Campaign news

What kind of Momentum conference?

1st December 2016

What kind of Momentum conference?

Mike Phipps ponders the case for an OMOV structure

Momentum, the organisation created to advance Corbynista ideas within the labour movement and beyond, presents a tremendous opportunity to take socialist ideas to a far wider audience than has been possible for generations.

Yet a huge amount of energy appears to be focused, less on turning outward to engage this audience, than on turning inward to debate internal structures. Much of this debate is now centred on what kind of national conference Momentum needs. Discussion has quickly polarised between those who support a delegate-based conference, with attendees made up of delegates elected by local groups and affiliates, and those who favour One Member One Vote, with live streaming and online voting.

Personally, I want whatever makes the 20,000 members who have joined Momentum feel engaged and that their input is valued. I want these new supporters to become active in spreading the Corbyn agenda into parts of society where it has yet to reach. Of course there are difficulties with an OMOV conference. The questions put in online plebiscites may be selected in advance by the leadership and may not be open to amendment. The whole approach is contrary to the traditions of the labour movement and trade union affiliates in particular have reservations. We need a lot more information about how the new leftwing party in Spain, Podemos, used online techniques to construct their programme and engage their members.

But I don’t think the delegate model works ideally either. I’ve attended two London Regional Committees, made up of delegates from local groups. The first spent most of its time passing policy resolutions and spent less than 15 minutes on organising. The second started at 11am and finished at 4pm and didn’t complete its agenda, so had to be reconvened a couple of weeks later.

In theory, this London Regional Committee is composed of representatives from local groups. In practice, most of the people who have the appetite for a five hour meeting are highly committed activists, especially those from small left groups present in Momentum. These groups caucus beforehand and arrive with pre-prepared position papers on pretty much everything on the agenda, so debate polarises between different groups trying to win their line. Consensus becomes impossible. Ordinary members who want to build Momentum find this very frustrating.

Theoretically, the delegates who attend these meetings have a mandate from their local groups and are accountable to them. In practice, this is dubious. I wonder if the delegate who moved opposition to supporting a broad Stop the Purge conference, focused on the witch-hunt inside the Party and sponsored by Bakers Union President Ronnie Draper, on the grounds that it was a “Zionist front”(!) had a mandate for his outburst. One of the London Region Committee delegates, Jill Mountford, was pretty annoyed about this sectarian attack - and rightly - but in her blog she criticises Momentum founder Jon Lansman for suggesting that Regional Committees might be unrepresentative of the grassroots.

This is not an isolated example. A member from one locality presented a motion, apparently passed by her local group, only to be contradicted by a delegate from the same group, who said they’d never seen it. Another ‘delegate’ on the London Committee claims to represent a local group which hasn’t met since its members opposed the proposal that its officers be elected only every three years.

Delegate-based structures may work better in some organisations than others. Many Momentum members are not even involved in local groups. Rather than engaging the whole membership, a traditional delegate structure for Momentum may just be the best tactic for empowering hardcore activists, who champion face-to-face politics and dismiss OMOV as passive “clicktivism”. But as a recent blog from Hackney Momentum remarked, “Corbyn’s victory, and thus Momentum’s existence, are only possible because of OMOV in the Labour party.” Inclusion, it argues, is the key to transforming passivity into activity. “The ‘new politics‘ is about not delegating your responsibility to take part in and learn about politics,” it concludes.

Behind this organisational discussion, a battle for control of Momentum is being waged. While the traditional left may have a great deal of experience and historical knowledge to offer, it has not always been organisationally inclusive. Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the 2015 leadership contest was largely the result of new forms of organising, in which the online campaign was absolutely pivotal.

The left traditionally has been quite good at focusing on internal battles and polarising debate in ways that alienate large numbers of potential supporters. This time the stakes are higher than ever before. We have a huge responsibility not to alienate our potential supporters and undermine the entire Corbyn project. It will be no victory if the “correct” side wins in Momentum, but we fail to get Jeremy Corbyn elected to power.

From the December issue of Labour Briefing, the magazine of the LRC

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Keith Henderson Appeal Successful!

30th November 2016

Keith Henderson Appeal Successful!

All legal costs have now been paid in full. Keith would like to take this time to thank everyone who donated to the appeal fund and give special thanks to John McDonnell and the LRC for all their support over the last five years.

Everyone who donated will be aware that in September 2013 the Watford Employment Tribunal made a Judgment that I had suffered unlawful direct discrimination by my employer, the GMB trade union, on the basis of my left wing democratic socialist beliefs. The GMB has successfully appealed against this decision, right up to the Court of Appeal, which meant I had to pay the GMB costs of £12,000.

The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Judge could make a substitute finding of fact without hearing any further evidence or referring the case back to the Watford Employment Tribunal to seek clarification on their Judgment.

My lawyers still believe this is wrong and the case should be referred back to the original Employment Tribunal Panel for clarification, but, it will cost too much money to pursue the case any further so I have had to accept this decision.

Looking on the bright side Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 as a result of this case. This is a permanent gain for the labour movement that has been won.

This case will go down in the history books as having made the law to show discrimination against someone on grounds of left wing socialist beliefs is a breach of the equalities legislation and is therefore unlawful, that in itself is very important.

Paragraph 62 of the EAT judgment, which still stands, states
” At paragraph 48 it concluded that I am a ‘left-wing democratic socialist’ and held the beliefs identified. Moreover it found that “there were clear outward signs of those beliefs being manifested… particularly clear from the picketing incident…” The Tribunal concluded that left-wing democratic socialism is a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and this conclusion is not challenged on this appeal.”

Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
In addition it is the case that if it wasn’t for the efforts of all of you comrades in coming to my assistance in helping to raise the £12,000 necessary myself and my family would have been made homeless as a result of the relentless drive with no expense spared to discredit me.

Once again, many thanks to all the comrades who helped out.
We still achieved a historical victory in making socialism a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and that is what we should take from this legal battle. Every shop steward who is victimised in the workplace for representing their members should bear this in mind.

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Momentum debates Democratic Structures

26th November 2016

Momentum debates Democratic Structures

By Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and Chair of the LRC

The debate in Momentum about the organisation’s future structures hit the news recently and some journalists clearly enjoyed seeing a public disagreement blow up within the Corbyn-supporting movement. But we should not be afraid of debate. There are differences of opinion and these should be discussed at all levels of Momentum. In my view the key areas of disagreement relate to two issues. Firstly, what is the role of local Momentum groups - especially in their relations to the London-based office? Secondly, what type of Momentum conference should be held in February? Should it be a delegate-based conference or some sort of ‘online’ event?

One thing that has emerged is a level of distrust of local groups from some people - including people on the Momentum Steering Committee. On occasion Momentum members at local level have been referred to as ‘self-selecting activists’.

This approach results in opposition to a delegate type structure for any conference. We need to address these different aspects of the debate. What is the role of the activists? (Indeed, what is an activist?) And, secondly, what is the best way of organising an event (conference) to take the movement forward?

In defence of activism

One of the most famous stories from the US civil rights movement is of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Her subsequent arrest led to the Montgomery bus boycott and was a key moment in the emergence of a new phase of mass struggle for equality, democracy and civil rights. Rosa Parks is now internationally seen as an outstanding and heroic figure.

The myth is that she was just a tired woman who wanted to return from work and that the demand she should give up her seat for a white person was simply the final straw which provoked an ‘ordinary’ woman to rebel and (perhaps accidentally) to help to create a new mass movement.

But, of course, the role of Rosa Parks in those events was not accidental. Parks was an activist. She came from a family of activists. Her husband had been involved in the campaign for the Scottsboro Boys (black teenagers falsely accused of rape). Rosa was member of the main civil rights organisation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She had attended the Highlander Folk School - which trained labour movement and civil rights activists. Even the tactic of refusing to move from a seat reserved for whites had been discussed and attempted before. Like the best campaigning tactics, it emerged from the real experience of those affected. The point is that no mass movement or campaign can be built without activists.

Activists are those who are not simply supportive of a cause but are prepared to put themselves out to discuss and organise for it. Every strike, every struggle of ordinary people, every gain made by the labour movement has required the involvement of activists. It is also often the case that activists are maligned and abused in their own time (as was Parks or King) only to be sanctified by those in power once their battle has been fought and won.

So we should not accept any denigration of activists, self-selecting or otherwise. The truth is that since activism is a voluntary function it must be, by definition, self selecting. The trade unions and the Labour Party rely on activists - as does Momentum - and we should not remotely apologise for that.

What type of conference?

The second aspect to the debate relates to the type of conference which Momentum should hold. The people who don’t like the role of activists (despite being activists themselves) have argued for an online or virtual conference. It is said that this reflects ‘new politics’ and a ‘new way of doing things’. My fear is that this approach might avoid one set of problems only to create another.

It is argued that the online approach would encourage wider participation. The truth is that it would create different problems. If everything is online, why would anyone even attend a conference? Who would therefore speak or make proposals? Simply a different group of self-selecting activists!

If voting is to simply be online who frames the questions? Anyone who has ever experienced a management ‘consultation’ of the workforce will know that these things are easily rigged and never inspire confidence in those consulted. Local authorities, NHS Trusts and a whole range of public bodies do the same thing. The question is set by those who control the process and is designed to produce the ‘right’ answer. As a result there is widespread public hostility and cynicism to such consultation processes.

Secondly, the online approach favours particular activists over others. Those who have an active social media profile or who have access to email lists and databases will have a significant advantage over those who may simply be campaigning at a local level, in a local CLP and local Momentum group.

So a key question is what are we trying to achieve? For me, if Momentum is to establish itself as a serious left wing campaign of Labour Party members and supporters, the starting point has to be local groups. It is at local level where we need to build the Labour Party, where we need to help people train and develop themselves. The local groups are certainly not perfect, and they don’t exist everywhere, but if Momentum is to develop and sustain itself for the long term the local groups need to be built and to be the basis of the campaign - the building blocks for the future.

With good will the difficulties and disagreements can be overcome and a way forward can be found. That can involve online discussion and decision making but it also needs to have representatives from local groups at the heart of the process and of the conference. Let’s find a way through.

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Brexit – where do we stand?

24th November 2016

Brexit – where do we stand?

By Mick Brooks

The referendum on leaving the European Union was not of our making. David Cameron proposed it in order to settle the internal warfare within the Tory Party.
Whether we voted to remain or to leave is now neither here nor there. Britain is now set to leave the EU on terms negotiated by the Tories, our class enemy. On the other hand Theresa May’s government is insecure, with a small majority in Parliament. It is clear they are clueless as to what will happen next.

What does the decision to leave mean? The problem with a referendum on such a broad issue is that different meanings can be read into the vote. The Tory government under Theresa May asserts that it shows that migration must be controlled more tightly. That was not on the ballot paper, but that is their agenda in any case.

We are entitled to know what the government’s priorities are before Article 50 is triggered. Article 50 of the European Treaties is the provision that begins the process of quitting the EU. The labour movement has a duty to insist on its own priorities and has the right to vote against the implementation of Article 50 if Brexit is used as an excuse to trash workers’ rights.

The High Court judgement opposing the government’s intention to push through the implementation of Article 50 without democratic consultation is correct, despite the hysteria of the Brexiteers. Their slogan was “taking back control”. It is therefore ironic that the terms of exit may remain a closed book to the British people. We don’t want to buy a pig in a poke! 

For May, exit is to be achieved by use of the royal prerogative rather than the will of Parliament. Parliament is an imperfect expression of the popular will, but it’s all we have. In effect May wants to assume dictatorial powers over the process of negotiation. She should be reminded that Charles I, who was excessively addicted to using the royal prerogative rather than Parliamentary approval, was cut down to size as a result.

The pamphlet produced by UNITE entitled ‘Brexit on Our Terms’ calls for, “no triggering of Article 50 until we see what exit from the EU will look like and what the alternatives are.” The union correctly argues that the UK government should negotiate a transitional trade agreement with the EU before triggering Article 50.
We need to open up a debate on the terms and the kind of exit that Britain will make. This represents an opportunity for Labour to defend its own people and expose the vulnerability of the Tory government at the same time.

Once Article 50 is triggered the British government will be plunged into fantastically complex negotiations to extricate Britain from the EU for at least two years over such stuff as phytosanitary certificates (certificates on the health of plants).

Britain has been a member of the EU for more than forty years. Almost half our trade is with our partners in the single market. What is to be done about the vast mass of EU regulation that has been incorporated into UK law since 1973?

Much of this legislation is to harmonise best practice within the single market; regulations to improve the energy efficiency of vacuum cleaners is one example. Other rules are intended to harmonise sales across the EU. Rules on electrical plug sockets and voltage are one of an infinite number of such regulations. EU rules have also dictated cleaner beaches in the UK. Do we really want to be swimming in sh*t? Is this what the Brexiteers meant by “taking back control”?

The consensus of informed opinion is that the UK can’t have unrestricted access to the single market after exit without allowing free movement of labour. Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are quite clear on this point. Free movement of labour is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU, along with free movement of goods, of capital and of establishment (the right to set up service provision anywhere in the EU).

• We stand four-square in defence of the UK’s need for unrestricted access to the single market. If that is lost, there is no doubt that jobs will disappear here.
• We also defend the right of workers to move wherever they think is best for them. Nobody is proposing restrictions on the power of capital to move where profit opportunities are best, whether inside or outside the EU. In that situation supporting restrictions on the movement of labour is equivalent to tying one arm behind workers’ backs in their negotiations with capital.
• The labour movement needs to draw clear red lines right away. Some workers’ employment rights as well as environmental and consumer protection laws are enshrined in EU legislation. They must not be magicked away in negotiations!

There is no doubt that a section of the Conservative Party and the ruling class have a ‘vision’ of Britain’s future outside the EU. It is one of a low wage, offshore tax haven where standards of all kinds – environmental and consumer standards as well as working conditions - are driven down to the bottom. This is not what we want. It is hardly credible in any case that a country of almost 65 million people can become an island sweatshop, a tax haven for international criminals and a safe house for oligarchic money.

As negotiations proceed, there will be a blizzard of legislation introduced into Parliament, usually smuggled in as statutory instruments rather than being openly debated in the House.  Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Keir Starmer as shadow minister for Brexit to keep a watchful eye on what the Tories are up to.
Two immediate questions will loom:

• The first is the future of 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Theresa May has been accused of using the EU citizens here as ‘hostages’ in negotiations with the EU. Are they just to be thrown to the wolves, and issued with deportation orders after Brexit is accomplished?
• The fate of 1.2 million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU is also in question. Many of these are elderly retirees who have been used to receiving health care in their host country in the same way that EU workers here can access the NHS. What will happen after Brexit? Will these mutual arrangements be torn up?

If Brexit proceeds, we have the opportunity to fight for reforms. The Common Agricultural Policy of the EU has been widely and accurately derided for its huge waste of money. Here we can make the case for a reform of agricultural subsidies. To take one example, wealthy landowners in the UK get subsidies from the CAP for the upkeep of grouse moors. Since a day’s shooting is likely to cost £3,000 these subsidies cannot be argued as necessary to provide affordable food for the poor. Grouse moors are ‘managed’ by burning off the heather. This is not environmentally friendly. Endangered birds of prey such as hen harriers are shot or poisoned by ghillies – all in order that aristocrats and their hangers-on can have their fun by slaughtering the grouse. One such parasitic laird is Paul Dacre, editor of the Eurosceptic Daily Mail. He has received £460,000 from the CAP since 2011. We suggest reform of such payments is overdue.

Likewise the Common Fisheries Policy has been blamed for overfishing and for obvious absurdities such as discard (throwing dead fish overboard because they’re the wrong sort of fish or because quotas have already been exceeded).There is no doubt that small fishing communities have been hard hit by the CFP. Jeremy Corbyn has exposed the real problem:
“The Prime Minister will be very well aware that reforms that were made three years ago actually put the power back into the hands of member states, and it is the UK Government who have given nearly two thirds of English and Welsh fishing quotas to three companies, thus excluding the small fishing communities along our coasts.” (Hansard)

Some have been calling for a second referendum. A broad ‘Yes-No’ response in a referendum to a complex interlocking set of issues can never provide a satisfactory political response – as we have seen. A second referendum is likely to raise as many questions as the first. In addition a demand for a second referendum will also inevitably be seen as an attempt to defy the express wishes of the people.

Only after the laborious negotiations following the implementation of Article 50 will the government be able to begin working out trade deals with the 197 other countries in the world. If Theresa May’s optimistic timetable is taken seriously, by 2019 the government will have nothing before it except a blank sheet of paper. Of course as negotiations proceed it is possible that the wheels could fall off the Brexit wagon. This is the Tories’ mess. Let them lie in it.

In or out of the EU the labour movement needs to present an alternative vision of Britain in the future.

This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Labour Briefing, the magazine of the LRC

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Trump, Trade Deals and the Working Class

16th November 2016

Trump, Trade Deals and the Working Class

Letter to Guardian 16th November 2016

A key lesson we need to draw from Donald Trump’s election is that toxic trade deals like the US-EU agreement TTIP are as unwanted in American society as in Europe. Trump cynically exploited public anger about these deals to win the US presidency. But we know, like Ukip here, that Trump is actually in favour of deregulation, privatisation and putting profit before people. His policies will not serve the interests of working-class communities, they will simply divide them and create the sorts of international tensions that, in previous times, sparked world wars.

TTIP was killed off by a movement of ordinary people who believe in an open, equal and democratic society where diversity is embraced and everyone’s rights are respected. We objected to TTIP because it would be bad for ordinary people and will hand power to big money – to businessmen like Donald Trump.

We know that politicians are now fearful of opposing deals like Ceta – the EU-Canada deal which is currently making its way through the European parliament. This is exactly the wrong lesson to pull from Trump’s election. To defeat the politics of racism and hatred represented by Trump and the far right in Europe, we call on politicians to support economic policies that will benefit the majority of people, eradicate poverty, create decent jobs and good public services and halt climate change. The first step politicians in Europe must take is to vote to stop Ceta in the coming weeks.

Nick Dearden Global Justice Now, Mark Dearn War on Want, Molly Scott CatoGreen party MEP, Dave Prentis Unison, Len McCluskey Unite, Kevin Courtney National Union of Teachers, Bert Schouwenburg GMB, Ruth Bergan Trade Justice Movement, Tim Flitcroft NoTTIP UK

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Stop the Violations – End Welfare ‘Reform’ NOW!

11th November 2016

Stop the Violations – End Welfare ‘Reform’ NOW!

Date: Wednesday 16th November,  Time: 5.30pm

Place: Gather at Old Palace Yard, Westminster
Join Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle to protest against the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government through welfare reform, as evidenced in the United Nations inquiry findings published this week.
The protest will also be in honour of DPAC co-founder Debbie Jolly who tragically passed away this week. Back in 2010 a small group of activists including Debbie and Linda started to campaign against the Work Capability Assessment.

At that time very few people other than those personally suffering as a result of the brutal assessment process had heard of the WCA or Atos. Debbie and others put up a tireless struggle for the past six years to expose what was happening and fight for justice.

Now ‘I Daniel Blake’ is in cinemas across the country and a UN inquiry, which Debbie put years’ of work into making happen, has found reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government due to welfare reform.

However we still have welfare reform and things are worse now than they were when the UN conducted their enquiry and set to get even worse; we still have the WCA, the bedroom tax, changes to Access to Work and a social care support system in crisis but everyday more disabled people are losing essential income through PIP assessments, the benefit cap is about to be lowered and the introduction of Universal Credit will make thousands of households with disabled members worse off.
On Thursday MPs will debate the cut to Employment and Support Allowance which was voted through earlier this year in the Welfare Reform and Work bill.
We must act now to put an end to this conscious cruelty.
We ask that everyone who can come to Parliament on Wednesday joins us and those who can’t show their solidarity through social media with the hashtag #EndWelfareReform.

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Jeremy Corbyn on Trump’s Victory

9th November 2016

Jeremy Corbyn on Trump’s Victory

Many in Britain and elsewhere will be understandably shocked by Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, the rhetoric around it and what the election result means for the rest of the world, as well as America.

Trump’s election is an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people. It is one that has delivered escalating inequality and stagnating or falling living standards for the majority, both in the US and Britain

This is a rejection of a failed economic consensus and a governing elite that has been seen not to have listened. And the public anger that has propelled Donald Trump to office has been reflected in political upheavals across the world.

But some of Trump’s answers to the big questions facing America, and the divisive rhetoric around them, are clearly wrong.

I have no doubt, however, that the decency and common sense of the American people will prevail, and we send our solidarity to a nation of migrants, innovators and democrats.

After this latest global wake up call, the need for a real alternative to a failed economic and political system could not be clearer.

That alternative must be based on working together, social justice and economic renewal, rather than sowing fear and division. And the solutions we offer have to improve the lives of everyone, not pit one group of people against another.

Americans have made their choice. The urgent necessity is now for us all to work across continents to tackle our common global challenges: to secure peace, take action on climate change and deliver economic prosperity and justice.

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LRC Conference Report, 29th October 2016

7th November 2016

LRC Conference, 29th October

By Suzanne Gannon

On 29th October, the LRC held another successful annual conference, attended by 150 members.

The day was structured with keynote speakers introducing each section of resolutions. The resolutions and speakers, in turn, were grouped thematically. One section dealt with Equality issues, highlighting that equality has to be integrated with any struggle for socialism, with resolutions calling for the Labour Party manifesto to scrap the age discrimination in the National Minimum wage and another requesting a Labour government ends the Tory policy of appeals for deportees only after they’ve been deported.

In the Environmental issues section, a lengthy resolution called on a Labour government to publicly invest in the renewables sector, with another opposing the Gatwick and Heathrow airport expansions. In the section about Peace, one resolution called on Labour to be an internationalist party of peace and justice, and other one called on Labour to set up a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency.

In the Socialism strand, a resolution was passed demanding the repeal of the anti-union laws by a Labour government. A proposal for specific changes to be made to the Labour Party’s rule book to increase the number of CLP delegates on the NEC, and to challenge the rule change that allowed a Scottish and Welsh member to be appointed without election, was remitted to the LRC’s NEC for further consideration.

Motions were also passed on Momentum. The AGM recognised Momentum as “the main vehicle for pursuing the transformation of the Labour Party”. It also noted its democratic shortcomings, and in particular its failure to respond “rigorously enough to the purging of Party members during the recent leadership election campaign, and the weaponisation of the issue of antisemitism to attack Corbyn, including the capitulation to the demands to remove Jackie Walker as Vice Chair.”

The sessions were chaired very well, most proposals were succinctly introduced by their movers, and ample opportunities were given to members to comment on proposals from the floor. This part of the conference perhaps could have been executed a bit more deftly, as few of the resolutions were opposed. But discourse was comradely and remained on-topic.

The speakers all made strong contributions to the debate. Ronnie Draper’s (General Secretary of BFAWU) description of his suspension and subsequent readmission to the Labour Party was both humorous and tragic, as he emphasised how so many other members did not get the preferential treatment from the Compliance Unit that he got.

LRC’s President, John McDonnell, explained how the LRC was working to transform the Labour Party, with the aim of transforming our wider society. He also gave a signal that many, if not most, of the suspensions of members who had been purged during the leadership campaign, were likely to be lifted.

FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, gave a passionate opening talk, explaining from his perspective what the nature of the democratic deficit within Momentum was. Unfortunately, although Jon Lansman, Chair of Momentum’s Steering Committee, was scheduled to speak, he sent his apologies.

I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet up with so many like-minded people, and found the cross-over between LRC and Momentum membership refreshing. I’m sorry that I had to rush back to Yorkshire and thus missed the social that was held after the meeting ended.

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LP Democracy – bring it on!

6th November 2016

LP Democracy – bring it on!

Momentum Proposals on Democratising the Labour Party

Momentum members may have received an email seeking views in advance of the Labour Party NEC meeting on 22 November to discuss wide-ranging party reforms.

Here are some suggestions:
• Labour Party membership has tripled over the past year. There is a strong case for increasing the representation from the constituencies on the NEC. It should be remembered, though, that the trade unions created the Labour Party and their representation should be maintained.
• The Scottish and Welsh delegates should be elected at the Scottish and Welsh Conferences, not appointed by the leaders.
• Minutes of the NEC should be published.
• The votes of members of the NEC should also be published unless there are security issues.
• The broad principles of the Chakrabarti 2016 Report must be implemented.
• The Compliance Unit should be abolished.
• Iain McNicol should be sacked and the General Secretary made an elected post.

For more details on the membership purge and democratisation of the Labour Party, see:

Purge Suspension Letters

Thousands of letters have been sent out this week to suspended members advising them that their suspension has been lifted. Well, thank you very much, you might think. But hang on. These suspensions had the effect of (and were almost certainly intended to) deprive the Labour Party member of their right to vote.

So where’s the apology? There isn’t one. Members were wrongly suspended and deprived of their membership rights and apology comes there none. On the contrary members are warned in the letter that their (non-existent) sin will be kept on file. “We’re keeping a eye on you,” is the message. This is outrageous. Iain McNicol and the Compliance Unit are running amok

Ronnie Draper, General Secretary of the Bakers’ Union, reported to the LRC Conference how he was suspended. Who grassed him up? According to Ronnie it was an algorithm. (See the link at the end of this item.)

The witchfinders don’t know what they’re doing. They’re striking out blindly. Ronnie’s suspension was lifted. He was given special treatment, which he didn’t want. He wanted all suspended members to be treated fairly

On the one hand the suspension letters are an advance. McNicol and co. recognise that they haven’t got a leg to stand on when the appeals are heard. On the other hand they are still carrying on their purges which are fundamentally opposed to the basic principles of natural justice and due process (innocent until proven guilty and all that jazz).

They are holding an axe over the heads of thousands of members who haven’t done anything wrong. It is high time that the NEC installs a democratic procedure of investigating complaints and sacks McNicol and the rotten Compliance Unit.
For more details read:

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Brexit on Our Terms!

4th November 2016

Brexit on Our Terms!

By Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary of UNITE

THE BREXIT CRISIS will undoubtedly run and run. The Tories don’t have a clue how to handle the biggest ever peace time change in the UK – and amidst the political and legal wrangling, the voice of working people is straining to be heard. The referendum vote has to be accepted but that does not mean unions have to sit back and watch the decimation of UK jobs, industry and infrastructure.

That is why Unite launched a new document recently to make sure that the UK’s vitally important manufacturing sector is defended. Called Brexit On Our Terms, Unite consulted our shop stewards in manufacturing as well as the major employers’ organisations we deal with. We found there is considerable agreement on a number of key issues. These included:

• continued access to a tariff-free single market;
• no triggering of Article 50 until we see what exit from the EU will look like and what the alternatives are;
• the continuation and protection of employment rights gained through membership of the EU;
• a seat at the the table for trade unions to protect workers’ interests.

Also under discussion were the key issues of continuing infrastructure investment, access to skills and the development of an industrial strategy in a post-Brexit UK; re-shoring; procurement and the appalling attacks on foreign workers in recent months. The report also examines the alternatives to EU membership, in terms of trade, with a case study on a potential trade deal with Canada produced in consultation with our Workers Uniting partners in the United Steelworkers.

On trade deals the government is in a mess. Ministers claimed countries inside and outside the EU would be queuing up to do trade deals with us. So far there are few potential trade deals on offer – Australia, Mexico and South Korea. They have been completely wrong-footed twice by the US with a firm rejection of the UK getting any trade deal with them any time soon. Now we have ‘hard Brexit’ looming. Just how the government is going to handle these complex negotiations is highly questionable.

The future of UK manufacturing and decent jobs hangs in the balance. Unite will not stand by and allow jobs, pay and conditions to be attacked by employers claiming Brexit as an excuse.

This article first appeared in Labour Briefing.

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Their Brexit or Ours?

4th November 2016

Their Brexit or Ours?

By Simon Hewitt

THE FIRST THING TO UNDERSTAND about the so-called ‘Brexit’ debate is that Brexit is not the issue. As with any fundamental shock to an economy, EU exit will represent an opportunity to renegotiate the contours of economic power within our society, the distribution of wealth between wages and profits and much else beside. In whose favour, if anyone’s, exit works will depend on the outcome of this. What we need to demand - and here the title of Unite’s new document is exactly right - is Brexit on our terms.

‘We’ here are the vast majority of the population - dependent on wages or benefits, sensitive to the price of goods in the shops, black and white, male and female, old and young. The battle between hard and soft approaches to Brexit, focusing on things like whether Britain remains in the single market, is not our battle. The current debate is a family row between different sections of British capital, those more or less dependent on EU markets. Which approach will work best for us will depend on the highly unpredictable circumstances of the global economy at the time of exit, and does not deserve campaigning energy. Nor should we tie ourselves in knots over the niceties of Article 50.

The left’s time and resources would be better spent at the present time on campaigns centred on clear demands around which we can unite people. Free movement and the right of non-UK nationals to remain here after exit must be in first place. Similarly the defence of employment rights is essential. We should also start talking about protecting people from price increases after exit, using the occasion to challenge the norms of the free market and so shift the parameters of the debate.

How successful the left is at doing this will determine whether the next couple of years sees a carnival of reaction or the opening up of new possibilities. At the moment, the first looks much more likely. This only reinforces the importance of our getting to grips with these issues and acting effectively now. The possibility of a good outcome remains. Let’s seize the agenda and fight for an outcome that benefits the vast majority of people, not just in Britain but across the world.

This article first appeared in Labour Briefing.

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Momentum’s Future

3rd November 2016

UNANIMOUS STATEMENT FROM MOMENTUM STEERING COMMITTEE

The Steering Committee recognises and regrets the discontent and frustration felt by Momentum members in recent days. Momentum’s democratic structures were always intended to develop. Unfortunately, this summer’s leadership election delayed that development, with all our energy being diverted into ensuring Jeremy Corbyn’s reelection.

The Committee recognises the need for a greater level of accountability and transparency from the leadership and administration of the organisation and will work to deliver that over the coming weeks.

Our path to democratisation, through our first National Conference in the new year, has not been sufficiently effectively communicated, leading, at times, to a breakdown in trust between different sections of our movement. There was not enough consultation and discussion with the diverse political and organisational traditions that exist in our movement. Pluralism is our strength, and all views must be properly engaged with.

After further discussion, the Steering Committee has agreed unanimously the following path for Momentum’s democratisation, which places unity, pluralism and member-control at its heart.

The National Committee, postponed from this Saturday, will take place on 3 December. We will ensure that this meeting is properly representative, including new elections for our liberation strands where necessary. A plan for ensuring this will be submitted and approved by the Steering Committee at the latest by 11 November.

A further National Committee meeting will be held in January before our Conference in February. Our Conference, involving all members of Momentum, groups and affiliated organisations, will decide our organisation’s long-term structure.

Taking into account the strong views on both sides of the OMOV (one member, one vote) vs. delegate for Conference votes, the Steering Committee has agreed on a recommendation to the National Committee of a suitable format. There will be both a physical delegates conference to thoroughly debate proposals submitted from the membership, and then OMOV voting on the proposals in the period after the conference. The details of this procedure will be determined over the coming weeks.

We know all levels of Momentum are committed to a truly inclusive and democratic structure and will make it succeed over the next few months.

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Still no Truth and no Justice for Orgreave Miners

2nd November 2016

Still no Truth and no Justice for Orgreave Miners

On October 31st Home Secretary Amber Rudd made the announcement that the government had no intention of holding an enquiry into the events at Orgreave in 1984 during the great miners’ strike. This was a shock, as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign have been campaigning for years for the truth to be unearthed and Theresa May had strung them along with promises of an enquiry.

On 18th June 1984 around 5,000 miners sought to picket the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire. There they were set upon by more than 6,000 police from all around the country. They were funnelled into an enclosed area and attacked mercilessly, including by club-wielding coppers on horse. Many were badly injured and 95 charged with riot, which at that time carried a potential life sentence.

Rudd sneered that there was no need for an enquiry as nobody had died (no thanks to the efforts of the police) and no injustice had occurred. This is because when the court cases against the miners came up, the police stitch-up fell apart as the police shamelessly perjured themselves and fabricated evidence - with identical forms of words. No injustice occurred because the vindictiveness of the police was matched by their incompetence!

A while back the BBC got hold of hundreds of documents that had been mouldering in a garage.They revealed that dozens of officers - from different police forces, involved in separate arrests - had written the same phrases, again and again, virtually word-for-word.

This was the action by the same South Yorkshire police force who conducted a cover-up on their part in the deaths of 95 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough. When the enquiry was finally held after decades of campaigning it found that South Yorkshire police had conducted “malpractice with impunity”.

