Sunday, June 27, 2010

Snorkels For The Unemployed

During the inter-war depression the Plebs League produced this cartoon. The Con-Dem Coalition is now employing the same tactic, although inflation has boosted the figures that are shown. There is, however, an innovation which Duncan Smith is now considering. He may issue snorkels to those on the bottom rung, so they can swim around looking for jobs. No wonder the Lib Dems joined up to this Compassionate Conservatism.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is There Room For A Third Miliband?

Ralph Miliband (1924 to 1994), the father of David and Ed as shown on the cover of Michael Newman's biography "Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left" (Merlin Press, 2002). The New Left being a very different creature to New Labour.

The father of David and Ed Miliband was the Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband. In his final book called "Socialism for A Sceptical Age" (Polity Press, 1994) he wrote “(t)here are in effect three core propositions or themes which define socialism, all three equally important, and each related to, and dependent upon, the others. These are democracy, egalitarianism, and socialization of a predominant part of the economy.”

We need debates in the current Labour Leadership election on these interconnected matters. The current economic situation makes them more relevant than ever.

I present a way in which these understandings might be placed on the agenda in a guest post on the Fabian Society's blog "Next Left" and in the thread below this one.

The support of Labour Party members and affilates would be welcome here. This avenue is open to anyone with an email facility.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Calling Those With Voting Rights In the Labour Leadership Contest - But It Is Not Your Vote We Are After.

The letter below is being submitted to the five candidates for the Labour Leadership - who are shown above. If you are a member of an organisation which has voting rights in this election, then why not add your support via the comment box on this thread? Give your name and list the relevant organisations which you are a member of. These include Constituency Labour Parties, the Co-operative Party and affiliated bodies such as many Trade Unions and various Socialist Societies. The type of details we are after are shown for the signatories at the close of the letter. This comment box only takes information from those with a blog facility. But a further version of the letter appears on "Dronfield Blather" where the thread can be accessed by anyone with an email facility. Other signatories will be added as they are received. As a consequence this thread is being periodically updated.


The supporters of this letter are members of either the Labour Party and/or members of organisations affiliated to the Labour Party who pay their political levy or its equivalent.

Immediately after the election we felt that Labour needed a period of reflection and serious internal debate to assess the reasons for our defeat and to think through the direction we needed to move into.

Instead we have been confronted with an imperfect leadership contest in which the Party’s wider membership and its affiliated bodies have been excluded from the nominating procedure. This has restricted both the range of the political viewpoints and the background links of the candidates who have emerged.

What we feel now needs to be done is to seek to use the current imperfect leadership contest as a means by which we can acquire something like the form of assessment and internal debate which we feel is necessary.

This means that there is a need to divert the current contest away from being just another ’X factor’ game show, towards being a serious debate related to the principles contained in the Labour Party Constitution which state - “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect”.

To help achieve the depth and nature of the debate that we are seeking, we call upon each of the candidates to publish a Manifesto of Intent to make clear to everyone the direction in which they would seek to lead the Labour Party, based on their assessment of the reasons behind the electoral defeat and their interpretation of the direction where the principles quoted above should now lead us.

We ask that these Manifestos of Intent should be distributed widely in order to generate extensive discussion across the Party and beyond, so that this will assist those voting in the leadership contest to reach balanced and principled understandings.


We invite Labour Party members, members of the Co-operative Party and those who pay their political levy to Trade Unions affiliated to the Labour Party (or the equivalent) to add their names and their organisational links to this letter via this Comment Box or via that of "Dronfield Blather" if you only have an email facility.

1) Ken Curran, Birley Branch LP, Sheffield South East CLP, UNISON, Co-operative Party Sheffield Branch.

(2) John Halstead, Nether Edge Branch LP, Sheffield Central CLP, Cooperative Party Sheffield Branch.

(3) Harry Barnes, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE, Co-operative Party Chesterfield Branch,Labour MP 1987-2005.

