Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Labour party leadership=I have a solution!

Both my regular readers will know I have been agonisng over the Labour party leadership.Should I try to make a one vote difference?It's a conundrum a bit like the great 'Daddy or chips' debate of yesteryear.
Things have changed a little since my earlier blog.The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn, an MP I have always respected has somewhat changed things,but really only somewhat.
My heart says ,like so many other good socialists currently outside the party that at last there is a candidate who speaks the language of socialism not of bloody aspiration.
I am sorely tempted!
But I fear that it is my heart that is speaking to me in beguiling terms and not my jead.
I know all the arguments-thye stronger the vote for Jeremy the more likely the party will listen and change its ways.
It is an opportunity for the case to be put to thousands if not millions,the anti austerity,the anti Trident,the pro- welfare,the pro -union....all the causes that we believe are central to a socialist transformation of society.
I can hear my old comrades,the Lore lei voices of temptation to swallow hard and join the great cause and get back within the people's party!
But as I'm on a roll with my cliches I cannot forget that the leopard really doesn't change its spots  and if I stop and think for just a few moments then the head rules again.
I have quite recently seen how shallow the Labour party has become.Northampton Labour party is a shining example of how shallow the whole enterprise has become.The recent de selection of Winston Strachan, a good and decent Borough Councillor in Castle ward was once again an example of the hollowing out of the party.
Career moves are the only aspirations left in the Labour party-bugger any ideology or indeed anything that reflects principles!
Now I'm not saying Corbyn lacks principles,far from it, but I fear he,like the few genuine socialists  left are being used as a fig leaf to cover the monstrous vacuum at the heart of the Labour party.
His candidature is being used in a cynical way to demonstrate how 'broad; and tolereant the party is.But as his nomination went in some of those who signed it were busily yelling that they had no intention of voting for him.
Some like the London 'running dogs' did it to pretend to the left leaning London membership that they were really really leftish-strange that they all appear to be seeking the Mayoral nominatuion!
And then there is the scrawled signature of Frank Field.Given that he is the nearest thing in the Labour party to a Tory,apart from Kate Hoey,his endorsement should never have been contemplated.
Added to the shoddy practice of a bunch of opportunists there is the other ploy by a bunch of Blairites who are pushing that if a candidate wins that they don't much like, then within a few montghs a secret vote o0f the PLP can ditch the leader, and the PLP alone will select the new leader-probably one Miliband D.The leader over the water!

Then of course there is the well thought out plan that with two tier membership,full paid up members and 'supporters' it will be easy to throw the whole process into chaps.If I was a millionaire Tory backer the best thing to do would be to distrute £3 's to Tory supporters and flood the Labour party with Tory supporters who would be instructed to vote for.....?
I( have a simple solution, my first choice woukld be Nicola Sturgeon to lead the Labour party, but as she already has a growing wello disciplined and principled party anyway she is out of contention.
So there is only one obvious candidatem, who speaks with directrness and clarity, who can address the really big issue in the counrty the way it is being tavckled in Greece and Spain.A candidate not tainted with either decades of failure on the front or back bench, a candiadate who is young and charismatic.
It's obvious really, forget the dreary hustings, I watched some of the first one and felt sorry for the people of Nuneaton.
There is really only one candidate who can ignite the people of this country-Charlotte Church to be the next Labour Leader.

Friday, 12 June 2015

I'm still a Marxist (tendency Groucho)

There is an unsubstantiated rumour swirling around the political salons of Old Northampton that I have somehow transmogrified into some sort of right wing old municipal grandee.
That I stand for the status quo, that I'm keen to aquire status as an elder statesman of municipal politics, perhaps sympathetic to the Liberal-Democrats,or worse....

Well time to make it clear, over the decades i have had dalliances with other ideologies.I was born as many know into what Americans call 'a red diaper baby'. I joined the Young Communist league at the age of 14 signed up in a Lyons Corner House by no less a Communist superstar that the late great Jimmy Reid!
Jimmy who later led the Upper Clyde Shipyard workers (remember the 'nae bevvying' speech)was at the time the National Secretary of the YCL.
My future was set to wonder under the red star of the east!
Four or five years later the young comrades expelled my under the rule 'actions harmful to the league'.I was expelled by the London District of the league,with only two defending me,and one of them was a Cypriot comrade with the magnificent name of 'Stalin'.
his parents were very loyal supporters of Uncle Joe.
I then began my political meanderings, a little time with the Revolutionary Socialist Students Association, a spell as the rank and file of the SCC(M-L)-in case you've forgotten us we were the Sussex Communist Caucus (Marxist-leninist)
There were only five or six of us, one has since become a senior lecturer in politics at a Midland university,another has become a prolific writer on South African affairs,one has gone back to highly lucrative journalism in the States,another may have gone back to his day job in the CIA.
I moved to Northampton.
Where we spent almost 40 years in a brief flirtation with the Labour Party.When we joined we only intended to give it a couple of years,but like an old cardigan,the Labour Party was comfortable and secure and sometimes even seemed on the cusp of doing something quite significant.
For much of my extended honeymoon with the Labour Party its great strength was at local level, and in the early years there seemed real possibilities that local government could provide the party with a platform to effect change.
Remember the conference where Kinnock called local government 'labour's batttered shield against injustice'.
I think that was before he vilified and excoriated the comrades in Liverpool for providing just such a shield.But then it was a Militant shield not a god fearing profoundly middle of the road social democratic shieldette!

I've ranted on far too regularly about the hollowing out of the party,although interestingly enough in a disgusting blairite love fest in the Times this week his Chief of Staff wryly observed that the Labour Party in Scotland has been 'hollowed out'
But amongst the great balls-ups of the Blairite ascendancy was the cackhanded reorganisation of local government.The vision was the American model with elected Mayors and grafted on the Westminster model of a powerful executive (cabinet) and select committees (scrutiny) to hold the executive and the Mayor to account.
It was a system of checks and balances that could have worked.
But it didn't, elected Mayors have proved a complete waste of energy and resouces, indeed if Boris Johnston is the answer then indeed it was a fucking stupid question.
Cabinets gave too much power to a small tightly knit group of politically motivated men and some women.Scrutiny from day one had no power,everything it did was after the event, and at best call in could only delay the inevitable.
The Lib-Dems in Northampton tried to put a motion calling for the return of the committee system, but as there are only two of them their efforts were doomed.
The tories like the Cabinet system, because it gives power to a small number of their group and the rest merely collect their dosh and sit quiet-not a lot to do!
The Labour Party on the otherhand sided with the tories-they argue that the old committee system was slow and 'Victorian', did not reflect the dynamic and thrusting politics of going out and 'listening to people' and allowed a small group of Labour members to call themselves 'shadow portfolio holders', although I think they meant 'shallow portfolio holders'
Whilst the committee system was slow and cumbersome it allowed many more elected members to participate in decision making and for instance a decision like the new bus station would pass through a number of committees, like Traffic,Finance,Planning and ending up with Policy-ample opportunity for many members,and members of the public,to examine plans.
Slow yes,but maybe more effective.Right now Northampton Borough Council has half a dozen Councillors who take decisions and almost 40 others who are mere bystanders.
Of course I keep making the mistake of suggesting that councillors have power-silly me, with the Cabinet system the real power resides where it always should-with the senior management team!

maybe all my years have made me too cynical,perhaps I'm a Marxist (tendency grouchy) !