Officially the Tory government claimed not to be interfering in the 1984-85 miners’ strike. In fact Thatcher’s fingers were all over the police riot at Orgreave - literally. Paul Mason has discovered a memo by Tory John Redwood in the National Archive marked secret covered in her handwriting.
Here

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign have unearthed evidence from other documents showing the Thatcher was involved in efforts to smear the miners, direct police operations against them and fast track prosecutions. More documentary evidence incriminating the Tories still lies buried. The Campaign believed an enquiry could unearth it.

No wonder the present Tory government wants to bury this can of worms. Norman Tebbit, a member of the Tory government at the time, whined that an enquiry would have been “a stick with which to beat the Thatcher government” – including himself of course.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised that Labour will not let this go and a future Labour government would open an enquiry. He added that, “The determination of people to get justice never goes away and the government should remember that.”

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite added, “Amber Rudd’s shameful refusal to hold an inquiry into Orgreave smacks of a continued cover-up by the establishment. It will be a bitter blow to those who seek the truth and justice, to those to whom her government gave false hope.The brutal actions of South Yorkshire police at Orgreave, the subsequent cover-up and the injustice to ordinary working men and women cannot go unanswered.”

The mining communities and the rest of us are entitled to a full, independent enquiry. An enquiry into what happened at Orgreave would show the true face of the Tory government.

 

 

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Defend Jackie Walker! Defend Free Speech on Israel!

1st November 2016

Defend Jackie Walker! Defend Free Speech on Israel!

By Pete Firmin

FOR A SECOND TIME, JACKIE WALKER has been suspended from membership by the Labour Party, having been cleared of any offence the first time. Although the Party, as is its usual practice, has not notified her of the reason for her suspension, it is generally believed to arise from remarks she made (or is claimed to have made) at a training session at Labour Party Conference.

I was at that training session. Like several others involved in ‘Free Speech on Israel’, I was concerned that the Party was holding a training session on antisemitism, and even more that the session was to be led by a member of the Jewish Labour Movement.

The Chakrabarti Report came out against breaking anti-racist training down into separate “racisms”, and there was no suggestion that such training be given by the JLM, whose views are known to be contentious among many Jewish members of the Party. The only place such training has been suggested (other than by the JLM itself) is in the report by Baroness Royall into allegations of antisemitism in Oxford University Labour Club. She found none, but still proposed that there be training given by the JLM on antisemitism. That proposal has never been endorsed.

Jackie is being pilloried mainly for two things she said. She questioned why Holocaust Memorial Day could not include all holocausts - Jackie is well known for raising the fact that the death of millions of Africans in the slave trade goes unmarked. And - after several other anti-Zionist Jews had made the same point - she said that she had not heard a definition of antisemitism which she could work with ‘here’. She was not denying that a definition existed, but like others before her, was asking the trainer for his definition of antisemitism. Whether you agree with Jackie or not on these points is irrelevant. No one has yet shown them to be antisemitic.

At this point the real agenda of the Jewish Labour Movement became clear. Mike Katz, the JLM vice-chair giving the ‘training’, referred to the EUMC (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia) definition. In fact, the report he was referring to, which attempts to equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, was not drawn up by the EUMC and never adopted by it. It was largely drafted by the American Jewish Committee in opposition to the EUMC’s own definition of antisemitism. The EUMC merely put it on its website as a draft for consultation with a view to revising it. Its director said it “should be viewed as ‘work in progress’ … with a view to redrafting”.

This never happened and the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, later dropped it as not useful. A version of this discredited EUMC definition has now been adopted by Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee in its report on antisemitism which the Committee wants written into law and into the constitution of political parties. Much could be written about problems with the Party’s training sessions, not just this one, but this stands out for its crassness, and for the fact that the JLM secretly recorded the whole session and then released the recording to the media. Not only does this contravene the law on data protection, but the Party has yet to make any public denunciation of the recording of what was its meeting.

Allied to this, the JLM is attempting to get the Party to adopt a rule change which effectively says that someone accused of antisemitism is automatically guilty, and claiming the findings of the McPherson report into the police investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence as their justification - although that report said all allegations should be fully investigated, not that they were necessarily proven. They hope to guilt-trip the Party into accepting their proposals with their claim that to do otherwise is to refuse to listen to the Jewish community, despite the fact that many Jews disagree with them.
. Subsequently, the JLM went on the attack. Never satisfied with Jackie’s previous acquittal by the Party and denouncing Chakrabarti for not having found that the Labour Party has a significant problem with antisemitism, they want scalps to advance their efforts at closing down debate on Israel/Palestine and undermining Corbyn. Tweets criticising Jackie from a Guardian journalist appeared almost immediately, briefed by “a senior member of Momentum”. These tweets have since disappeared. That day the Guardian online, followed immediately by the paper version, quoted a “spokesman from Momentum” announcing that a Steering Committee would be held the following Monday where Jackie Walker would be suspended! In an extraordinary move Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the TSSA, threatened to withdraw support and office facilities from Momentum if Jackie was not suspended as vice-chair of Momentum.

The Labour Party moved to suspend Jackie following the statements of the ‘leaked’ Momentum source and the intervention of Cortes. Despite the anonymous Momentum spokesman and the comments by Cortes, Momentum announced that Jackie was removed as vice-chair because of a “lack of confidence” and not because of any allegations of antisemitism. The Momentum Steering Committee has neither condemned Manuel’s blackmail, started an investigation into the leak nor launched a campaign against Jackie’s suspension by the Labour Party, despite claiming to oppose it.

This is part of a worrying trend in Momentum, reinforced by proposals in circulation on how a conference in February 2017 should be conducted only discussed by two members of the Steering Committee before being sent out, and with little time for Momentum groups to discuss before they need to be finalised. Some fear transparency and accountability could be as difficult to achieve in Momentum as in the Labour Party.

Apart from anything else, the Momentum decision on Jackie is shortsighted, apparently failing to realise that the JLM and their allies will be emboldened by their decision and on the search for others to attack. The only way to stop this advance is by a rigorous defence of Jackie Walker and rejection of the claim that criticism of Israel (including its right to exist as a Jewish state) is intrinsically antisemitic. Briefing readers should campaign for Jackie’s reinstatement by the Party and a calling to account of the Momentum Steering Committee, as many Momentum groups are already doing.

This article appeared in the November issue of Labour Briefing, the magazine of the LRC.

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Officers Elected at 2016 LRC Conference

30th October 2016

Officers Elected at 2016 LRC Conference on 29th October 2016

President: John McDonnell
Chair: Matt Wrack
Vice Chairs: Norrette Moore, Claire Wadey
Political Secretary: Mick Brooks
Treasurer:  Alison McGarry
Membership Secretaries: Keith Henderson/Adam Thompson [Job share]
Administrator: Michael Calderbank
Web manager:  Seema Chandwani.
Local group Organisers: Patrick Hall/John Wiseman [Job share], Claire Wadey,

NEC
Graham Bash
Jan Davidson
Pete Firmin
Suzanne Gannon
Gary Heather
Patricia Jackson/Janet Johnson [J/S]
Mike Phipps
Mancyia Uddin

Union Section
Maria Exall
Ian Hodson / Peter John Fox

Equalities
Jackie Walker
Austin Harney/Louise Reece Jones [J/S]
Patrick Hall

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McDonnell Lashes Hammond and the Tories

25th October 2016

McDonnell Lashes Hammond and the Tories

An internal briefing document shows that the Government is “unlikely to bring deficit reduction entirely back on track”. It was mistakenly posted online.

The briefing, marked “sensitive: for internal use only”, was accidentally published on a government website and says that a continuing run of “disappointing data” is leading to “slow deficit reduction”. It was likely intended for ministers and Treasury civil servants, and it states that: “For the year to date the deficit is £2.3bn lower than last year; at a fall of 4.8%, well behind the 27.0% reduction forecast.”

Responding to the findings, McDonnell said:

“Philip Hammond today refused to mention the Government’s fiscal targets over the last six year, instead the Chancellor today referred vaguely to “fiscal discipline”. This internal Treasury document shows why.

“It refers to ‘a run of disappointing data’ and the unlikelihood of getting deficit reduction ‘back on track’, officially confirming the Tory failure on the economy.

“Now we’ve had it from the official civil servants it’s time the Tories came clean. They should drop the spin and admit the truth: they are failing on the public finances and working people are paying the price.”

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Walker vs McNicol Appeal

25th October 2016

Walker vs McNicol Appeal

By Jackie Walker

I am Jackie Walker, life-long anti-racist campaigner and socialist. I was suspended from the Labour Party in May of this year, amidst what appears to have been a breach of Data Protection law by Iain McNicol as General Secretary of the Labour Party.

This is my campaign to raise money in order to bring legal proceedings against Iain McNicol for this serious breach of data – briefing a major community media publication or other parties before informing me of my suspension from the party. This is not acceptable in his position as General Secretary of the Labour Party.

This case matters as my story is just one of many where Labour members have found themselves in a similar position. While this may not be the only case where a breach has occurred, as I was abroad at the time it may well be the most provable.

We invite anybody who has a personal interest in this case or the wider public to contribute.

Statement from Martin Howe - Solicitor (representing)

“Jackie Walker has faced a barrage of hurtful, threatening and nasty abuse since the private details of her investigation by the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism was leaked to the press before even she knew of her suspension by the Party.  This apparent breach of her private data has had a devastating impact on her public and private well-being and has led directly to her being pre-judged and unfairly cast as a racist before she was given any opportunity to tell her side of the story.  Data Protection laws are there to protect all of us and any breach is a very serious matter.”

About Jackie…
I am Jewish, my Russian born Jewish father and Jamaican born mother of Sephardi Jewish descent, were brought together in their shared political commitment to the Civil Rights movement of 1950s America. My mother brought me to England in the late fifties. My experience is not untypical of blacks of that generation. I have been a victim of violent, structural, and persistent racism ever since I arrived in this country in 1959. My personal response to this, my own everyday resistance, was not to become a particularist or a separatist but to be a universalist. I have been an anti-racist activist and campaigner all my life, a supporter of the rights of Palestinians, and have worked with disadvantaged families and communities nationally and internationally.
More about my suspension…

On 4th May I was suspended for the alleged (subsequently cleared) charge of antisemitism. As a Jewish person, whose partner is Jewish, this was heart-breaking. Since May I have continued to be targeted by the media, in print, online and in other places.  Currently I am suspended for questions asked at a training session on ‘Confronting Antisemitism & Engaging Jewish Voters’ at this year’s Labour Conference, after being unethically filmed by a Jewish Labour Movement campaigns officer who is also a Labour councillor. It seems this training was not a ‘safe space for all Jews’ by any means.
Consequences of my suspension…

As soon as the first article was released before my notification had even arrived, trolls circled for the kill, posting spooky blacked up faces (and worse) to my Facebook account. The community and national newspapers led the attacks, querying my Jewish identity (a racist move in itself), my work as an anti-racist activist and my political commitment.

When my suspension was lifted things got worse. Indignation at my alleged breach reached the heights of irony when Nigel Farage, anxious not to miss out on the fun being had by among others, the Spectator, a number of Labour MPs and officers of the Party, dedicated an article in Breitbart and a good dose of righteous indignation on national TV to publicly calling me out as a racist. The widespread hate campaign against me led to public abuse,

Strangers shouting ‘racist’ as I walked to the tube. With the murderous racist political discourse now taking the place of debate, I became conscious I was recognisable on the street.

As General Secretary, Iain McNicol is directly responsible for the damage caused to me, my family and friends by the decision of persons unknown - who briefed a major community publication in regards to my suspension and allegation, before the Labour Party had informed me.

Thank you for your support!
With thanks to Free Speech on Israel

About the claimant
I am a life-long anti-racist campaigner and socialist, a supporter of the rights of Palestinians, and have worked with disadvantaged families and communities nationally and internationally.

Pledge Now: https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/walker-vs-mcnicol/pledge/

From crowdjustice.org

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Resolution Booklet for 2016 Conference

25th October 2016

Here

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Labour’s Alternative to Tory Austerity

24th October 2016

Labour’s Alternative to Tory Austerity

By Barbara Humphries

The Labour Assembly against Austerity was founded in 2013, as part of the People’s Assembly against Austerity. In spite of support from the major trades unions and the late Tony Benn, it only had the support of a limited number of Labour MPs at the time. These of course included Jeremy Corbyn.  Labour was not a committed anti-austerity party then – Ed Miliband was telling the Conservative-Liberal coalition only that they were ‘cutting too far and too fast’, a fairly timid opposition.

So much has changed in three years, with its third conference, which was held at the weekend, attended by 300 people. We were addressed this time by members of the Shadow Cabinet, such as Diane Abbott and Cat Smith. They both outlined the catastrophic fall in living standards, which has taken place as a result of austerity, possibly the largest ever experienced by working people in this country. Cat Smith said that many local authorities were facing bankruptcy due to government cuts, and were going to be unable to meet their statutory duties. Diane said that the Tories were trying to find scapegoats for their failures, such as refugees and migrants. Kelvin Hopkins MP put this into historical perspective, when he said that the strategy of neo-liberalism, which has dominated politics since the 1970s, is now being challenged.

The conference was divided into workshops, on Corbynomics, tackling the housing crisis, inequality in austerity Britain, scapegoating migrants, health and education, and women and austerity. It was only possible to attend three of these, unfortunately!

I attended the discussion on Corbynomics, which was led by economist Michael Burke and former Labour MP Chris Williamson. Michael Burke said that the British economy was twice the size of what it was in the 1970s, but people were worse off, working longer hours for lower real wages. It was necessary to invest to grow the economy, taking advantage of low interest rates. This would generate the wealth needed to protect our public services. The British economy had a productivity problem, with much lower rates than in Germany for instance. The government’s plans for Brexit had confirmed that ‘project fear’ had been right. If access to the single market was not maintained we could expect to see falling GDP rates over the next 15 years – in other words we could be 7% poorer.

Chris Williamson pointed out how austerity had failed in its own terms. The government was nowhere near being able to pay off the national debt in spite of years of cuts. It was borrowing more than in 2010. The redistribution of wealth away from working people and their families was adding to the failure of the economy. Corporations were sitting on funds they were not investing. Tax cuts for the rich were pointless as they did not spend their money. In the 1970s the top rate of tax had been 83%.  A house building programme led by local authorities could help regenerate the economy, as well as solving the housing shortage.

In the session on inequality, speakers outlined the dire situation facing young people, whose expectations of education and employment rights were being diminished. Many did not have the opportunity to join a trades union, said Caroline Hill, chair of Young Labour. Chris Williamson said that by 2020 Britain faced becoming the most unequal society in the developed world, worse even than the US.

Speakers at the closing rally – Building for a Labour Victory, included shadow cabinet ministers Catherine West and John McDonnell.

For a full list of speakers,see

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Urgent: Keith Henderson Appeal.

20th October 2016

Urgent: Keith Henderson Appeal. 

First, Keith would like to thank everyone who has donated already to this appeal.

Keith Henderson was dismissed from his job as a regional organiser by the General, Municipal and Boilermakers (GMB) trade union for mounting a picket at the House of Commons on 30 November 2011 on behalf of the demand of a decent pension for GMB members. They were low-paid workers demanding their right to a decent pension. They had democratically decided on the action at their branch meeting.

On 2013 am Employment Tribunal judged that Keith had suffered unlawful direct discrimination by his employer, the GMB trade union, on the basis of his left wing democratic socialist beliefs. The GMB has successfully appealed against this decision, right up to the Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal handed down a judgement last week making an order for Keith to pay the Respondent (GMB Union) the sum of £12,000 within 21 days. This means the deadline is 1st November 2016.
Keith is a low paid worker on a zero hour contract and is worried that this will put him and his family at risk of losing their home.

The GMB has made it clear that they will enforce the order that was made for Keith to pay them £12,000.
This is now an urgent appeal, therefore, we are writing to you again to ask you if you could help Keith by making a donation to his appeal and/or asking your Labour Party or trade union branch to contribute to this appeal.
It is important that we stand by someone who has stood by our movement in solidarity. John McDonnell fully supports this appeal
Thank you for your assistance.

The Labour Representation Committee

Donate here:

Why did he lose? Keith adds

The main reason the appeal was dismissed is because the original Judgment of the Watford Employment Tribunal is so poorly written and some the findings of discriminatory treatment are contradictory findings of fact. Therefore, the Court of Appeal upheld the Judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that the EAT Judge could make a substitute finding of fact without hearing any further evidence or referring the case back to the Watford Employment Tribunal to seek clarification on their Judgment.

My lawyer’s still believe this is wrong and the case should be referred back to the original Employment Tribunal Panel for clarification, but, it will cost too much money to pursue the case any further.

Socialism is still a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This is a permanent gain for the labour movement from the hearing

Keith will down in the history books as the person who made the law to show discrimination against someone on grounds of left wing socialist beliefs is unlawful, that itself is a very important thing to have done and we achieve it. At paragraph 62 of the EAT judgment which still stands states

” At paragraph 48 it concluded that he is a ‘left-wing democratic socialist’ and held the beliefs identified. Moreover it found that “there were clear outward signs of those beliefs being manifested… particularly clear from the picketing incident…” The Tribunal concluded that left-wing democratic socialism is a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and this conclusion is not challenged on this appeal.”

We now have socialism set as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 by the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and now the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice.

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What the Tories’ ‘Living Wage’ Means

18th October 2016

What the Tories’ ‘Living Wage’ Means

By Ian Hodson, National President BFAWU

THE TORIES’ ‘LIVING WAGE’ has been a disaster for many low paid workers. Figures from the Low Pay Commission suggest that nearly half of all low paid jobs are in two sectors - wholesale/retail and hotels/ restaurants. The introduction of the living wage has resulted in a further widening of inequality in workplaces, with workers below the age of 25 being paid less and, in many cases, other workers having their overtime, shift premium and bank holiday payments slashed in order to fund a paltry increase. As a result of this, our union has seen strikes across the 2 Sisters Food Group, with potentially more to come.

Our union has been trying to organise workers at Samworth Brothers - a company which recently hit the headlines for slashing their employees’ terms and conditions in order to make them fund the living wage themselves. When the workers there started to contact us for help and to join the BFAWU, they singled out the person they felt was responsible for organising the union at the site and sacked him. Kumaran Bose’s only crime was to speak out against the unfairness of the changes. The company then attempted to use ‘union-busting’ techniques to misinform, mislead and intimidate the rest of the staff.

In many cases, workers are looking at losses of between £1,500-£5,000 a year. But it’s not just food manufacturing that’s being hit, as others working in big DIY chain B&Q, the John Lewis Partnership (which includes Waitrose), Marks and Spencer, Tesco and coffee chain Cafe Nero have all slashed their already hard-pressed workers’ terms and conditions to fund this Tory gimmick. The living wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. This is what is needed to be able to simply exist - not necessarily what is needed in order to live comfortably. In Britain, it has become acceptable for people to have to do two or three different jobs in order to put food on the table. A young woman I met who works in Poundland starts work at 7 am, finishes at 5 pm, and then does a cleaning job from 5.30 pm -7 pm before working in a restaurant for three hours or more, for six or sometimes seven days a week. That’s just so she can pay her rent, council tax and fuel bills. She still struggles to pay for transport to and from work. When I asked what she does away from work, she said that she sometimes gets a bottle of wine and has friends round, as going out is too expensive a ‘treat’. This is how many young workers are living today.

What has also become apparent is the link between low pay/job insecurity and mental health. Many young people are not able to earn enough in order to do the things that young people should be able to do, such as enjoying the odd night out and buying new clothes. This inequality and job insecurity is hamstringing their ability to make and build new relationships, develop social skills and grow their self esteem and confidence. It’s a damning indictment that workers and trade unions have to stick their heads above the parapet and be demonised, simply for making the call for a minimum wage of £10 an hour that doesn’t exclude young people and an end to the despicable exploitation of zero hours contracts.

Our Glasgow branch of BFAWU members from the fast-food industry organised a recruitment drive with some top bands, comedians and a personal message from Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. The event was very well attended and everyone signed up to the campaign for an end to the youth rate and the call for £10 an hour and trade unions rights. We will be holding more events organised by our members, building our union and giving a platform for working people to come together and build a fairer more inclusive society. The government-led agenda of slashing rights and restrictions in the workplace, allowing huge rent rises and ever spiralling transport and food costs, along with stagnating wages, isn’t an economic necessity. It’s a political choice. People are beginning to realise this and are finally waking up to the fact that many politicians are bankrolled by big business and have only their interests at heart. People are witnessing their public services being stripped to the bone and their terms and conditions being slashed while big corporations like Google, Apple and McDonald’s avoid tax and Mike Ashley and Philip Green avoid the dock. The ‘difficult decisions’ politicians make never affect these people.

Let’s put the blame where it belongs - not on migrants, the disabled and the unemployed. Let’s instead blame the politicians whose decisions are having a detrimental effect on those at the bottom end of the pay-scale and are allowing the real villains of the piece to get away with murder. Don’t be divided by the prejudices of the 1%. Our unity frightens the life out of them.

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For a Democratic Constitution for Momentum

14th October 2016

For a Democratic Constitution for Momentum

Momentum is potentially the most important left wing mass movement that has emerged in Britain for decades. Momentum emerged with the victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest in 2015, so it is a very new movement.

Its first Conference is to be held in February 2017. This Conference is vitally important for Momentum and the left in the Labour Party. It provides the golden opportunity to set up a democratic constitution and to spell out a socialist programme for the movement.

The Labour Party Socialist Network has affiliated to the LRC, which we welcome. The LPSN has published the first proposals for the forthcoming Momentum Conference  
here:

All LRC members active in Momentum should carefully consider their proposals to the Conference. These published proposals should kickstart these discussions, which are becoming urgent. The LPSN is quite right to point out that these are only preliminary proposals and that they do not mention the election and structure of Momentum’s National Committee.

Please note in particular that the closing date for drafts to be submitted to Momentum HQ is November 19th. Get cracking!

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Appeal for Miners’ Pension Scheme

11th October 2016

The UK miners pension scheme,
for Justice & Fair Play Association.

Hello Everyone. I hope you are all well.
Some of you I have not contacted for a while, my apologies, some of you might not even remember me, but all of you have helped me in the past, mostly with the Kent Miners Festival so many thanks for that. Today, I am calling on you all to help me again, please?
I am an active member of the UK Miners Pension Scheme, for Justice & Fair Play Association.
In short, our mining pension has been plundered to the sum of £8Billion +
Following a very successful 1st Rally in Liverpool last week, organised by our Campaign Leader, Les Moore and his steering group, where rousing speeches were made by many Miners Leaders from across the UK and emphatic supporting speeches by Tosh McDonald, ASLEF and Peter Stefanovic, London Lawyer (see links below) it is now time to elevate this campaign to the next level.
I have attached our petition form and a brief.
Our surviving miners, miners widows, children/grandchildren and our next generation, need your support.
Please support Les Moore and the UK Miners Pension Scheme, for Justice & Fair Play Association.
Please pass on this request to all of your contacts. Please get as many petition forms filled in as you possibly can. Please join our campaign.  The Kent Miners Festival will be relaunched next August Bank Holiday Monday at Betteshanger Country Park, more info will follow.
Regards
Gary

Get Petition Here:

Get Brief Here:

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John McDonnell: Appeal for Keith Henderson

11th October 2016

John McDonnell: Appeal for Keith Henderson

Dear Comrade,
Keith Henderson Appeal. 

I am writing to ask for your support for Keith Henderson.
Keith is a longstanding, loyal and active supporter of the Labour Representation Committee and Momentum. He has an excellent record of campaigning for the left in the Labour Party and the trade union movement.
On 2013 am Employment Tribunal judged that Keith had suffered unlawful direct discrimination by his employer, the GMB trade union, on the basis of his left wing democratic socialist beliefs.
The GMB successfully appealed this decision and the case is now back in court this week.
I have tried to secure a resolution to this dispute by agreement but with no success.
Keith is now facing a possible bill of up to £15,000 to cover legal costs.
Keith is a low paid worker and is worried that this will put him and his family at risk of losing their home.
I am writing to ask you if you could help Keith by making a donation to his appeal and/or asking your Labour Party or trade union branch to contribute to this appeal.
It is important that we stand by someone who has stood by our movement in solidarity.
Thank you for your assistance.
John McDonnell MP


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Where is Theresa May taking the Tories?

8th October 2016

Where is Theresa May taking the Tories?

By Mick Brooks

Theresa May has vigorously worked to rebrand the Tory Party at their 2016 Conference. Why? The shock referendum ‘No’ vote has revealed that a majority in this country are deeply unhappy with the political establishment in Britain today. The referendum result in turn is an aftershock from the crash of 2008, which meant that living standards for most have stagnated or declined for a decade.

The Great Recession of 2008, and the resulting imposition of austerity, definitively discredited the ideology of neoliberalism, which had inspired both the Conservatives and New Labour from 1989 on. Both groups had failed utterly to articulate and defend the concerns of working people. In order to preserve the Tories’ future, May has dumped the out-of-touch millionaires of the Cameron-Osborne clique like last week’s rubbish.

In her Conference speeches May has continually referred to the problems of the working class. In doing so she has wrong-footed the New Labour ideologues, who were so afraid of mentioning ‘class’ that they talked instead of ‘hard-working families’.

So far all the pledges to improve the lot of workers have been so much hot air. We will watch the Brexit process attentively to make sure the government doesn’t try to water down or shred existing worker protection in EU legislation, as many Tories hoped to do. May has been talking the talk, but the Tory Party is unlikely to walk the walk.

What sort of Conservative Party has emerged from the Conference?

• May’s first attempt to stamp her identity on politics was to raise the issue of creating more grammar schools, of separating out ‘successes’ and a majority of ‘failures’ at the ripe old age of eleven.
• May’s stint at the Home Office was dominated by her obsession with migration (which she was spectacularly unsuccessful in curbing).  In 2013 she deployed ‘Go Home’ vans on our streets against illegal migrants, a clear incitement to racism.
• She was one of the main proponents of the Snoopers’ Charter, the Draft Communication Data Bill which would force internet service providers and mobile phone companies to keep records and hand them over to the government to trawl vast amounts of private data.
• For six years she sat in Cabinet in a government that was bleeding the NHS to death.
• There will be no change to proposed cuts in tax for the rich and big business.
• Austerity will continue, though Chancellor Philip Hammond has abandoned Osborne’s target to end the government deficit, since the government would never hit it anyway.

In short, though Thatcherism has been ‘dumped’, so far from capturing the middle ground, a May government represents a return to hard-line traditional social Conservatism and the support for a strong state as against the socially liberal, ideological free marketers like Cameron. For the time being she has won. The ‘Remain’ campaign kept their heads down at Conference. Cameron and Osborne were unpersoned, as in Orwell’s ‘1984’. The government is on course for a hard Brexit, though of course it could all unravel.

Ed Miliband was pilloried by David Cameron in 2013 of “wanting to live in a Marxist universe” for modest proposals to rein in the profit-gouging big six energy companies. Now May is making similar noises. John McDonnell was castigated for a reckless programme of ‘tax and spend’ for proposing to borrow at today’s exceptionally low interest rates to build up our infrastructure. Hammond now reluctantly suggests the same.

May’s rhetoric is important. She spoke at the Conference arguing that the state should intervene to “stand up FOR the weak and…up TO the powerful”. This has alarmed free market Tories and, more important, the big business sponsors who bankroll the Party. If serious she could be on a collision course with them. More likely, she will be forced to back down.

The Tories have interpreted the Brexit vote as a referendum for drastic curbs on migration. There is no evidence for this assertion. May seems to be cuddling up UKIP voters electorally, while UKIP in turn is trying to infiltrate the Tory party. Proposals to slim down overseas student quotas are an attempt to strangle one of our most successful export industries – higher education. Amber Rudd’s claim that “foreign workers are taking jobs British people could do” and demands for firms to list migrant workers are more attempts to fan the racist flame.

This hard line against migration is at odds with the posturing to be on the side of the working class. Migrants are part of the working class and we defend them as such. They are our people. May’s ploy is really to turn worker against worker. That is a campaign she must not be allowed to win.
The old neoliberal consensus shared by New Labour and the Cameron Tories is discredited. The emergence of Corbynism within the Labour Party shows the changing political agenda. Theresa May has adapted to the new political reality quite cleverly. Of course her Party’s claim to stand for the working class is utterly fraudulent.  Labour is the Party of the working class and proud of it.

Jeremy Corbyn summed it up in his Labour Conference speech: “Who seriously believes that the Tories could ever stand up to the privileged few? They are the party of the privileged few, funded by the privileged few, for the benefit of the privileged few.”

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If Jeremy wins

7th October 2016

If Jeremy wins

By John McDonnell

I am writing this before the result of the leadership election is announced and despite my adherence to historical materialism I am also deeply superstitious when it comes to predicting election results. Having lost in my home constituency of Hayes and Harlington by 54 votes in 1992 after four recounts I take no election for granted.

However I still believe in the need for planning for whatever outcome. So if Jeremy wins we need a clear plan of action to put in place the initiatives we will want to take and to address the immediate issues that will face us.

A first step will be to appoint a new ministerial team. The current Shadow Cabinet has proved to be effective, principled and loyal. There will be some vacancies to fill as some members move on to other positions and other elected roles. This will give people the opportunity to come forward and offer their services, including some who resigned earlier this year. This will enable Jeremy to have the Shadow Cabinet he has always aspired to that reflects the range of opinion in the Party and the PLP.

There are many PLP members in the second and third tier of the ministerial teams who didn’t resign and others who did. The message coming back during the summer is that most just want to get back to work developing Labour’s policies and continuing to oppose the Tories. That’s exactly what our party members and supporters want and the message that they have sent us all. As a result we have the potential for a strong, creative team emerging.

I believe that the leadership election was a classic attempt at a coup, promoted by a small group that from the outset could not come to terms with Jeremy’s election and would not accept his mandate and the wishes of our membership. The vast bulk of the PLP are not in that camp and I believe will work constructively with us if Jeremy is re-elected.

The interesting feature of the leadership election campaign and debates was that there didn’t seem to be any major policy differences between the candidates. The most common expression we heard was “I agree with Jeremy but…”. Apart from the issue of Trident the left agenda Jeremy had been putting forward was accepted by MPs campaigning for the other candidate. However if there is to be a comradely spirit of give and take after the leadership election the criticisms levelled at Jeremy and our administration have to be addressed.

The question of competence came up several times. That means we have to address this firmly. We have to demonstrate that we are a government in waiting. I have argued for some time that we should structure and resource our operation in opposition on the same lines as if we were in government now. That means appointing a shadow professional team to advise on, develop and implement the policies we wish to bring together to campaign on in opposition and prepare for enactment when we enter into government.

We should appoint a shadow team of civil service type Permanent Secretaries, each one attached to each Shadow Cabinet team - and alongside them establish for each department a shadow policy advisory group drawn from experts and practitioners in each of the policy fields.This will demonstrate in practical terms that we are ready to move into office at a moment’s notice.

To develop our ideas and policies we need to maintain the enthusiasm that has been generated by the leadership campaigns and immediately organise a series of policy conferences and seminars all round the country bringing together party members, trade unionists, policy experts, campaigning organisations and partners in civil society organisations. This will help feed in the vast expertise of our members and supporters into our policy making process.

We also need to establish the campaigning organisation that we need to win us the next election based on the social movement that is now the Labour Party. That means providing our members with the resources and developing their campaigning skills that will enable them to communicate our ideas. We need to create both a mass prominent involvement of party members in every aspect of community life and also create our own media via the new technology at our disposal.We have in prospect the most exciting period in our party’s recent history. Let’s seize it with both hands

John McDonnell is Shadow Chancellor, MP for Hayes and Harlington, Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and Chair of the Labour Representation Committee. He has been heavily involved in Labour Briefing since the early years.

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Jackie Walker: Resolution passed by the NC of the LRC on Oct 1st

5th October 2016

Jackie Walker: Resolution passed by the NC of the LRC on Oct 1st

This NC opposes the suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party and her [proposed] removal as vice-chair of Momentum. 

In light of the Chakrabarti report findings, we question the Labour Party’s decision to have held this training session on antisemitism at Conference, and condemn the leaking of film footage from the event.