(4) Martin Brader, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(5) John Dunn, West Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(6) Graham Baxter MBE, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE, Leader NE Derbyshire District Council.

(7) Jon Williams, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(8) Shelagh Wolliscroft, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(9) Roy Pilkington, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(10) Stephen Brunt, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(11) John Gilbert, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(12) Bill Michie, Nether Edge LP, Sheffield Central CLP, UNITE, Co-operative Party Sheffield Branch, Labour MP 1983-2001.

(13) Bob Piper, Abbey Branch LP, Warley CLP.

(14) Mick Davies, Bristnall Branch LP, Warley CLP.

(15) Shay Boyle, Sutton Branch LP, Bolsover CLP, GMB.

(16) Frances Kelly, Finchley and Golders Green CLP.

(17) Patricia Williams, Sutton Branch LP, Bolsover CLP, UNISON.

(18) Steve Thompson, Sheffield Central Branch LP and CLP, Co-operative Party Sheffield Branch.

(19) Dr Duncan Hall, Skipton Branch LP, Skipton and Ripon CLP.

(20) Douglas Michael Chewter, Skipton and Ripon CLP.

(21) Marianne Quick, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(22) Ian Robathan, Pheasey Branch LP, Walsall CLP.

(23) Jack Wearing, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(24) Doreen Curran, Berwick-upon-Tweed Branch LP, Berwick CLP, NUPE Retired Member.

(25) Ronald Curran, Berwick-upon-Tweed Branch LP, Berwick CLP, NUPE Retired Member.

(26) Gary Kent, Beckenham CLP, UNITE, NUJ.

(27) Christine Smith, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNISON.

(28) Caroline Smith, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(29) Rosie Smith, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(30) Barry Winter, Chapel Allerton Branch LP, Leeds North East CLP, ILP.

(31) Frank Abel, Manor and Castle Branch LP, Sheffield Central CLP, NUT.

(32) William Brown, Sheffield Hallam CLP, ILP.

(33) Felix Gott, Hornsey and Wood Green CLP.

(34) James Vernoit, Vauxhall CLP.

(35) Rebecca Eeley, Cheadle CLP, Fabian Society.

(36) Bernadette Duffy, Birley Branch LP, South East Sheffield CLP.

(37) Gordon MacMillan, St Ann's, Tottenham CLP.

(38) Dave Hill, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, UNITE.

(39) Janet Hill, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(40) Caz Brader, Manchester Withington CLP. CYWU.

(41) Samuel Ohene, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(42) John McDonnell M.P., Hayes and Harlington CLP.

(43) Edna Woodhead, Ecclesall Branch LP, Sheffield Hallam CLP.

(44) John Woodhead, Ecclesall Branch LP, Sheffield Hallam CLP.

(45) George Bell, UNISON Bassetlaw Local Government Retired Member.

(46) Paul Harman, Darlington CLP.

(47) James Doran, Darlington CLP, Co-operative Party Darlington & South Durham Branch.

(48) Bob Gachagan, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, GMB.

(49) Ann Barnes, Dronfield Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, GMB.

(50) Martin Stone, Chesterfield CLP, UNISON.

(51) Socialist Health Association.

(52) Pete Firmin, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP. CWU.

(53) Val Graham, Chesterfield CLP, UNISON.

(54) Stan Newens, Harlow CLP, Labour MP 1964-70 and 1974-83, Labour MEP 1989-1999.

(55) Derek Bunce, Haywood & Hixon Branch LP, Stafford CLP, UNISON.

(56) Paul Cotterill, Leader Labour Group on West Lancashire Borough Council in a personal capacity.

(57) Simon Whitten, South West Bedfordshire CLP.

(58) Ian Woodland, Southampton Itchen CLP, UNITE.

(59) Andreas Paterson, Norwich South CLP.

(60) Jon Taylor, Chair Wharley Bridge Branch LP, High Peak Constituency.

