Archive for September, 2009

Can Brown make a come back?

In short, yes! I do believe Gordon Brown can make a come back.

Do I think he will set the right (left) direction to do so? Highly unlikely.

Did his Conference speech yesterday make an attempt at restoring some progressive faith in Labour? I think so.

Am I likely to vote for Labour if a Green candidate is absent? Probably.

Do I like Labour? Not especially.

Do I have an affinity to Labour? The majority of my family have been long time Labour supporters in the South East. My grandfather seems to think at one point he did not encounter a single Labour voter (besides himself) for 15 years whilst he was a postman in rural Sussex. Then 1997 changed all that.

But this isn’t 1997, it’s not even 2007, it’s 2009, with all likelihood of a General Election to be called for May 6th 2010. Labour are the incumbants, their ideas are looking tiresome and old, voters believe Labour has been given enough chances to get things right, the media are craving new stories with new blood, even the Murdoch press believes Labour can’t offer any fresh material for it to slander and to poke at. Things are looking grim.

Is Gordon Brown the right person to lead Labour? Yes.

Is there a chance of a last minute rebellion? Absolutely not. The Parliamentary Labour Party knows that it cannot risk disunity this late in the game. Twelve months back could have provided rebels with enough PR time to reverse the fortunes of the Party and to ‘Go Fourth’ without Gordon Brown at the helm. But it is now October 2009 and all opportunities for rebels to take on the mantle of the Party has disintegrated.

Has the fight gone out of Labour? No. I don’t believe the fight can ever go out of any political party, the Lib Dems are evidence enough of that.

Is Gordon Brown a ‘comeback kid?’ No.

What can Labour do now? Has anyone got any ideas? Anyone?

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Best and Worst

Right, I’ve committed myself to spending every evening in posting the best and the worst thing I have either read or heard every day.

Best

Harriet Harman in her Conference speech today from the BBC:

Opening a debate about equalities at the Labour conference, Harriet Harman said she was speaking about “something the Sun knows absolutely nothing about – equality”.

She went on: “Let’s face it, the nearest their political analysis gets to women’s rights is Page 3’s news in briefs.”

Worst

Whilst I am a fan of Ed Miliband, his article in this week’s re-vamped New Statesman caused me to mumble under my breathe on the train journey back from London today. Miliband said:

The Tories have chosen to form a new European grouping with climate change deniers. And they oppose the support we are giving green industries, which are key to Britain’s future prosperity.

Yeah, try telling that to the Vestas workers, Ed.

 

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The end of the Labour-CWU link?

It was the story that has been pretty much missed by the mainstream press and mainstream blogs, the London branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) has voted to no longer supply funds to the Labour Party after the results of an ‘indicative ballot.’ Only Bethan Jenkins AM has picked up the story.

Next week CWU will announce plans for a ‘consultative ballot’ of members in relation to it’s affiliation with the Labour Party. It is not yet clear the exact proposition of the ballot but it is likely that it will be a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on maintaining it’s affiliation to the Labour.

There have been rumours for some time that the Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the CWU, has been contemplating such a ballot of it’s membership. In some ways the ballot can be seen as a referendum on the direction of Hayes’ leadership of the union and his ousting of pro-Brown opinion inside the union.

There has been little in the way of rumour in how Billy Hayes would like to see CWU’s political fund allocated. It is unsure whether he would consider going down the same path as Bob Crow and establish some kind of British ‘Die Linke’, or instead go with the PCS and FBU option of supporting individual candidates.

For some time I have been of the impression that the CWU represents a major unifying force for any radical-left challenge to Labour in British politics. CWU has a giant political fund that could potentially sustain a left-of-Labour electoral challenge from the non-affiliated trade unions backed up by one or two soft-far-left parties. My personal preference would be to see CWU throw it’s weight behind the Greens in England and Plaid in Wales, but the Green-trade union link is weak in comparison to the links non-affiliated trade unions have to the non-mainstream left, despite the Greens pro-worker policies.