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Jackie Walker: letter to the ‘Guardian’

5th October 2016

Jackie Walker: letter to the ‘Guardian’, 5th October

As Jewish members and supporters of Momentum, we do not believe that what Jackie Walker said during a training event at Labour party conference was antisemitic (Walker stripped of Momentum role, 4 October). You report Jackie as saying that “she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with”. This is not surprising – there isn’t one. The Jewish Labour Movement, which ran the event, states that the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism’s working definition on antisemitism is the standard definition, despite the fact that its successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, has junked this definition, which equates criticism of the Israeli state with antisemitism. Jackie also stated that Holocaust Memorial Day should be more inclusive of other acts of genocide. Why is this antisemitic? It has always been a principle of the Zionist movement that the Nazi Holocaust was exclusive to the Jews. Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, has argued that “the Nazis only attempted to annihilate one people, the Jews”. According to Bauer, “the Holocaust is very much a unique case”.

Jackie’s arguments were made in good faith. They may be right or they may be wrong. What they are not is antisemitic. The decision of Momentum’s steering committee and its chair Jon Lansman to remove Jackie Walker as vice-chair is a betrayal of the trust of thousands of Momentum members. Momentum’s grassroots members overwhelmingly support Jackie.

Tony Greenstein
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead
Leon Rosselson
Ruth Appleton
Rica Bird
Mike Cushman
Dr Merav Devere
Mark Elf
Sylvia Finzi
Ken Fryde
Leah Levane
Claire Glasman
Selma James
Michael Kalmanovitz
Helen Marks
Elizabeth Morley
Diana Neslen
Ilan Pappe
Martin Parnell
Roland Rance
Dr Brian Robinson
Amanda Sebestyen
Glynn Secker
David Selzer
Sam Semoff
Sam Weinstein
Naomi Wimborne-Iddrissi

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Citizen: New Issue Out Now

4th October 2016

Citizen: New Issue Out Now

The latest, post-Conference, issue of CITIZEN, the journal of our Scottish sister organisation, the Campaign for Socialism is out now.

Read it online here

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NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2016: NC STATEMENT

3rd October 2016

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2016: NC STATEMENT

TRANSFORMING OUR PARTY TO TRANSFORM OUR SOCIETY


Contents

1. The Domestic Situation
2-3. Corbyn – A victory for class politics
4-5. The Battle inside Labour

6-8. Achieving Our Goal

9-10. Fighting Tory Austerity

11-13. EU Exit, Wars and Immigration
14. Preparing for 2020, or 2017?
15-20. The Labour Party

• Fighting the Purge

• Rule changes

• Challenging Prejudice and Bigotry

• Re-selection

• Labour’s Policy Process

• The Trades Unions

21-24. Prospects for the Labour Left

• Momentum

• Labour Briefing


THE DOMESTIC SITUATION
1. The UK is in the midst of a wholly new political situation - one with profound opportunities but also risks for the left. The vote to leave the EU in June 2016 has seen the fall of the Cameron government and the end of Osborne, coupled with the installation of a more right-wing Conservative government under Theresa May, in a broader context of deepening social divisions, not least over the vote to leave the EU, and rising overt racism and intolerance.  Yet the ascendancy of the Tories is very fragile. Their parliamentary majority is small, they have the electoral support of less than a quarter of the electorate and they are riven by internal struggles, as shown by opposition within their own ranks to grammar schools. They can be beaten.

CORBYN – A VICTORY FOR CLASS POLITICS
2. The re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader is of profound significance. The campaign engaged the activity of tens of thousands of activists in a party whose membership has trebled since the 2015 General Election. The focus of Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents on personality rather than policy underlines the extent to which the battle over policy issues is being won. It is too unpopular for Labour’s right-wing to openly attack the ideas of Jeremy Corbyn; hence the emphasis on leadership qualities, the people who support him, their alleged tactics, etc.
3. Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat of his opponents was a victory for class politics against a project mounted by the right-wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party, their many friends in the media and millionaire donors. As Paul Mason wrote: “Ranged against us are all the people listed as donors to Progress, Saving Labour and Labour Tomorrow: the hedge funds, supermarket bosses and City types who thought the Labour Party was going to be a vehicle for a compassionate form of neoliberalism. What they’re facing is the permanent loss of the Labour Party as an institution supporting the economic system of the past 30 years. That’s why they’re fighting so hard to undermine us.” https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/find-each-other-and-act-dd566b812732#.9iz10j8n9

THE BATTLE INSIDE LABOUR
4. Now, for all the talk of new parties and factions, the diehard right-wing has nowhere to go: the old political centre has collapsed and few Labour members would follow them away from the Party. For the immediate future, Corbyn’s leadership, re-established with an increased majority, is unassailable.  But this will not be a permanent state of affairs. Despite the current talk of Party unity, Progress and Labour First supporters do not rule out further leadership challenges. The finely balanced NEC may continue to make life extremely difficult for the leadership.  The mixed results of Labour’s 2016 conference show that the left has yet to secure control of the Party and its decision-making bodies at a local and national level. There is a continuing guerrilla war by the right-wing and the bureaucracy against Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda. The sniping, purges and sabotage have not stopped.
5. At the time of writing we simply do not know how many of the ‘soft left’ in the PLP are prepared to accept the Corbyn agenda and work alongside Jeremy in Parliament – leaving the irreconcilable right-wing in permanent opposition to his leadership. Moreover, an early election could lead to a Labour defeat and the downfall of the entire project. The left has a unique opportunity – a real chance to make a difference – but one that may be short-lived. Given this, we must be clear about our objectives - and our priorities.

ACHIEVING OUR GOAL
6. The LRC wants to see a Corbyn-led Labour government committed to socialist policies.  This must be the goal of all our work.  The democratisation of the Labour Party, the building of a broad social movement and even the LRC itself are all necessary but, ultimately, secondary to the achievement of this overriding objective. The priority of the left over the next period must be to take the battle for policy out into society, to win the hearts and minds of voters, and create the majority which will elect a socialist Labour government.
7. The challenge in doing this is to recognise – as Labour’s right-wing fails or refuses to do – that the left is now the mainstream. What was once dismissable as “extreme” is today the new centre and our socialist ideas now speak, not just for the majority, but for the overwhelming majority – the 99% pitted against an out of touch elite. The left must seize this opportunity to address an audience far, far wider than it has reached since the Second World War, but it must find the language and the forms necessary to do so effectively. This is a project not just for the Labour Party but for a much broader movement behind and beyond Corbyn – trades unions, community organisations, students and other campaigns.
8. The trebling of Labour’s membership also promises new activism within the Party itself and the left will need to refine the ways it engages with those newly engaged with our ideas. To lay lasting foundations for a new kind of party it will be necessary to break with the routinism and defensiveness that has characterised much of the left’s activity in the Party in recent years.

FIGHTING TORY AUSTERITY
9. None of this activity takes place in a political vacuum. Opinion polls in current conditions are not especially trustworthy, but there is no doubt that Labour’s leadership contest has damaged its standing at a time of national crisis – when the Party should have been concentrating its fire on a Tory government which revealed itself to be utterly clueless in dealing with the vote to leave the EU. Labour’s internal conflicts contrast with the ruthless and undemocratic way the Conservative leadership vacancy was filled.  The details of austerity may have changed but Theresa May’s government can be expected to push forward an aggressively neoliberal agenda, as was made clear by the post-referendum statement of the Centre for Policy Studies, which hailed “a unique political opportunity to drive through a wide ranging supply-side revolution on a scale similar to that of the 1980s. This must include removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, such as those related to climate directives and investment fund regulations.”  For all the talk of “compassionate Conservatism” the Tories continue with merciless divide and rule politics.  The left must counter this with class-based unity.
10. Clearly Labour and the left will continue to oppose austerity and defend from Tory attacks what remains of the public sector and our welfare state, including social housing, comprehensive education, the NHS and living wages. But if we are to create a social hegemony that can win a parliamentary majority and outlast Corbyn’s leadership, we shall need to move beyond our traditional comfort zone and articulate popular policies, including on energy and the environment, immigration, defence and foreign affairs. A credible and radical programme of economic investment and regeneration will be central to this.

EU EXIT, WARS and IMMIGRATION
11. Above all, it is clear that only the left has the ideas that can negotiate the most favourable terms for the UK’s exit from the EU. This includes a commitment to free movement and migrants’ rights, the protection of human and social rights, strong climate change and sustainable food targets and a rejection of unfair trade deals. Bilateral trade agreements, let alone service agreements, are highly likely to be on terms less favourable than the single market provides – hence the need to preserve access to this market.  We should be prepared to fight a General Election on the terms of EU exit.  These events are out of our hands and we are certainly not calling for a second referendum.  Until the Tory government has worked out a coherent strategy for the UK’s exit from the EU, all we can do is draw up basic red lines opposing any privatisation, and in defence of workers’ rights, environmental protection, consumer protection and human rights.
12. We know of no evidence that British or other military intervention has prevented the spread of terrorism, but it has contributed to the growing refugee crisis across Europe today.  The left must continue to demand an immediate end to Britain’s bombing of Syria and Iraq, and demand a comprehensive Europe-wide plan to provide humanitarian assistance to the increased number of refugees displaced by wars and bombing. 
13. To cut across the anti-immigrant mood which has been whipped up by the vote to leave the EU, and the consequent surge of violence and confidence for right-wing forces across British society, the left must show that wealth and power can be harnessed to build a decent future for all within a Europe inspired by Labour’s democratic and socialist values.  Immigrants, regardless of their country of origin, must not pay the price of Cameron’s referendum.  The left must defend the principle of the free movement of people across Europe, including the UK; and oppose prejudice, intolerance and hatred whenever and wherever we find it.

PREPARING FOR 2020, or 2017?
14. Given the proposed gerrymandered redrawing of constituency boundaries – which will, if implemented, remove a significant number of hitherto Labour seats – Labour must work with community groups, trades unions, tenants, and other campaigns, from the bottom up, on key fronts in the fight against the Tories. On some core issues there will be strong supporters among other progressive parties and informal non-electoral alliances against Tory policy may need to be considered in individual circumstances.  However, the left must always maintain a class basis to our politics and view any parliamentary tactics, including proposed alliances, through that prism.  The left can isolate and expose right-wing leadership elements in all parties and informally co-operate against the Tory government’s offensive without giving lasting credence to those whose ultimate aim is to undermine our politics.  By deciding our short-term priorities and working with all those prepared to fight for them we can marginalise even the super-funded right-wing in our Party.

THE LABOUR PARTY
Fighting the Purge

15. We must also work to make lasting democratic changes in Labour’s structures.  All paid officials of the Party must be properly accountable to the membership through appropriate governance arrangements, and the strongest principles of natural justice must be upheld when any disciplinary action is taken, either against individual members or supporters, or local units of the Party. The culture of the purge which has been overseen by Labour’s Compliance Unit must be ended and the principles of the Chakrabarti Report should be fully implemented.  All LRC members should actively campaign for this re-democratisation of the Labour Party, as outlined in the LRC’s statement of 1 September 2016 - http://l-r-c.org.uk/news/story/lrc-statement-against-the-membership-purge/. Various campaigns sprang-up in response to the purge.  It is to be hoped that these will combine fraternally into one national anti-purge campaign.

Rule changes
16. The left must organise to reverse the anti-democratic rule changes within the package of NEC-proposed measures successfully managed through 2016 Labour conference by the right-wing.  Attention has been focused on the new NEC representatives for Scottish and Welsh Labour, and clearly NEC representatives must be elected not appointed.  This must not overshadow another new Party rule which stipulates that Labour councillors cannot set an illegal budget and compels Labour councillors to vote for a legal budget.  Thus what was already general Party policy has been concreted into Labour’s rule book.  The purpose can only be to discipline councillors who speak out against cuts.  The left must organise to oppose and rescind this rule at the first opportunity.  Meanwhile, we must stand in solidarity with anti-cuts Labour councillors disciplined under it.

Challenging Prejudice and Bigotry
17. The left has led the way in implementing the Equalities Act.  We must do the same with implementing the Act’s protocols and improve upon putting these into practice.  We must be careful not to deny that people on the left can ever be guilty of abuse or downplay the vital and decisive importance of challenging sexism, homophobia, disabilism and all racism in the Labour Party, the labour movement and left organisations.  It is not enough to point out the hypocrisy of some on the right.  We need to pro-actively stand against prejudice and bigotry in our political organisations, wherever it comes from, just as we do in wider society.  Aided by their media friends, Labour’s right-wing is exploiting issues of prejudice, intolerance and hatred against the left.  The left must resist being divided either from each other or wider society, and persist in exposing the sickening and dangerous mis-use of hate issues as weapons against us.

Re-selection
18. While it is not necessarily appropriate for the Party leadership to lead a campaign for mandatory reselection of MPs, we do need to extend a debate about the accountability of our representatives at all levels of the Party and its affiliated bodies.  The selection of candidates is rightly a matter for members and supporters of the Party at local level.  No one has an automatic right to remain a Labour candidate in perpetuity.
 
Labour’s Policy Process
19. We also need to discuss and push for additional mechanisms to encourage popular participation in policy making. These could be citizens’ assemblies or Podemos-style online circles but, within Labour, these must always enhance member-led democracy and collective decision-making. The aim would be to ensure that not just the Leader but the whole leadership team has a mandate, as does every policy.  We should argue for local parties, both CLPs and branches, to play a key role in reaching out to ensure these frameworks have a real place in local political activity.

The Trades Unions
20. This process also needs to be extended into the affiliates. The support of many unions for Corbyn in his re-election campaign was welcome and will have significantly contributed to his victory, but we need to be alert to the fact that some General Secretaries only gave their support under pressure and some have been working behind the scenes since his first election for a watering down of his stance on several issues. Just as in the Labour Party, we need to work at every level in the unions to encourage participation, democracy and transparency, with policies which can defend workers against the ongoing attacks of employers and government. We have to encourage union members and branches to join/affiliate to the Party and not simply leave support to national executives.

PROSPECTS FOR THE LABOUR LEFT
21. The organisational and political tasks facing the pro-Corbyn forces far outweigh the individual capacity of the left’s existing organisations, including the LRC.  No single group is in a position to undertake all of the necessary work in building influence at every level of the Labour Party and turning outwards to win a majority of the public to our side.  We must calibrate carefully what further tasks the LRC is best placed to undertake, neither setting our organisation unrealistic goals, nor hanging back where there is a need to address areas of serious deficiency

Momentum
22. The LRC was party to and welcomed the launch of Momentum.  We continue to help build it and politically shape its character.  Crucially, we must ensure and insist that it becomes a democratic membership body with union involvement.  Working alongside others we can provide political input to turn the slogans and sentiments, which have emerged as the main achievement of Corbyn’s transformation of Labour so far, into a programme of policies for electoral success and a change in government.  We want to share the political strengths of the LRC tradition with Momentum and encourage it in the most fruitful direction possible – outgoing political activity and effective, democratic organisation. 
23. Currently Momentum is a work in progress, with an uneven character depending on specific circumstances in each area.  Where existing LRC branches have a real presence in local political life we must maintain and build them; and, in areas where Momentum lacks serious organisation inside Labour Party structures, we should support Labour activists to develop new LRC branches to rectify this.  However, we recognise that Momentum remains the most promising framework for uniting the Labour left and articulating a more transparent approach to the construction of slates for leadership positions, such as the NEC. 

Labour Briefing
24. The publication of Labour Briefing as a regular source of information and analysis about developments in the movement is another instance where the LRC is helping to fill an obvious gap.  Briefing must increase its distribution and promotional networks to widen the readership of the journal, while also recognising the urgent need to continue to improve its online and social media presence.


National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee
October 2016

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Not Fighting the Cuts

3rd October 2016

Not Fighting the Cuts
Another Item from Labour’s Conference

By Claire Wadey

Of the NEC-proposed rule changes successfully managed through 2016 Labour conference by the right-wing, little attention has been given to a new Party rule which stipulates that:

“Members of the Labour group in administration must comply with the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and subsequent revisions and shall not vote against or abstain on a vote in full council to set a legal budget proposed by the administration.

Members of the Labour group shall not support any proposal to set an illegal budget. Any councillor who votes against or abstains on a Labour group policy decision in this matter may face disciplinary action.”

Rather than to protect councillors from deselection, as the Huff Post headline suggests, the purpose of taking what has been a general policy and concreting it into Labour Party rules can only be to discipline councillors who speak out or take further action against cuts.

Instructing Labour representatives irrevocably to obey laws set by our opponents is not the work of the party of Lansbury, Poplar or Clay Cross. And where will this lead in the scenario that a racist, Brexit-inspired Government decrees that local authorities must police immigration status? Socialists and trades unionists know that our job is to fight for justice. Whether how we fight complies with laws made by our opponents is a purely tactical question.

The left must organise to oppose and rescind this rule at the first opportunity. Meanwhile, we must stand in solidarity with any anti-cuts Labour councillor disciplined under it.

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LP Conference Report

28th September 2016

LP Conference Report

By Claire Wadey

Labour Party conference was in uproar first thing this morning (Tuesday 27th September) following some good, old-fashioned management - one delegate called it “gerrymandering” by the platform, under the guidance of outgoing NEC Chair, USDAW’s Paddy Lillis.
The NEC has proposed various rule changes to conference, some of which are hotly contested as they tilt the balance on the incoming NEC, and the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) had decided to take them all in one vote. Very many delegates objected to this, reference back was moved on the CAC report (effectively rejecting the proposal) and the mover, Manuel Cortes of the TSSA, called for a card vote, as is the mover’s right under Labour’s established rules. Paddy Lillis repeated refused to put the CAC report to a card vote and went ahead with a vote on a show of hands - where it is impossible to tell the weight of affiliates’ votes - and then declared it carried.

Regardless of your views on the individual rule changes, this total disregard of Labour rules by the Chair of conference is shocking and throws into sharp relief the pressing need to restore Party democracy.

On the rule changes themselves, the NEC proposal for one extra NEC place to be filled each as the appointment of the leaders of Scottish and Welsh Labour, is undemocratic and unaccountable and will not guarantee Scottish or Welsh members a voice. Democracy is Scottish & Welsh Labour members, or even conferences, electing NEC representatives. It is not leader-appointed representatives.

Labour is a party of democracy, not patronage. We must do everything we can to ensure that Labour stays that way.

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Jeremy Corbyn - the reboot

19th September 2016

Mike Phipps (Brent Central CLP) and Sue Lukes (Islington North CLP) suggest five priorities for the Labour leader following his re-election

The 2016 campaign for re-election may have added new members to the Labour Party and helped popularise some of our key ideas, but ultimately it was always an unnecessary distraction. The reality is that Britain and all of its key political institutions are in deep crisis. The priority now for the Corbyn leadership is to address the country, not the Party. We must now prepare to win the next General Election.

To do this, firstly, a broad political alliance needs to be constructed. Current electoral geography is against us, in particular the dominance of the SNP in Scotland, but also the expected loss of safe Labour seats resulting from the government’s gerrymandered redrawing of constituency boundaries. Labour is going to need to work with community groups, trade unions, tenants, single issue campaigns and other parties from the bottom up on key fronts - health, education, civil liberties, housing, migrant rights.

Party patriotism cannot be allowed to get in the way of building the broadest possible unity around campaigns on these issues, on many of which there will be stronger supporters among Greens, Nationalists and even some Lib Dems than among some of Labour’s right wing. Concrete alliances on issues where we have agreement can be forged, as some members of the Shadow Cabinet are already doing. These will be popular and can isolate and expose those right wing leadership elements in all parties that reject mutual co-operation against the Tory government’s offensive.

Two institutional flaws in Britain’s inadequate democracy need to be put back on the table. The idea that this Tory government be allowed to claim a democratic mandate on just 36% of those who voted in the 2015 General Election is a scandal. To say that Labour too got away with this in the past is not good enough. The fact that Caroline Lucas, the newly elected joint leader of the Greens, has made proportional representation a “red line” in any discussion with Labour on electoral pacts makes this debate an unavoidable one for us.

Likewise, if real progress is to be made in Scotland and Wales, this could mean strategic alliances with nationalist forces if that’s what it takes to get Labour into government. For that to happen, Labour will have to stop playing “catch-up” on the national question and commit to the broadest possible devolution across the UK’s regions.

Our second big challenge: whatever problems the Party continues to face at national level, we must build on our base in local government and work with councillors to help define the agenda they need to deliver services. The work that Jon Trickett did on regional devolution in the 2015 leadership election can be taken forward, drawing on some of the new mayors, for example in Bristol, and mayoral candidates, in the North West, who are not hostile to Corbyn’s leadership.

Thirdly, we need to introduce some mechanisms for popular consultation on policy. These could be citizens’ assemblies or Podemos-style online circles to refine and develop policy ideas. While this is a radical departure in Labour policymaking, it fits in with Jeremy Corbyn’s own proposals, announced in August, to lead a digital revolution and strengthen online democracy. The aim would be to ensure that not just the leader but every policy has a mandate. Local party branches could play a key role in reaching out to ensure these frameworks have a real place in local political activity.

Fourthly, we have to have a clear idea of what kind of Brexit we want. By prioritising the removal of Jeremy Corbyn, many on Labour’s right who claim the Party did too little in the referendum campaign squandered a real opportunity to take the offensive on this issue against a Tory government that was - is - clueless on how to deal with Brexit. We must provide leadership on this: full integration into the single market must be a central goal. Bilateral trade agreements, let alone service agreements, are just unserious - the government has so little expertise on this, it is hiring expensive outside consultants to do the work. Seeking bilateral solutions can lead only to a further enfeebling of Britain’s declining industrial base. We also need to resolutely defend EU social entitlements and European Convention human rights for all citizens and residents from impending Tory attack.

Fifthly, our Party is in a mess at all levels, with the exception of the grassroots where the phenomenal increase in membership, trebling what it was 18 months ago, poses new challenges. We have to continue to encourage and listen to these new members if we are to retain them and make them active ingredients in a Labour victory. To this end, the full-time apparatus must be reshaped to ensure it is at the service of the members, helping them to play a full role in the Party, rather than playing a factional role, even excluding members from activity, as we have seen in recent months.

Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election is also an opportunity to strengthen the team around the leadership. Last year’s unexpected win necessitated a hasty pulling together from scratch of a new team, with all its inevitable teething troubles. This year’s long-expected victory should provide the impetus to recruit some of the finest experts who want to serve. We need a focused, efficient operation, outward-looking and responsive to the electorate, strategic in its vision and clear and concise in its core messages.

What about the MPs? The war in the PLP has to end. It’s appalling that Labour MPs who claim to care so passionately about EU membership have dragged us into these internal squabbles at a time of national crisis. The plotting has to stop. But if we get all these other things right, then probably some who resigned from Shadow Cabinet positions, as well as some who didn’t come on board before, will be prepared to work with us. If we are magnanimous in victory and reach out to them, then the diehards whose sole aim is to bring down Jeremy Corbyn can be isolated from the broader middle ground of the PLP.

Nothing succeeds like success. If we can go beyond the internal contest to address the concerns and win the trust of voters who didn’t vote Labour last time and now feel betrayed by the other parties, we can change the political landscape.

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Ronnie Draper Reinstated

11th September 2016

Ronnie Draper Reinstated

The General Secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union has been reinstated after trumped up charges to suspend him from the Labour Party and not allow him to vote in the leadership election were dropped.

The BFAWU issued this statement:

The BFAWU Executive Council welcomes the reversal of the Labour Party NEC’s decision to suspend our General Secretary, Ronnie Draper.
Although we are pleased that common sense has prevailed in this instance, we are extremely disappointed that the decision to suspend Ronnie was taken in the first place and we are very concerned that thousands of rank and file members have been refused the right to take part in this unnecessary leadership election. We demand that all paid up Labour Party members and supporters be reinstated and that this undemocratic and ideological purge is brought to an end. We call on the Parliamentary Labour Party and those who have wilfully and selfishly created chaos to end this civil war now and get on with the job of standing up for our communities, who desperately need a strong and united Labour Party. The focus should be on stopping this Conservative Government led by an unelected Prime Minister. The energy and passion should be directed at preventing Theresa May from her agenda of furthering inequality, not at vain, ego-driven, internal squabbles.

It is time for the Labour Party to start doing what it has always done best: standing up for workers; supporting the vulnerable and those in need; and helping to build a fairer, more equal society that gives hope and opportunity for all, not just the wealthy few.

Ian Hodson
National President on behalf of the Executive Council

Ronnie Draper is speaking at the LRC Fringe Meeting at TUC Conference on Monday 12th September. Don’t miss it

Other ‘Purge’ News

Pamela Fitzpatrick, a Labour councillor in Harrow, has also been reinstated after ridiculous and unsubstantiated allegations that she had been ‘rude’ at a meeting.

This shows that it pays to protest if you are suspended, and get as many people as possible to support your protest.

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Let’s get Corbyn Back in to Get the Tories Out

10th September 2016

Let’s get Corbyn Back in to Get the Tories Out
LRC Meeting at TUC Conference

Friends’ Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF
Monday 12 September 2016
6pm refreshments,  meeting at 6.30pm. Get there early

Speakers: John McDonnell, Jennie Formby, Manuel Cortes, Ronnie Draper, Jackie Walker, Tosh McDonald, Matt Wrack, and others

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Come to LRC Conference!

8th September 2016

Come to LRC Conference!

Transforming our Party to Transform our Society

Discussion will be on four main Themes:
• Peace
• Equality
• Socialism
• Environment

When: Saturday 29th October 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Student Central (formerly ULU), Malet St, London WC1

Invited Speakers include: John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry, Matt Wrack, Ronnie Draper, Jackie Walker, Manuel Cortes

To book your place, go to the ‘shop’ section of this webite

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Suggested Contemporary Resolution

5th September 2016

Suggested Contemporary Resolution

For a Democratic, Pluralist Labour Party

Conference notes the numerous expulsions and suspensions of party members carried out from late August. At time of writing the number is unknown, but on 20 August the Daily Telegraph reported “thousands of Labour members… could be suspended or expelled”.

Conference notes that this includes many longstanding members, among them Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Ronnie Draper.

We further note that at almost exactly the same time it was revealed that David Sainsbury gave £2m to the Lib Dems last year!

Conference believes that anyone willing to genuinely support Labour should be welcome, subject to our rules. Previous left-wing political activity should be of no relevance; neither should membership or support of particular organisations or currents.

However our rules change, we need to ensure they are carried out in a spirit consistent with a democratic culture. As the Chakrabarti report argues, “the Labour Party should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice”, “due process” and “proportionality”.

Expulsion and suspensions should not be used as a factional weapon. Everyone should be properly informed of the charges against them in writing – not via the press! – and given a hearing before any penalty, and there should be a proper appeals system.

Conference resolves
to call on all party officials and bodies to act in the spirit of this motion.
to call on the NEC to carry out the Chakrabarti report’s recommendations.
that all those expelled or suspended who have been denied an appeal should be given one.

(249 words)
There are also suggested contemporary resolutions on the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy website:
• Against austerity policies
• For a campaign on rail
• Against the Housing and Planning Act
• Against feudal housing tenure
• In defence of the NHS

See:

The deadline for receipt of contemporary motions is Thursday 15 September 2016 at 12 noon.

While CLP meetings are suspended until the conclusion of the Leadership election, the NEC has agreed that a meeting may be held to consider essential Annual Conference business.

The title has a maximum of 10 words and the motion a maximum of 250 words

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Time to Rebuild the Organisation of Labour Women from the Grassroots

3rd September 2016

Time to Rebuild the Organisation of Labour Women from the Grassroots

by Maria Exall

With our current standing in the polls the Labour Party needs urgently to review how it appeals to women voters. Whilst such a review should include structural changes such as gender quotas for Party positions including the Shadow Cabinet and the ‘great offices of state’, a standalone position of Minister for Women and Equalities, and of course All Women Shortlists for selection (all matters raised in the recently released Labour Women’s Network survey) the most significant progressive change that could be implemented this year is a renewed and revitalised Labour Women’s Conference.

At present the Labour Women’s Conference takes place on the day before Labour’s Annual Conference. It has proved very popular with regular attendance of up to a thousand CLP and trade union women. But important democratic reforms are necessary to make the Conference a proper voice for women in CLPs and working women organised in trade unions. These include the Conference becoming a decision making event, and the opportunity for the policy decided there to become Party policy via Annual Conference Resolutions and via the National Policy Forum.

Firstly it is necessary then for Women’s Conference to have the opportunity to debate and vote on motions from CLP’s, Women’s Forums and affiliated organisations. The decision making at the Labour Women’s Conference should mirror the federal nature of the sovereign decision making at Annual Party Conference with 50% CLPs and 50% affiliated organisations. This would ensure the issues we debate reflect the interests and concerns of working class women in our local communities and in our workplaces.

Secondly the decisions of the Labour Women’s Conference should be the way for CLP and trade union women to directly input into Party decision making. We want policy to come from the bottom up – not top down. However well intentioned the leadership or senior women members of the Party are, the best way to reach out to women Labour voters and potential Labour women voters is policy developed from the experience of working class women up and down the country. It is worth remembering that key progressive policies including the National Minimum Wage actually originated from Labour’s Women’s organisation- our demand became Party policy and was then implemented by a Labour Government.

A renewed national Labour Women’s Conference could help revitalise existing local Women’s Forums and encourage the creation of many more. These could form the focus of grassroots campaigning by CLP’s on women’s issues on a borough wide or city basis. We should consider the formation of women’s structures at regional level which can involve regional trade union women’s organisations and women’s officers from across local CLPs as well as other Labour women activists.

We need to retain all the best features of the current annual Women’s Conference but improve its democracy and accountability. Whilst informal session and invited speakers should be a part of a vibrant annual women’s event the arrangements for the Conference must be accountable, and the opportunity to make policy is necessary and vital. We should make sure that Women’s Conference is inclusive and shows the diversity of Labour women’s experience whatever our race, sexuality, disability, or age.

The current Women’s Conference arrangements are haphazard.  There is no transparent decision making on the speakers invited or the themes of the sessions.  There is no provision for any delegate based decision making. The only current output from the Conference is a short report is made at Annual Conference on the proceedings of the Women’s Conference from the day before – but who makes it and what they say is not subject to any real accountability. Reform is well overdue.

Labour women active in the workplace through their trade unions, and women in local parties active in their local communities, want their say. We want the opportunity to come together and decide the priorities for women in the Party’s political agenda, and to debate the positive effect for women of Labour’s policies. To develop our democracy we need a proper structure for the Women’s Conference – one which allows the voice of women at the grassroots to be heard. It is time to rebuild the organisation of Labour Women from the bottom up.

Thisd srticle originally appeared in Left Futures.

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LRC Statement against the Membership Purge

1st September 2016

LRC Statement against the Membership Purge

The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) strongly opposes the current widespread suspension of Labour members and the disqualification of members and supporters from voting in the Party’s leadership contest.  As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP has noted, this smacks of a “rigged purge”.
The suspensions are disproportionately affecting known Corbyn supporters.  So zealous are those working in Labour’s shadowy Compliance Unit that those suspended include leading labour movement figures such as Ronnie Draper, General Secretary of BFAWU – a Labour affiliate.  Jeremy Corbyn has rightly called for “the strongest principles of natural justice” to be implemented.  These are being systematically ignored at present.

The LRC demands that these basic principles be extended to Labour members and supporters:
• To be told in clear and specific terms why they are suspended, or why their voting rights have been withdrawn.
• Notification of the name of their accuser, unless there is a real risk to safety.
• Setting a strict time limit on all provisional suspensions; e.g. thirty days.
• Allowing appeals against suspensions, making the procedure clear and publicly available.
• Extending the right of appeal to registered supporters who have had their right to vote withdrawn.
• Setting a strict time limit on the retrospective consideration of ‘offences’;  e.g. when specifying particular terms of so-called abuse , Labour members’ past actions should only be reviewed for a maximum of two years.
• Prompt and comprehensive filling of reports with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) where the Party’s internal disciplinary procedures are reported in the media without the approval of the member or supporter, and full co-operation with any investigation by the ICO.  The Labour Party must take responsibility for any breaches of the Data Protection Act by its employees and act appropriately.

Suspensions are being carried out in the name of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), but this is a fiction.  The NEC is in no position to investigate or even review the cases of potentially hundreds or thousands of suspended Labour members.  It is not in continuous session and last met in July. We believe the unelected General Secretary, Iain McNicol, and the unelected Compliance Unit are responsible for the present outrages.  On taking office, priorities for the newly-elected NEC must be to:
• Hold an inquiry into Iain McNicol’s role in relation to the suspensions of Labour members and supporters
• Propose rule changes to make the Labour Party’s General Secretary an elected post.

Disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party must be changed to allow due process and implementation of the principles of natural justice.  Shami Chakrabarti was shocked at the arbitrary and unjust nature of the current process.  The broad principles of her 2016 Report must be implemented:
• A legally qualified panel should be available to advise the Labour Party on the justice of disciplinary procedures.
• The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) should take over the handling of disciplinary procedures from the NEC. The NCC should be bound by strict rules.
• The power of interim suspensions should be removed from officials acting on the instructions of Labour’s General Secretary.
• No section of the Labour Party should be kept under special measures for more than six months without a review.  Suspension must not be allowed to be repeatedly rolled over.

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Jeremy Corbyn against the Purge

30th August 2016

Jeremy against the Purge

By Claire Wadey

Good on Jeremy Corbyn, the first Labour Leader for many years to stand-up for members’ rights against the Party’s bureaucracy. As has been reported today, Jeremy has written to Labour’s General Secretary Iain McNicol, concerned that: “the online and press speculation around the reasons for suspension and how these are being dealt with are raising concerns about whether members are being treated in a consistent and proportionate manner… This in turn is damaging the reputation of the Labour Party.”

Jeremy wants Labour’s bureaucracy to bring forward the Chakrabarti Report recommendations which demand “the strongest principles of natural justice” including giving members a timeline in which their case will be dealt with, offering the identity of any complainant and telling members why they are being suspended. Demands which Labour members, with support from the LRC, CLPD and other campaigning groups of members, have been calling for over many years.

His democratic credentials are yet another reason to support Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader.

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Chakrabarti and the Purge

29th August 2016

Chakrabarti and the Purge

Below are sections from the Chakrabarti Report on anti-Semitism commissioned by the Labour Party and submitted in June 2016. This is part of an article by Mike Phipps already published on the LRC website. The full article is :
here

Shami Chakrabarti is a distinguished human rights barrister. From 2003 to 2016 she was Director of Liberty, the organisation set up to protect civil liberties in the UK. Earlier this year she was commissioned by the Labour Party to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the Party. The first two sentences of the Report read, “The Labour Party is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law.”

Shami was clearly disturbed by the lack of due process in the Party’s complaints procedure. At present we see a wholesale purge being conducted in the name of the NEC to prevent as many Corbyn supporters as possible from voting in the leadership election. Shami’s criticisms as to the lack of natural justice are more relevant than ever.

Investigations are carried out by persons unknown into Party members, who may then be suspended on vague allegations such as ‘being rude’ or, apparently, using the term ‘Blairite’.

There is no clear appeals procedure. Suspension can be for an indefinite period. The intention is clearly to deprive the member or supporter of their right to vote.

The Labour Party was founded by the trade unions. No unionised workplace would tolerate these kangaroo court procedures being used against their members for an instant. We must campaign for the NEC incoming after the Party Conference to install a complaints procedure that follows the elementary rules of natural justice along the lines of Chakrabarti’s guidelines.

What Chakrabarti recommends (in quotes) by Mike Phipps

“I recommend the drawing up, and adoption of, a readily accessible complaints procedure.” Further: “It is completely unfair, unacceptable and a breach of Data Protection law that anyone should have found out about being the subject to an investigation or their suspension by way of the media.” And: “The Labour Party should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice, however difficult the circumstances, and to resist subjecting members to a trial by media.” And: “I do not subscribe to the view that every allegation of misconduct within the Party is a factional mischief, but nor do I feel that every investigation warrants immediate publicity (a punishment in itself), nor administrative suspension (with the inevitable shame and opprobrium that is likely to follow) - even if the allegation has attracted public controversy.”

“I find it regrettable, to say the least, that some subjects of recent suspension and disciplinary process, under the Party’s disciplinary procedures, found out about their suspensions and investigations as a result of media reporting rather than notice from the Party itself. Staff or elected officials should never feel it necessary (even during a pre-election media frenzy) - to operate a presumption of suspension. If anything, the presumption should be against interim suspension.” And: “Indeed, if the principle of proportionality had been properly applied in recent times, I query whether so many people would ever have been suspended at all.”

When a disciplinary measure is taken, there should be a right of review. There should also be a time limit on bringing disciplinary charges in relation to uncomradely conduct and behaviour.

There should be limits to how long parties can be put in special measures and run from the centre. “I recommend that the NEC gives urgent attention to any parts of the country that have been under “special measures” for more than six months” and “I recommend that going forward, no Labour Party unit in any part of the country should be subject to such a regime of executive control for more than six months without review by the NEC.”

The full Report is available with an Appendix on Key Recommendations on Rule Changes to the Rule Kook (2016) after p.31 here:

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Suspended Ronnie Draper at LRC TUC Fringe Meeting

27th August 2016

Suspended Ronnie Draper at LRC TUC Fringe Meeting

It’s known that Labour’s Compliance Unit is currently working through applications to check whether the 180,000 new registered supporters who signed up to take part in the leadership election are eligible, or if some are members of, or public advocates for, other groups. This appears to reflect official desperation in the face of a Party transformed by the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

That this has resulted in the suspension of longstanding Labour member and General Secretary of the Labour-affiliated Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, Ronnie Draper - someone who has campaigned across the country for workers’ rights and against zero hours contracts - is utterly outrageous.

The LRC offers Ronnie our full support and calls for his immediate reinstatement to full Labour membership. Ronnie is speaking at our TUC fringe meeting in Brighton on the evening of Monday 12 September. We look forward to welcoming him to that event - hopefully as a fully reinstated Labour Party member.

Other speakers are: John McDonnell, Mark Serwotka, Jennie Formby, Manuel Cortes, Jackie Walker, English Collective of Prostitutes, Tosh McDonald, Matt Wrack.

LRC Meeting at TUC Conference

Monday 12th September 2016

Friends’ Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF

6pm refreshments, meeting at 6.30pm. Get there early.

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Purge of Potential Voters in Leadership Election

26th August 2016

Purge of Potential Voters in Leadership Election

A full-scale witch hunt seems to be in process in order to rig Labour’s leadership result. The unelected Compliance Unit (appointed by unelected General Secretary Iain McNicol) has been recruiting additional members to help check on the 650,000 LP members who should be entitled to vote. Nobody knows what the qualifications of these extra functionaries are – if any. Labour Party officials seem to be combing through members’ social media postings. The criteria for suspension and deprival of a vote are murky to say the least. They make it up as they go along.

Once they have identified a victim, he or she receives a bland, standardised letter which makes no reference to the alleged offence. It is very difficult to appeal when it is not clear what you are accused of. In any case there is no proper appeals procedure. In view of the number of likely victims, it is clear that it is hoped that any appeal will be too late, after the damage is done.

Their motto seems tobe the words of Macbeth, contemplating assassination, “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.”

John McDonnell Hits out at Purge

“The decision by Labour Party officials to suspend the Bakers’ Union leader Ronnie Draper from the party and deny him a vote in Labour’s leadership election over unidentified media posts is shocking, and appears to be part of a clear pattern of double standards.

“While Ronnie, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, has been denied his say in Labour’s election no action is being taken over the Labour peer Lord Sainsbury, who has given more than £2m to support the Liberal Democrats.

“And no action has been taken against Michael Foster, the Labour Party member who abused Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and staff as Nazi stormtroopers in the Daily Mail.

“Both will, as things stand, be able to vote in this election. Meanwhile thousands of other members and registered supporters are reported to have been denied a vote without being given an explanation or opportunity to challenge the decision or process.

“Labour Party members will not accept what appears to be a rigged purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters. The conduct of this election must be fair and even-handed.

“I am writing to Labour’s General Secretary Iain McNicol to demand that members and supporters who are suspended or lose their voting rights are given clear information about why action has been taken and a timely opportunity to challenge the decision.

“In particular the specification of particular terms of abuse to exclude Labour Party members from voting should not be applied retrospectively.”

The website link below seems to offer a useful guide to Labour Party members and supporters; Purge Proofing for Labour Supporters: a Handy guide by Billy Casper
here:

 

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What does the Labour Leadership Election tell us?

25th August 2016

What does the Labour Leadership Election tell us?

By John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – in between running for trains, jumping into cars, speaking on various platforms, TV and radio appearances and endless campaign organisation meetings – occasionally there is time for thought as the train speeds through Britain’s countryside.

I have been thinking about what the Labour leadership election has told us so far about the Party, its politics and our country. The most profound lesson is how far the Party’s political stance and even its language has been changed over the last year since Jeremy was elected leader. Labour’s politics have been transformed into an open declaration against austerity and the neoliberal economics that brought about the economic crisis of 2008. It is unimaginable that Labour could ever go back to supporting austerity, to endorsing attacks on benefit claimants, supporting aggressive wars or scapegoating migrants.
That is one of the immense changes brought about by the release of political energy that came from the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. Last year’s leadership election was about securing that change in political direction for the Party and establishing the new politics that would secure that change in the long term, not just for the Party but also for the country.

The leadership election this time round is about democracy – whether the Labour Party leader elected by the biggest mandate of any political leader can be overthrown by an attempted coup at Westminster, just ten months on. And it is about whether the Party’s new political direction achieved by Jeremy’s election in 2015 can be secured or overthrown by the actions of a small minority, aided by the most aggressive media bias seen in recent political history.
As an aside, when the left claims media bias there is always the retort of left paranoia. This time the scale of media bias has been evidenced by independent studies from both the LSE and Greenwich University.

This election is about who the Party belongs to – is it 200 MPs in Westminster or is it over half a million activists across the country? It’s also about whether the Labour Party is a mass movement, open, inclusive and welcoming or is it a bureaucratic machine controlled from above and from the Westminster centre?
This election asks the question whether we are willing to develop the new kind of politics that we need to win future elections or whether we are going back to the old politics that lost Labour the last two elections.

The pre-existing formula was not working. Labour lost the 2010 and 2015 General Elections with paltry shares of the vote, 29% and 30%, and membership had plummeted to under 200,000 in the Brown and Miliband years. The share of the electorate that Labour won has been falling for decades. In 2010 and 2015 Labour won only one in five of all eligible voters.

Labour under Jeremy represents an opportunity to escape from Labour’s long running decline and build the sort of party that enables Labour to win elections. Part of that process is rebuilding trust in politics, honest straight talking politics, and banishing the era of spin, triangulation and sharp suited politicians saying whatever they think we want to hear.

Voting for Jeremy Corbyn is making a statement that Labour politics is about mobilising people, organising communities as a mass social movement to defeat the Tories – not just at the next General Election, but at every election we can. Voting for Jeremy is to offer a hopeful vision for the future – building council housing, giving health and social care the resources needed, investing in schools accountable to local communities, scrapping tuition fees and taking our railways back into public ownership.

The establishment is throwing its full weight behind this campaign to remove Jeremy from office. The establishment is saying to us, ‘How dare you elect a socialist as your leader.’ It wants a return to a politics where Labour leaders may make bold statements about changing society but are easily incorporated– a return to a politics where elections are simply a rotation of political elites.

My hope is that despite everything thrown against us by these influential and wealthy establishment forces within our society, we are all able to stand firm together in solidarity to return Jeremy as the leader of the Labour Party.

John writes every month in Labour Briefing, the magazine of the LRC

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Book Launch

18th August 2016

Book Launch

Michael Robert’s new book, The Long Depression is being officially launched
at Bookmarks bookshop, 1, Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE.


Michael writes regularly for our magazine, Labour Briefing. He blogs at https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/


Michael will be speaking at 18:30 on Tuesday 20 September. Entry is £2, payable on the door.

Register to be sure of a place. You can do this through the Bookmarks website, linked below.
Facebook event page:
Bookmarks website events Page:

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Sounds familiar? Labour in the 1980s

9th August 2016

Sounds familiar? Labour in the 1980s

Excerpts from Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
by Richard Heffernan and Mike Marqusee (Verso Books, 1992)
The late Mike Marqusee was for many years editor of Labour Briefing

The failures of the 1974-79 Labour government produced a radicalisation within Labour’s ranks. This was expressed at the 1980 conference. Tony Benn surfed this radical wave in his campaign to become deputy leader, narrowly defeated in 1981. The leader and deputy leader were at this time elected by an electoral college of Party Members, Affiliated Trade Unions and Labour MPs.  Before that, only the MPs voted to decide the leader and deputy. Probably the level of abuse aimed at Jeremy Corbyn by the establishment today exceeds that endured by Tony Benn in the 1980s. Denis Healey’s counter-campaign echoes Owen Smith’s leadership bid today in many respects, with radical posturing on policy combined with personal insults and denunciation of left wing supporters.


Labour’s Conference 1980
  “The media ridiculed the Party’s divisions and the occasional chaos of the proceedings in Blackpool. But many of the speakers insisted that what the media found so amusing was nothing less than democracy in action: a freewheeling, unscripted, bottom-up democracy more precious to the Party than any other political asset. There were 179 contributions from the conference floor during that week in 1980 – including 113 from constituency delegates.

  “A decade later it became commonplace to make jokes about the conferences of the early 1980s and to deride the unseemly spectacle of front-bench Labour MPs having to queue up for their turn at the rostrum . For many media pundits the ascendancy of the rank and file was an affront to their conception of politics as a game played out within the precincts of Westminster and a handful of television studios, a game in which they controlled the rules and kept the score. They loathed the Labour conference above all because they could not control its agenda, because it allowed to be placed before masses of people arguments – about alternative economic policies, about democracy, about workers’ rights, about the horror of nuclear weapons – which they had spent much of their lives excluding from public view.

  “On the Friday morning, during the last session of the conference, the Party’s general secretary, Ron Hayward, tried to make a virtue of the fierce debates and unpredictable votes. ‘Have a look at the Tory conference,’ he advised delegates, then joked, ‘We are going to do it to you next year. I will select the resolutions; you will darned well see no other resolutions will come on. We will make sure the standing ovations are done at the right time. You cannot really get much life in a cemetery, can you?’ Ten years later Ron Hayward could have been talking about Labour’s own conferences, purged of dissent, calculated and controlled to the last detail. What he meant as a joke was, under the leadership of Neil Kinnock, to become a reality…”

Benn’s Campaign for Deputy Leader
  “Following intensive discussions across the Left, on 3 April Tony Benn declared he would stand for election as deputy leader at the next party conference. To the Left Tony Benn, articulate, experienced and full of conviction, was an automatic standard-bearer. To the Labour Right, he was a standing affront. Former Labour cabinet ministers, backed by the Tory press and the labour-supporting Daily Mirror, queued up to condemn Benn for daring to use the Party’s new democratic machinery.” (The electoral college mentioned in the introduction.)  “Few politicians have had to endure the abuse dished out to Benn during the months that followed. Fighting on an unambiguous political platform, he took his campaign to the grass roots of the Labour Party and the trade unions.  In every major city in the country he addressed public meetings the size and like of which had not been seen in the labour movement for years. In those months Benn appeared to be everywhere, speaking to audiences big and small, groups of Party and union activists, peace campaigners, striking workers, unemployment marchers. Wherever he went he received an enthusiastic response not only from Party members but also from a substantial swathe of the public which felt bitterly betrayed by the last” (1974-79) “Labour government.

  “Benn sought the deputy leadership not as an individual politician offering himself for high office but as the chosen representative of the groundswell of left opinion among Labour’s rank and file. It was because his message found a ready echo at the grass roots that Benn’s campaign took the Labour movement by storm throughout the spring and summer of 1981. Indeed, even though the candidate himself was hospitalised for much of the campaign, it continued unabated, belying the claim that this was simply a one-man band.

  “The energy and success of the Benn campaign and the possibility that he would win the election at the Labour conference in October shook the establishment - and not only the Labour establishment – profoundly. At this time Labour was ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls, the prospect of a Labour government under left leadership taking office in the near future seemed a real one to newspaper proprietors, television pundits, City bankers, industrialists, military men and other pillars of the status quo…”

Denis Healey’s Counter-Campaign
  (Denis) “Healey and his supporters fought a wretchedly defensive campaign, evading the arguments and relying heavily on media hostility to their opponents. Healey knew that he had no basis of support within the constituency parties and hoped that the trade unions and the payroll vote of Labour MPs would save him. Yet the strength of the Labour left was such that that he felt obliged to respond to its political demands. He declared himself in favour of a Labour government that would ‘carry through a planned socialist programme’. Its first objective would be to ‘restore full employment’ and implement an ‘alternative economic strategy’, which would require ‘real increases in public expenditure’...

  “When it did not echo Benn’s rhetoric, the Healey camp was resorting to personal denunciations of him and his supporters. Unwilling to accept that their own failings has spurred the spontaneous growth of a grassroots left wing, Labour’s parliamentary leaders painted the Benn forces as an alien conspiracy which had to be extirpated from the Party. In July 1981, shadow Chancellor Peter Shore denounced Benn’s supporters as people ‘who have joined our ranks not to further the democratic socialist cause but to subvert it… they should be strongly dealt with because there is no room for infiltrators, conspirators and wreckers in the Labour Party’.”

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The Leadership Election and Party Democracy

8th August 2016

The Leadership Election and Party Democracy

The High Court has ruled today that the decision of the Labour Party’s NEC to rule out 120,000 – 150,000 members from voting in the leadership election because they joined after Jan 12th is wrong and should be reversed. This is a victory for Party democracy. Unfortunately ‘the Labour Party’ (the NEC, though its members haven’t been consulted) wants to appeal against the decision.

John McDonnell welcomed the ruling and added, “We are appalled by the possibility of an unnecessary and costly appeal. If it is taken forwards, the party will be using members’ money to try to stop members from voting. This is unacceptable.

“I’m calling on Owen Smith to join with us in backing party members and calling on the Labour Party not to appeal and attempt to disenfranchise members.”

Here is a statement from the LRC:

The LRC welcomes the end to the disenfranchisement of 130,000 of Labour’s newest members previously told that they could not vote in this summer’s Party leadership contest.  The LRC calls on Labour’s NEC to now restore the voting rights of all Labour Party members and not to appeal the High Court’s ruling.


Here’s a petition to sign

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Solidarity with the Homerton Workers

8th August 2016

Solidarity with the Homerton Workers!
Kick the privateers out of the NHS!

By John Burgess

Below is an all too familiar story of how privatisation ruthlessly exploits workers. The company in this case is ISS a global giant that has benefited under Blair, Brown and Cameron at the expense of the workforce.

For those who have not had the opportunity to represent and organise workers, it is heart breaking to see Terms & Conditions which have been hard won, ripped up after privatisation.

My take on what Jeremy is talking about, is that this ruthless exploitation must end. It is condemning workers and their families into poverty.

For me, Jeremy is saying it is for all of us to take part in this social movement that means in the communities we live. In this case we need to support these workers and condemn the attacks on their jobs. I know that Jeremy would give these workers his backing, not only that he would demand these critical services are brought back into the NHS.

Homerton workers protest over job cut threat from private firm

“The staff say they have been told 89 out of 300 of them could be made redundant and others could have their hours cut.

Jordan Rivera, Unison branch secretary for the hospital, slammed the plans and questioned why the company can no longer run the service on a budget it said it could less than a year ago, when it won the contract.”

Read the story here

Three things you can do to help these workers
1. Send a message of support to homertonunison@gmail.com.
2. Like and leave a solidarity comment
3. Share with others and encourage them to offer support.

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Here’s why not to vote Owen Smith

2nd August 2016

Want Labour to win an election?  Here’s why not to vote Owen Smith

Michael Calderbank, Secretary Brent Central CLP explains why not

He didn’t speak out against the austerity-lite policies under Ed Miliband

Labour’s manifesto at the 2015 election agreed to further reductions in public spending, and proposed cutting pay in real terms for workers like teachers, nurses and dinner ladies.  Labour’s support eroded further, especially in Scotland and the Party’s former industrial heartland seats, but also in key marginals. Smith served in Miliband’s shadow team without raising any criticism of this position, yet appears to be opportunistically rebranding himself as the champion of anti-austerity.

He failed to oppose the scapegoating of benefit claimants

Jeremy Corbyn won widespread support for his refusal - unlike all the other leadership candidates last time round - to vote for the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill. The measures in the Bill were aimed at penalising some of the most vulnerable in society. Smith abstained in the vote, and argued in favour of the benefit cap, and said “we are in favour of limits on what individual families can draw down”. Smith failed to highlight the lavish subsidy to landlords resulting from rocketing housing benefit bills by putting the case for rent controls. Instead, he argued for abitrary spending caps which would punish those on low incomes struggling to pay the rent. 

He can’t be trusted to fight the incursion of private finance into the running of the NHS

One of the areas in which Labour currently polls most strongly is over the National Health Service. People understand the dangers that the Tory NHS Reform Act poses in terms of unleashing the profit motive into the running of our cherished public service. But as a lobbyist for giant multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, Smith endorsed a report which advocated “offering NHS patients easier access to private sector healthcare”.  As a prospective Labour candidate he welcomed the use of the Private Finance Initiative to build new hospitals, and claimed objections to these disastrous contracts were “ideological” and “overblown”.

He would concede further ground to the far right

Smith criticised Corbyn for having “liberal perspectives” on immigration, and was reported as saying some parts of Britain have “too many immigrants”.  How many is “too many”?  Is this really the territory we want Labour to be occupying?

His stance on foreign policy is unprincipled and opportunistic

Hardly anyone in the Labour Party has a good word to say about Tony Blair’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq.  But whereas Jeremy was a consistent opponent from the outset, Smith previously argued that Labour’s support for military “engagement to remove dictators was a noble, valuable tradition”. Smith later supported the Tory proposal that Britain should impose a no-fly zone on Libya, and in his campaign launch argued we should be proud of having “patriotically intervened around the world to help impose and understand our values across the globe”.  Why should we believe that he would refrain from justifying further disastrous wars under the guise of “humanitarian intervention”?  As a former member of CND who now countenances the idea of pressing the nuclear button, are there principles which he wouldn’t jettison?

He seems to have a problem with women

As they face Theresa May over the dispatch box, it will be essential for the Labour leader to express sharp political disagreements with the Tory Prime Minister without lapsing into misogynistic or sexist attitudes. Smith’s track record in this respect creates a real cause for concern. The violent reference to wanting to “smash” (May) “back on her heels”, came after an inappropriately jocular reference to domestic violence, and the accusation that Leanne Wood only gets on the media because of her gender, suggests he has a problem with women.

He isn’t a leader who “breaks the mould”

There exists a widespread public distrust of the professional political elite, whose frame of reference is conditioned by their life experience having taken place overwhelmingly within the Westminster bubble. Smith has worked in the media as a political Special Advisor, and was a corporate lobbyist before becoming an ambitious Labour MP.  What will make the public believe that that he is any more than just a typical career politician?

A return to the old order under a new leader is the last thing Labour needs. Only by persisting with radical alternatives can Labour regain its popularity. That’s why I’m voting to Keep Corbyn.

 


   

 

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Stop Hinkley: How to Waste £Billions

30th July 2016

How to Waste £Billions

The Tory cabinet is dithering over the Hinkley contract. No wonder. It has been described as ‘the most expensive object to be built on earth’. Caroline Lucas calls it “the costliest white elephant in British history.”

How did the government get in this bind? The article below reprinted from December 2015 issue of Labour Briefing, the magazine of the LRC, explains why.

Energy needs are plannable and in the past energy requirements in this country have been provided by publicly owned institutions in a planned manner. That apparatus has been dismantled and energy supply returned to chaos. All the Big Six energy companies responsible for 90% of electricity supply do is bill the customers. They do not regard themselves as being responsible for making sure Britain will have secure energy sources into the future. They rely on the government to put these in place. For their part governments, both Tory and New Labour, have accepted the rule of profit.

The result: the Blair government proposed the Hinkley project in 2006, insisting that all new plants should be privately built and run. It was supposed to start generating electricity in 2017. Now, if Hinkley goes ahead, the earliest electricity could come on stream is 2026.

The guaranteed prices offered to EdF for decades into the future look even more ridiculous since we seem to have a prolonged period of low oil and gas prices ahead of us.  Managers within EdF, including the workers’ representative on the board, fear the firm is biting off more than it can chew. Hinkley C is fundamentally unsound.

As the Guardian pointed out it would be better to invest in renewable energy. “Technology for tidal energy that will come from projects like the lagoons at Cardiff and Swansea is maturing. One of the world’s largest proposed wind farms, at Dogger Bank, off the north-east Yorkshire coast, could challenge the output from Hinkley C…Most effectively, an investment of less than £1bn a year in domestic and industrial energy efficiency would halve demand by 2050.”

But for any of these options to be even considered requires that the energy supply be planned. To do that, we must overthrow the rule of profit and start to plan production. That must begin by taking over the Big Six.

Stop Hinkley
Labour Briefing December 2015

It seems the nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point will go ahead at a price of £24bns.  That’s not the end of the cost to us. To be on the safe side the Tory government is prepared to guarantee the builders an energy price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, rising along with inflation for 35 years. So electricity consumers will subsidise the plant to the tune of at least a further £4.4bns through their bills.

That’s reckoned to be between £150 and £660 per customer for per year for 35 years. Why such a wide variation in the estimates? Because nobody has the foggiest idea how much electricity will cost in 35 years’ time. The hand-out could be even bigger. Independent environmental thinktank E3G reckons the price guarantee could cost us all £45bns over time.

The guarantee price of £92.50 is twice the current price of energy. The Tory offer only makes sense if oil prices (currently about $45 a barrel) soar to $150 and stay there for ever. Nobody believes that will happen.

EdF – state-owned Electricite de France - is building the power station. This firm is being given the privilege of making super-profits from British energy consumers, while Chinese companies are also barging in on the act. Apparently Britain doesn’t have the engineering expertise to build it. What an indictment of the rundown of British manufacturing, construction and skills!

There are big problems with the project in any case. The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) model for Hinkley Point is experiencing long delays in France and Finland. The plant is supposed to be built by 2025, but the contract allows the builders to overrun till 2033. So Hinkley Point is not going to help out Britain’s current energy needs any time soon. The Tories say nuclear is a ‘green’ option. Tell that to the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

How has the government got itself into this pickle? Over the past few years coal fired power stations and the old generation of nukes have been in the process of being phased out. Everyone knew that this would happen and that they needed replacing.  Nobody did anything. As a result there is hardly any excess capacity in the industry, and there is a serious prospect that the lights may go out this winter.

What was needed was forward planning. Energy needs are plannable. Our peak energy requirement, anticipated by the industry, took place in 1990 during the England v West Germany World Cup semi-final. At half time 1m extra kettles went on and an extra 2,800 megawatts of energy were provided. (England lost in a penalty shot-out.)

The reason energy generation is now unplanned is because of the privatisation of the industry. Capitalist politicians like Randolph Churchill in the 1870s knew that capitalists would prosper mightily with the necessary infrastructure. They put in place ‘gas and water socialism’. To begin with the energy industry developed chaotically. By the 1920s there were 70 electricity generating stations in London alone. Gradually the Central Electricity Board rationalised the industry and began the national grid. The work was completed when Labour nationalised 505 generating and supply organisations in 1947 to create a unified industry with a co-ordinated national grid to share energy and plan for peaks. Order out of chaos.

The Tories privatised electricity in 1989. The area electricity boards were captured by private interests, with the instinct to make as much money as possible. Predictably the result was the rise of the Big Six who control more than 90% of energy distribution. EdF is one of the Big Six, with an 11% market share.
Motivated entirely by profit, these firms use their market power to gouge money from consumers and plunge millions, including more than a million households in work, into fuel poverty. They do not invest for the future. Instead, secure in what is effectively their monopoly position, they hold out the begging bowl to the government and squeal for subsidies, as we see. Now EdF has got the main contract for Hinkley Point as well. They are in clover.

The Tories tell us, “We all have to pull in our belts.” Actually they are wasting £billions. They don’t care since it’s our money they’re wasting, not theirs. The fragmentation of the industry and the drive for short term profits make rational planning impossible. 68% of the public think that energy should be in public hands. They are right. It’s high time to take over the Big Six.

 

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Affiliated Supporters: Register Now to Vote for Jeremy Corbyn!

23rd July 2016

Affiliated Supporters: Register Now to Vote for Jeremy Corbyn!

Affiliated Supporters (along with Registered Supporters and full Labour Party members) are entitled to vote in the leadership election.

Affiliated Supporters are members of affiliated trade unions or socialist societies.

They are listed :

here

• You won’t automatically get a vote just because you’re a member of an affiliated organisation.

• You have to fill in the form on the website above to let them know that you exist and want to take part in the leadership election.

• If you took part in the leadership election last year you should be registered already; but check, particularly if you’ve changed address.

• You must be on the electoral register at the address you give.

• You must register on the form above by 8th August 2016.

• If you are a trade unionist and have not contracted out of the political levy you don’t have to pay anything because your trade union pays a political levy to the Labour Party on your behalf.

• You must have been a member of your affiliated organisation on or before January 12th.

• The Co-op Party affiliates to Labour locally, not nationally.

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Supporting Nominations for Jeremy Corbyn

23rd July 2016

Supporting Nominations for Jeremy Corbyn

Nominations for candidates for the leader of the Labour Party must be made by MPs or MEPs. Nominations have now closed. We know that Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith will be on the ballot paper.

• Comrades may have read or heard that all local Labour Party meetings have been cancelled for the duration of the leadership contest. That is not correct. We are entitled to hold meetings for Supporting Nominations for leader and for LP Conference business.

• It is also not the case that these meetings must be confined to General Committee meetings. It is possible to call all member meetings for the purpose of Supporting Nominations for leader. Here’s the official Labour Party guidance:

“Should a CLP decide to make a supporting nomination, they may do so using either an all member meeting or a meeting of the General Committee.”
Obviously all Jeremy Corbyn supporters will want as many members as possible to participate in the debate. An all member meeting is much preferable to a GC for this purpose. Press your Party officers to organise one.

• Some Party officers are trying to organise meetings as quickly as possible in order to involve as few members as they can. This is the usual rule below. Insist that it is carried out:

“Members should receive seven days written notice of the meeting.”

• The guidance for the meetings tries to minimise discussion of the political issues. Be short and sweet:

“Prior to the ballot, a discussion will take place on the qualities of the nominees. This should last for a maximum of 30 minutes, with no member speaking more than once, and for not more than three minutes each.”

• The Chair is supposed to be impartial. If they are a known right winger, who has expressed preferences, they should be challenged:

“The CLP Chair will normally chair the meeting, but it is important that impartiality is seen to be shown from the chair.”

• As with Registered Supporters and Affiliated Supporters, the NEC has disenfranchised any member who joined the Labour Party after January 12th 2016.

• There will be a membership check at any meeting for Supporting Nominations. Be aware.

• The deadline for Supporting Nominations will close at 12.00 noon on Monday, 15 August.

For the complete guidelines,
see here

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Ann Black and the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance Slate for NEC

21st July 2016

Ann Black and the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance Slate for NEC

Statement from LRC Executive Committee

While it may be too late to disrupt the current election of the NEC, in view of her role in disenfranchising members both at the July 19th NEC meeting and in suspending Brighton, Hove & District Labour Party, the LRC gives notice that it will never again support the candidacy of Ann Black for the NEC and calls for her immediate resignation as Chair of the Disputes Panel.

CLARIFICATION: Contrary to some mistaken social media reports, the LRC continues to back the CLGA slate in full for the purposes of the current NEC elections. However, we expect our elected NEC representatives to defend the interests of Party members and democratic rights of CLPs. 

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Where we are

21st July 2016

Where we are

Part of a speech at the Labour Briefing Readers’ Meeting held in London on July 19th

By Mike Phipps

We are currently going through the most important political developments since the miners’ strike. Like the miners’ strike, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people are getting active, bringing their real world skills into the struggle. In some ways it’s more significant than the miners’ strike, which could have led to a compromise settlement, had Thatcher not been determined to spend huge sums of money to smash the miners. Today I see no compromise.

People say the PLP have declared war on the membership. But they can’t attack Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, which are popular, so smears are deployed. He lost Labour the EU referendum – even though a recent speech by Peter Mandelson no less lays the blame squarely at the door of New Labour.

See it here

He’s a vote loser, despite winning every by-election in this parliament and Labour doing well at the local elections in May. His supporters are anti-Semitic – a smear rejected by the Chakrabarti Report. His supporters are bullies because they marched on Stella Creasey’s house – they didn’t: a peaceful protest left post-it notes on an unstaffed constituency office door. They put a brick though Angela Eagle’s office window – not true. A window in a communal stairwell was found broken. Angela Eagle had to cancel a meeting in a Luton hotel because of security concerns - not so: the hotel cancelled because they didn’t want a political meeting.

Despite these myths, Jeremy Corbyn remains hugely popular. A poll in The Times estimates he would beat any rival by a clear 20 points. 55% of members think he’s doing a good job, up four points in two weeks, while 41% think he’s doing badly, down seven points.

