Archive for Labour

An Open Response to ‘A Guy Named Guy’

The following post is the development of some of the points I raised in response to a post by an interesting left-of-centre Brighton blogger. ‘A Guy Named Guy’ , who blogs at Cut the Crap, makes an interesting case as to why he is voting for Nancy Platts in Brighton Pavilion.

Here is my post with some added bits:

“I think we have to remember, despite Nancy Platts being as decent a candidate as she is, she is deceiving voters in Brighton Pavilion.

Despite where Nancy stands on a whole range of issues (and I agree with almost all of her policy positions), she is asking voters in Brighton to return a Labour government and a Labour manifesto that will stand in stark contrast to Nancy’s own values.

The Labour manifesto will include cuts in higher education (despite Nancy standing on a picket line opposing higher education cuts), cuts in social and public services (despite Nancy sending a message of support to the Brighton anti-cuts demo), the replacement of Trident with a new nuclear system that will exacerbate tensions in the Middle East (Nancy is in favour of ditching our nuclear arsenal completely), a continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Nancy opposes both these wars), no repeal of anti-trade union legislation (Nancy calls herself a trade unionist) and the continuation of illiberal anti-terror legislation that will undermine civil liberties.

Labour has been given 13 years in office to push through radical and far-reaching change and they have fallen short. From reforming the House of Lords into a fully democratic chamber to introducing proportional representation (PR) for general and local elections, they have failed to make even the most moderate of changes to the political constitution, let alone advancing on a programme of addressing the deep inequality that exists in society.

I for one find it an absolute betrayal of the principle of ‘fairness’ that the wealth gap has increased under 13 years of Labour and inequality is more entrenched in society than it was before 1997.

Voters in Brighton Pavilion have a unique opportunity in helping shift the “progressive consensus” to the left with the election of a Green MP.

The Green Party is arguably a ‘radical social democratic’ party whose main focus in recent years has been on developing the value of fairness. Not just fairness in opportunity, but fairness in all that an active State does.

The Greens are the only party arguing against the consensus that savage cuts are needed, instead, we have taken a similar understanding of David Blanchflower’s analogy that recession (and the fragile recovery) is a war and (despite the Green anti-war irony here) the only way to fight a war is to throw money at it, you don’t budget or make cuts on the front line.

There is a real danger of a double-dip recession and we need strong, independent voices in Parliament asking difficult questions, lobbying for cross-party support on early day motions (EDMs) that chime with Green policy (take a look at my post on a recent example and shifting the goal posts of what is possible for the centre-left to achieve.

Climate change is a serious, pressing issue, one that has been forced on the back foot by an emboldened climate change denial cabal, nothing sends a stronger message to that cabal than the election of a Green MP.

Having a Green MP(s) will elevate the urgency for action on climate change in Parliament. It will send a powerful message to the next Government that it is an issue that must be addressed in its entirety.

If, and heavens forbid if it does happen, Nick Griffin wins in Barking; we can expect whatever Government to be more xenophobic, more hostile to immigrants and asylum seekers and more likely to pander to far-right voters. This will only create breathing room for the BNP. Already we have heard Gordon Brown talk about “Strengthen[ing] fairness in communities through controlled immigration… .”

Gordon Brown is right when he says that voters should take a second look at Labour, then a long, hard look at the Tories but, I would advise all voters to look back at Labour’s 13 years, look back on their successes and failures, but think more about what they haven’t done and what they’ve failed to achieve.

Despite Nancy’s credibility as a sound candidate, think about what she is asking voters in Brighton to do. They won’t be voting for Nancy’s policies, they’ll be voting for Gordon Brown and the whole Labour cabinet and a manifesto that will give Labour a mandate to inflict savage cuts, to continue with the “war on terror”, to develop costly and dangerous weapons of mass destruction and for a Government that will pander to the far-right and further legitimise the BNP and their vile politics.

The Labour vote in Brighton has collapsed. The 2007 local elections and the 2009 European Parliament elections proves that. The danger of voting Labour in Brighton Pavilion is the possibility of a Tory MP, but also more of the same from Gordon Brown and co.”

However, it is a pleasure to see a new blogger in Brighton and I want to wish Guy well on his blogging adventure in the run-up to the General Election.

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Does Labour really have a chance in Brighton and Hove?

There is little doubt that the race in Brighton Pavilion promises to be one of the most exciting in the forthcoming General Election. All three main candidates, Caroline Lucas (Green), Charlotte Vere (Conservative) and Nancy Platts (Labour) are giving it their all.

A little while back, in some discussions with friends, I predicted that the campaign in Brighton Pavilion would be a sour and bitter one. The threat posed by the Green Party is enough to undermine the status quo of the big three and to upset their predominance in UK politics. A Green win, even in one seat, is enough to challenge all presumptions and conceptions about the party and new forces breaking through at Westminster.

