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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Bath Ales: Gem

1264_633664986314716585This is every bit a real ‘Gem.’ Deep amber brown in colour, ‘Bath Ales: Gem’ is an earthy beer with plenty of bitter-sweet flavours. Not very fruity, this one has alot of lean malt flavours with plenty to chew. Full-textured in the mouth, ‘Gem’ is pretty sweet in terms of caramel malts and brown sugar water, blended with thick honey, raisins and light orangey citrusness. It is well-mixed and pleasant, but lacks a better harmony and complexity.

The bitter-sweet malty flavour resembling red date and fruit tea with a dash of honey comes forward, following onto a moderately bitter middle taste of mixed toasted dark-fruits, citric sourness and earthy hops laced with an assertive black tea undertone in the finish.

It is an exceptional best bitter. I look forward to tasting alot more from the ‘Bath Ales’ team.

Available from Sainsbury’s for £1.90.

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A Plaid-Green Alliance?

Such a thing has been blogged on before, Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru MP for Camarthen East and Dinefwr, has made calls as recently as June in the wake of the Tories topping the European Election poll in Wales. Whilst Plaid sits with Labour in the Welsh Assembly, this is something that some Plaid members are perhaps uneasy about, despite the ‘One Wales’ Government’s relative success in rebuffing the recession from hitting Wales hard.

Jim Jepps, who posts over at The Daily (Maybe), took to the Green Party’s Autumn Conference a motion that would have lifted the ban on Greens entering joint-lists with other parties in PR elections, unfortunately this was dropped from the agenda due to time constraints but I hope to see it come back to Spring Conference in February.

Whilst I am not a member of the Welsh Green Party, and any decision to enter into a formal alliance with Plaid Cymru or any other progressive force at the next Welsh Assembly elections in 2011 is the sole decision of the Green Party in Wales, I will spend the next few months to encourage a consensus in the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) that a coalition with Plaid is a necessity to resist the forces of reaction, be it from the Tories, UKIP, or heavens forbid, the BNP. As Adam Price has said, now is the time for a new plural politics of the progressive left.

Progressives in Wales have to take the fight to the forces of conservatism and right-wing populism. They have to take the political fight and the ideological one. In June’s European Elections Plaid came third in Wales with 126,702 votes or 18.5%, around 2% off from topping the poll there. The Greens took 38,160 votes, just narrowly beating the BNP, and increasing the vote by 2% to take 5.6% of the total vote to the BNP’s 5.4%. The combined Plaid and Green vote- 164,862- would have been enough to top the poll in Wales and perhaps deprive UKIP of the fourth seat and their first ever breakthrough in Wales. Before the election Plaid Cymru’s National Executive gave it’s blessing for the Greens to be approached to form a joint-list for the European Elections, however, because of the party’s ban on joint lists with other parties, the Welsh Green Party had no choice but to decline the offer. Had we formed a joint list with Plaid Cymru in Wales, and perhaps Mebyon Kernow in the South West, the Greens could have returned four MEPs rather than the two that they did. For the sake of Welsh national aspirations, and for progressive politics everywhere, the Greens must devote full attention post-General Election to working with Plaid and other forces to ensure that progressive Welsh voters have a clear choice in 2011: Progress or Reaction.

I am not in a position to suggest either the mechanics or policy aspects of such an alliance, but on the important issues regarding public services, a commitment to challenging climate change and an inclusive and tolerant Wales, Plaid Cymru and the Greens are in agreement. I would like to see Jim’s motion go to Spring Conference and supported by a fringe event with one or two Plaid representatives on a panel along with members from the Green Party in Wales on the theme of exploring co-operation between the two parties in Wales and how an alliance would look.

There is no room for complacency, a Tory victory in Wales in 2011 would be a set back for progressive politics everywhere, and would set Welsh national aspirations back for atleast a decade. Co-operation is a necessity.

 

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Autumn of rage?

‘Unions back cuts protest action’, according to the BBC.

” A motion from public service union Unison, saying any cutback in spending would “damage” vital services and “ultimately impair economic recovery”, was passed unanimously.

It called on members to “support, co-ordinate and encourage joint union action, including industrial action, in pursuit of these objectives”.”

Autumn of rage? I would hope so.

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