Those challenging him know this – hence their panic. Our opponents know this. They call us “dogs”, and “scum”.  This is both a sign of political impotence and a provocation. They want us to respond with similar rhetoric. We must not. We must retain the moral high ground. One reason for Jeremy Corbyn’s continued popularity in the Party is members’ sense of fair play. Many support him simply because he is being unfairly treated and not being given a chance by the PLP. But they do worry about the lengths the bitterites are going to in order to destabilise a leader who was elected less than a year ago by a huge majority.
Why is the right wing being so destructive? For those who think the central battle is between Labour and the Tories, it’s not. It’s a class struggle, and unfortunately the ruling class is inside the Labour Party. The Blairite wing is closer to the Tories than to Jeremy Corbyn and indeed pioneered many of their current policies – austerity, academies, privatisation, etc. It’s doubly deceitful because they don’t come out in their true colours, they hide behind people like Angela Eagle and Owen Smith. But make no mistake – if they won, it would be just like the negative briefings and disloyalty Ed Miliband suffered.  The right wing would carry on undermining the leader behind the scenes, willing them to lose the next election so the real Blairites can step forward, just like 25 years ago. Well, not this time.

Three other important points: If you wish, you can see the current struggle as the left versus the right. But there are limitations to this approach. It’s internal. It doesn’t speak to the electorate. It doesn’t even speak to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people now getting active. Anyway, why ghettoize ourselves? The left is now the mainstream.

We have to reframe the debate. It’s not the left versus the right, it’s the people against the elite, the 99% against the one percent, the citizens, democracy versus oligarchy. We’re not interested in being the left, we’re aiming to take power.

Secondly, the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people now getting active is reminiscent of the level of activism at the time of the miners’ strike or the invasion of Iraq. But it won’t last. It never does. So we, the long-term activists, have to work out not only how we engage with these people. In some ways, the two month closure of the Labour Party’s structures gives us an opportunity to break out of the old routines.

Bur also, how do we make gains now so that when the tide does go back out we have laid lasting foundations for a different party? We have to make some things irreversible. It’s about hegemony – making our opponents fight on our terms. Just as Thatcher said her greatest achievement was Tony Blair and New Labour, so all subsequent political argument took place in a neoliberal economic framework, we too have to exercise lasting hegemony.

If we look up from the week by week crisis, we’ve achieved a huge amount. Labour is an anti-austerity party. Never again will we abstain on welfare cuts. Labour has repudiated the Iraq War. These are big gains.

Lastly, what we are doing is much bigger than Jeremy Corbyn. If he loses, it doesn’t stop. If he wins, the right have promised more destabilisation. The Party could split.

But this is bigger than the Party. It includes the trade unions, community organisations, rising student activism and other campaigns. If we’re going to win back the ‘left behind’ and create the social majority that puts Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten, we need to harness the resources of our entire movement and renew it with people set on this course.

The long crisis of representation is over. We are building a movement for power and it is irreversible.

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March for Unity – 1976 and 2016

19th July 2016

March for Unity – 1976 and 2016

By Barbara Humphries

Forty years ago anger in Southall reached breaking point after a student, Gurdip Singh Chaggar was stabbed to death by a racist thug. This was on June 18th, 1976. It followed a series of attacks on the Asian community. Rising unemployment in the 1970s had led to increasing support for right wing parties such as the National Front, which tried to scapegoat Britain’s black and Asian workers for the country’s economic ills. In the 1960s the forerunner of the National Front, the British National Party had attempted to organise in Southall, getting one third of the vote in a council by-election. This however had ebbed away, as the Asian community established itself in the centre of Southall. Attacks on Asians continued on the fringes of the town, but it was the murder of a student in the town centre of Southall that caused shock and anger. Questions were asked of the local police – were they taking this seriously enough? Angry demonstrations were held. Fearing the consequences the local Trades Council organised within a week, a local peace march through the town. This had the support of trades unions, Southall Labour Party, Sikh and Hindu temples, and churches of all denominations. Under the banner ‘One race the human race’ hundreds of us marched through Southall with much support and enthusiasm from the local community.

Following the EU Referendum result we have seen levels of racist attacks unprecedented in decades. Our multi-ethnic and multicultural community is under threat. The Vote Leave result, far from being an anti-Establishment vote, has seen the Establishment re-assert itself with a vengeance, leaving a trail of racism and xenophobia in its path. There has been a 500% increase in racist attacks. In the London Borough of Hammersmith a Polish cultural centre has been attacked, with graffiti sprayed over the walls. The centre was opened in 1976 and has never before been subject to an attack like this. In other incidents, workers from EU countries have been told to get out and even the local Mayor has been threatened.

In response to this Labour controlled Hammersmith council, led by Steve Cowan organised a Unity March through the town. It was the first news item on the BBC London news on Sunday evening. Hundreds of people marched from Shepherds Bush to Ravenscourt Park. Like the march in Southall in 1976 its message of unity went down well with the local population. In Ravenscourt Park speeches were given by the leader of the council, local MP Andy Slaughter, the mayor and youth mayor, aged fifteen.  This was followed by a celebration of multiculturalism with music, dancing and food stalls. To his credit the march was also supported by the leader of the Conservative opposition on Hammersmith council. There was no way however that his party would have organised such a march. In the EU Referendum campaign and in their attacks on Siddiq Khan during the London mayoral election the Tories have tried to divide and rule. This must be defeated by the labour movement and will be as critical in the coming years as it was in 1976.

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Support Centre Left Grassroots Alliance

18th July 2016

Support Centre Left Grassroots Alliance

The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance is supporting Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams, Peter Willsman and Rhea Wolfson for the NEC. Nominations close on 24 June.

CLGA is also supporting:
National Constitutional Committee (NCC) - Chris Williamson
Treasurer - Diana Holland

Download pdf leaflet here

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Registered Supporters: Urgent!  Sign Up Now!

18th July 2016

Registered Supporters: Urgent:!  Sign Up Now!

There are three categories of persons able to take part in the leadership election:

• Labour Party Members
• Affiliated Supporters (members of trade unions or socialist societies affiliated to the Party). We shall be offering a separate advice sheet for these. You should act now to record your status at http://support.labour.org.uk/
• Registered Supporters. This category was created for the first time for the last leadership contest. People had to register their details with the party and pay £3.

There is a very narrow window that provides the ONLY opportunity to vote on the leadership contest. You will have to register between Monday 18th July at 5 pm and Wednesday 20th July at 5 pm and pay £25 to be a registered supporter.

Who can register as a supporter?

• People who registered as a supporter before the last leadership election and paid £3. You don’t need to register again unless details such as your address have changed in the meantime. BUT you will have to pay £25 extra to vote this time.

• Labour Party members who didn’t join till after 12th January 2016. You (130,000 of you) have been disenfranchised by a decision of the National Executive Committee (BOO!). But you can still become a registered supporter by paying £25 on top of the Labour Party membership subscription you’re already paying. You will have to register as well as pay.

If you are in a trade union that is not affiliated to the Party you will have to become a registered supporter if you want to vote in the leadership contest.We understand this includes the entire membership of the Fire Brigades Union, which affiliated after January 12th. If so, this is a disgrace, but members will have to sign up as registered supporters in order to vote.

The Labour Party describes the website below as a hub for all information about the leadership contest. Register here!

Click here for more information:

You can also call 0345 092 2299.

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The political opinions of big-pharma lobbyist Owen Smith

15th July 2016

The political opinions of big-pharma lobbyist Owen Smith

From Labour Briefing
‘Left-winger’ Owen Smith is so firmly on the Euro-Labour right that he is now calling for a Second Referendum. So what exactly are his real political commitments? When he stood as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in a by-election in 2006, the ambitious politician –  previously a senior lobbyist for
pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer – was grilled by Wales On-line’s chief reporter Martin Shipton:

Q: What was your position on the Iraq War?

Answer: “I thought at the time the tradition of the Labour Party and the tradition of left-wing engagement to remove dictators was a noble, valuable tradition…” He ‘didn’t know’ whether he would have voted against the war had he been an MP at the time.

Q: What about austerity and the government’s public spending cuts?

Answer: “I don’t think it’s realistic to say that they are wholly unnecessary… There is a very serious point that we don’t know what would happen to a government that failed to tackle its debts in the long run.”

Q: How do you view the involvement of private companies in the NHS?

Answer: “Where they can bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services… then I think that’s fine. If their involvement means in any way, shape or form the break up of the NHS, then I’m not a fan of it, but I don’t think it does.”

Q: Do you support Private Finance Initiative schemes?

Answer: “We’ve had PFI in Wales, we’ve had a hospital built down in Baglan through PFI. If PFI works, then let’s do it. What people want to see are more hospitals, better services…. I’m not someone, frankly, who gets terribly wound up about some of the ideological nuances that get read into some of these things, and I think sometimes they are totally overblown.”
Owen Smith is attempting to convince the membership that he stands for the same things as Jeremy does. The problem is that a look at his history shows that he does not. In short, lobbyist Owen Smith:
• Supported the invasion of Iraq (he wasn’t an MP at the time, but past interviews confirm his pro-war stance).
• Abstained on the Tory welfare cap and supported the benefits cap.
• Supports renewing Trident and other weapons of mass destruction.
• Supported NHS PFIs and other private sector involvement.
• Supported Blairite City Academies.
• Previously worked as a lobbyist for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer funded Blairite think tank Progress, whose members have been linked to 5 attempted coups against Labour leaders in 7 years.
• Attended an arms trade annual dinner as an invited guest, with tickets at £200-£450 a head.
• John Mann MP reveals that over six months ago, he (Owen Smith) approached him to build support for the present leadership challenge . In other words, Owen and his Progress allies gave Jeremy’s historic mandate just three months before plotting to oust him.
Owen Smith’s true identity as a hawkish Blairite is no left-wing fantasy but is in fact well-known on the political right.

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Leadership Contest: Right Wing Dirty Tricks

15th July 2016

Leadership Contest: Right Wing Dirty Tricks

By Mick Brooks

The headline news item is one of intense relief among Labour Party members. The National Executive Committee (NEC) decided that Jeremy Corbyn should be automatically on the leadership ballot paper. In fact the bigger picture is one of obstruction and skulduggery aimed at cheating the wishes of Party members.

172 Labour MPs voted no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. The fact that more than a quarter of a million members and supporters voted for him as leader less than a year previously apparently counted for nothing.

The first question is why did the coup plotters act when they did – immediately after the Brexit referendum result? After all, they have been sharpening their knives from day one of Jeremy’s leadership. The short answer was that, as fellow members of the Westminster bubble along with Cameron and co, they complacently assumed that the vote to Remain was in the bag. Confronted with Brexit, a new Tory Prime Minister and the prospect of an immediate general election, they panicked.

What was their strategy? Where would they go if they split the Labour Party? They showed the strategic nous of headless chickens. First the prospect of an imminent election was put to rest as the Tories closed ranks around Theresa May. After Leadsom’s Tory leadership bid self-destructed there was no prospect of a realignment in British politics, with centrist politicians including right wing Labour MPs forming a new pro-EU party against a right wing Eurosceptic Tory Party and Labour led by Corbyn.

But the coup threat continues. Let’s be clear. These bumbling buffoons are doing permanent damage to Labour’s credibility and Labour’s electoral prospects. The NEC’s decision to spin out the contest over months of uncertainty was absurd. The campaign is far too long. The Tories were back in business within a few days. The right wing coup plotters will argue that the delay till September was ‘in the rules’. There is plenty of evidence that the NEC made the rules up as it went along.

The Tories have regrouped. The failed policies of austerity that have dominated the agenda for almost a decade have been thrown out of the window, yet the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) in disarray cannot claim any credit for the U-turn. The Tories and the British political scene are in crisis yet it is the PLP that is in meltdown. What a missed opportunity!

Before the NEC met, deputy leader Tom Watson was in ‘negotiations’ with trade union leaders such as Len McCluskey of Unite. These were strange negotiations since Watson was demanding unconditional surrender and the withdrawal of Corbyn from the selection process before a shot had been fired. Above all, no democracy! This was treachery. McCluskey was incandescent.

At the time of writing there are two alternative candidates to Corbyn – Angela Eagle and Owen Smith. Smith’s ace in the hole is that nobody has ever heard of him or knows what he stands for. This arrangement is absurd, but the PLP will ballot on who should stand against Corbyn. This is yet another constitutional ‘innovation’. There is no precedent for this procedure.

Most of the report on the NEC below is taken from an item in the ‘Huffington Post’, clearly informed by an insider.

The NEC’s first major decision was to take votes in secret. This is unprecedented. It is profoundly undemocratic. Even in parliament our MP’s votes are public, since otherwise we would not be able to hold them to account. Johanna Baxter blubbered on Radio 4’s Today programme that this was to stop ‘bullying’. We are all against bullying. Jeremy has had his share of death threats. But Baxter’s plea was in effect for members such as herself to be voted onto the NEC without anyone knowing what they stand for. Is that democratic? Surely trade unionists are entitled to know that the representative of their union on the NEC actually votes in accordance with union policy?

Next Corbyn, who is an NEC member ex officio, was ordered out of the room and only allowed back when votes were to be taken. How generous of them! As Andy Kerr, Deputy General Secretary of the CWU, noted the NEC was acting against its own rules.

The role of Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party, has proved to be controversial and downright sinister. He is supposed to be an unelected neutral ‘civil servant’ to the Party. In fact he appears to have been pulling strings on behalf of the plotters behind the scenes. McNicol, it should be remembered, nominates the members of the unelected Compliance Unit. This body has been running round suspending Party members for indefinite periods without due process on the basis of secret evidence, if indeed there is any evidence against them at all. It is a Court of Star Chamber.

McNicol withheld legal advice from Mike Mansfield QC in the interests of the coup plotters. He has received a devastating indictment from Howe and Co, acting for Jim Kennedy of Unite and other NEC members:

“You may be aware that releasing confidential Labour Party data/ information to the press, in a manner which may prejudice the Party (including the leader for example) may be a potentially serious disciplinary matter…
“When you met with the leader earlier today you did not inform him that you intended to call a special meeting at 2 pm tomorrow. It seems you went to great lengths to conceal your intentions from the leader and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

As Rhea Wolfson pointed out (‘Labour’s NEC: Coup Attempt Latest’ on this website) very important restrictions on voting rights were smuggled in at the end of the marathon NEC session after several members had left. These items were not on the original agenda.

• About 130,000 Labour Party members who had signed up since January 12th were summarily deprived of the right to vote.
• Registered Supporters, who could vote for the leader on payment of £3 last year, now have to stump up an extra £25. Members disenfranchised by the January 12th ruling can also retain their vote by signing up as Registered Supporters (For an extra fee! How cynical). Moreover they all have a very narrow 48 hour window in which to register their support.

WATCH OUT! YOU HAVE TO SIGN UP FROM MONDAY 18TH JULY!

Rhea comments: “This seems like gerrymandering. Jeremy’s opponents are trying to rig the election to get the result they desire.” These rulings are so irregular they are bound to be subject to legal challenge.

Robert Peston agrees. We quote him as he cannot be accused of Corbynista sympathies:

“.....at the end of the meeting, after a couple of pro-Corbyn members had left, and Corbyn himself had gone, a vote was taken on a motion not on the agenda, to exclude from the leadership vote anyone who joined the party in the past six months. So the 130,000 who signed up since Brexit, most of whom are thought to be Corbyn supporters, will be unable to vote. Now whatever you think of Corbyn, this looks and smells like gerrymandering by his opponents.”

After the NEC ruled that Corbyn should be on the ballot, it has received a legal challenge from Michael Foster, who has donated £400,000 to the Party in the past. Who put him up to this, we wonder? Clearly this millionaire thinks he can just buy political parties

The right wing actually shows the greatest contempt for democracy since Edmund Burke described the common people as “the swinish multitude.” ‘Rule or Ruin’ is their motto. Their behaviour has just goaded Unite’s Policy Conference to pass the following resolution:

“Conference welcomes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader as a reflection of the general mood in the labour movement against austerity. We endorse the union’s support for him.

“However, we condemn the attempts of right-wing Labour MPs, in concert with hostile sections of the media, to destabilise and remove Jeremy from his democratically-elected position despite his overwhelming mandate from party members, affiliated and registered supporters. We believe these attacks are designed to return Labour to a pro-austerity position.

“MPs have not got ‘jobs for life’. They represent their constituency but ultimately they are selected by and accountable to their Constituency Labour Party. To ensure democratic accountability and the rights of party members to select candidates that reflect their views, conference supports the need for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in each Parliament as essential.

“We also call on Unite to support moves to bring more democracy into policy making by returning powers to the Party Conference.”

The latest news is that Brighton and Hove District Labour Party democratically elected a broadly Corbynist slate of officers on a huge turnout of more than 6,000 members. The NEC responded by suspending the DLP and annulling the results. On what grounds? They won’t say.

Scheduled Party meetings, that the NEC demanded be cancelled till the leadership campaign is over for no good reason, are going ahead anyway. There is fury in the Party ranks at all these blatant stitch-ups. The battle for Labour Party democracy goes on.

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Labour’s NEC: Coup Attempt Latest

14th July 2016

Labour’s NEC: Coup Attempt Latest

By Rhea Wolfson:

Yesterday we witnessed the newest stage of the Labour Party coup. First they thought they could publicly bully Jeremy into resigning. Then they thought they could defeat him in an honest leadership election. Finally, with no sign that Jeremy will give up nor that the membership will turn against him, they have resorted to even more underhand tactics. The bureaucracy teamed up with the Westminster corridor coupsters to rig the upcoming leadership election against Jeremy.

Their main goal – keeping Jeremy off the ballot – was thankfully thwarted. But some of the outcomes of the meeting are very worrying. And unsurprisingly, the decisions were reached in suspicious circumstances. Two rules have been introduced to govern the leadership election.

The first is a ‘freeze date’ on new members. This will mean that anyone who joined the party since January 12th will be unable to vote. This will cut out the 129,000 people who have joined during the fastest period of growth in the party’s history. It also reneges on the commitment on our website that members are “eligible to vote in leadership elections”. This might turn out to be a breach of legal contract.

The second rule change concerns ‘registered supporters’: quasi-members with the right to vote in leadership elections. Last year this status cost £3, this year the NEC have hiked the price to an eye-watering £25. For many, this is more than full party membership. It creates a two-tiered system for party democracy with one rule for those with money, and one rule for everyone else. If you joined the Party since January your vote has just been taken off you. Unless, of course, you can afford to buy it back.

How did this happen? What led to these exclusionary decisions?

Unlike the decision to have Jeremy put automatically on the ballot, which was the result of much discussion and deliberation, these proposals were rushed through at the end of an already over-running meeting. Fourteen votes were cast in favour – the same number as voted against Jeremy being on the ballot. These fourteen would have been a minority for much of the meeting. But the proposals were never on the agenda, and were only tabled after other committee members had left. Through these underhand means, the minority were able to push through their proposals.
This seems like gerrymandering. Jeremy’s opponents are trying to rig the election to get the result they desire.

However, I am beginning to see how they have been being driven to this. It is beyond obvious that in a fair fight with Angela Eagle, Jeremy would be returned the resounding victor. This is not a criticism of Angela personally – she always comes across as a sincere politician – but of the wider politics behind her candidacy. Her launch event gave no indications of the political ideas and principles that motivate her, and no suggestions for the direction that she would take the party, much less any specific policies. This is no surprise: her politics, and those of much of the Parliamentary Labour Party, are dead and the dead don’t speak.

Centre-left parties across the Western world are at crisis point, either we adapt to the 21st century or we perish. Our political arena features forces which did not exist ten years ago: a hegemonic SNP, an insurgent UKIP, and widespread support for grassroots movements like those that Jeremy has dedicated his life to supporting. These forces are responses to globalisation, the changing nature of work, and the global financial crisis. Before Jeremy was elected, the Labour Party showed no sign of being able to respond to any of these. But now we are. Our party is growing, it is becoming embedded in social movements and it is reconnecting with the communities we represent. By contrast, Eagle’s leadership bid is politically empty because it has no answers to these questions. Given this, is it any surprise that it attracted so little interest from members, voters and commentators alike?

The undemocratic shenanigans on the NEC are the last cry of a dinosaur unable to adapt to a new world. These political forces are close to extinction so they have nothing to lose. They can break the rules, trash the party in public view, and drive the membership away. Anything is better than conceding control of the Labour Party to the new politics.

We now face a leadership election, only 10 months after the last. Members will have a genuine choice: the new politics of Jeremy Corbyn and the movement behind him, or the old politics of the Westminster bubble. But to those conspiring against democracy, I have one final question: if you do not have the confidence to face your own members, what hope do you have of convincing the electorate?

From Labour List

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The Coronation of Theresa May

12th July 2016

The Coronation of Theresa May

By Mike Phipps

Febrile times. Young people no longer talking to their parents, accentuated divisions between urbanites and those outside the big cities and worst of all: a 500% reported spike in racist incidents in the first week after the EU Referendum, which apparently has now “stabilised” at a 50% increase.

The politicians who stirred up these passions have quickly vacated the political stage. Nigel Farage has gone as UKIP leader, Boris Johnson ran away from the Tory leadership race and now Angela Leadsom has also fled the contest. The carelessness with which they lied about migrants being responsible for everything from the housing crisis to sexual assaults has been matched by a collective cowardice to deal with the mess they created.

Now Theresa May gets an early coronation - and a great deal of free, positive publicity from all wings of the mainstream media, about her alleged bravery, competence, tenacity, moral vision, one-nation values, sisterhood and willingness to listen. But it’s worth remembering that less than a year ago she made a speech at Tory Party Conference that was summarised, not by The Guardian, but the Daily Telegraph, as: “Immigrants are stealing your job, making you poorer and ruining your country. Never mind the facts, just feel angry at foreigners. And make me Conservative leader.”

In a recent Comment piece in The Times, lawyer Miriam González notes that Theresa May claims she can unite not just the Tory Party but the country. “But the first step she took in her campaign to run the country could not have been more divisive, suggesting she would use the presence of EU nationals in the UK as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.”

There has been plenty of media analysis contrasting May’s campaign commitments with her actual record, for example Likewise there have been many attempts to read between the lines of her campaign speeches to determine what she might actually do in office. The Independent’s John Rentoul, for instance, detects a rejection of Osbornomics in her views on monetary policy.

The details of Austerity may change but if the markets rallied at the prospect of May taking over it’s because they see the speedy settlement of the Tory leadership contest as an opportunity to push forward an aggressively neoliberal agenda. This was clear from the post-Brexit statement of the Centre for Policy Studies, which hailed “a unique political opportunity to drive through a wide ranging supply-side revolution on a scale similar to that of the 1980s. This must include removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, such as those related to climate directives and investment fund regulations.”

Labour Party socialists will feel a little queasy that the Tories appear to be uniting behind May while our Party’s divisions seem set only to intensify. But three things should be borne in mind. Firstly, Theresa May supported, albeit in a low-key way, the Remain campaign, so her ascendancy will not automatically overcome the internal
divisions in the Tory Party, which are likely to resurface once the detailed negotiation on Brexit begins.

Secondly, she’s media-shy. All the praise about quiet competence cannot mask the fact that a discomfort with the necessity to present oneself as a public commodity is a huge failing - as Gordon Brown’s premiership demonstrated.

Thirdly, she’s cautious, so, notwithstanding the advice of colleagues, she may be unlikely to rush into an early election. Of course, we welcome the opportunity to challenge the Tories at the polls and Jon Trickett, Labour’s campaigns and elections chair, was right to put the Party on a war footing to prepare for this. Furthermore, the slimness of the Tory parliamentary majority still makes a general election before 2020 more likely than not. But if there is not a rush to the polls this autumn, this gives us a bit more time not only to consolidate but also to put in place some candidates who accurately reflect the majority feeling within the Party at present.

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Labour Briefing Readers’ Meeting

12th July 2016

Labour Briefing Readers’ Meeting

Preparing for Power

Tuesday July 19, from 6.00 pm.
Floor 2, Dept of Anthropology,
14 Taviton Street, off Gordon Square, London WC1 6BT


All Labour Party members and supporters are welcome to this Labour Briefing readers’ discussion meeting.

This is an important opportunity in the context of a Labour leadership contest and of the political uncertainty facing the country. What do we in the Labour left want from a Corbyn government? How do we get that government elected? How should we support Jeremy at the present time? And how do we oppose the Tories and their ongoing attacks?

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Angela Eagle’s voting record

10th July 2016

Angela Eagle’s voting record

From Labour Briefing

In any upcoming leadership contest, Angela Eagle’s supporters will doubtless claim that she represents the working class, the poor and the vulnerable. Eagle, they will claim, is the left-wing candidate who can unite all wings of our Party.

Eagle was elected to Parliament in 1992 and so has an extensive political record. Comrades might wish to consider this record before casting their vote:

• In March 2003, Angela Eagle voted for the invasion of Iraq, which led to the deaths of approximately 500,000 people, according to the latest survey.
• According to the They Work For You website, she has ‘consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war’.
• Eagle supports the retention of Trident nuclear weapons.
• In September 2014 she voted in favour of air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq.
• In December 2015 she voted in favour of air strikes on Islamic State in Syria.
• According to the They Work For You website, she has ‘generally voted for a stricter asylum system.’
• According to the same website, in January and March 2004 she ‘voted in favour of university tuition fees increasing from £1125 per year to up to £3000 per year’.
• Eagle supported the introduction of ID cards.
• In 2006 she supported the Blair government’s plan to detain terrorism suspects for up to 90 days without charge.
• In March 2013 she abstained on the vote about the coalition government’s workfare programme, the scheme in which people on Jobseekers Allowance are forced to carry out unpaid work in order to keep receiving their benefits.
• In July 2015, Eagle abstained on the vote for the Welfare Bill, which proposed to cut tax credits, reduce the benefit cap to £20,000 (£23,000 in London) and called for £12bn more cuts. According to the government’s own figures, over 300,000 poor children will be pushed further into poverty, with 40,000 more children sinking below the poverty line, as a result of the benefit cap. Child Poverty - Action Group noted ‘the majority of households affected by the benefit cap are lone-parent households and the main victims are children’.
• She supports the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

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Challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership

10th July 2016

Challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership

By Mick Brooks

Angela Eagle has confirmed that she will stand as Labour’s leader against Corbyn.

Last September Jeremy was elected by a vote of 59.5% of the membership, with a record number of individuals voting for him personally as leader. Since that time we have seen non-stop grumbling and plotting by the bad losers in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). First they were going to oust him after a bad result at the Oldham by-election. It was a good result for Labour. Then they were going to plunge in the knife after bad local election results. Outside Scotland our vote held up well in May.

Now we are briefed by anonymous sources within the PLP that the victory of the ‘Out’ vote in the European Union (EU) Referendum shows that Jeremy can’t cut the mustard. This is pathetic and, as John McDonnell points out, (see John McDonnell on the leadership battle) entirely political.

In the first place the Referendum was not a General Election that tests party allegiances. The whole point of a referendum is that it gives a result on a single issue which cuts across party politics.

There were very sound reasons why socialists might vote for ‘Out’. The thuggish behaviour of the EU authorities towards the Syriza government in Greece fighting austerity was one such reason. The secret negotiations to impose TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which allows big business to sue countries for damages when their elected governments take decisions affecting their profits, is another. The increasing neoliberal drift of EU institutions is a third reason.

In the end the main trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party decided that their members’ interests were on balance defended better by advocating an ‘In’ vote. Jeremy followed suit. He was well aware that he could not portray Britain’s membership of the EU as perfect. Put bluntly, you cannot win a referendum result by lying to people. They will find you out.

Yet this seems to have been the approach favoured by the majority of the PLP. They also reflected the attitude of their Tory counterparts among the elite in the Westminster bubble that the vote was ‘in the bag’, at least till panic gripped them in the last two weeks of campaigning.

What triggered this latest challenge to Corbyn’s leadership was, of course, fear of losing their Parliamentary seats in the wake of the vote for Brexit. They are moving against Jeremy yet THERE IS NO CLEAR CHARGE SHEET AGAINST HIM.

He is accused of being insufficiently enthusiastic about the pro-EU campaign. Here is a different view. “Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25 year old tired. He has not stopped.” Thus spake Angela Eagle less than three weeks ago.

Secondly MPs like Tristram Hunt have complained that nobody in their constituency knew what Labour’s position was.  The remedy was in their hands. They could have told the voters. Tristram Hunt seems instead to have hidden in an attic for the duration of the campaign, and then screamed blue murder against Jeremy when the result came in. He may have been more active than that, but if so he was remarkably ineffective. Stoke on Trent voted 69.4% for ‘Out’ and only 30.6% for ‘In’, one of the most Eurosceptic results in the country.

Similar votes can be seen in the constituencies of other uncritical Euro-enthusiasts among labour MPs. Most extraordinarily, John Mann and Frank Field have also recorded their lack of confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. Yet they both campaigned for Brexit!

Likewise John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were right to insist there be no common platform to campaign for ‘In’ with the Tories, unlike some other Labour politicians. In 2014 Alistair Darling campaigned jointly with the Tories against Scottish independence under the slogan ‘Better Together’.  This was seen by working class Scots as ‘Better Together with the Tories’. The result was a meltdown in Labour’s vote in Scotland, retaining only one Parliamentary seat in 2015. Labour had held 41 out of 59 Scottish MPs in the2010 election.

The broader picture is that, in the EU Referendum across the country, roughly two thirds of Labour (and SNP) voters opted for ‘In’ as against about 40% of Tories.

The PLP’s revolt began with organised resignations from the Shadow Cabinet. Clearly this was a conspiracy. Then 172 MPs voted ‘no confidence’ in Corbyn, with only 40 against. As Jeremy’s supporters have pointed out, this vote has no constitutional significance. We are reminded of Brecht’s poem, written in the wake of the rising in East Germany in 1953:

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, called the whole thing “an unedifying coup” and the “political lynching of a decent man.” Apart from the sheer treachery, the political stupidity of launching a coup attempt, causing turmoil within Labour ranks while the Tories were stabbing each other in the back, is breathtaking.

The most outrageous suggestion coming from Corbyn’s critics is that, unless he can get nominations from 20% of the PLP, he should not even appear on the ballot paper. Since Jeremy is clearly ‘the people’s choice’, just don’t give the people the option of voting for him!

The constitutional position is unclear as to whether the democratically elected leader should be automatically on the ballot paper. The Collins Report (opposed by the LRC but overwhelmingly accepted at a Special Conference in 2014) muddies the waters. Legal advice is contradictory. In any case the democratic rights of members in a mass working party should not be decided by lawyers.

The moral position is crystal clear. Any attempt to manoeuvre Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot paper would be a squalid and despicable stroke. Since the right wing seems to be united behind Angela Eagle as their candidate, the result would not be an election, but a coronation with only one candidate on the ballot paper.

McCluskey warns that, if members are denied the right to vote for Jeremy, a split within the Party is a serious prospect. This could have devastating consequences for Labour’s electoral prospects. But what do the plotters care about that, compared with the furtherance of their precious careers?

The present situation within the Party is described by Jeremy’s critics as an ‘impasse’. This is a strange expression to use when one set of people has won a leadership contest and another has lost. We have every confidence that, in the event of another leadership contest, Jeremy Corbyn will win resoundingly once more. Moreover we will strive might and main to make it a reality,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chilcot: The Oil Vultures

7th July 2016

A section from the Chilcot Report:

Post-Saddam Hussein oil contracts

850. During October and November 2002, UK oil companies expressed concern to the Government about securing future oil contracts in Iraq.

851. Sir David Manning raised the issue with Dr Rice in early December.

852. An oil industry representative called on Mr Chaplin on 2 October, warning that “by sticking to the rules over Iraq and not going for post-sanctions contracts”, major UK oil companies would lose out. He was concerned that some other countries would sell their support for US policy for a guarantee that existing deals with the Iraqi regime would be honoured. Mr Chaplin explained that the FCO was “seized of the issue” and “determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies”.

853. On 25 October, Mr Brenton reported a conversation with Vice President Cheney’s office, in which he had been told that Mr Cheney was about to discuss Iraqi oil contracts with Mr Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian Prime Minister. Mr Brenton was advised that Mr Primakov would be told the “bids of those countries which co-operated with the US over Iraq would be looked at more sympathetically than those which did not”.

854. UK companies’ concerns persisted. Representatives of BP, Shell and British Gas discussed the issue with Baroness Symons on 31 October. Baroness Symons reported to Mr Straw that she had said:
“… we could not make any definitive undertakings, given our determination that any action in relation to Iraq is prompted by our concerns over WMD, and not a desire for commercial gains.
“However, I undertook to draw this issue to your attention as a matter of urgency. They were genuinely convinced that deals were being struck and that British interests are being left to one side.”