Some will argue that one Green MP won’t make any difference, however, they would only be lying to themselves if they didn’t believe the kind of impact it would have. A breakthrough for the Greens at Westminster would be significant, even if not immediately recognisable. The Greens are a national party with councillors up and down the country and with a policy manifesto that envisages the long-term. What has always been lacking up to this point is a real chance of making a breakthrough at a General Election

For far too long the party held onto a vague sense that Labour would deliver PR or a democratic crisis would become so apparent that changing the electoral system was the only hope of recovery. I am glad to see that the party has since shifted in its tactical and strategic thinking and recognised the necessity of employing a genuine target seat strategy.

This has led a large amount of resources, attention and focus going into Brighton Pavilion. The Green campaign in Brighton Pavilion certainly dwarfs both Labour and the Conservative campaigns. However, we must remember, nationally at least, Pavilion is not a top Tory target seat – it’s number 135 on their list; whereas Hove is 8 and Kemptown is 29.

Brighton Politics Blogger has reported on the shortfall in Nancy Platts election funds compared to those of Simon Burgess, the Labour candidate for Kemptown. Given that Simon has a higher profile in the Labour Party than Nancy (just take a peak at Simon’s record), it is no surprise that he has managed to wrestle more money for his campaign away from Nancy’s and Celia Barlow’s (the Labour MP for Hove).

Labour has a lot more to lose from a Green win in Brighton Pavilion than the Tories. If Caroline Lucas successfully takes the seat, then Labour would struggle to come back as the leading, left-of-centre force in Brighton politics.

There is a real possibility that next year, in the Brighton and Hove city council elections, that Labour could be reduced to having a core rump of councillors from East Brighton and Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. The Greens could certainly take Labour’s seat in Goldsmid, their two seats in Preston Park, the Lib Dem seats in Brunswick and Adelaide, as well as picking up one in Withdean, Hollingbury and Stanmer and maybe even a third in Goldsmid from the Tories.

This does of course have the potential of seeing the Tories return with an increased majority and overall control of the council, but Labour would of course be decimated, such would be the knock on effect of a Green victory in Pavilion.

If Labour were reduced to four, five or even six councillors, it could very well be the end of them in Brighton politics. If Labour fail to hold on to Hove (which they have next to no chance of doing so), or Kemptown (in which there is an outside chance they will hold on to) or in Pavilion (maybe no chance), then Labour, as a force in Brighton, will be no more. It would not be long before they are seceded by the Greens as the main progressive force in Brighton and Hove politics.

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This and that: A week in the life of…

I have been away from the blog for a week, doing this, doing that. Now I’m back and ready to be as scathing and scrutinising as ever before.

Kent Union elections

I was absent for most of last week because my attention was on the Kent Union elections, particularly the battle for VP Welfare.

I was backing the popular and dedicated Aaron Kiely, who faced tough opposition from the incumbent VP Welfare, Samantha Kennedy. Unfortunately I was unable to be there through most of campaigns week because of my work commitments; however, I was able to do my bit on Friday for the final push.

After a long day in which the weather worsened, it hit 4pm and the polls had closed to the relief of everyone, especially Aaron. That night, we had a nervous wait in store until 11pm when the results were announced. It went to three rounds and Aaron was shy of just 200 votes. The final tally was 1400 to Sam Kennedy, 1200 to Aaron Kiely and 700 votes to the third placed candidate. Whilst the results were disappointing after a long, hard slog, all of us were immensely proud of Aaron’s effort and those of his campaigns team.

Congratulations should go to Zoe Scandrett, Damon Reid-Williams and Tom Pengelly, who were all elected to the positions of Women’s Officer, Ethnic Minorities Officer and LGBT Officer respectively. Kent students are lucky to have three excellent people leading the liberation campaigns for the year ahead.

Victory for Kent staff and students

However, despite the disappointment of Friday night, a silver lining emerged in the dispute between the University management and staff in the Biosciences department at the University of Kent. Yesterday, at 3pm, after a meeting between the University and the UCU, the following statement was released:

“The University and UCU have had further constructive discussions in relation to the future of the School of Biosciences and have agreed upon an acceptable resolution of the matters in issue between them. This successful conclusion to the discussions indicates a renewed spirit  of constructive partnership between management and UCU, and both parties are committed to entering into a Redundancy Avoidance Agreement for the future.   As a result, the threat of compulsory redundancies has now been lifted from UCU members in Biosciences, and UCU has therefore cancelled the planned ballot of its members on taking industrial action which was to commence on Friday 26th March 2010.”

You can read more about this tremendous victory for the UCU and for student-led activism from Aaron Kiely and the Kent staff themselves.

Nancy Platts blocks me from Twitter

In other news, it seems as though the Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Nancy Platts, has blocked me from following her on Twitter.

I for one am shocked and saddened by this move. As a public figure, whose Twitter profile is their candidate profile, Nancy’s move is unprecedented and surprising. Sure, I have criticised Nancy and Labour policy, but never on a personal level. In fact, I have the utmost respect for perspective parliamentary candidates (PPCs). Running for Parliament is no easy thing; it requires time, effort and, perhaps above all, maintaining a cool head. If Nancy thinks my soft criticism of her policies is bad, she has no idea what it would be like if ever she was elected to Parliament. I would appreciate it if Nancy could specify as to why she has blocked me but, if I have caused her any upset, I do apologise.

