Monday, December 23, 2013

Tomorrow's Deadline

As an individual member of the Labour Party, I received a copy of a 22 page booklet in today's post entitled "One Nation: The Labour Party Membership Magazine".  On pages 15 and 18, it invites me to join in the consultations over a matter to be found at nation party  When I make the link, I am then directed to
This turns out to be the consultative document "Building A One Nation Labour Party : An Interim Report". In it Ray Collins as General Secretary of the Labour Party states "I would therefore be very grateful to receive submissions by 24 December 2013. If this is a deadline then I (and all other members of the Labour Party who received the booklet today) are given until tomorrow to respond. Luckily, I did not wait until the receipt of the booklet to discover the deadline and I have already sent them this.

But perhaps 24 December was not a deadline, but only a date that would be helpful to Ray Collins.   Yet the special Labour Party Conference is on 1 March and a final report on "Building A One Nation Labour Party" will at least need to be carried by an NEC meeting before then - even if it is just plonked on delegates at the special conference itself. So it is as well to get submissions in as soon as possible to Ray Collins, at least as a belated Christmas present.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strictly Come Voting

 It is claimed that more than six million people voted in the final of "Strictly Come Dancing". This is a similar number to those who have failed to enter their names onto current electoral registers. It is also 20% of those who turned out to vote at the last General Election; although some of those who voted in the dancing contest will have been under 18s.

Unfortunately, the lesson which politicians are likely to draw from this is that they should become more like celebrities. Yet what is required is to make politics more relevant to people's needs. Given the chance, people are capable of distinguishing between a General Election and a Dancing Contest.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BBC Sources On The Arab World

Currently a range of valuable BBC sources can be found which deal with the Arab World. To start with, links to details about twelve Arab Nations can be found here . Furthermore, when accessing details on any of these specific nations a range of other links can also then be found.

Then here is this link to a BBC's item called the "Arab Spring : 10 unpredicted items". Each of these ten items then provide their own links, which themselves then lead on to extra items.

My own bits and pieces on the Middle East can be found via the labels shown below, although these are mainly related to items about Iraq. It was where I undertook my National Service in 1955/56. The experience and the events of that time helped to push me into politics.

The links I provide are as much for my own purposes as anything else. They will supplement my growing library on the Middle East. Its political complexities should be high on our agendas.  Perhaps the BBC will get round some day to giving an equally serious survey of British politics.

21 December - Now there is more, here.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sign Up

I just signed the petition "Parliament: Debate UK hunger and rise in foodbank use #jackspetition" on It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link to click onto : Thanks, Harry.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Cart Before The Horse

enterprise-collaboration-dont-put-the-cart-before-the-horseThe following is my submission to "Building A One Nation Labour Party : Interim Report."

I am deeply worried about two out of the four main areas covered by the Interim Report on "Building A One Nation Labour Party". The problem is that if Ed Miliband is defeated on these proposals at the Special Conference called for 1st March 2014,  he will look like he is a weak and losing leader.  I, therefore, hope that the whole of the Report can be kicked into the long grass until after the General Election and that the Special Conference can be postponed until at least 2016.  

On Issue No.1 in the Interim Report.  Trade Unionists and the Labour Party

The way to encourage outside trade unionists and others into Labour Party activity is not to start out with rule changes.  We should, first of all, adopt policies and programmes which appeal to these groups' best instincts. That is how to attract members and activists. Yet we will have to wait until the Labour Party Conference in September 2014 before we finally adopt a range of policy programmes, which will emerge via the National Policy Review procedure. It is only after we get the programme in place, that we will see if it works and attracts activists into our ranks. After this, we will be in a better position to judge if some rule changes will then help. The way matters are currently being approached is to put the cart before the horse. 

The case for delaying matters is added to by the shortcomings of the proposals which we are being asked to discuss. There is no current evidence that significant numbers of trade unionists who aren't currently members, will suddenly sign up via their trade unions to take out a form of Labour Party Membership. Even if their trade unions pay the affiliation fees on their behalf. Nor is there any evidence to show that people will readily pursue such new procedures. Nor that they would then become active at Labour Party meetings or in its campaigns.

There is a good chance that the new procedure to be used to try to attract trade unionists into this new category of membership, will backfire. Labour would then lose much of its current union funding. Given current problems with funding from the Co-operative Movement, a loss of funding from trade union sources could be a serious financial blow for our operations. Alternative forms of funding which might then be looked for, would be worrying - arising from the private market.

Then numbers of current individual members of the Labour Party could decide to adopt the new form of affiliated membership instead. As all Labour Party Members are expected to be members of trade unions when they can, this could lead to a further loss of party revenue. Some might move from individual to affiliated membership as that will be cheaper. Others might do it for ideological reasons, preferring to enjoy a looser arrangement with the Labour Party than the one on offer to them at the moment.

On Issue No. 3 in the Interim Report.  Using Primaries to Select Candidates.

I understand that between 10,000 and 20,000 registered supporters have signed up since the 2011 Labour Party Conference.  However, this is done mainly via a web-site and the Labour Party operates essentially via a collection of e-mail addresses from these people. As time passes they may have moved, died, ceased supporting Labour or got themselves fresh email addresses. Indeed some may never have supported Labour in the first place, but just fancied voting for a future leader. This all matters, because when there are 50,000 of them they will get a 10% share of the votes in electing the Party Leader and Deputy.

The proposals in the Interim Report seeks to add to the Registered Supporters Scheme. It is proposed to select our next candidate for the London Mayoral elections, by making use of the Registered Supporters Scheme. This could bring in enough people to obtain the 50,000 figure to trigger their rights in Labour Leadership Elections. This would then essentially mean that the Registered Supporters from London would dominate the vote of this section; compared to an estimated 25 such voters from my own constituency. But once the London arrangement is up and running, it could then be exported elsewhere: including for the selections of Labour Parliamentary, European and other candidates. These are arrangements which are currently voted upon only by the individual membership of the Labour Party.  Again some current individual members of the Labour Party might feel that they might as well settle for just being Registered Supporters. 


It would be best to put the whole of the current Interim Report onto the back-burner, to avoid the form of changes which are dealt with above. But if these matters remain virtually unchanged when put to the Special Conference on 1 March 2014, then these items should be rejected.