’s tax return showed that he is spending his own money to fund salaries for some of his staff and a senior Labour source has confirmed to this blog that Corbyn’s office is being forced to run with only half the staff that Ed Miliband had.

 Lucy Fisher in The Times says that though the government’s Trade Union Bill would slash the contributions that 14 Labour-affiliated unions are able to make to the party, “Jeremy Corbyn treats big Labour donors with disdain“.

Five anonymous former donors complain that they had had no individual contact from the Labour leadership team and one accused Mr Corbyn of holding wealthy donors ‘in utter disdain’.

At a meeting of Labour backers from business, that donor said that Mr Corbyn “lectured everyone on the need for business owners to pay workers more. Some of these people give thousands of pounds to try and get Labour elected. You do not deliver a lecture.”

But Dale Vince, the founder of the wind-power firm Ecotricity, who has given £380,000 to Labour, said that he had not noticed any difference in the level of contact since Mr Corbyn took over. He said he liked the Labour leader’s “honesty, integrity and decency” and would continue to donate.

The Corbyn-supporting membership, which now generates annual income for the party of £50 million, as individuals or together with their Labour Party branch/CLP, should demand that funding to Jeremy Corbyn’s staff is restored to its previous level and that Corbyn – with no interference or limitation – is able to choose the personnel for his team.




Spoofed! Local election results

Two maps and Lesley’s welcome interpretation

election results spoof mapJohn from Bournville queried the map on the right, happily published on this site yesterday, asking:

  • What do the colours mean?
  • Highest total vote?
  • Highest percentage increase since last election?

After a lot of digging around the explanation in italics was found here:

“Regardless of how it distributes the results, the map cannot possibly represent Thursday’s results, as over 100 areas of England weren’t voting in local council elections last week. The second map is rather more representative of how and where people actually voted last week – but it is definitely less socially shareable”. 

The link to the source of the spoof:

But it did not add the necessary explanation for its choice of representative map – below. To get the explanation I had to go to the source: Wikipedia.

election results map

Lesley Docksey’s welcome response

  • What one needs to look at is not coloured maps but how few council seats Labour lost, compared with the Tories.
  • Look at the fact that Bristol got its Labour mayor and an overall majority on the council.
  • It is not so much that Labour is gaining traction (which it is) but that people are turning against the Tories.
  • And (we add – whatever may be your thoughts on these developments) the majority of elected mayors are Labour. Out of 18, 1 is Tory, 2 LibDem, 2 Independent and 13 are Labour. 

And we revisited the Indy’s 16 reasons to vote for Jeremy Corbyn posted 9 months ago by Evan Bartlett 

Simon Bullows commented 263 days ago: “I registered to vote for the first time in my life because of this man”.

Jamie Krukowski: “I admire Corbyn a great deal. A number of his policies are ones I agree with and I appreciate the ideas he has but above all its due to his principals and morals. He’s dedicated, I believe he’s a true monument to the adage ‘A government selected by the people, for the people’. It’s also, and this is something I’ve fundamentally believed in for a number of years, about time we had a potential PM who hasn’t been to Eton or Oxbridge. It does often breed a certain mentality that I believe is against working to the best interests of the wider population . . . I would vote Corbyn for leadership and would especially hope he would make it to PM”.





Building the Fight against Austerity – preamble

Lesley Docksey writes: “The relentless criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by the Tories, the MSM and some loud-mouthed Labour MPs, though depressing, are being balanced by the energy and activism of all those Labour members and supporters who back Corbyn”.

While the sheer numbers and views of the membership and supporters are being totally ignored by the PLP, they are being aired at Momentum meetings and at events like the Build Against Austerity event. This major anti-austerity meeting at Methodist Central Hall in London on 21st November, was organised by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, backed by PCS with main speakers: shadow chancellor John McDonnell and economist Yanis Varoufakis.

There has been little mention of the Trade Unions, once the backbone of the Labour Party – also PLP invisible. But the Trade Union Coordinating Group hosted a blinder of a Rally at Westminster Hall on November 21.