855. BP raised its concerns with Mr Brenton in Washington the same day.

856. On 6 November, the FCO hosted a presentation on Iraqi energy given by a team from BP. The presentation spelt out Iraq’s importance to oil companies: it had the second largest proven oil reserves in the world and “unique ‘yet to find’ potential”, but the oil industry was “a mess” and had to run fast to stand still.

857. The record of the seminar was sent to Mr Powell and Sir David Manning as evidence of why Iraq was so important to BP.

858. Mr Powell sent it to Mr Blair, who asked: “but what do we do about it?”

859. BP called on Mr Brenton in Washington again on 11 November. Sir Christopher Meyer told Sir David Manning that UK oil companies had been told by the Embassy that “US motivation as regards Iraq parallels our own: this is a matter of national security, not oil … Nevertheless, the rumours persist.”

860. Sir Christopher continued:
“We have seen a report from our team at CENTCOM which suggests that the Pentagon has already awarded a contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Haliburton, to restore the Iraqi oil industry to production levels of 3m bpd [barrels per day]. (Haliburton is of course, the company of which Cheney was previously chairman). We have so far been unable to obtain collateral for this from the Administration, and it might well in any case amount to no more than prudent contingency planning to stabilise Iraqi oil facilities if Saddam attempts to damage them in a conflict.

“Either way, there is clearly an issue here which we need to tackle. Raising it in an effective way with the Administration is a delicate matter. My view remains that the only realistic way in to this is via a PM intervention with Bush … The points to make would be:

• Once Saddam has been disarmed … Iraq’s oil industry will be central to…economic recovery.
• We, as you, have energy majors who have skills and resources to help…
• To give the lie to suggestions that this campaign is all about oil, it is vitally important that, once sanctions are lifted, there is seen to be a level playing field for all companies to work in Iraq.”

861. Sir Christopher advised that this was the least the UK should do. He had been advised by Mr James A Baker III, the former US Secretary of State, to put down a marker with the Administration fast.

862. Sir David Manning raised oil and gas contracts with Dr Rice in Washington on 9 December. He hoped UK energy companies “would be treated fairly and not overlooked if Saddam left the scene”. Dr Rice commented that it would be particularly unjust if companies that had observed sanctions since 1991, a category which included UK companies, were not among the beneficiaries of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

863. UK and US policies on Iraqi oil and efforts to secure contracts for UK companies hoping to do business in Iraq are described in Section 6.5.

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LRC Statement: Whose Party is this Anyway?

4th July 2016

LRC STATEMENT

Whose Party is this Anyway?

Does the Labour Party belong to the hundreds of thousands of activists, members, supporters and affiliated trades unionists across the country? Or is it the property of politicians in Westminster?

Labour MPs would not have been elected without the efforts of ordinary members, trudging through the streets in the rain to deliver leaflets, putting the Party’s case across on the doorstep, organising in communities, and paying their regular subcriptions.

Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge democratic mandate, achieving a clear majority of Party members, as well as attracting a huge number of new or returning registered supporters to the fold.

Some right-wing MPs have never been reconciled to this democratic choice, and are now asking the Parliamentary Labour Party to overthrow the members’ choice without even consulting us. But if the Labour Party were ever to be taken out of the hands of its members, its very existence would be called into question.

The governance of the country is at a critical moment, as the shape of the post-Brexit negotiations becomes clear. The future living standards of our people are at stake. At a time when the Tories are rudderless and utterly split, Labour should be uniting behind Jeremy Corbyn to ensure that we defeat any attacks on workers’ rights, environmental protections or increased racism and xenophobia.

We call on Labour MPs to reject any self-indulgent and divisive moves against the Party’s choice of leader. This is OUR party and we have full confidence in Jeremy Corbyn
. http://l-r-c.org.uk/…/lrc-statement-whose-party-is-this-an…/
Please email and tweet your Labour MP t ‪#‎BackCorbyn‬.

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John McDonnell on the leadership battle

4th July 2016

John McDonnell on the leadership battle

This talk was given by John McDonnell on Wednesday 29 June at a Stand Up for Labour event in the George IV pub in Chiswick, West London. The transcript has been lightly edited to account for the difference between spoken and written language but the content is unchanged.

Let me just tell you where we’re at at the moment because it’s important that you know. I just want to go back a short while, I won’t keep you long.
When Jeremy got elected last year he got elected on 59.5% of the vote – the highest mandate that any political leader of this country has ever received from their own membership. It was overwhelming in individual members, the affiliated group and also the new supporters. In every category he won.

When we got back to Parliament he tried, in his own quiet way (I’ve known Jeremy 35/40 years and he’s one of the most caring, compassionate people I’ve met), to work with people, put them together. He created a Shadow Cabinet of left, right and centre, he tried to hold it together. And when he did that he tried to work with the Parliamentary Labour Party all the way through. But there’s been a group within the PLP who consistently refused to accept his democratic mandate and consistently undermined him in every way they possibly could. To be frank, I don’t know how he’s borne it. I’m just so proud of him, to be honest, for what he’s done.

We knew at that time, that for some time they were plotting to see if they could have a coup at some stage. We knew that. We knew all the way along. The thing about it is they’re not particularly good at it. We had people in meetings where they were discussing who would be the candidate they would run etc. And so we got intelligence on a regular basis.

False arguments about electability
And their first attempt was the Oldham by-election. What they tried to say was “It’s not political this, it’s not his policies we disagree with, it’s the fact that he can’t win elections”. So the Oldham by-election was the first test. If he had lost the Oldham by-election that might have been the opportunity for some form of coup or to start the first stages. We went to Oldham. Jim McMahon was a fantastic candidate but what we got was the best of both worlds: a good local candidate and the Corbyn supporters enthusiasm. And we has a massive victory in Oldham. So they backed off.

So the next one was going to be the local government elections. That was the excuse for the next plot. We got to the local government elections and they said again “You can’t win an election with Corbyn” etc. We won every mayoral election we contested, every one. We won the seats in terms of local government, councils we were expected to lose, we won every one.

We reached in our first six months the highest level of support that Ed Miliband got all through his term of office. Now that was not something that we thought was wonderful but it was better than anyone thought possible. And in every Parliamentary by-election that’s taken place, we’ve increased our majorities on every occasion.
When Jeremy took over as leader in September we were fourteen points behind in the opinion polls. We are now ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls this week even post-Brexit. And here’s the irony, it’s just extraordinary, on Monday the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting was one of the most disgraceful meetings I’ve ever attended. It was like a lynching without the rope. It was appalling. MP after MP got up calling on Jeremy to resign: “We can’t win elections under you”. And here’s the irony, the first item on the agenda was to welcome the new Labour MP for Tooting who had doubled Labour’s majority.
I don’t accept that this is about Jeremy not being able to win elections. I know how tough it’s going to be to defeat the Tories but also we know that we’ve been building a solid base of support. Why? Because we’ve changed the political direction of this party within nine months. When we went into the last election we were austerity-lite. We had voted for tuition fees, we had voted for wars in Iraq, and all the rest of it. We transformed ourselves. We’re now an anti-austerity party, we’re now in favour of scrapping tuition fees, we’re in favour of building council houses again, we favour trade union rights and also, in the week before Chilcott is published, under Jeremy Corbyn we are now a party that will never again go on a military adventure that cost 500,000 lives as happened in Iraq under Blair. Never again.

That’s why they’re coming for Jeremy. This isn’t about electability. This is about policy and politics. They told us that it was about the European referendum, because he hadn’t done enough.

The referendum campaign
So let me just explain what happened on that because I’m gutted that we lost it. I’m sad that we lost it. But what happened way back in September was that Jeremy and I met with Angela Eagle and Hilary Benn and they said they wanted to run the European campaign and we said “fine”. But at that point in time we said that we need to agree the politics of this. We said that we can’t just go out there as simple Europhiles because, to be frank, there was a need for reform in Europe. And at that point in time they were trying to argue that we should unanimously support Cameron’s deal in Europe. We refused.
So we said “get on with the campaign and call us in when you need us, we will do all that we can to support”. Jeremy toured round this country – the stamina of the man is unbelievable. Thousands of miles, meeting after meeting. Both of us spoke in virtually every major city in the country. But we campaigned on the basis of ‘remain but reform’. And that is where most of the British population are. They agree that there needs to be reform. It was no use going out there just arguing that the European Union was perfect. It was remain and reform.

We also said, to be frank, as soon as you start appearing on platforms with Tories Farage and Boris Johnson ironically will call you “the establishment”. And that’s exactly what happened in Scotland and that is exactly what happened in Northern cities in particular across this country. So we believed that the tactics of the campaign were wrong. Nevertheless we worked really hard. But when the result came out they wanted a scapegoat, they wanted to blame Jeremy. They wanted to use this as the excuse for the coup.

The plot unfolds
And what happened I’ll briefly tell you. On Saturday night last Jeremy was contacted by a sympathetic journalist. He had been briefed that Hilary Benn was going round the Shadow Cabinet urging people to urge Jeremy to stand down or threaten resignation. When Jeremy contacted him and asked if it was true. Would he be happy for a statement to be put out saying it was an error or that Hilary withdraw from his actions. He refused. What else could he do but ask him to stand down? There was no other option.

What we then discovered, because they just leak like I don’t know what, was that there was a plan that what would happen is group after group of individuals, front benchers, would resign, in batches. Because it was to destabilise. It was on the basis that one group resigned, fine we could accommodate that, settle down for a few hours and then another group would resign. It went on like that.

So what Jeremy had to do was to put together another Shadow Cabinet and that’s what we’ve done. And we’ve brought in, yes, lots of the new young people into the Shadow Cabinet. I tell you, listening to some of their speeches this week has been thrilling and they are the heroes and heroines of this movement.

Finally, let me just say where we’re at now because we’re getting to the point where it becomes farcical. What they did, to try and divide me and Jeremy, they briefed the media that I was trying to challenge him. And today Tom Watson has given an interview saying its John MacDonnell who’s forcing him to stay. You can’t have it both ways.

So what I’ve said today is, straightforwardly, if Jeremy wants to remain the leader of the Labour Party I will support him wholeheartedly, I will chair his campaign committee again. It’s his decision and he’s made that decision. He’s staying.

I think this is a tragedy what’s going on now. At a time when, to be frank, our country’s facing some of the severest economic problems we’ve had in a generation as a result of the referendum, when the Tories are in disarray and this is virtually no government there whatsoever, this is the time the Labour Party should have held together and stepped up its campaigning. Parliamentary pomposity this is not. This is not just for the sake of the Party. It’s for the sake of our country and the people we represent because they’re the ones that will be hit the hardest as a result of this result from the European referendum and the economic instability.

What we’ve said is Jeremy is staying. If someone wants to challenge him fine. I spoke to Tom Watson and said if a candidate comes forward let’s have a democratic election of the leader but let’s do it as comrades, as friends, it doesn’t have to be like this. We should be able to act amicably in this party and not in the way that people have treated Jeremy in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

They’re falling out among themselves as to who should be the candidate. It looks as though Angela Eagle, we’re told by the BBC, will announce she will become a candidate tomorrow. Fine, fine. I’ve said we will convene an urgent NEC, have a short leadership campaign timetable in order to match the Tories and get our leader in place so that we can then challenge the Tories and if there is a general election then we’re ready to go with the leader.
Debate as comrades and hold together

But, above all else, now at the moment, what we need people to do, whichever position they come from, is just to hold together in the party, just basically to treat each other with some common decency.

So where we’re at at the moment is that we think there will be a candidate coming forward tomorrow, the NEC will set up the timetable for the leadership election and we’ll have what we’ve always wanted really, a democratic debate. Jeremy will stand again and tour round the country setting out his policies and we’ll hope that he gets re-elected.

We’d welcome it, if you’re not a member of the Labour Party at the moment we need you to join. If you are a member of the Labour Party let me just say this. What we’re witnessing at the moment is a very British coup. If we don’t face this down what will be the point of being a Labour Party member, voting for a leader that you want and then having the Labour Party MPs exercise a veto. That is unacceptable.

There has been a recent modern invention by the Greeks. It’s called democracy. What we’re standing for in this period now is democracy in the Party – the ability of rank and file members of the Labour Party to choose the leader that they want and the policies that they want. And if we lost that, if we allow this coup to destroy Jeremy Corbyn, they destroy our Party. I am not going to allow that to happen and I hope that you don’t. So I’m urging you, pleading with you now, as we go through this period, let’s be comradely to whoever comes forward in the other campaign and let’s stand firm in the interests of democracy. And I appeal to you to support the person who actually did get democratically elected nine months ago, who transformed our policies into becoming a socialist party once again, and right the way round the country gave people hope of a new form of politics, caring and compassionate but socialist above all else.

So I say to you if this election comes, stand with me and support Jeremy Corbyn.

Solidarity

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Ten good things about the Chakrabarti Report

1st July 2016

Shami Chakrabarti has written a good, balanced report, salutes the anti-racist history of the Labour Party and makes some detailed amendments to the Party rule book, says Mike Phipps, who highlights some of the findings.

1. “This Report is mine, and mine alone.” This is reassuring to those who were concerned about the involvement of Baroness Royall, who in an earlier report, recommended that the Jewish Labour Movement (formerly Paol Zion, a strongly pro-Israel grouping in the Party) be involved in training student Labour Club officers on anti-Semitism.

2. “There is not, and cannot be, any hierarchy of racism.” Chakrabarti says: “It is incredibly important that whilst individual testimonies are acknowledged, universal principles are then applied. So for example Islamophobia, antisemitism and Afriphobia are all equally vile forms of racism. No competition for victimhood is required or should be encouraged.”

3. The Labour Party is the natural home for migrants. “It seems completely right and natural that the Labour Party has been the instinctive political home to generations of migrants to the UK including my own parents.”

4. Racist epithets, the word “Zio”, racial and religious stereotyping have no place in the Labour Party. Incendiary language has no place, for example, “to compare the actions of Jewish people or institutions anywhere in the world to those of Hitler or the Nazis or to the perpetration of the Holocaust.”

5. “Labour members should be free and positively encouraged to criticise injustice and abuse wherever they find it, including in the Middle East.

6. “I recommend the drawing up, and adoption of, a readily accessible complaints procedure.” Further: “It is completely unfair, unacceptable and a breach of Data Protection law that anyone should have found out about being the subject to an investigation or their suspension by way of the media.” And: “The Labour Party should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice, however difficult the circumstances, and to resist subjecting members to a trial by media.” And: “I do not subscribe to the view that every allegation of misconduct within the Party is a factional mischief, but nor do I feel that every investigation warrants immediate publicity (a punishment in itself), nor administrative suspension (with the inevitable shame and opprobrium that is likely to follow) - even if the allegation has attracted public controversy.”

7. “I find it regrettable, to say the least, that some subjects of recent suspension and disciplinary process, under the Party’s disciplinary procedures, found out about their suspensions and investigations as a result of media reporting rather than notice from the Party itself. Staff or elected officials should never feel it necessary (even during a pre-election media frenzy) - to operate a presumption of suspension. If anything, the presumption should be against interim suspension.” And: “Indeed, if the principle of proportionality had been properly applied in recent times, I query whether so many people would ever have been suspended at all.”

8. When a disciplinary measure is taken, there should be a right of review. There should also be a time limit on bringing disciplinary charges in relation to uncomradely conduct and behaviour.

9. “It is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required.” Broad-based educational programmes are recommended, in conjunction with the trade unions and others. But “there should be specific training for all staff and members involved in the investigations and disciplinary process.”

10. There should be limits to how long parties can be put in special measures and run from the centre. “I recommend that the NEC gives urgent attention to any parts of the country that have been under “special measures” for more than six months” and “I recommend that going forward, no Labour Party unit in any part of the country should be subject to such a regime of executive control for more than six months without review by the NEC.”

Summary of key recommendations:

“1. Epithets such as “Paki”, “Zio” and others should have no place in Labour Party discourse going forward.
2. Critical and abusive reference to any particular person or group based on actual or perceived physical characteristics cannot be tolerated.
3. Racial or religious tropes and stereotypes about any group of people should have no place in our modern Labour Party.
4. Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.
5. Excuse for, denial, approval or minimisation of the Holocaust and attempts to blur responsibility for it have no place in the Labour Party.
6. Beliefs out-with the Labour Party’s values are not to be protected when considering whether a member has acted in a way which is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party.
7. The Code of Conduct approved in May 2016 should be amended so as to comprehensively rule out all forms of prejudice, but in the light of this and the guidance in my Report, I do not find other substantive (as opposed to procedural) rule changes to be strictly necessary.
8. I recommend procedural rule changes (a draft is annexed to this Report) to improve the Party’s disciplinary process (as well as a wider review of the relevant provisions of the rules and procedural guidelines in the light of those recommendations) and the adoption and publication of a complaints procedure. 28
9. I recommend the appointment of a General Counsel to the Labour Party and additional and appropriately expert staff.
10. I recommend that the power of interim suspension be vested in the NCC and give guidance as to how it might be exercised more proportionately.
11. I recommend the appointment of a Legal Panel of volunteer lawyers of standing so as to assist the NCC in its functions and to provide a review on procedural and proportionality grounds in cases of suspension or expulsion from the Party.
12. I recommend consideration of a greater range of NCC sanctions short of suspension and expulsion.
13. I do not recommend lifetime bans from the Labour Party and recommend time limits on the bringing of disciplinary charges.
14. Once my Report is disseminated and so as to give members an opportunity to be guided by it, I recommend a moratorium on triggering new investigations into matters of relevant language and conduct arising before publication. This in no way effects investigations and disciplinary proceedings already in train.
15. I recommend the formation of an NEC working group into comprehensive education and training needs across the Party with a view to partnership with Trade Unions and Higher Education providers. Staff and members involved in the new disciplinary process should receive appropriate training.
16. I recommend a review of the Party’s Equal Opportunities Policies with a view to adopting an over-arching Equal Opportunities Policy.
17. I recommend better dissemination and explanation of the Party’s Rule Book.
18. I recommend that the NEC gives urgent attention to any parts of the country that have been under “special measures” for more than six months.
19. I recommend that no part of the Party should be subject to “special measures” for more than six months without NEC review of that decision. Further the NEC must provide a plan as to how the local party is to improve its practice and return to full democratic rights within the Party.
20. The Party should increase the ethnic diversity of its staff.”

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Hundreds of councillors sign pro-Corbyn letter

30th June 2016

We are a group of Labour Party councillors who are dismayed by the attempt by some within the Parliamentary Labour Party to oust our democratically elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Many of us were elected in May, where in spite of predictions of an electoral meltdown, we won our seats. Voters who had previously felt abandoned by the Labour Party returned to vote for us, returned as members, and returned as campaigners.

It would be utterly self-defeating for the people we represent if now, less than a year after Jeremy was elected on the single biggest mandate of any previous leader, he was to be forced from office. It is our view that the behaviour of some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party is totally self-indulgent and at odds with what the communities we represent need. We will risk losing all those new members and enthusiastic campaigners who joined us because Jeremy offered a vision of hope for the future.

Our enemy is not Jeremy Corbyn – it is the Tory party and their plans to use the EU referendum as a fig leaf to inflict further cuts to the councils we represent.

We hope that those MPs who have embarked on this indulgent course of action will reflect on their behaviour and turn their fire on the real enemy, the Tory Party.

Full Councillors list on LabourList

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Young Labour Statement On Jeremy Corbyn

30th June 2016

Young Labour has passionately campaigned to remain in the EU but respect the decision of the electorate.

Now the entire labour movement must consider again what is in the best interests of those who need social justice the most. We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to infect our politics and society at large.

Whilst we must also challenge the social inequality that has led to a Brexit vote. This vote has reflected the anger and disillusionment many communities feel where their livelihoods and standard of living has declined. The real enemy is austerity and we must continue to resist it.

Our party now needs to come together and have a vision for the country that addresses these concerns. The future is now uncertain.

The one certainty is that we as the Young Labour National Committee have full confidence in Jeremy Corbyn to continue to lead the Labour Party through these uncertainties. We are reassured by his decades of integrity and service, when it is obvious that so many do not trust politicians.

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A political leader who cannot be bought

28th June 2016

The BFAWU statement on Jeremy Corbyn
Members and representatives of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union condemn the actions of a number of Labour MPs who have chosen to start a civil war within the party. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide election victory nine months ago, certain MPs, unable to accept democracy have sought to de-stabilise the party and undermine Mr Corbyn’s vision time and again, often through Conservative Party supporting outlets, including the Rupert Murdoch media empire.

In the space of nine months, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has increased it’s membership massively, gaining support from all sections of society, including students, the elderly, the disabled and previously disillusioned Trade Unions. His effective opposition has forced the government into U-turn, after U-turn on issues directly affecting ordinary people and he has performed solidly in local elections, winning important by-elections and mayoral elections, often increasing Labour’s vote share. It’s also worth mentioning, that Mr Corbyn is the first ever political leader to have a majority of females on the front benches. This is despite having inherited a broken and de-moralised party after the damaging 2015 General Election. The truth, is that as leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn has achieved more in nine months than his predecessor managed in five years.

The justification the rebel MPs are using for this attempted coup, is Mr Corbyn’s performance during the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. This is disingenuous to say the least. 63% of Labour Party supporters voted to remain in the EU, with 75% of Mr Corbyn’s own constituency voting to remain. If Labour wished to scapegoat anyone, surely it would have been members of the party’s pro-EU campaign management team, which included the likes of Alan Johnson and ironically, Hilary Benn. The reality, is that this cabal of mainly Blairite MPs have been planning this for a long time and given the timing, it begs the questions; how much of this is about the imminent arrival of the Chilcot report and who may, or may not come out of it badly? How much of this is to provide distraction? Is it just a coincidence that many of the people who are calling for votes of no confidence in Mr Corbyn are notorious supporters of Tony Blair, who voted for the illegal war in Iraq? It certainly seems bizarre, that given the fact that the Conservatives are going into meltdown and the country is crying out for unity, that these people should decide that now is the time for a civil war within the Labour Party.

The crisis currently engulfing the country is one that originated within the Conservative Party. David Cameron gambled with the welfare of the country during the 2015 General Election by making the promise of an EU referendum a key part of his election manifesto, in order to prevent losing votes to UKIP, placate Tory back-benchers and to ultimately protect his political position. However, rather than expose the Conservative Party and address the real issues now affecting the country, the media and the usual suspects within the the establishment have decided to make Jeremy Corbyn the sacrificial lamb, for no other reason than that they see him as a threat to the status quo. A political leader who cannot be bought.

The BFAWU and its members, are at a loss to understand the stupidity of these MPs. On Sunday, June 27th, members and activists of our Union were gathering outside the head office building of Samworth Brothers to support Kumaran Bose; a worker sacked for exposing the injustices workers are experiencing in his factory. While we were out fighting for fair play and equality, well paid Labour MPs were acting like drones for those who created the ‘Brexit’ mess by knifing their leader in the back, crowing about it on social media and prostituting themselves to current affairs TV programmes, in order to twist the knife further. This just adds insult to injury. That a number of Labour MPs seek to create division in such a treacherous manner and make it their priority, whilst our members face attacks on their terms and conditions, agency labour exploitation and zero hours contracts is beyond the pale. It makes you wonder what kind of Labour Party we’d be looking at, if the rogues gallery of Margaret Hodge, Hilary Benn, Ian Austin, Wes Streeting, Lucy Powell, Chris Bryant and all the other traitors of democracy somehow managed to seize power of the Labour Party.

The last two General Elections and the EU referendum showed that people in this country are fed up with Westminster and fed up of the politics of the past, including Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’. People up and down the country are angry, hurting and are crying out for change. For the first time since 1945, there is an opportunity to rebuild our country with a leader that offers a future for all and a society that we can all be a part of. That’s what Jeremy Corbyn offers and that’s why we, as the BFAWU will continue to support both him, his values and his vision.

Ian Hodson
National President

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Model Motion for GC meetings - #KeepCorbyn

26th June 2016

That this CLP:

is dismayed and angered by the antics of a section of the Parliamentary Labour Party who have sought to undermine our democratically-elected leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Notes Labour MPs would not have been elected without the efforts of ordinary members, trudging through the streets in the rain to deliver leaflets, putting the Party’s case across on the doorstep, organising in communities, and paying their regular subscriptions.

Believes that this is a critical moment which will determine the future of our communities for years to come, and that voters in XXXXXXX and across the country need Labour to be united and fighting to defeat any attacks on workers’ rights, environmental protections, and any increased racism and xenophobia.   

And therefore resolves to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and to condemn the actions of those who are seeking to divide the party and overturn the leaders’ democratic mandate

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Is your MP backing Corbyn?

26th June 2016

We’re aware that the following Labour MPs have tweeted or otherwise publicly offered support to #KeepCorbyn.

If your MP isn’t here keep up the pressure by Twitter, email, phoning their office until they do!
If you see a pro-Corbyn tweet, FB, email or article from an MP on the list please let us know at info@l-r-c.org.uk

John McDonnell MP
Liz McInnes MP
Diane Abbott MP
Richard Burgon MP
Peter Dowd MP
Ian Lavery MP
Jon Trickett MP
Cat Smith MP
Andy Burnham MP
Angela Rayner MP
Emily Thornberry MP
Paul Flynn MP
Clive Lewis MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Kate Osamor MP
Imran Hussain MP
Margaret Greenwood MP
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
Grahame Morris MP
Kate Hoey MP
Graham Allen MP
Ian Mearns MP
Dawn Butler MP

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LRC Statement: Whose Party is this Anyway?

26th June 2016

Does the Labour Party belong to the hundreds of thousands of activists, members, supporters and affiliated trades unionists across the country?  Or is it the property of politicians in Westminster?


Labour MPs would not have been elected without the efforts of ordinary members, trudging through the streets in the rain to deliver leaflets, putting the Party’s case across on the doorstep, organising in communities, and paying their regular subscriptions.


Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge democratic mandate, achieving a clear majority of Party members, as well as attracting a huge number of new or returning registered supporters to the fold.   


Some right-wing MPs have never been reconciled to this democratic choice, and are now asking the Parliamentary Labour Party to overthrow the members’ choice without even consulting us.  But if the Labour Party were ever to be taken out of the hands of its members, its very existence would be called into question. 


The governance of the country is at a critical moment, as the shape of the post-Brexit negotiations becomes clear.  The future living standards of our people are at stake.  At a time when the Tories are rudderless and utterly split, Labour should be uniting behind Jeremy Corbyn to ensure that we defeat any attacks on workers’ rights, environmental protections or increased racism and xenophobia. 


We call on Labour MPs to reject any self-indulgent and divisive moves against the Party’s choice of leader.  This is OUR party and we have full confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

Please email and tweet your Labour MP.   

We would also encourage all LRC members and supporters who are able to attend to join the #BackCorbyn Protest at Parliament at 6pm tomorrow, Monday 27, to coincide with the meeting of the PLP.

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BackCorbyn

25th June 2016

Right-wing Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey are trying to get a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Cobyn passed at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

With the Tories divided and facing a leadership contest at the same time the Brexit negotiations will be starting, the country needs a united Labour party keeping up the fight to defend protections for workers, ensure that the poorest aren’t made to pay the price of any economic fall out, and fight the growth of racism and xenophobia.    The last thing we need is a period of self-indulgent navel gazing, or destructive infighting.

Use this handy tool to email your MP and ask your MP not to back this coup, and to #BackCorbyn.

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Referendum Result – First Thoughts

24th June 2016

Referendum Result – First Thoughts

What a difference a day makes

Ian Ilett assesses the dangers and opportunities from the referendum result

Whatever you voted, or not at all, don’t let us succumb to the hyperbole and even hysteria that Brexit has unleashed. This was never our referendum. It was always about the deep divisions within the right. The two Project Fear campaigns turned the entire campaign into a deeply negative and divisive diversion from the real issues. Neither Remain’s economic scares nor Brexit’s immigration rhetoric will create a single job nor build a single home for ordinary people.

Brexit voters weren’t stupid or misled to reject the absurdly positive story of the EU that most of the Remain camp told. They weren’t racist to worry about wages, jobs, housing, hospitals, social services and their kids’ futures. They are sick of establishment politicians feathering their own nests and doing nothing for the working class people they are supposed to represent.

After decades of de-industrialisation and relentless assaults on the working class at every level, from lay-offs and the destruction of trade union rights, a vote to ‘Leave’ can represent an inchoate anti-establishment mood. How will that angry mood evolve?

While leaving the big business, rightward moving, neoliberal EU club is not in itself reactionary, victory for Brexit will fill the most reactionary politicians and their small band of followers with confidence. That is a serious risk, but a swing to the right is not inevitable. Cameron cynically called the referendum to settle the Tory leadership debate for once and all. His gamble has failed. Who will his successor be? There will be civil war within the Tory Party however much they try to camouflage it. It’s impossible to predict the outcome of that struggle but, given the small government majority, an early election must be possible.
That raises the prospect of turning the discontent manifested by the Brexit vote against the real curses of working class existence - austerity and the casualisation of labour. UKIP will no doubt do a total U-turn and try to reinvent itself. But there must be a question mark over its future now its sole objective has been achieved.

Yes or no, in or out, never offered anything major to the working class and the left. The political crisis and economic blowback are symptoms of a developing capitalist crisis. In the short term the economy will suffer. Capital outflows have been hit. Sterling and share prices are in turmoil. The Bank of England is desperate to cut interest rates, but they are already so low that will have little effect. Especially given our trade deficit, increased cost of imports will hurt, but cheaper exports and import substitution will also come into play.

Government economic policy will make a difference. Cutting demand with austerity policies will make things worse quickly, and reducing infrastructure investment make it even worse in the long run. Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to fight an austerity budget that Osborne threatened in the event of a ‘Leave’ vote.

An accurate quantification of medium and longer term economic implications is extremely difficult. But domestic Brexit effects are secondary to the existing negative economic trends at work domestically and internationally. The EU economy outside Germany is very weak. As Michael Roberts argued in the last issue of Briefing our fundamental problems are rooted in the problems and contradictions of capitalism, not Brexit, though it will to an extent exacerbate them immediately.

It is more vital than ever that Labour moves beyond the divisive old politics to address the frustration and anger so many feel. The media and right wing in Labour will try to scapegoat Jeremy Corbyn for the ‘Leave’ vote. But Labour’s leadership has been pro-EU for half a century; he’s been leader for months. The loss of Scotland to the SNP is the most extreme case of the damage New Labour has done to our traditional electoral base.

Corbyn has played an honest and decent role in the referendum campaign and respects democratic decision making. Especially in the wake of economic problems and Tory infighting he will get respect for principled politics.  Labour can get a hearing for the pro-working class anti-austerity programme he campaigned on in the referendum.

This is also the only way to cut across the anti-immigrant mood which has undoubtedly been whipped up by the Brexiters. They were keen to emphasise Britain’s ‘great’ economy for their own purposes, We have to show that wealth and power can be harnessed to build a decent future for all. We must not be divided!

This article will appear in the forthcoming issue of LABOUR BRIEFING, the magazine of the LRC

See Michael Roberts’ view of Brexit here

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Southern Rail Fails

24th June 2016

Southern Rail Fails

By Sussex LRC

Readers may have heard reports of the chaos on Southern Rail.  Those on social media can try #SouthernFail or #GoViaNowhere which are among the most popular hashtags in use.

It arises out of rail union members, principally ASLEF drivers (now under court injunction) on Gatwick Express & Southern trains and RMT guards on Southern trains, taking action to oppose the introduction/extension of driver-only operation (DOO).

The dispute is of significance beyond the South East as the franchise for the region was created by the Coalition in 2014 to be the biggest and longest by far of any, giving Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operation of all services across the region, including Thameslink (all DOO), Southern (no DOO) and Gatwick Express (part DOO).

Passenger anger is such that there are now widespread demands for GTR/Southern to be stripped of its franchise.  Local Tory MPs are buckling to the pressure, but there has been little national profile to this dispute which could catapult rail re-nationalisation to the top of the political agenda. 

