Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Importance Of Next Week

If a week is a long time in politics, then the five years since I retired from the Commons is an eternity. There have been two General Elections since I left. The make-up of the Parliamentary Labour Party is dramatically different from the one I knew. Even those who remain from my time are unlikely to be the people I remember. They have been through the traumas of the expenses scandal, economic collapse and now electoral defeat. It is not easy for me to work out who has changed and who has plodded on in the their old vain.

But I still have a clear view about what the diminishing band of democratic socialists in the Commons should do next week. They should book a Committee Room for a meeting of those who still see themselves as democratic socialists and labourites to hold a desperately important meeting. A meeting of what used to be called the hard and soft left. They need to discuss the future direction of the left and then opt for a single candidate in the coming leadership election. That will then give them less than a fortnight in which to mobilise to get the 33 necessary nominations for their candidate on the basis of what will need to be feasible left principles.

In my final years it might have been someone like Chris Mullin who would have filled the bill. Who it is now I know not. Until the key task I seek is undertaken, I will opt for John McDonnell. I disagree with him on numbers of fundamentals; but I remember him as having decency, honesty, guts and socialist beliefs. And he was there to support me in my own more reformist efforts. But I would prefer a left unity candidate from the avenue I propose, John or whoever fighting on a platform agreed by those able to deliver the nominations. And it is only such a platform that can then help reshape the very nature of the coming leadership debates.


jailhouselawyer said...

It's funny you should use Harold Wilson's saying followed by 5 years in your post. Because it's what springs to my mind when I think about the 5 years the UK has failed to implement the Hirst v UK(No2) judgment in the ECtHR.

Duncan Hall said...

Harry - interesting thoughts and I largely agree with you.

I wrote an article over at Labourlist:

I have managed to get quite a lot of broad support for an appeal to the NEC to lower the threshold, including some MPs (not all from the left or centre-left), and wondered whether you might consider adding your name as well? You would join Alice Mahon in the "former MP" section of the list!

I hope you might consider signing up.



Harry Barnes said...

Jailhouselawyer : The Coalition's efforts on electoral reform can be used to place our concerns onto the agenda.

Harry Barnes said...

Duncan Hall : You can add my name. It is a pity that Alice resigned from the Labour Party. It rather undermines her support.

Duncan Hall said...

That is a fair point, Harry, although I have half a memory of her rejoining?

Duncan Hall said...

Tony Benn's in the former MP section with you anyway!!