Around 1400 people attended and the atmosphere was electric. It is hard to describe what it is like to walk into a hall full of strangers knowing that each is a friend with the same hope, vision and aims as you – invigorating, life-affirming, energising – all these things. Lesley, who attended the meeting, continues: “People attending such events are extremely optimistic, full of hope and energy. And they laugh a lot!”

There was a lot of humour and it was genuine, not the embarrassing jokes that David Cameron uses in Parliament; positive and forward looking humour; laughter among friends.   But mostly there was an undercurrent of knowledge that, if we get it right, this is a pivotal moment in this country’s political history. If we get it right.

At the Build Against Austerity event John McDonnell spoke about how workers should and must resist any unjust legislation (such as proposed by the Tories’ Trade Union Bill). He also mentioned the reviews Labour is undertaking on the Treasury, financial sector etc., saying that there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”

Yanis Varoufakis, considering the fact that this country (and Europe) is actually very rich, asked “Why is so little hope growing among so many riches?”

On finance, having outlined the reviews that Labour is now undertaking on the Treasury, banking and the finance sector, McDonnell said there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”

All of the ‘austerity’ the country is suffering from comes from the implementation of the government’s financial objectives. To combat it, there has to be a comprehensive financial plan, particularly for investment, as clearly outlined by Varoufakis. It includes getting the corporations to pay the full amount of tax but at the same time get tax breaks for using the estimated £740 billion sitting idle for investing in innovation, research, manufacturing and infrastructure – a positive contribution to prosperity.

Suffering ‘austerity’ makes it difficult to imagine a better future, and that creates depression and despair. How do we build the hope, so evident at this event, out in the wider world?   Unity among Trade Unions, a Workers’ Rights Bill to combat the Tory assault on workers, a sound financial plan involving a Public Investment Bank and genuine investment to combat the so-called ‘necessary’ austerity programme, bringing local community campaigns into a national campaign – we need all this, just as we need unity within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

But the hope, the energy and inspiration, the pressure to change things for the better, that has to come from us, the people. What everyone felt at the rally has to be shared among friends, neighbours, groups, strangers on buses, trains and in supermarket till queues. It is too good not to be shared and then acted upon.

Read Lesley’s account of the meeting here:




Lesley Docksey on Corbyn’s ‘Straight-talking Politics’

No speechifying, no sound bites, no dire jokes belittling his opponents

Lesley writes:

Standing with fellow wildlife lovers at a small demonstration in all-Tory Dorset, our conversation turned to Jeremy Corbyn and the interest he is generating among all walks of life. Not that your average wildlife enthusiast is that much of a political animal. But most people aren’t until government policies attack or seek to destroy what they care about.

This conversation has happened again and again since Corbyn was elected as the new leader of the Labour party. Wherever one is, if Corbyn’s name is mentioned the conversation perks up and everyone has something to say.

Why has he generated such interest? It is not as though people regard him as the new Messiah. Yes, people relate to his obvious integrity, his genuine common man touch, and his wish to make politics a serious issue and not a shouting match, but it is not that which draws people.

It is what he is saying that chimes, and how he says it. “He’s saying what I want to hear.” “He’s putting forward policies that I believe in.”   “I actually understand what he’s saying – it makes sense.”

It becomes ever clearer how plain his speaking is, no speechifying, no sound bites, no dire jokes belittling his opponents, when you compare it to some of the government rubbish we’ve had to wade through recently. In fact, for collectors of gobbledygook this is a rich and rewarding time.

We’ve been dismayed by the baying circus of Prime Minister’s Questions and the spectacle of David Cameron failing to answer the same question six times in a row. We’ve been unsurprised by the arrogant and inward looking politics that Westminster offers.

We have all heard seasoned Westminster-speak on the Today programme, the Andrew Marr show or PM with Eddie Mair. Whatever question is asked, out comes the well-rehearsed statement. They appear simply to make that one prepared statement. Nothing else is on offer.   They will not discuss alternative views, let alone look at the gaping black holes in their position. Just repeat often enough what the government wants the public to believe, and sooner or later we will all give up and go away, us and our pesky questions. 