Reflecting this lack of national profile, a parliamentary petition calling for GTR to be stripped of its franchise still has less than 10,000 signatures despite only having a few days left to run.  Please do what you can to push this - here

The Guardian has published a reflective piece from an ostensibly non-political angle - here

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The referendum – a view from Ireland

19th June 2016

The referendum – a view from Ireland

By Finn Geaney, Dublin Council of trade Unions,
Teachers Union of Ireland and Irish Labour party

The left in Britain has for decades been confused about the situation regarding the European Union. Some socialist organisations and a number of trade unions have come out in favour of voting to leave, believing that in this way they would be striking a blow against capitalism. A number of comrades have suggested abstention. But in my opinion abstention is not an option. Either it is beneficial for the advancement of socialism to vote ‘no’ or it is beneficial for the advancement of socialism to vote ‘yes’. It cannot be creditably argued that it would make no difference either way. For this is the only conclusion that can be drawn form an abstentionist position.

Some on the left argue that the European Union is undemocratic. There are three principal bodies involved in driving EU policy.

The European Parliament is elected by individual countries – conservative parties have a majority here. Christian Democrats have more seats than the Social Democrats and left Parties combined. However, the European Parliament is not a federal parliament such as exists in Germany or the US.

The European Council, which consists of the Heads of State or Government of the twenty eight member states, as well as the President of the European Commission, is the principal decision-making body of the European Union. It is that body which provides the impetus for EU policy initiatives. The European Council is driving a right-wing agenda today because the majority of its members belong to Europe’s conservative parties, itself the result of conservative election victories in the constituent states. So the first question facing socialists is how is it that right-wing parties are winning elections in so many European countries? The energies of socialists would be better directed here instead of against the chimera of a European Super State.

The third significant organisation in the governance of the European Union is the European Commission. Its task is to ensure that regulations and directives adopted by the Council and Parliament are implemented by the member states. The Commission also has the power to draw up proposals for new EU legislation. There is one Commissioner from each EU country. Inevitably, for the same reasons that apply in the other two organisations, a majority of the EU Commission were nominated by conservative governments.

So when left-wing activists fulminate about the EU being driven by unelected bureaucrats they are perhaps not taking sufficiently into account the tasks that properly belong to socialist parties and trade unions within the member states.

The Treaties that have been adopted since 1956 represent the primary legislation of the EU and form the basis for secondary legislation that appears in the form of regulations, directives and decisions. Some states adopted these Treaties by referendum, others by decisions in parliament. But whatever means allowed for the acceptance of Treaties can also be used to reverse aspects of these Treaties or to introduce new Treaties. Nothing is permanent.

It is true that negotiations on a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the United States represent a real threat to the conditions of workers and public services across Europe. But TTIP has to be fought by building trade union resistance across the countries of Europe and by changing government policy at home. Voting ‘no’ to the EU will not protect workers or public services from being undermined. In fact many of the improvements in workplace conditions in such areas as hours of work, health and safety and part-time employment came about as a result of directives from the European Union; as is also the case in health provision, food safety, environmental protection and animal husbandry.

The European Union is seen by the United States as a willing ally of NATO, yet no individual EU country is obliged by the EU Treaties to take part in any NATO endeavour. It is matter for socialists in the constituent states to resist the growing association of US imperialist interests with European foreign policy.

Those left-wing British MPs who in the 1950s and 1960s became engaged in the struggle against Gaitskell and the right in the Labour Party, in more recent decades came to identify a new enemy - Europe. Tony Benn, though himself a giant in the socialist movement, was one of the principal offenders in this regard. That tradition is carried on by left-wingers today. Basing their argument on ‘sovereignty’ they claim that progressive legislation is inhibited by membership of the European Union.

Do they forget that the privatisation measures carried through by the Thatcher Government were not inspired by Europe? Neither were her endeavours to weaken the trade union movement. The absence of a progressive system of taxation that would make the rich pay is not a consequence of a decision by the European Commission, and neither is the decision to run-down the NHS or the public system of education in favour of private interests.

If the vote to leave the European Union is carried, this will open the way to a surge of confidence for right-wing forces across British society. Immigrants, regardless of their country of origin, will pay a big price. Employers, freed of the shackles of progressive labour legislation emanating from the EU, will attack workers’ conditions. The consequent economic decline will adversely affect employment prospects.

How is the left planning to deal with that scenario? Is an upper-class twit like Boris Johnston going to be allowed to cause the reversal of gains that have been built up over decades of popular struggle? And are Farage and his likes to be given the freedom to open up new chasms amongst workers in Britain?

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Justice for Kumaran Bose

17th June 2016

Justice for Kumaran Bose

By Ian Hodson, National President,
Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union


We are organising a day of action in support of Kumaran Bose who was dismissed for speaking out and for organising a union in his workplace.
Please see our statement below.


We are seeking the support from the wider Labour movement to call on the company to reinstate Kumaran. We would hope people who believe in Justice and the right for workers to have a voice in there workplace are able to attend. The protest is taking place at 12.30pm Sunday 26th June at Chetwode House
1 Samworth Way
Leicester Road
Melton Mowbray
Leicestershire
LE13 1GA


Union Activist Sacked in Fight for Union Recognition at Samworth Brothers

Leicestershire-based food giant Samworth Brothers are the owners of Cornish pasty maker Ginsters, as well as being the largest maker of certified Melton Mowbray pork pies. Last year alone they boasted of pre-tax profits of £41.7 million. But Samworth Brothers also have a long history of funding the Tories. Little wonder then that they are a decidedly anti-union business.

With the introduction of the new living wage last April, Samworth’s bosses have cut paid breaks, and have ditched premium rates for working unsocial hours and overtime. Workers responded in their hundreds by joining the Bakers Food and Allied workers Union, packing a series of huge public meetings when the ‘restructuring’ was first announced in February.

But in a vicious turn-of-events, Kumaran Bose, one of the leading union organisers who has done much to speak out against the undemocratic nature of the pay restructuring, was sacked last Friday (June 3). Kumaran has worked for the company for twelve years with not a blemish to his name, but since the dispute has begun has been subjected to severe bullying from his managers.

Kumaran’s only crime has been his outstanding success in convincing more than 50% of the workers in his factory to join the Bakers Food and Allied workers Union. And what his Managers particularly disliked was his brave decision to stand up for his rights and refuse to accept that he and his fellow workers should be treated so appallingly and that their families should be denied a decent standard of living..

Bizarrely when Kumaran lodged a formal grievance against his Samworth Management at Kettleby Foods, the company management team responded by embarking upon a retaliatory disciplinary procedure against him, accusing Kumaran of bullying his employers?!

Worse still, despite the fact that the majority of people at Kumaran’s factory are members of the Bakers Union, the company refuse to give the union a voluntary recognition at the site (May 23).

A formal appeal against this decision has now been lodged with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) and the odds are strongly in favor of the workforce that Samworth’s management team will soon be forced by law to give formal recognition to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.

In the meantime Kumaran’s managers will no doubt continue to use every trick in the book to block their employees request and the right to join a union, talking to the workers they said they are disappointed by their work mates sacking but won’t be bullied or intimidated and will now redouble their efforts to recruit more members to send a clear message to their Tory funding bosses that they will no longer take no for an answer.

We are calling on all fair minded people to support our call for the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose.

Write to Samworth Brothers bosses at Paul.Davey@Bradgate-Bakery.co.uk and demand the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose

Recent article can be found at,
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9aec-Pasty-bosses-sack-low-pay-scandal-whistleblower#.V1k-xx94WnN


Please like and share
https://www.facebook.com/Reinstate-Kumaran-Bose-506096599591947/


Please follow Twitter @Justice4Kumaran

 

 

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Statement from Africans For Jeremy Corbyn Values

15th June 2016

Statement from Africans For Jeremy Corbyn Values


For the attention of: Iain McNichol, General Secretary,Members of the National Executive Committee and Compliance Unit head Labour Party

Delivered on 14th June 2016

Dear Mr McNichol,
Re: A collective response to recent suspensions of Labour Party members

We, the undersigned, affirm our faith in true Labour values and therefore support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and the refreshing politics of the alternative he has brought back to the Labour Party.

We are, however concerned about the recent suspensions of committed Labour Party members for alleged anti-Semitism which undermines serious discussion and thinking. We are particularly concerned by the selective use of suspensions, most recently the suspension of Marlene Ellis, a hard working activist with a track record of fighting racism and supporting the local community, for an online post made on behalf of Momentum Black ConneXions which called for Ken Livingstone to be reinstated.

We also register our concerns about the suspensions of Ken Livingstone, Simon Hinds, Tony Greenstein, David White and others. We are disappointed that the appalling behaviour of John Mann MP, haranguing and insulting Ken Livingstone, a senior citizen, and calling him a liar and Nazi apologist in front of cameras, has not led to reproach or censure from the Labour Party and its Compliance Unit, even though the behaviour brought the Labour Party into disrepute. John Mann MP is an elected representative of the Party, and his behaviour fell far short of the standards expected of elected representatives.

It appears allegations of anti-Semitism are being used to stifle the sharing of information on some of the uncomfortable events that took place during the Shoah, the Maangamizi (African Holocaust) and free speech. Allegations are also being made to silence criticisms of Israel, hamper the work of Momentum activists, and undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

We are uncomfortable with the parallel between the suspensions and what took place during the McCarthy era in the United States.

It is worrying that comments that do not please a section of the population are deemed anti-Semitic, whether or not statements are made in the course of rational or factual discussion, and there seems to be undue haste to suspend. Some members of the Party appear to have exploited a somewhat hysterical atmosphere which has been allowed to develop. This is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, rather than of calm, rational consideration. African tradition teaches us to value the lessons of the past in the spirit of Sankofa, so that we do not repeat mistakes.
We also note that there isn’t the same level of indignation when anti-African comments, or Islamophobic comments linking Muslims to ISIS, are made. All communities should be treated with equal respect.

The current suspensions are perceived as a tool to intimidate activists on the Left which is inimical to the progress of the Labour Party.

The recent lifting of Jackie Walker’s suspension supports the view that the suspensions are being applied and publicised in haste, without due consideration.
We call on the General Secretary of the Labour Party, the Compliance Unit and the NEC to make a full response to the points raised in this letter and not use the Chakrabarti Inquiry as an excuse to avoid addressing the serious points raised.

Yours sincerely,
Awula Serwah, Africans for JC Values
Chris Jones, Africans for JC Values
Kwaku, Africans for JC Values
Nana Asante, Kilombo UK, Momentum member
Abu Akil, GACuk
Adotey Bing-Pappoe
Alexis Shepherd
Beverley Wong, Momentum Black ConneXions (MBC)
Camille Sahiri
Cathy Bolore
Delia Mattis Momentum Member
David Prichard-Jones, Labour Party Member
Dr David Muir
Dr. Ricardo Twumasi, Labour Party Member
Eddio Calpan
Esther Stanford-Xosei, Global Afrikan People’s Parliament (GAPP)
Explo Nani-Kofi, Kilombo Centre for Civil Society and African Self Determination
Glenroy watson, GACuk
Ian Malcolm-Walker, Momentum NC and LRC EC both in a personal capacity
Jackie Walker, LRC, Labour Briefing Editorial Board
Jan Pollock, London Disabled People for Momentum member, UCU London retired member
Kayanja Tunya
Kofi Mawuli Klu, Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE)
Leandre Sahiri
Linda Musoke
Martha Osamor
Mary Goffore
Mary Sithole
Master Mo Monty
Michael Kalmanovitz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (U.K.)
Mike Cowley, Edinburgh North and Leith CLP in a personal capacity
Natoya Smith
Nechamah Bonanos, Streatham CLP member Brixton and Streatham Hill ward
Nubian Emperor, Global Afrikan Congress
Orvil Kunga
Pauline Muir
Raj Gill Ealing, Momentum member
Richard Clarke
Sam Weinstein, Payday Men’s Network
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike
Sara Calloway, Women of Colour, Global Women’s Strike
Shemi Leira
Simeon Stanford
Simon Hinds
Steve Tomlinson
Tony Greenstein, Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Brighton & Hove Unison LG, Jews 4 Boycotting Israeli Goods
Yvonne Sahiri


 

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Rhea Wolfson’s NEC Ambitions Blocked

9th June 2016

Rhea Wolfson’s NEC Ambitions Blocked

STOP PRESS

Rhea Wolfson has been nominated unanimously by her home constituency Labour Party, Almond Valley, and is therefore eligible to stand for the NEC.
Nominate her and vote for her as part of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, along with: Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams, and Peter Willsman.

By Rhea Wolfson

Over the past few weeks, I have been delighted to receive support for my candidacy for Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) from a broad spectrum of opinion within the party, including nominations from dozens of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). It is clear that many members want to see me elected to the NEC.

However, I am now concerned that a faction of the party are trying to take that option away from the membership. To appear on the ballot Ineeded to secure, amongst other things, the nomination of my home CLP.

Last night Eastwood CLP, where my family home is, met to nominate candidates for the NEC. It was proposed that, given I am currently a member of the CLP, there would be a straight vote for or against my nomination. I made my case and answered questions from the room. I was then asked to leave the room while they discussed my nomination further. Once I had left, the ex-leader of Scottish Labour, Jim Murphy, appealed to the CLP to not nominate me. He argued that it would not be appropriate to nominate me due to my endorsement by Momentum, which he claimed has a problem with antisemitism. The constituency has a large Jewish population. The CLP then voted to not endorse me, before re-inviting me back into the room.

Needless to say, this is hugely disappointing. It is disappointing because I am the only Jewish candidate in this election, because the wide range of organisations endorsing me includes the Jewish Labour Movement, and because I have a long record of challenging antisemitism and have in fact faced it on a daily basis since my candidacy was announced. But above all, it is disappointing because I know there are many members who want to vote for me, who could now have lost that opportunity. I am considering my options going forward.

This Article Originally Appeared in Left Futures

Rhea has since posted:

This campaign is not over. Labour Party rules stipulate that members should register at only one address, and therefore only one Constituency Labour Party (CLP). Despite spending more time, and being more politically active, at my partner’s, I have been registered at my family home. This is, in part, due to an emotional connection to the area: it was here that I first campaigned for the Labour Party in 2005, and where I volunteered in my local MSP’s constituency office when still at school.

Last week, I was unsuccessful in securing a nomination from Eastwood, the CLP I grew up in. I released a statement on this and will not be commenting further.

I have transferred my membership to my other address and will seek nomination from my home CLP. If successful, I will be an officially nominated candidate for Labour’s National Executive Committee.

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Support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign!

6th June 2016

Support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign!

John Dunn, ex-Derbyshire National Union of Miners

IT’S 31 YEARS SINCE THE MINERS STRIKE ended but for those of us who fought for a whole year it seems like yesterday. 18 June 1984 was a blazing hot day. To listen to the BBC news that evening you would have thought that miners from all over Britain woke that morning and decided to put on their trainers, a clean T-shirt and their best pair of shorts as part of their preparation to attack heavily armed riot police.

That day has gone down in history as ‘The Battle of Orgreave’. The BBC provided a running commentary on “... the worst day of violence of the miners’ strike”. They showed police randomly beating miners, cavalry charges and snarling dogs as evidence of miners’ violence, even showing “barricades” built from which to attack police. It was a pity that they didn’t ask their military correspondents to explain that barricades are built as a line of defence, not attack.

As true agents of the government, their news that evening was edited in reverse to show pickets apparently attacking the police rather than the actual reality of defending themselves against numerous brutal attacks and cavalry charges. Many years later they apologised for this blatant lie, claiming an “accident” in the rush to get out the story.

Alongside them, the whole yellow press hailed the police victory against thuggery. It was a seminal moment of the strike. 95 miners were arrested and charged with riot, an offence carrying a potential life sentence. It took over a year for the start of their trials. In May 1985 the trial of the first 15 commenced, and for 48 days the prosecution gave their evidence. Then on 17 July the police evidence collapsed. Defence lawyers had proved massive discrepancies in police statements, and some officers’ oral evidence differed from their written statements. Photographs proved that officers’ evidence was inaccurate, and that several who claimed to have arrested men had not even been at the scene! As a result the prosecution of the further 80 miners was withdrawn. You would think that police evidence found to be falsified might result in charges of perjury or, at the very least, perverting the course of justice, perhaps even an apology or two. Dream on! Out of court settlements ensured that nothing entered the public domain. No charges were brought, no officer ever disciplined.

In 2012 a BBC documentary, Inside Out (unfortunately only shown in the North), found evidence of police collusion, with dozens of identical written statements having been dictated by some secretive official to junior officers. Such actions were to be paralleled five years later after the Hillsborough disaster. This led to the formation of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee. A year later the release of Thatcher’s secret Cabinet papers showed that from personally calculating the numbers of scab lorries needed, to instructing the police and courts to “get tough” with strikers, she was directing the show. Finally there was proof that a hit list of pits to be closed existed. We still live with the aftermath of the defeat of the strike - destroyed communities, dole and despair and an industry butchered. All around us are the boarded shop windows, the closed miners’ welfares, not to mention the despair in people’s eyes. My union, the NUM, faced a brutal onslaught. Our funds were sequestrated, our members and their communities attacked and brutalised by the paramilitary police but we never flinched, marching back to work, after a whole year, unbowed. How did we do it? Undoubtedly the support of our communities and the determination to fight sustained us, but the rank and file of the movement came to our aid. Support groups raised funds, food convoys ensured we did not starve and the working class showed solidarity at its finest.

I know many of the victims of that Orgreave police riot. One in particular represents all that happened. On 18 June 1984 he was beaten and bludgeoned beyond recognition. The NUM’s solicitor found him lying, barely alive, on the floor among dozens of fellow pickets. Those pickets had removed their shirts to bandage the severely injured who had been denied medical assistance. After protesting, the solicitor got him aid, only for him to be charged with riot, carrying the potential life sentence. He was held in Armley prison among the country’s most violent offenders for three weeks before obtaining bail. After near death, imprisonment and a year of mental hell, he walked free. But he will never be a free man. Hardly able to speak about that terrible day, his physical scars, still apparent, may have healed but the mental ones still haunt him.

11,000 of us were arrested and criminalised simply for wanting to work. Two pickets were murdered. Over 7000, myself included, were injured. I carry my criminal conviction and my scars to this day, like so many others. Orgreave is the tip of that iceberg of brutality and state oppression. That is why we demand an inquiry. By exposing the criminal conspiracy of the entire forces against us on that one day we can begin to start the process of righting such terrible wrongs. It is too late to save our industry, but while we still breathe, we fight! 

This article originally appeared in the June issue of Labour Briefing.
Labour Briefing is the Magazine of the LRC.

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Mohammed Ali

4th June 2016

Mohammed Ali

By Jackie Walker

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Say it loud and say it proud!

Then they ridiculed, tore him to pieces in the media, picketed wherever he went, banned him from fighting till he was penniless ......... and even now, even now ...... Radio 4 can’t find one black British person to pass comment on this great Black man’s passing and has Michael Parkinson making light of this great man’s political beliefs, turning him into a clown and still twisting his words.

Ali will not rest in peace, he’s still fighting in the struggles of oppressed peoples.

REST IN STRUGGLE!

A hero, our hero, my hero.

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Jackie Walker on BBC Radio

30th May 2016

Jackie Walker on BBC Radio
Labour activist Jackie Walker says she won’t apologise in wake of anti-Semitism row

  A Labour activist cleared of anti-Semitism after saying Jews were the “chief financiers of the slave trade” today insisted she would not apologise for her   comments.

Jackie Walker said she was “saddened if I’ve upset people” and called on her critics to join her campaign against “fascists” on the south coast of the country.

Ms Walker, the vice-chair of South Thanet Labour party in Kent and a senior official in the pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum, also said the Conservative party had a bigger problem with racism in its ranks.

She was suspended by Labour earlier this month after comments she made on Facebook came to light.
She had asked: “What debt do we owe the Jews?” 
When a fellow user replied “the Holocaust”, Ms Walker – who claims to be part-Jewish – said: “I hope you feel the same towards the African holocaust? My ancestors were involved in both.

“Many more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.
“And many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade.”

Labour announced on Saturday that following an inquiry, Ms Walker’s suspension had been lifted.

That prompted a furious response from the Jewish Labour Movement, who said: “Walker repeated an anti-Semitic slur. She showed no contrition.
“The outcome of this process shows, once again, that the political rhetoric of zero tolerance on anti-Semitism is not matched by action. This is why we are proposing changes to party rules.”

But Ms Walker was defiant in an interview on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, saying: “I don’t have an apology to make. I’m saddened if I’ve upset people, but sometimes when we’re talking in political speech we upset people, and these issues are very upsetting.

“All I’m saying is that every single death of every single person no matter what their race, no matter what their culture, is an awful thing. No one genocide, no one holocaust, is in my opinion worse than any other. I’m an internationalist – that’s what it means to be an internationalist.”

She added: “The context of this is extremely important. This was in a private Facebook post. I was talking to two friends, one of whom is an Israeli Zionist, one of whom isn’t. My friend who is the Israeli studied the holocausts – the African Holocaust and the Jewish Holocaust – with me. What we were talking about was whether or not there is an ethical argument against sanctioning Israel. So it’s not the point of whether the Jewish Holocaust was not important - it was critically important to what’s happened.”

Ms Walker went on: “It was me and my comrades who were down in Dover resisting the fascists, the people who have called ‘Hitler was right’. What I would love to see is a huge upswell of those people who have been so alarmed by what the Jewish Chronicle have reported. Let’s see them down there in solidarity with us fighting those fascists.

“My experience of the Labour movement tells me that the Labour movement has much to be proud of in its anti-racist work. Just compare it to what’s been happening in the Tory party and let’s question why the racism of the Tory party that is so easily pointed to is not coming under inspection. You could question why Boris Johnson, who described black people as picaninnies with watermelon smiles, wasn’t suspended, because I know if he had been in the Labour party he would have been.”

For the full BBC interview herewith,  Jackie’s interview starting 1 hour 22 minutes in.click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



   

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Labour Party Clears Jacqueline Walker of Anti-Semitism

29th May 2016

PRESS RELEASE 27 May 2016

Labour Party Clears Jacqueline Walker of Anti-Semitism and Lifts her Suspension in First High-Profile Decision Following Allegations of Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party

Jackie Walker, the Vice-Chair of the Momentum Movement and leading Labour Party activist has been cleared of Anti-Semitism by the Labour Party today, and her suspension has been lifted with immediate effect.

Ms Walker was suspended by the Labour Party on 4 May 2016, on allegations that she has posted so-called ‘anti-Semitic’ comments on social media.  Ms Walker vigorously denied the allegations and was robustly defended by the high-profile Human Rights solicitor, Martin Howe, who previously represented the British Army Gurkhas in their campaign for settlement rights in the UK.  Following a full investigation by the Labour Party, Ms Walker has now been cleared of all allegations and the Party has wished her well in her future campaigning and party activities.

Ms Walker’s solicitor, Martin Howe, said:

“The complaints against Ms Walker were potentially serious but they related to matters which go to the heart of free speech and political free speech. She is not a racist, and having strongly held views on the conflict in the Middle East and historical matters of a factual nature is not anti-Semitism.  The danger with cases like this is that genuine debate and free speech has been silenced by the chilling effect of unfair and inaccurate allegations of anti-Semitism against a person who has fought against racism, in all forms, all her life.  The effect on Ms Walker has been untold and she has suffered vilification in the press, online and in the street.  I am glad I supported her and helped vindicate her fundamental rights of free speech.”

Jackie Walker said:

“These last few weeks have been a living nightmare.  In the street, people have come up to me and shouted “racist” and my own family in Israel, America and the UK have shunned me because unknown persons have wrongly accused me of anti-Semitism.  I am glad this investigation has fully cleared me of any wrong doing. 
I am not a racist, but I robustly defend my right and the right of others to speak openly and frankly about matters of grave political and historical importance.  That is the cornerstone of the right of free speech in our democracy.  I have no doubt that my suspension was provoked by elements in the right-wing press and others opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in order to seek to damage his leadership and paint the Labour Party as ‘anti-Semitic’, which it is not. 
Like Jeremy Corbyn, I abhor all forms of racism but to allege racism where none exists denigrates those who struggle against injustice, discrimination and racism on a daily basis.  What I have suffered and the effect this episode has had on my health and, also, on my family can only be described as the lowest form of “attack politics”.  I thank my solicitor, Martin Howe, for stepping in to help and defend me and uphold the right of free speech and political debate within the Labour Party.”

Telephone Contact:
Martin Howe, Senior Partner, Howe & Co Solicitors 07710921256   &  020 8840 4688

Email Contact: partners@howe.co.uk

Address: Howe & Co Solicitors, 1010 Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 9BA

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Press Release: Jackie Walker cleared of anti-semitism

28th May 2016

PRESS RELEASE 27 May 2016

Labour Party Clears Jacqueline Walker of Anti-Semitism and Lifts her Suspension in First High-Profile Decision Following Allegations of Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party

Jackie Walker, the Vice-Chair of the Momentum Movement and leading Labour Party activist has been cleared of Anti-Semitism by the Labour Party today, and her suspension has been lifted with immediate effect.

Ms Walker was suspended by the Labour Party on 4 May 2016, on allegations that she has posted so-called “anti-Semitic” comments on social media.  Ms Walker vigorously denied the allegations and was robustly defended by the high-profile Human Rights solicitor, Martin Howe, who previously represented the British Army Gurkhas in their campaign for settlement rights in the UK.  Following a full investigation by the Labour Party, Ms Walker has now been cleared of all allegations and the Party has wished her well in her future campaigning and party activities.

Ms Walker’s solicitor, Martin Howe, said:

“The complaints against Ms Walker were potentially serious but they related to matters which go to the heart of free speech and political free speech. She is not a racist, and having strongly held views on the conflict in the Middle East and historical matters of a factual nature is not anti-Semitism.  The danger with cases like this is that genuine debate and free speech has been silenced by the chilling effect of unfair and inaccurate allegations of anti-Semitism against a person who has fought against racism, in all forms, all her life.  The effect on Ms Walker has been untold and she has suffered vilification in the press, online and in the street.  I am glad I supported her and helped vindicate her fundamental rights of free speech.”

Jackie Walker said:

“These last few weeks have been a living nightmare.  In the street, people have come up to me and shouted “racist” and my own family in Israel, America and the UK have shunned me because unknown persons have wrongly accused me of anti-Semitism.  I am glad this investigation has fully cleared me of any wrong doing.  I am not a racist, but I robustly defend my right and the right of others to speak openly and frankly about matters of grave political and historical importance.  That is the cornerstone of the right of free speech in our democracy.  I have no doubt that my suspension was provoked by elements in the right-wing press and others opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in order to seek to damage his leadership and paint the Labour Party as “anti-Semitic”, which it is not.  Like Jeremy Corbyn, I abhor all forms of racism but to allege racism where none exists denigrates those who struggle against injustice, discrimination and racism on a daily basis.  What I have suffered and the effect this episode has had on my health and, also, on my family can only be described as the lowest form of “attack politics”.  I thank my solicitor, Martin Howe, for stepping in to help and defend me and uphold the right of free speech and political debate within the Labour Party.”

Telephone Contact:
Martin Howe, Senior Partner, Howe & Co Solicitors 07710921256   &  020 8840 4688

Email Contact: partners@howe.co.uk

Address: Howe & Co Solicitors, 1010 Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 9BA

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Time to Change the Agenda

26th May 2016

Time to change the agenda

Editorial of June Labour Briefing

BBC BOSSES BREATHED A SIGH OF RELIEF that the government’s long-awaited White Paper on the Corporation’s future did not compromise its political independence as much as they had feared. But perhaps it didn’t have to. Long-term pressure on the BBC has already yielded results – government ministers are interviewed four times as often as their shadow counterparts and complaints are widespread about an anti-Corbyn bias since his election as leader last year.
Over 35,000 people signed an online petition in less than a week calling for the dismissal of BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg for her blatant anti-Labour line. But due to a handful of unrepresentative sexist comments, this was portrayed as a ‘hate campaign’ mounted by Corbyn supporters and 38 Degrees took down the petition. So legitimate concerns about bias from a publicly funded broadcaster turn into a debate about left wing sexism. The same card was played when local activists‘targeted’ Stella Creasey MP for voting to bomb Syria last December: they were demonised as ‘anti-woman’.

A more pernicious extension of this toxic tactic underpins many of the allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Legitimate outrage at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, or even discussing the history of the Zionist movement, is being portrayed as Labour having ‘a problem with Jews’. A score of mostly spurious suspensions have followed and, unsurprisingly, Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies, inside the Party and out, have missed no opportunity to lay the blame at his door – even if the vast majority of so-called incidents occurred before he was leader.

The commission to look into anti-Semitism and racism under Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is to be welcomed. It’s unlikely that Labour’s internal investigation into the allegations will find much substance to most of them. Meanwhile left wing activists, some of them Jewish themselves, are suspended for months at a time and their names are given by party officials to the media. Yet in many cases they have no notice of why they have been banned. While they try to defend their reputations against trial by media, our movement is forced to respond to an agenda dictated by its enemies, and sustained by those within who see an opportunity to damage the Corbyn leadership, now their dire predictions about May’s election results have proved false.

A recent YouGov poll found only 5% of respondents believed Labour had a particular anti-Semitism problem, while nearly half felt the crisis had been ‘created by the press and Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents to attack him’. Labour members have a proud record of fighting racism, in contrast to the Tories who continuously stoke fears about immigrants, ran a frankly racist and Islamophobic campaign in the London mayoral race and have tried, with breathtaking hypocrisy, to make political capital out of all this.

Where does it stop? The purge is now being extended to exclude Marxists who are being informed they ‘do not support the aims and values of the Labour Party’. Some believe this is all part of a counter-attack by Labour’s apparatus to witch-hunt the left in the Party ahead of a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

We need to resist these attacks but we also need to re-set the agenda onto the issues we should be talking about. There is now an open crisis within the Tory Party, with each side in the EU referendum debate accusing the other of lying and endangering British security. The divisions are paralysing government – the Queen’s Speech was an unprecedentedly threadbare rehash of old announcements and in any case will be irrelevant if Cameron is forced out this summer. Meanwhile the government has been forced to execute a score of U-turns – on child refugees, forced academisation of schools and the hated Trade Union Bill, even amending its own Queen‘s Speech motion ahead of a threatened defeat on TTIP.

With Labour’s Bitterite tendency temporarily silenced by creditable election results and a Mirror poll showing Jeremy Corbyn still enjoys the support of two thirds of members, now is the time to set out a positive alternative to this bankrupt government. We have a unique opportunity to open an agenda for an alternative economic policy that cracks down on tax avoidance, embraces fully-funded public services, sustainable industry, job creation, truly affordable housing and a range of popular policies that can reach voters who became disaffected in the New Labour years. Do not be deterred by their attempts to divert us from this goal!

Labour Briefing is the Magazine of the LRC

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Call It By Its Name: Afriphobia Is Racism Against African People

26th May 2016

Call It By Its Name: Afriphobia Is Racism Against African People
An Open Letter To Labour Party’s Chakrabarti Inquiry From A Group Of Africans Concerned About The Inquiry’s Focus & Language
We the undersigned note that the Labour Party has set up the Chakrabarti Inquiry (Inquiry) to investigate “Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism”.

We are of the view that the terms of reference: ‘Anti-Semitism and other forms of Racism’ are unwittingly discriminatory, as racism against Jewish people is set apart from racism and prejudice against other peoples, particularly Africans (Afriphobia) and Muslims (Islamophobia).
Even though there is only one race, the human race, a more appropriate title could be on the lines of ‘Investigation into Racism, which includes Afriphobia, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia’.

We note that over the years there have been allegations of racism towards Africans (Africans from the continent of Africa and Africans from the Diaspora) and Asians within and outside the Labour Party, but no independent public inquiry has been set up to investigate these allegations.
Undoubtedly the Jewish holocaust (properly known among the Jewish people as Shoah) is a terrible blight on human history, but we must remember that there were holocausts before and after. The Congolese holocaust in the name of King Leopold II, is said to have claimed 10 million lives.
The holocaust perpetrated on Africans, also properly known by African people by the Kiswahili words Maafa or Maangamizi, led to the deaths of tens of millions of Africans in holding cells on the continent of Africa, in the process of capture and kidnappings, in the Middle Passage, in enslavement and plantation systems in the Americas, Caribbean, and in the German-governed death camps in Namibia.
The survivors of the Middle Passage suffered unimaginable torture and hardships at the hands of enslavers and plantation owners, and their descendants continue to suffer acute deprivation and are the object of discrimination and racism in America and in the UK, where they are under- represented at every level of public life, including in the Labour Party, and over-represented on all indices of social deprivation and criminalisation.

It is for this reason that pan-African Reparation organisations continue to work on repairing the damage to Africans and Africa caused by the trafficking of enslaved Africans, colonialism and neo colonialism. This damage is still being experienced by people of African heritage today.