(61) Mark Grayling, Grassmoor Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP, Chesterfield Co-operative Party.

(62) Tom Gann, Greenwich & Woolwich CLP, Fabian Society, Parliamentary Candidate for Salisbury in the General Election.

(63) James McGee, Salisbury CLP, Fabian Society.

(64) Vino Sangarapillai, Horsey & Wood Green CLP, UNISON.

(65) Anthony Mckeown, High Peak CLP, UNITE, Co-operative Party Chesterfield Branch.

(66) Ruth Stoba, Whaley Bridge Branch LP, High Peak CLP.

(67) Kingston & Surbiton Constituency Labour Party, (posted by Max Freedman Chair).

(68) Stephanie David, Bexleyheath & Crayford CLP, GMB.

(69) Robert Naether disabled GMB Union south wales.

(70) Alex Williams, Stockport CLP.

(71) Steve Pickering, Eckington Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

(72) Bob Heath. Eckington Branch LP, NE Derbyshire CLP.

John McDonnell Wins Again

The Newsnight Debate between the five contenders (as shown above) for the Labour Leadership can be viewed here. I forced myself to watch it last night. I thought that it was poor stuff and wasn't helped by Jeremy Paxman cutting people short and having his back to his studio audience so he hardly let them in on the questions. The winner for me was John McDonnell due to his failure to qualify for the contest. I think that he would also have known how to handle both Paxman and his leadership rivals. But perhaps that is sour grapes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

John McDonnell Wins

John McDonnell has come top of the ballot. Well it is called a ballot. It is really a raffle. He has the first spot for a Private Members Bill in the new Parliament. I know that he will make good use of his opportunity to have a full Second Reading Debate on the measure he chooses. What of a law to say that those nominated for the leadership of a political party should only require a minimum of 5% support from their nominating body? It's OK I know that he is more seriously minded than that.

He could go for a Bill to see that the 3 million missed off electoral registers are properly registered to vote. From experience I know that it is a matter than can gain cross-party support and the Labour Leadership candidates would all feel obliged to support him! I even had Tony Blair in the lobby to support me when I tried something similar back in 1993 - although he seemed to lose his way afterwards.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Comrade Cameron

During Prime Ministers Questions yesterday, David Cameron said -

"Transparency on pay is an important principle, because it is good for democracy and accountability if we know how much people in the public sector are earning. I also think that it will help us to control public spending. When people see how much people are paid in the public sector, the pressure will be on to keep top pay levels down. It would also be worth while having a maximum multiple of 20 times earnings; we are holding a review to get that done. People at the top of a public sector organisation should not earn more than 20 times what people at the bottom earn. It is that sort of progressive idea that we are looking forward to introducing."

Such a move to greater egalitarianism in the public sector could, of course, be extended further afield. If there is a case for limiting pay differentials within a public sector organisation to 20 fold, then is there not a case for limiting pay differentials to 20 fold throughout the entire and combined public sector? And if there is a case for doing this in the public sector, then does that case not apply across society as a whole? No-one whether they were in the public sector, the private sector or what is described as being the third non-profit making sector of the economy would then be paid more than 20 fold the level of the national minimum wage. And why should the principle be limited to wage payments only? What of a 20 fold limit on both wealth, shareholding and property holdings? The only problem I can see with this further expansion of the 20 fold principle is that some people have zero holdings in these areas. And 20 times zero is zero. A way around this difficulty would to be to introduce legislation to provide for minimum levels of holdings of wealth, shares and property ownership. The alternative of having the State confiscate the lot might be going a bit too far for Cameron.

At least, it looks as if the Conservative Party will have to drop all that talk about egalitarian moves being the politics of envy. Comrade Cameron has started to break the mould. If the present Coalition collapses, perhaps he could seek a Conservative/Socialist Campaign Group Coalition. He only needs to extend the logic of his stance at PM's Questions.