Joe Public is picking up on this. He may or may not join the Labour Party but… Despite the sneering and backstabbing, and the plans to oust Corbyn, the kind of politics he is offering takes the public seriously. Our opinions, the people’s opinions, aims and desires matter. And it really is about time the Parliamentary Labour Party recognised that.

And some of us don’t give up. Indeed, we go to the trouble of taking part in ‘public consultations’ which have been mostly hidden from view. And how annoying it must be when, as in the 2010 consultation on the proposed badger culling plans, over 59,000 of us sent in our submissions. 

How to combat such threatening waves of democracy?

See Political Concern: Lesley and Anna Minton on public consultations.


NHA Campaign Team: Come on Jez, you can!

The National Health Action Party’s administrator has been sent the link – forwarded by Lesley – to Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Tredegar (below, before the event), with the comment: “brilliant summing up of Bevan, housing and health etc”.

tredegar before event discussion

Deborah Harrington replied, after seeing the video, that she is cautiously optimistic, but NHAP knows people who have had proper conversations with JC about the NHS and have come away saying that he knows very little about the reality: “We can’t expect overnight transformations of the Labour Party. It’s more than just Jeremy Corbyn and as it stands his NHS advisors will be mostly from the wrong side of the argument . . . so steeped in privatisation, where will any public service voices come from?

The writer, however, has more confidence in his ability to select good advisers from every sector, including those who will share this common concern about the NHS – and he really needs input on the minutiae of current dairy farming problems.

Deborah continues: “Despite that crackingly good speech I still hope he takes up Clive’s offer”.

The administrator is appealing for members and supporters to “overflow the inboxes of Jeremy Corbyn and Heidi Alexander with NHA words of wisdom”. Continuing:

“Ask them to embrace a better politics and work with the NHA to reinstate the NHS.

We are not metamorphosing into a pressure group – we are still a political party. But this is our big chance to get Labour’s health policy back to Bevan’s Basics and we believe that Labour’s best chance is to work with the NHA; not rely on the only too willing advice of New Labour’s old guard or the management consultants who sell themselves as experts in NHS ‘reform’.

“Clive has already written to Jeremy Corbyn, the new opposition leader and will be writing to Heidi Alexander to welcome her to the post of Shadow Health Secretary and to offer NHA’s expertise and evidence based advice to create a health policy we can all be proud of”.

Mr Corbyn will be the first to agree that as they say, the landslide victory of Jeremy Corbyn and the welcome appointment of Heidi Alexander do not erase Labour’s failure in opposition to defend the NHS since the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 or their own destructive policies of Private Finance Initiative, Unsustainable Provider Regime and the introduction of an internal market that paved the way for the fragmentation and sell-off of our NHS”. Further points:

The NHS is under threat:

  • Devolution of health services to Local Authorities (taking the N out of the NHS)
  • Integrated health and social care with no proper funding and in an unstable landscape of health provision.
  • The displacement of public health to chronically underfunded Local Authorities.
  • The closures and the threat of still more downgrading and closures to hospitals and services.
  • The introduction of US style unaccountable care organisations.

We’re calling for an NHS that is

Publicly Funded

Publicly Owned

Publicly Provided

Publicly Accountable

Write now to Heidi Alexander, or send a letter to Heidi Alexander, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Write now to Jeremy Corbyn, or send a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

The Watershed: the people’s side of the political divide

Lesley Docksey, the creator of this site’s title, writes “Having sat at the computer and cheered with everyone in that hall as Corbyn’s results were read out, I have rewritten the ending of my Watershed piece. Adjusted article attached, I’ll go lift my glass of wine to the future! After opening with lyrical paragraphs about the watershed image/metaphor, her article, which may be read in full here, has been adapted, with permission, to blog format, with emphasis added.

JC elected

Corbyn has, quite definitively, won the leadership contest, and the cheer when the figures were announced must have made it clear that he has the majority of the party with him. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a campaign of dirty tricks as the old guard try to overturn the result, but the Labour Party Conference will be, to say the least, interesting – a battle between some grandee MPs and a greatly enlarged and reinvigorated membership.