How is it that commentators can freely blame Africans for the atrocities they suffered with little understanding of the context of the Maangamizi or Maafa without any public uproar? In addition, the school curriculum does not currently teach sufficiently about non-European civilisations, the contributions of non-Europeans to world civilisation or the uncomfortable truths about the British Empire. This in itself contributes to the structural racism which is in society in general, including the Labour Party, where ignorance of the history of the peoples of Africa pervades.
Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are recognised as challenges that need to be addressed, but Afriphobia is so ingrained in our society that it is not acknowledged as an issue that needs to be challenged, or called by its specific name.
People of African heritage can be vilified and even blamed for the genocide they suffered without any public inquiry or calls for a public inquiry. However when comments perceived to be negative are made about Zionism or the state of Israel, this is perceived at times to be anti-Semitic by those who do not like the comments, whether or not these claims are supported by evidence. This often results in suspensions from the Party and other unfair censures. 
We reject the idea that opposition to Zionism or the Israeli government is necessarily anti-Semitism.
The United Nations has declared 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and has recognised that Africans represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

We therefore call upon the Inquiry to investigate and accord equal importance to Afriphobia and its manifestations within and outside the Labour Party. 

We also ask the Inquiry not to unwittingly promote discrimination by the exclusion of the Afriphobia* terminology, and advocate the use of the AAEM (African, Asian, Ethnic Minority) terminology instead of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) which excludes the African identity.
* We define Afriphobia as: The prejudice or discrimination against; fear, hatred, or bigotry towards people of African heritage and things African.
Awula Serwah, Africans For JC Values
Kwaku, RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music industry)
Dr KB Asante
Matilda Asante
Adekayode Oke (AFRIKAATUUU Convention for Afrikan Networking (AFRIKAATUUU-CAFRINET), Nigeria)
Adwoa Oforiwaa Adu (All-Afrikan Students Union Link in Europe (AASULE))
Althea Gordon-Davidson (Pan-Afrikan Community Educational Services (PACES))
Beverley Wong (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Blema Etrey
Boucka Stephane Koffi (Pan-Afrikan Fora International Support Coordinating Council (PAFISCC))
Chris Jones (Africans For JC Values)
Esther Stanford-Xosei (Global Afrikan Peoples Parliament)
Darla Migan (Vanderbilt University)
Delia Mattis (Momentum member)
Dr Barryl Biekman (Europe-Wide NGO Consultative Council on Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR), Holland)
Enigye Adjoa Ayebea, Grassroots All-Afrikan Women’s Internationalist Solidarity Sisterhood (GAAWISS), Ghana)
Explo Nani-Kofi (Kilombo Centre for Citizens’ Rights and African Self-Determination, Ghana)
Glenroy watson (RMT London Transport Regional Council, Global Afrikan Congressuk)
Jackie Walker (Momentum, South Thanet Labour Party (suspended), LRC Executive and Labour Briefing Editorial Board)
Kofi Mawuli Klu (Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe)
Kwame Adofo Sampong (Trade Unions and the Pan-Afrikan Community Link (TUPACOL))
Kwame Dede Akuamoah (NKRUMAHBUSUAFO Kwame Nkrumah Convention Family Movement, Ghana)
Leanard Phillip
Linda Bellos (Linda Bellos Associates)
Maatyo Dede Azu (ADZEWAGBETO Pan-Afrikan Women’s Liberation Union (ADZEWAGBETO-PAWLU), Ghana)
Mawuse Yao Agorkor (VAZOBA Afrika and Friends Networking Open Forum (VAZOBA-AFNOF), Ghana)
Nana Asante (Momentum)
Omowale Ru-Pert-em-Hru (Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum)
Nehemie Zeguen Toure (Mouvement Social Panafricain pour le Development Integral (MSPDI), Cote d’Ivoire)
Ngoma ‘Silver’ Bishop (Bema Arts)
Opeyemi Araromi (Pan-African Congresses-United Kingdom Organising Committee (PACs-UKOC))
Professor Lewis Gordon (University of Connecticut, Rhodes University, Birkbeck School of Law, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)
Professor Paget Henry (Brown University)
Prophet Kweku & Jendayi Serwah (Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee (AEDRMC))
Samantha Asumadu (Media Diversified)
Shemi Leira (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Simeon Stanford (Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP))
Sumana Nandi (Grassroots Women’s Internationalist Solidarity Action Network (GWISAN), India)
Toyin Agbetu (Ligali Organisation)
Marlene Ellis (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Wedam Abassey (Forum of Nkrumaist Thought and Action (FONTA), Ghana)
Xolanyo Yawa Gbafa (EDIKANFO Pan-Afrikan Youth and Students Internationalist Link (EDIKANFO-PAYSIL), Ghana)

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Momentum defends Jackie Walker

13th May 2016

Momentum defends Jackie Walker

A statement from Momentum on the suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party:

Momentum condemns the suspension of Jackie Walker, Vice Chair of our Steering Committee, from the Labour Party on 4 May. Jackie, a black activist of Jewish heritage and lifelong anti-racist campaigner and trainer, was suspended by the party for alleged antisemitism following an article that appeared in the Jewish Chronicle, which quotes statements she made on Facebook discussing her family history.

We are extremely concerned by the lack of due process in this case, and the failure to apply the principles of natural justice. Journalists were briefed about Jackie’s suspension by party staff before she had been informed. Indeed, she is still yet to receive any formal notification of either her suspension, the basis for it, or a timetable for her hearing. As the suspension was not briefed to the press as ‘without prejudice’, it has been interpreted by some as a presumption of guilt before any process has taken place.

Momentum calls for the immediate lifting of her suspension and for new rules to be put in place by the party to govern the handling - and the press briefing - of sensitive disciplinary matters, and for all suspensions to be agreed in advance by NEC members after the person concerned has the right to make representations.

Momentum unambiguously condemns antisemitism and welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s launch of an expert-led inquiry.
We hope that this inquiry is the start of a process of investigating how all forms of racism and oppression that exist in society replicate themselves in any way within the Labour Party. For the labour movement to fight racism and oppression effectively, we need comradely self-criticism, education, and awareness raising of these complex issues. We pledge that Momentum will play a productive role in this process.

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Defend Jackie Walker

12th May 2016

Defend Jackie Walker

Suggested model motion for Party branches:

This branch wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemns all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. We further wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the suspension by the Labour Party of Thanet Labour Party member Jackie Walker for alleged anti-Semitism.

Jackie Walker is a longstanding member of the Labour Party, and was Vice-Chair of Thanet South Labour Party until her suspension. She played a key role in helping to organise the defeat of Nigel Farage, when he contested Thanet South in the general election 2015. She is an active anti-racism campaigner and a founding member of the Kent Anti-Racism Network. KARN has been organising for refugees stuck in the camps of Calais, and mobilising opposition to openly fascist groups seeking to stoke anti-migrant sentiment and community divisions in Dover.

We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to hold a full inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Any member who has made actually anti-Semitic comments should face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But care must be taken not to suspend members on a spurious basis, and that is what Jackie Walker’s suspension clearly is. Those who have been suspended on a spurious basis should be immediately reinstated.

Such suspensions are also a clear invitation to the Party’s enemies to use our procedures to damage our Party and its effective operation.
We call upon the National Executive Committee to lift the suspension immediately, to reinstate Jackie Walker and to apologise to her.

Background notes

Jackie Walker has been suspended following a complaint to the Labour Party from the Jewish Chronicle, reporting that an organisation called the Israel Advocacy Movement had uncovered remarks on Facebook made by her earlier this year. Those remarks, in the context of a discussion about the Holocaust and human rights today, were “millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews. Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice.” Jackie Walker is of mixed African-Caribbean and Jewish heritage.

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Victory against the Blacklist

11th May 2016

Victory against the Blacklist

Eight major construction firms have been forced by the courts to pay £50 million in compensation to workers who suffered for years, sometimes decades, on account of a secret blacklist illegally kept against them. The blacklist was organised by an organisation called the Consulting Association. Apart from inaccurate and second hand reports from spies in the trade union movement, it is quite clear that the employers were using information that could only have come from the police and security services.

Blacklist Support Group campaign secretary Dave Smith said the High Court action was, a “Historic victory for the trade union movement against the vicious face of free-market capitalism.”

“These fat cats and their friends in the police took food off of our children’s table, causing years of family hardship.

“We take this personally and a few quid and a mealy-mouthed apology is a long way from justice.

“We intend to continue our fight to expose those who orchestrated and colluded with blacklisting. In any civilised society, the wretches would be in jail by now.”

Unite’s Len McCluskey added that the massive scale of the agreed damages showed, “The gravity of the misdeeds” of these major construction companies:

“The sums to be paid out go a considerable way to acknowledge the hurt, suffering and loss of income our members and their families have been through over many years,”

“This settlement is a clear statement on behalf of the trade union movement that never again can such nefarious activities be allowed to happen against decent working people trying to earn an honest living in a tough industry.”

This is a big breakthrough, but it is not the end of the blacklisted workers’ fight for justice.

Support the Blacklist Support Group.

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Nominate Rhea Wolfson for NEC

11th May 2016

Nominate Rhea Wolfson for constituency section of Labour’s National Executive Committee

Since his suspension, Ken Livingstone is ineligible to stand for the NEC.
The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance is nominating Rhea Wolfson in his stead.

Alongside Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams,and Peter Willsman, the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance is now supporting Rhea Wolfson for the NEC. Rhea is former President of Oxford University Jewish Society; former Secretary of London Young Labour; current Women’s Officer for Scottish Young Labour; current Co-op Party rep on UK Young Labour National Committee; and a full-time branch secretary for GMB Scotland. Please urge your CLP to nominate Rhea by 24 June.

Rhea writes: Britain needs a Labour Party that can deliver a confident and credible democratic socialist agenda; an alternative to the inequality of conservatism and the inertia of nationalism - with fairness and equality at its heart.

Labour must be the party that stands against austerity to improve the lives of working people across borders. Our party needs to be strong and united, with all levels of the party working in a transparent and tolerant manner.

I will work to empower members, local parties, and activists; to fight for a more democratic party that can deliver change - and ultimately, deliver victory.

Rhea is a member of Eastwood CLP, L1205274.

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Reinstate Jackie Walker Latest

11th May 2016

Reinstate Jackie Walker Latest

if you want to keep up with what’s happening on the campaign to reinstate Jackie Walker ‘like’ this new page which has been set up to campaign against her suspension and the accusation of anti-Semitism to undermine the leadership of the Labour Party

https://www.facebook.com/stopthesuspensions/

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Scottish Labour’s Disaster:

9th May 2016

Scottish Labour’s Disaster:
Hamstrung between Scottish Nationalism and Unionism

By Laura Dover

It was shortly after midnight on the 6 May when Thomas Docherty, ex-Blairite MP and list candidate for Scottish Labour, appeared on the BBC’s Scottish Parliament election coverage to articulate what had gone so badly wrong for Scottish Labour in this latest round of Holyrood elections. Unsurprisingly for someone of Docherty’s political persuasion, he considered the 2016 Scottish Labour manifesto an act of “self-immolation for dummies”. In his view, it signified a lurch to the left akin to the 1983 manifesto and moderate, middle Scotland rejected this loony leftism.

Perhaps Docherty regretted commenting at this early stage of the game, as several hours later he failed to be elected to Parliament and achieved little other than inciting anger among the membership. However, his comments set the tone for the Labour right’s reaction to the results. John McTernan’s post-election column in the Scotsman asserted that voters had “punished” Scottish Labour for Kezia Dugdale’s equivocation on the union and attempting to outflank the SNP on the left with an anti-Trident renewal policy and proposals for an increase in the basic rate of income tax. McTernan cites Dumbarton, one of the few constituencies held by Labour, as evidence of why a Unionist and ‘centre-ground’ position would have delivered - incumbent Jackie Baillie held the seat by a margin of 109 votes, narrowly beating the SNP, and had made her pro-Trident stance a focal point of her campaign.

This is an argument that doesn’t hold up very well across the 72 other constituencies. In Dumbarton there was a swing of 3.8% from Labour to other parties, with the Conservatives and SNP increasing their vote share by 2.6% and 1.6% respectively. This was relatively low, with constituencies in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and West Lothian seeing a swing of approximately 12% from Labour to the Conservatives in traditional Labour heartlands. It appears Baillie was able to achieve the status of the Unionist candidate due to being an established incumbent, but that across the board voters primarily motivated by preserving the union unsurprisingly trusted a British nationalist Tory Party over a social democratic option. Further, at the 2015 General Election, the SNP stood on a unilateralist platform and gained the closely corresponding Westminster constituency of West Dunbartonshire from Labour with a majority of over 14,000 votes. At this time, Scottish Labour were yet to pass policy opposing the renewal of Trident, suggesting that retention of the ‘nuclear deterrent’ is not the magic bullet in this constituency.

The Scottish Labour left’s reaction to the results so far has been to lay the blame on a toxic combination of separatism and unionism. Scottish Labour, caught between two competing forms of nationalism, has been unable to make its economic arguments heard. While these were undoubtedly significant factors, an argument which begins and ends with nationalism is equally as myopic as the right’s insistence that we veered too far to the left for Scotland’s liking. After all, political parties fight elections but do not do so in circumstances of their own making. Neither side in this argument has been willing to acknowledge that this election is yet another milestone in Scottish Labour’s decades of decline. Another opportunity to mitigate damage and rebuild has been thrown away.

It is now vital for the future of Scottish Labour that it acknowledges the fundamental lack of trust in Labour which developed in Scotland throughout the New Labour years. The analysis of why this came about is well worn. Labour’s working class core voters feeling increasingly alienated from a party that embraced big business and the Murdoch-owned media and find it harder to distinguish between Labour and the Conservatives in terms of their image and policies. Evidently, the rot set in for Scottish Labour long before its catastrophic result on 5 May. The intervening five years have been characterised by continuing failure to move on from the early years of New Labour.

Indyref, and Labour’s complicity in Better Together served as confirmation to much of Scottish Labour’s core vote that it was more closely aligned to unionism and the Tories than the interests of working class people. Labour’s own No campaign only appeared to grow legs in the final stages of indyref, by which point it was entirely too late. The party had already espoused Tory arguments for remaining in the UK, thereby shattering its already deteriorating image and credibility. With the exception of a brief, embarrassing flirtation with Saltire-waving under Jim Murphy, Labour’s involvement in Better Together encouraged British nationalist tendencies in voters to secure a No vote. It is unsurprising that those voters were subsequently drawn to the Conservative and Unionist Party, rather than the “unionism lite” on offer from Labour. The likes of McTernan are keen to lament that Scottish Labour is being “punished” by voters, but this implicit self-pity conveniently overlooks the role that the Party played in resurrecting unionism as a significant political factor in Scottish politics.

This repeated inability to assess honestly and admit its past mistakes pervaded Scottish Labour’s 2016 Holyrood campaign. The manifesto was broadly social democratic - certainly to the left of the SNP - and contained a number of strong left wing policies, but these were at odds with flagship policies such as championing home ownership via subsidising mortgages. The result was a lack of a coherent socialist vision, and a party that didn’t even seem particularly convinced by its own policies. A quick scan of Scottish Labour’s list candidates revealed a great number of familiar faces, many of whom were too tainted by New Labour to ever convince voters to “take a fresh look at us” as the party’s campaign materials exhorted them to. The same old guard that refuses to examine its past is preventing Scottish Labour from rehabilitating its image and culture and from developing a coherent ideology and stance on the constitution. The failure of Dugdale and others to accept that the constitutional debate is now firmly embedded in the Scottish political landscape did not help matters. Until UK and Scottish Labour can develop a constitutional approach which is ideologically placed to develop arguments for redistributing wealth and power, it will be hamstrung between Scottish nationalism and Unionism.

Hopefully this latest defeat was sufficiently crushing to prompt an influx of fresh faces and the development of a coherent socialist ideology and constitutional position. This is a crucial moment for the Party to begin to rid itself of the remnants of Blairism that paralyse it, and to acknowledge its role in creating external forces rather than retreating into the comforting rhetoric of “flags beat facts”. Judging by the diatribes of McTernan and Docherty, some sections of the Party have failed to learn anything from this decade of decline, and this continued failure to learn - not unilateralism or raising income tax - is “self-immolation for dummies”.

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Labour’s Marvin Rees elected as Bristol Mayor

8th May 2016

Another reason to be cheerful
…. Marvin Rees elected as Bristol Mayor

By Tony Benson

Bristol went to the polls on Thursday the 5 May to vote for a Mayor. Incumbent George Ferguson was standing again and so was Labour’s Marvin Rees. Turn out in 2012 was low 27.92% this time it was 44.87%. In working class areas turn-outs in 2012 were low whilst more affluent areas were high. The conclusion highlighted polarised class divisions. A low turn with a privileged few voted for so-called independent Ferguson complete with his gimmicky red trousers.

Turn the clock forward to Thursday 5 2016 the results were a lot different. Overall high turn-out 44.87% and from the breakdown of stats higher turns in working class areas. Four years of Ferguson with his frivolous vanity projects such as support for big business friendly ventures one being the Bristol Arena. In the meantime, the housing crisis has been as bad for ordinary people as it has been elsewhere, educational results in Bristol schools are drifting into being indifferent and public transport is extremely poor.

With a political backdrop of the right-wing press aided and abetted by embittered Blairites baying for Jeremy Corbyn it really shows that when organising in working class areas and getting the vote out means Labour can and does well. Bristol mainly consists of suburban sprawl with a mix of well-to-do areas, poor inner-city areas, working class council estates and “middle England” areas. It is exactly the kind of place that right wing pundits sneeringly say Labour cannot succeed in. Except we now can.

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Local Elections in England - Reasons to be Cheerful

7th May 2016

Local Elections in England
- Reasons to be Cheerful

By Michael Calderbank

Even before the polls had closed, the attacks from Corbyn’s opponents had started. It didn’t matter what the actual results were - the narrative had been set already. Lord Kinnock, that fount of wisdom on electoral success, opined in Prospect magazine that the leadership’s policies “are an impediment to getting the kind of support we need”. Neil Coyle MP pre-briefed BBC Newsnight that Labour was “moving further away” from election victory under 2020 under Corbyn.

The polling community, influenced by assumptions of the Westminster bubble, projected substantial losses for Labour. Peter Kellner spoke of a “consensus” that 150-200 seats would be lost. Corbyn’s Labour would lose control of a slew of Councils it previously ran. The party’s internal number-cruncher Greg Cook was issuing similar warnings. They had already concluded that Labour had retreated into its ideological comfort zone, and decided to play primarily to its core vote - with adverse consequences in the key electoral battlegrounds in the South and East. When the results came through, this pre-cooked story did not hold up. The losses on the scale predicted simply failed to materialise.

The verdict passed by voters across the country was substantially more positive. Far from having collapsed, Labour’s national vote share was up on that achieved by Ed Miliband in last year’s general election. Of course further progress still has to be made if we are to regain power in 2020. But the direction is generally positive, even despite the slew of media attacks, and dissent from the inside the PLP. Given that the corresponding local election results in 2011 represented a high water mark - as voters had their first opportunity to vote against the Coalition parties - it was always going to be difficult to make substantial advances this time round. MPs arguing Labour needed to be making hundreds of gains were setting a deliberate impossible target to paint a false picture of failure. They key is to be more successful than before in terms of sustaining forward momentum throughout the government’s term and building a platform for a General Election victory.

In actuality, Labour had a good deal to celebrate in England. London elected Sadiq Khan, with 57% of first and second preference votes. The election of a Muslim mayor with such a handsome majority represented a clear rejection of the vile racist smear campaign run by allies of Lynton Crosby for the Tories. The GLA results saw Labour take the constituency seat of Merton and Wandsworth, previously a Tory stronghold. No adverse effect there.

Elsewhere, too, Labour performed better than expect outside its heartlands, retaining control of councils such as Southampton, Crawley, Hastings, Exeter, Nuneaton, and Redditch. In Worcester, previously regarded as a “barometer” seat in Middle England, Labour made gains to deny the Tories a majority.

One of the few disappointing results in England was Labour’s loss of Dudley Council to No Overall Control. Here the local Labour MP, a loud-mouthed enemy of the Corbyn leadership blind to the consequences of his own irresponsible behaviour, had never ceased to publicly attack his own party leadership and undermine the credibility of his own party’s policies. Dudley Labour Councillors can feel rightly aggrieved that their MP has undermined their own electoral fortunes. This demonstrates the need for the party to unite ensure that hostile elements within the PLP are confronted, isolated and effectively silenced going forward.

Of course there are no grounds for complacency. Holding our ground was merely the first prerequisite for extending our support, and picking up the momentum we’ll need as we approach 2020 - or earlier, if the civil war in the Tories escalates in the wake of the EU referendum. If Labour fails to recover some ground in Scotland, the gains needed in England to take back power will be all the greater. Yet the Corbyn leadership has proved popular in large parts of the country, including those marginals we’ll need to win back. The Cassandras have been left looking foolish. It’s now time for all sections of the party to unite behind our leader. Those giving ammunition to our opponents must be told that they will not be allowed to wreck our chances going forward.

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Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party?

6th May 2016

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party?
The Editor of Labour Briefing Speaks Out

By Graham Bash

As a Jew (all my life) and Labour Party member (48 years) I am outraged at the way allegations of anti-Semitism have been used to silence legitimate criticism of Israel and undermine Jeremy Corbyn as my party’s leader.

I know what anti-Semitism is. I was brought up to learn how the Jewish East End fought with the dockers against Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street. I was told at school how it was a pity that Hitler didn’t finish off the job of murdering all Jews. And very quickly I learned what it was like to be made to feel an outsider. It was hardly surprising that I started going on anti-fascist demos in my late teens and very soon afterwards joined the Labour Party, which I remain a member of to this day.

I know what anti-Semitism is. Apart from socialist, anti-racist politics, my other love is football. How many times as a West Ham fan have I had to endure my own team’s fans singing “I never felt more like gassing the Jews”? Or being attacked by my team’s own fans for daring to put up a ‘West Ham fans United Against Racism’ banner at Upton Park.

I know what anti-Semitism is – I have a sensitive ear for anti-Semitic comments - and, without doubt, the place I have encountered it least is within the Labour Party. In 48 years, I have encountered anti-Semitism once, perhaps twice, compared to countless episodes outside.

Of course I have encountered deep antipathy to Israel, and its murderous actions to deny justice for Palestinians, but that is what I would expect from a democratic anti-racist party – and these are views shared by me and many other peace loving socialist Jews.

Throughout most of my years in the party, I have worked closely with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They have always been the first to fight injustice and inequality and from them there has never been a hint of anti-Semitism.

What is happening in the party today is an attempt to cynically use rare examples, and usually false allegations, of anti-Semitism as part of a McCarthyite witchhunt against supporters of Jeremy. As if to prove the point, the latest victim is my own partner and anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker, of mixed heritage (Afro- Caribbean and Jewish), outrageously suspended from the Labour Party, simply for telling the truth that her Jewish ancestors were involved in financing the Slave Trade, that the African holocaust was even worse than the Jewish holocaust, and that anti-Semitism is not a major problem in Corbyn’s Labour Party.
I am proud of the heritage and family traditions that helped my development on the road to being an anti-racist, international socialist. This current witchhunt will not deflect me, and countless thousands like me, from the struggle for justice worldwide and for a socialist Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

*  *  *  *  *
‘I am writing to you in protest against the outrageous suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party on spurious grounds of anti-Semitism. I call on you to reconsider this action and lift the suspension immediately’.
Please e-mail your protest today to the General Secretary, Iain McNicol
iain_mcnicol@labour.org.uk
and copy to Ann Black annblack50@btinternet.com (Chair of NEC Disputes Panel) and Jim Kennedy Jim.Kennedy@unitetheunion.org(Chair of NEC Organisation
Committee).

Labour Briefing is the Magazine of the LRC

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Jackie Walker Suspended: Protest!

5th May 2016

Jackie Walker Suspended: Protest!

Please take a few moments today to protest at the suspension from the Labour Party of Jackie Walker, a leading member of Momentum and the Labour Representation Committee


LRC statement on Jackie Walker

The LRC wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemns all forms of racism. We further wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the suspension by the Labour Party of Jackie Walker, Vice Chair of the National Steering Committee of Momentum, a leading activist in Thanet Momentum, and an Executive Committee member of the LRC for alleged anti-Semitism.

The Party suspended Ms Walker after the Jewish Chronicle brought comments made by her in Facebook posts earlier this year to the attention of Party officials.

In her comments, Ms Walker, a black activist of Jewish heritage, said that “millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.”

“Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice,” she said.

The Jewish Chronicle itself revealed that “her comments were uncovered by the Israel Advocacy Movement, which works to counter hostility to Israel in Britain.”

A picture emerges of a leading pro-Israeli government organisation trawling through the social media posts of Labour Party activists to brand ideas anti-Semitic when they are clearly not. The targeting of Ms Walker for remarks that have no connection to anti-Semitism suggests that senior labour movement figures, such as Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, were right when they argued that largely baseless allegations of anti-Semitism are being used by opponents to undermine and destabilise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The LRC welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to hold a full enquiry into anti-Semitism in the Party. Any member who actually has made anti-Semitic comments must face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But there must be an immediate end to the suspension of members on a spurious basis, into which category Jackie Walker’s suspension clearly falls.

Jackie Walker is a long-standing anti-racism campaigner who helped organise the defeat of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Thanet at the 2015 election. Her suspension must be lifted immediately. We call on all labour movement activists to contact Labour Party Head Office to demand this.

Please send your message of protest to the General Secretary, Iain McNicol: iain_mcnicol@labour.org.uk

and copy to
Ann Black: annblack50@btinternet.com (Chair of NEC Disputes Panel)
& Jim Kennedy: Jim.Kennedy@unitetheunion.org (Chair of NEC Organisation Committee).

Jackie Walker on Anti-semitism

On anti-Semitism in the Labour Party ......

Yes, for many outside of politics the debate on anti-semitism may be irrelevant. But those of us ‘inside’ with the knowledge and interest around the terms of the debate have the responsibility of taking into account the importance, the power of words and the way apparently small changes of vocabulary and emphasis can transform the terms of a struggle. This is a lesson black peoples have understood since slavery.

The statement by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty on anti-semitism concedes to, and is complicit in, a lie; that there is a major problem with anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Like everywhere in British society the Labour Party fails, and fails too often, to be what we would want it to be - a bastion of socialism and internationalism.

The chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities underrepresented in the structures of the LP and discriminated against inside and outside the LP economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain. To sign this statement concedes too much and reflects a lack of appreciation not just of Labour Party history and politics, but of the history of minorities in British society.


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Dodgy Dave has given us an enormous opportunity

3rd May 2016

Dodgy Dave has given us an enormous opportunity

John McDonnell‘s column in the May 2016 issue of Labour Briefing.
Labour Briefing is the magazine of the LRC.

It’s seven years on since the bankers and speculators who had turned our economy into a casino, brought about the credit crunch and the worst recession since the great depression of the 1930s.

It’s been seven years of crushing austerity. The cuts in benefits and wage freezes have forced a million a year to queue at food banks to feed their families. The statistics of disabled people assessed for work who have died before being able to take up work, are shocking. The stress caused by the pressure being placed upon those out of work and in work has produced reported incidence of mental health conditions at epidemic proportions.

Independent analysis confirms that 80% of the cuts have fallen on women. The distributional analysis recently published by the Women’s Budget Group has demonstrated that if you calculate the total impact of tax cuts, cuts in benefits and the withdrawal of services, it is the poorest decile in our society that have been hit the hardest and the richest that have born the least burden of austerity.

Two groups in particular have been hit hard – young women with young children, and older, retired women. Older women suffer so much because in our culture caring responsibilities still fall the most on women. As caring services are cut the burden has fallen upon older women.

From the outset the left argued that austerity was a political choice and not an economic necessity. Time and time again this has been demonstrated by the decisions taken by Cameron and Osborne. In the latest budget it was starkly proven once again when Osborne chose to reduce inheritance tax and capital gains tax on the top 5% - paid for by cutting the benefits to disabled people by £30 a week. The Panama papers prove that austerity was totally unnecessary. $21 trillion is estimated to be hidden in tax havens. Tax avoidance has been produced on an industrial scale by the major accountancy firms and banks located in the City of London. Successive governments have turned a blind eye. Worse still the accountancy firms have permeated government and opposition party tax policy making.

The left has repeatedly argued that if the rich and the corporations paid their taxes the deficit would have been eradicated, debt would be on the downturn and our economy would be growing as a result of a sustained investment programme in our infrastructure, skills and public services.

The lid has been blown off the corrupt, inefficient and undemocratic political and economic settlement that has been imposed upon our society in recent years. A window of opportunity has opened up for us to expose the grotesque unfairness of our tax system and set out Labour’s offer of a fair and just alternative. We have started with the publication of a Tax Transparency Enforcement Programme, aiming to force through the registration of information held by companies and trusts in the UK and tax havens to tackle evasion and avoidance, plus the proper resourcing of HMRC to secure effective action against the evaders and avoiders.

The next stages will need to include a programme of action to regulate effectively the accountancy firms and banks which are at the heart of devising the avoidance schemes and also to develop a tax base which reflects the way the economy operates today and which is inherently fairer and more efficient in collecting the taxes due.

Interestingly over recent weeks, alongside the public outrage at the scandalous tax dodging of the super rich and corporations, shareholders’ anger has spilled over in a number of companies at the pay awards of senior executives - often in firms whose performance has been poor. The vote by shareholders of BP to reject pay awards was significant but not the only manifestation of this shareholder fury. Yet again the system has been judged to run counter to what is generally accepted to be fair and productive.

Shareholders may not at first appear to be the natural members or allies of the labour and trade union movement. However the tactic of seeking to use shareholder power and influence has long been used by progressive causes and trade unions over the years to highlight the injustices or unfair practices of a company.

And so alongside the left’s campaign to secure tax justice, now is also the time for the left to link shareholder action to Labour’s overall campaign for greater economic democracy and social justice in our economy overall. In this way we have the opportunity to create a broad alliance for an efficient, successful and fair economy.

John McDonnell is Shadow Chancellor, MP for Hayes and Harlington, Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and Chair of the Labour Representation Committee. He has been heavily involved in Labour Briefing since the early years.

 

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Labour, Antisemitism and Jeremy Corbyn

1st May 2016

Labour, Antisemitism and Jeremy Corbyn

Letter to Guardian 30.04.16

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party and of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who wish to put our perspective on the “antisemitism” controversy that has been widely debated in the last few weeks (Labour’s antisemitism crisis as Livingstone suspended, 29 April). We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.

We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week. As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties. We dissociate ourselves from the misleading attacks on Labour from some members of the Jewish community. We urge others, who may be confused or worried by recent publicity, to be sure that the Labour party, under its present progressive leadership, is a place where Jews are welcomed in a spirit of equality and solidarity.

Kate Adams
Julia Bard
Labina Basit
Shereen Benjamin
Rica Bird
Jenny Bloom
Alice Bondi
Elizabeth Carola
Ron Cohen
Judith Cravitz
Dave Curtis
Miriam E David
Sue Dellett
Ivor Dembina
Professor Stephen Deutsch
Merave Devere
Shlomit Ferguson
Mark Findlay
Hava Fleming
Dr William Fleming
Roisin Francis
Kenneth Fryde
Lynda Gilbert
Clare Glasman
Alex J Goldhill
Adam Goodkin
Stuart Goodman
Tony Graham
Tony Greenstein
Michele Hanson
Rosamine Hayeem
Abe Hayeem
Jane Henriques
Lorraine Hershon
Becka Seglow Hudson
Selma James
Saul Jamuels
Riva Joffe
Michael Kalmanovitz
David Kaye
Richard Kuper
Pam Laurance
Leah Levane
Rachel Lever
Sue Lukes
Eli Machover
Beryl Maizels
Miriam Margolyes
Stephen Marks
Helen Marks
Karen Merkel
Charles Shaar Murray
Professor Mica Nava
Diana Neslen
Bracha Newman
Rabbi Jeffrey Newman
Susan Pashkoff
Rina Picciotto
Caroline Raine
Roland Rance
Frances Rifkin
Dr Brian Robinson
Denise Robson
Jeff Daniel Rollin
David Rosenberg
Jonathan Rosenhead
Stephen Sands
Dr Ian Saville
Amanda Sebastyen
Glyn Secker
Elizabeth Segal
Lynne Segal
Ray Sirotkin
Steve Tiller
Ray Sirotkin
Inbar Tamari
Tirza Waisel
Sam Weinstein
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Benjamin Young
Gill Yudkin
Professor John Yudkin

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