Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Manifestos Of Intent" Needed From Labour's Leadership Candidates

My local Constituency Labour Party is having the following resolution submitted to it by one of its branches. If it is carried, it will be sent to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for its consideration. Others might like to press this matter via similar avenues.

Candidates for the position of Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party shall be required to issue "Manifestos Of Intent" of no less than 3,000 words to explain the programme that they would like the Labour Party to pursue and that these documents should be circulated to members of the Labour Party to help them determine how they will vote in the coming contests.

The following link was the result of efforts by our local Labour Party Discussion Group to obtain "Manifestos Of Intent" back in 2010. This (as you will see) achieved some success. But this was done late in the day and in an informal way. This time we need the NEC to arrange for such Manifestos to be issued systematically and in a  prominent fashion. Click into this link for the 2010 versions.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

From the Scottish Labour Campaign for Socialism (CfS)

News from the Scottish Labour "Campaign for Socialism (CfS)". As posted by Vince Mills their Chair. For the CfS see here.

"The CfS calls for a fundamental review of Scottish Labour’s principles, policies, practices and leadership.

The Campaign for Socialism is devastated by the loss of voices for socialism like that of Katy Clark who lost her seat in North Ayrshire and Arran and that of Kenny Selbie who was standing for the first time in Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy. However their energy and vision will be important in reasserting the importance of socialist ideas in Scottish politics.

It has to be conceded that Labour is no longer the trusted agency of social change in Scotland because many of the initiatives undertaken by Labour since 1997 have been detrimental to working class interests – a continued decline in manufacturing hence well paid jobs, an increase in financialising the economy with de-regulation leading to the crash and austerity; continued suppression of trade union rights and the consequent collapse in wages and the increase in ‘flexible’ low paid employment and the privatisation and outsourcing of services. The Tories may have intensified these, but Labour initiated them.

Jim Murphy and his team personify this history. Therefore he and his team must accept that and stand aside to allow Keiza Dugdale, the Depute Leader of Scottish Labour, to oversee this fundamental re-appraisal.As a contribution to this discussion the CfS will be holding a conference soon in Glasgow to shape a socialist manifesto for the 2016 election.

Chair of the Campaign for Socialism Vince Mills said: “The trust that the working people of Scotland have invested in Scottish Labour, which was built up over a hundred years, has been squandered in two decades by New Labour and its acolytes. It will take years to restore it, but we must begin the task immediately. We hope Jim Murphy realises that he is closely identified with the politics that brought Labour’s demise and that his continued presence will prevent the restoration of Labour’s place as the champion of radical change.”

Friday, May 08, 2015

How Do We Respond To Cameron's Victory?

Image result for Cameron at No 10
Matters would have been problematic enough even if Ed Miliband had made it to 10 Downing Street.

But now we face really huge issues in a much more difficult climate. (a) Do we need a written constitution with a federal structure to hold onto Scotland, (b) how do we respect the rights of not only the SNP but of others such as the Northern Ireland Parties and Plaid Cymru who are also local to their own territories, (c) how fair is an electoral system which has resulted in the two main parties taking 87% of the seats with only 67% of the vote - whilst UKIP gets only one seat with an overall vote of 12.6% and the SNP get 56 seats with a vote of just 4.7%: which seems unfair even if we don't like UKIP, (d) what is the future of the Labour Party, including who should be its new leader and deputy leader (and how will this help shape its ideological direction on key issues such as climate change and economic and a social justice) (e) how do we relate to the EU, (f) what will we do about the people who are drowning in the Mediterranean due to serious instability in their countries of origin (g) what avenues do we use to feed such concerns into the political process - is it via Labour, other or new parties, or (instead or as well?) via pressure groups such as (say) 38 Degrees?  These and other issues need to be pursued with vigour; but what fruitful avenues can we use for this or what collectively can we help build?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Image result for Humanitarian Crisis in the Mediterranean

When will we be getting a humanitarian and non-point scoring statement from Ed Miliband and the other party leaders about the current crisis in the Mediterranean? To avoid point scoring, they could even agree to put out a common statement. Without appropriate humane responses the political system will fall even further into disrepute.

This is the EU's current ten point plan.

Added 24 April. At last, see here as clarified here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Judging Labour's Manifesto.

At the Labour Party Conference in 2014 a document entitled "National Policy Forum Report 2014" was adopted. My own summary of its contents appeared earlier on this blog and covered 16 separate items. They can be accessed via this link.

The Report was endorsed in the expectation that it would shape Labour's General Election Manifesto, which was finally published yesterday. The Manifesto can be found here.

How close is the Manifesto to the Report? I feel that the two publications are as close to each other as could reasonably be expected. This is especially the case as we have had to wait for a period of over six months between the emergence of the two documents. And as everyone knows even "a week is a long time in politics".  I have persistently argued that the Manifesto should have been issued and used much earlier than it has been - especially as a version of it could have had an impact during the Scottish Referendum Campaign. If this had been done, then we may have stemmed the rise of the SNP.

The Labour Party did, however, published a version of its programme in December. This was entitled "Changing Britain Together" and it can be found here. Unfortunately, this document was never effectively pushed amongst Labour Party members, nor in the media. 

The big difference between the original National Policy Forum Report and the Electoral Manifesto is that the latter is placed in a key and new framework which is missing from the former. The framework appears at the start of the Manifesto and (as was intended) has grabbed the immediate attention of the media. It states that Labour's plans are to be pursued in ways that in budgetary terms are said to be highly responsible. So that given a wide range of Labour commitments, none will require any additional borrowing. Yet also in the Manifesto Labour says it "will cut the deficit each year". This commitment then shapes each of its proposals, which in general terms list where the funding for the positive aspects of its programme will all come from.

Unfortunately, a fall-back proposal for financing services seems to have disappeared. In the original  National Policy Forum Document it said that "Labour will continue to support a progressive taxation system and ensure that the wealthiest individuals and businesses contribute to the economy". But perhaps it is felt that this is a hidden codicil that can always be turned to, but there was no need to feed this idea to a hungry media.

There is, however. at least one clear and unfortunate adjustment in the Manifesto compared to the Forum Document for those worried about TTIP. It now states that "We support the principles behind the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty (TTIP)." This is, however, followed by the past proposal that TTIP should not apply to the NHS and other public services.

Then all that is mentioned about co-operative principles is  "Our charities, mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises are pioneering new models of production that enhance social value, promote financial inclusion, and give individuals and communities power and control. We will continue to support and help develop the social economy by improving access for co-operative and mutual organisations to growth finance through the new British Investment Bank. And we will consider how to support employee buy-outs when businesses are being sold." Although this paragraph is very small compared to the Co-op Party's own Manifesto which expands such proposals (as seen here), much depends upon whether Labour's words are just a highly condensed version of the same agenda. 

Unfortunately references to providing a quality professional youth service, lifelong learning options,  recarbonising the power sector by 2030 and calling for a Financial Transaction Tax are key matters which have disappeared since the time of the Forum Document. But a great deal of progressive material remains. If Labour forms the next Government it will be for activists to push to overcome the types of shortcomings which I have indicated. For the Manifesto does show that we have moved beyond the clear days of New Labour and that the door may have opened slightly for carefully crafted initiatives from democratic socialists.

We now seek the proof of the pudding.