We could well be seeing the break-up of the Labour-CWU link soon.

 

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I’m Back

Yes, that’s right dear readers, I am now back to full-time blogging. After two weeks of feeling demotivated and having enough of job applications, I am finally back to where I should be. I am once again ‘posi’ (tive).

Over the next few days I will be discussing the following:

  • Is Gordon Brown a ‘comeback kid’?
  • Is the CWU really prepared to pull the plug on Labour?
  • How would an RMT electoral challenge shape Labour’s General Election campaign?
  • Super marginal seats in the South-East come May 2010
  • The campaign in Brighton Pavilion
  • Could Canterbury ever be anything but Tory Blue?

In other news, it is with great regret for me to announce, but the Scrine Foundation will be closing it’s doors on November 1st. Kent County Council has offered pre-existing contracts with Scrine to another homelessness charity, Porchlight. However, Porchlight will not be taking over the Open Centre located just outside Canterbury East station. Of all the services that Scrine provided it’s Open Centre was the frontline service that it offered to all homeless and marginalised people throughout Kent. After November 1st there will no longer be an Open Centre for Kent’s homeless. Whilst I believe Scrine is attempting to do what it can to keep the centre open, it does not look likely unless a major donor comes forward. It is disappointing news and one that would have major consequences across the community. I can only hope that a last minute miracle happens to ensure that every homeless person in Canterbury and Kent has a roof over their heads on the long, cold nights.

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Adam Price to stand down

Adam Price, the popular progressive Plaid Cymru MP for Camarthen East and Dinefwr, is to stand down at the next General Election.

In recent week’s Adam has been making his voice heard in his own quarters and elsewhere on the need to resist cuts in public spending. He has been a verocious champion for progressive causes and working people, and will remain an influential voice in Welsh politics and the progressive agenda for Wales. His departure from Westminster will be sadly missed by his admirers, both in Wales and elsewhere.

However this is by no means an end to Adam’s political career for he intends to stand in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2011.

He will be spending the next year on a Fulbright Scholarship in the US to study devolution and economic development at a top graduate school.

On the face of it Adam’s decision could be seen as being left until a bit late in the game, but I am sure he has judged correctly following a positive Plaid conference last weekend.

However, Adam’s year away in the US might scupper his chances of finding a decent safe seat. Camarthen East and Dinefwr’s current AM, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, has said he has no intention of stepping down. As of yet there has been no comment from any existing AMs on their intention to stand for Adam’s Westminster seat.

I would like to wish Adam the best of luck in his future endeavours, particularly his aspirations for entering the Assembly in 2011.

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Obama’s Common Sense Prevails

I am absolutely delighted to hear that Barack Obama will be scrapping the proposed Polish missile-defence shield. However, this is not yet confirmed by the Obama administration but according to a Czech newspaper Obama telephoned the Czech Prime Minister, Jan Fischer, to inform him that the plan was being shelved.

This is a bold break from what was seen by many hawks in the Bush administration as being key to confirm US ‘defence’ hegemony in Europe and the Caucasus. Whilst the move will un-nerve Eastern European countries with strong anti-Russian sentiments, it goes a long way in building Russian confidence in the Obama administration.

It is not yet clear whether this has come with any conditions on behalf of Russia, but it would seem that Obama needs Russian co-operation when both countries meet in December to renew the START 1 treaty. Obama has made several speeches outlining his vision for a nuclear-free world, and would seem that he is already carving out his legacy in foreign policy, that of being the first US President to create broad-multilateral agreement on pursuing his nuclear-free vision.

However, the cynical side of the gesture to shelve the missile-defence shield is the ugly possibility that Obama is willing to take a stronger line on Iran, and to push ahead on tougher sanctions, with Russia’s support. But for the time being we can delight in Obama pressing ‘reset’ on the US’s relationship with Russia and the scrapping of an illogical scheme.

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Quick News

Quick News will be my late night attempt at highlighting all the news stories that would be of interest to progressives. Tonight we have:

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