“A radical programme of action”

October 10, 2017

This is an article published in the Morning Star on October 10th 2017

Jeremy Corbyn’s conference announcement that Labour would be carrying out a review “of social housing policy – its building, planning, regulation and management” is very welcome. So is his comment that “Labour would speak to social housing tenants all over the country” and bring forward “a radical programme of action” in time for next year’s Labour conference. However, one critical issue needs adding – funding.

The review gives tenants and supporters of council housing the opportunity to tell Labour what we think would constitute “a radical programme of action”. It suggests that Corbyn recognises the need to go beyond the Manifesto which was still rooted in New Labour’s housing policy. For instance, Labour’s “first priority” was not a council house building programme but helping first time buyers onto the proverbial housing ladder.

Whilst Jeremy had spoken of 100,000 council homes a year this was watered down to 100,000 ““affordable homes” for “rent and sale” by the end of the Parliament, with no indication of the proportion of each. Read on below or download a PDF here radicalpoa Read the rest of this entry »

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The local government funding crisis and how to resolve it

November 11, 2016

With the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader for the second time we have been told that this has consolidated Labour as the “anti-austerity party”. Whilst this is certainly the aspiration of Jeremy and his supporters Labour can only be judged on what it does not just what it says. The election of a left wing leader cannot transform the Labour Party in and of itself. Many of the old guard whose politics are rooted in those of New Labour are still entrenched. After the Parliamentary Party Labour councillors were the section of the party where support for Corbyn was at its lowest and resistance to a break from the politics of New Labour at its highest. Labour in office in local government is anything but an anti-austerity party. Nationally Labour has, as yet, made no attempt to build a movement against the government’s austerity programme. It has not even attempted to assemble its local authorities to discuss organising resistance to central government’s assault on local government. Each authority is therefore left to its own devices to attempt at best to manoeuvre in the face of unprecedented cuts or at worst to simply administer them without question. We therefore see the spectacle of Labour authorities cutting services, closing Libraries, outsourcing leisure services, and in some areas attacking the wages and conditions of staff. In Derby and Durham they are cutting the wages of low paid teaching assistants, precipitating strike action by a group workers who have no history of militancy. In Durham a Labour council is proposing to issue redundancy notices aimed at forcing staff to sign up to new contracts which involve as much as a 23% cut in wages1. (Read on below or download a PDF here localgovfundingcrisis ) Read the rest of this entry »


An attempted coup against the members

July 1, 2016

At the time of writing Angela Eagle has very generously paused her leadership campaign to give Jeremy Corbyn more time to resign. The real reason, however, is that Corbyn’s opponents are so well organised that they can’t yet agree on a single candidate to stand against him. It appears Owen Smith has collected sufficient nominations to stand. Some MPs are reportedly concerned that Smith would have a better chance of beating Corbyn than Eagle as he is ‘further to the left than her’. With the Chilcott report due out soon she will not be covered in glory. She, of course, voted for the war on Iraq.

Speaking on Radio 4 the Vice Chair of Angela Eagle’s Wallasey constituency party said that if the MPs wanted to remove Corbyn they could have simply raised the 51 nominations for a challenger. It says much of the approach of her and other PLP members that they didn’t bother consulting their local parties. Indeed Wallasey CLP asked her to vote against the no-confidence motion. Never mind they are the just the people who do the work. (Read on below or download a PDF here labourcoup) Read the rest of this entry »


Labour should oppose parishes move and demand referendum

October 19, 2015

Just when I was thinking that’s a good letter from Des Moffatt (“Beware Parish Plan”) he said this: “…I am not necessarily against going this way provided the citizens of Swindon know what is involved and the opportunity for well off areas to pull up the ladder is avoided.”

This unfortunate statement contradicts the logic of the arguments by which Des himself explained why it would not be a good idea.

Given the fact that the proposal is being put forward by the Conservative administration in the context of an austerity programme which is about to be reinforced by the government’s Spending Review there can only be one outcome to its implementation: the decimation of services and the reinforcement of inequalities based on the different Council tax levels in different wards. Read the rest of this entry »


Labour’s Shadow Cabinet: collaborating with the enemy

September 22, 2015

Goethe famously said “All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the tree of life springs ever green.” Life sometimes throws up the unimaginable or the seemingly impossible. Even when Jeremy Corbyn miraculously got on the ballot paper for Labour leader nobody imagined that he might actually win the contest. Late in the day it was decided that he should stand in order that the views of the Labour left could be aired, otherwise the grey ones would have been left to bore everybody to death, and put forward their variants of New Labourism. However, once he was on the ballot paper there was a large scale influx of new members into the Labour Party (some of them returners), ‘affiliated supporters’ through the unions, and those who paid £3 to be able to participate in the election. This marked an attempt to shake the Party loose from its Blairite, New Labour moorings, and to strive for a government which breaks with the economic and political consensus which gave us the great crash of 2007/8. (Download a PDF here afterwinning or read on below) Read the rest of this entry »


Ending right to buy “full stop”

August 8, 2015

Tackling the Housing Crisis, produced for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership stands in stark contrast to New Labour’s housing policy. The document recognises the need for a large scale council house building programme to tackle the crisis. It’s a welcome contribution which would have been unthinkable coming from a Leader, or potential leader, of the Labour Party prior to Jeremy’s nomination. I’ll comment on the document in due course, but here’s just one important point of difference with it.

Tackling the Housing Crisisis disappointing in one important respect: its failure to call for an end to ‘right to buy’. It says that “we should be reducing the harm it causes to our affordable housing stock”. To that end it proposes giving local authorities “in areas of high housing stress” the power to suspend right to buy “in order to protect depleting social housing assets”. It also says that the discount could be reduced. Read the rest of this entry »


Stop the election, the ‘wrong’ candidate may win!

July 28, 2015

Democracy is all well and good but when the ‘wrong’ person is in danger of winning you have to draw the line somewhere. That staunch democrat, Labour MP John Mann has called on Harriet Harman to ‘halt the contest’. The election is apparently “out of the control” and at risk of being distorted by “infiltrators”. Utilising the eminently democratic institution and friend of Labour, the Sunday Times, Mr Mann said that Harman should step in as “speculation grows” that 140,000 people may have joined the Party since the General Election, just so they could vote for Corbyn. Obviously such an influx of members are for nefarious purposes. How can Labour be so popular after losing the general election? No wonder Mr Mann can smell a rat. In fact NEC member Anne Black has told us that at its July 21st meeting it was reported that since the general election 55,000 people had joined and one third of those were under 30, typically, she said, many were 18 or so. (Download a PDF here corbynarticle or read on below) Read the rest of this entry »


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