I have been waiting for this moment for some time, the moment when the English in particular woke up and started talking politics.

I say ‘English’ because the political problem of the Westminster bubble that we face is ‘English’ oriented. Or so the Tories think – keep control of the Shires and we control the country. But as Jeremy Corbyn reminded his audience at the Tolpuddle Festival in July, the English countryside is where trade unionism began. “Don’t write off the countryside as a Tory rural backwater!” he said. No, we shouldn’t forget our radical roots, they run deep and the peasants can still rebel. This island’s domestic history has had several moments of revolt, times when the lowly stood up against the high and mighty.

But they didn’t have what we have – instant news, the ability to travel rapidly across the country, modern communications and social media. Corbyn’s message couldn’t have spread so far and fast without all that.

Watching the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign take fire, following websites like Bella Caledonia and seeing how, despite the No vote, the political conversation went on, becoming deeper, wider and more forward looking, oh, how I envied the Scots! And I wondered what it would take for those of us south of the border to start such a conversation.

emperor no clothesI stopped wondering when Jeremy Corbyn entered the Labour Leadership contest.

If he’s done nothing else, he has helped people to realise what a huge political divide we are living with.

Cameron's real changeIt wasn’t just the bleak inequality we are experiencing that made us sit up. It was the sight of the other three contenders trying desperately to drag us all back into the no-think land of leaving it all to the politicians. 

It was, at last, for some people the gut realisation that New Labour was pretty much as rightwing as the Tories.

There is also, I think, the need to reframe the way we think and speak about politics. Corbyn’s last rally focussed on the banner “I voted for a different kind of politics.”   And it does seem that the many thousands who flocked to hear him speak were genuinely looking for that kind of change. But we need not just different politics, but a different language in which to express those politics.

JC large rally

Surely, those who voted for Corbyn are sick and tired of being labelled ‘the hard left’, Marxists, Trotskyists and the rest. Is it beyond the wit of mainstream politicians, gazing bemusedly at the tide of people turning towards Corbyn, that what people seek is quite simply something they are not offering?

A very tired ‘politics’ of money, greed, individualism and power is all they have to offer. A politics of humanity is what is sought.

Almost all the words that have been used by party politics have been overused, misused and abused. They are tired and worn ragged, hence the silliness of the phrase ‘the hard left’.   Such words no longer hold any credit or any real meaning. We the people, the river, the searchers for the common good, need new words to describe who we are and where we are going.

broken britain 3 mps bankersBroken Britain: Despite what Westminster says, people are not looking back to the old days of Labour. The Tories are doing that in their desire to return all us ‘working people’ back to serfdom. Lords, manors and villains have had their day, but they are being replaced by corporate power. The money, and the land, is still in the hands of the few.

As voting closed on Thursday, Liz Kendal, conceding that her campaign had failed, admitted that Corbyn had started a conversation about Labour Party values that hadn’t been held for many years; but she said, “whoever is elected must recognise no leader has a mandate for untrammelled power.”

But wasn’t that what the Blairites wanted? Even the slightly less Blairite contenders, Burnham and Cooper, wanted to win, win, win.

I find it strange (or is it?) that none of the mainstream Labour MPs seemed to take on board the fact that Corbyn has never sought power; he seeks power for the people, the poor and helpless, the disenfranchised.

For many, when they come to think about it, it will not be important if he is ‘THE LEADER’.   What is important are the values and vision that he has connected people to. If it is not too over-the-top, he has become the hillside down which we are all tumbling towards some kind of unity and people-power.

The other puzzling feature for me has been the inability of so many Labour MPs to understand that the Party which they think they run is actually made up of members who all have the right to speak, many of whom are following the vision that Corbyn has offered. And more people, who gave up their membership in disgust over Iraq, will come back if this vision can be maintained.

corbyn young 1

Maybe the Party will destroy itself, or split; or reform itself beyond Tony Blair’s recognition.   But whatever happens to Labour, too many of us have now found which side of the divide we belong; and maybe there are too many of us to be stuffed back into the box. Outside Westminster’s control, we will need the ongoing conversation and a new language.