Shame on David Lepper

In further Brighton Labour news, the BBC has reported that Pavilion MP, David Lepper, has broken Parliamentary rules on overseas trips. Mr. Lepper has been visiting Cyprus every year since 2004 and has tabled 29 early day motions (EDMs) relating to the country. Mr. Lepper failed to register an interest when he tabled a Parliamentary question on 13th January 2009, as well as four EDMs between 2006 and 2009.

Whilst David Lepper has apologised for not registering an interest, he has not apologised for using up valuable Parliamentary time in which he should have been focussing on the concerns of his Brighton constituents. He owes his constituents a massive apology for not working in their interests, but instead for the Municipality of Morphou, the Municipality of Famagusta and the Association of Cypriot Municipalities, who paid for his free holidays to Cyprus.

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Snubbed by Kevin Maguire?

Last weekend, Labour’s candidate in Brighton Kemptown, Simon Burgess, was given some extra support from Daily Mirror columnist and political hack, Kevin Maguire. However, what is noticable from Kevin Maguire’s visit to Brighton is the lack of any engagement with Labour’s candidate in Pavilion, Nancy Platts.

It is one of the worst kept secrets in Brighton politics that Simon and Nancy just don’t get on well at all. Whilst both come across as incredibly nice people, they just don’t like each other. I’m sure they’ll both deny this, but any hack will tell you otherwise.

Both Simon and Nancy are fighting over volunteers (as to is Celia Barlow in the super-marginal Hove constituency), as well as funds, resources and media coverage. The one thing you would have thought they’d both share would be endorsements from fellow travellers but, in the case of Kevin Maguire, it would appear not. In other words, it looks as though Kevin snubbed Nancy.

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Why the Tories have stalled

The polls are narrowing, the Tories seem unable to land a knock-out blow on the Labour spin machine, the main parties are become increasingly desperate. To borrow a phrase from Kevin Maguire, ‘Cameron’s mask is slipping’, and you know what, that’s not rhetoric, it’s true.

David Cameron’s personal popularity has fallen 9 points since 2008 and the latest Ipsos-Mori poll shows the Tory lead standing at 5% – the ‘magic’ number that keeps the Tories from becoming the largest party in Parliament after a General Election.

This week was meant to be a bruising one for Gordon Brown, he was meant to have been a broken figure, but the Rawnsley ‘revelations’ turned to dust. Then came Alistair Darling’s “forces of hell” moment, once again, this crumbled away. So, what has gone wrong in the Tory machine? Why have they stalled?

I think the answer is a simple one, very simple in fact, the answer lies in policy, or the lack of any robust policy. I know of only three things to expect from a Cameron Government: 1. a cut in corporation tax; 2. de-regulation for large parts of the economy; and, 3. a ‘free’ vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act (2004). This is all I can remember, I can’t recite anything else. Nothing sticks except for a big image of  Cameron telling us ‘I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS’ – which is actually an homage to Tony Blair’s 1997 poster, ‘new Labour: because Britain deserves better’ (which I’m unable to find a link to).

Until we start hearing more from David Cameron and the Tories, the more they will stall. They will fail to land that decisive punch, they will fail to connect with voters on the doorstep and they will be more vulnerable to, what is arguably, a more confident Labour machine. The worry is, that the more policy the Tories reveal, the more likely it is that voters will be unsettled. Voters don’t want to hear about cuts, they don’t want to hear that big business and the City are getting off lightly and they don’t want to see any more haunting posters of David Cameron glaring into their souls.

Instead, what we will see, is a party becoming more desperate and more ugly in their attacks. The Tories will revert back to the old Conservatism that’s more eager to play to our fears,  rather than encouraging our hopes and desires.

Labour are still vulnerable and must admit that they’ve been incredibly lucky this week (the whole “take a second look at us and take a long, hard look at them” line is getting a bit thin). Unless Cameron commits to an agenda, one which he actually sticks to, then the Tories will continue to stall.

Their silence is their undoing.

(FYI  The Tories have their “Spring Forum” in Brighton this weekend)

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Scapegoating students…again

Last week, John Healey, Housing Minister and MP for Wentworth, launched one of the vilest attacks on students yet.

Healey announced plans to grant local councils the power to minimise highly populated student neighbourhoods. The plans will allow councils to license and regulate landlords letting to students in problematic cities.

The Minister for Housing said: “I am giving councils more local powers to crack down on the worst landlords and stop the spread of high concentrations of share homes where it causes problems for other residents or changes the character of a neighborhood.”

These plans to restrict the number of multiple occupation of properties has met opposition from the British Property Federation, director of policy, Iain Fletcher, said: “Clearly, ‘studentification’ is an issue on some areas, but the private rented sector provides far more than student accommodation and any interventions need to be balanced against the impact they could have across the wider sector.”

Already, Liberal Democrat councillors in Canterbury have seized upon the issue. Jo Calvett-Mindell, Lib Dem councillor for St. Stephen’s ward, has long been in favour of a cap on student homes. In 2007, she tabled a motion calling for a 20% limit on the number of student homes per road. She made the exaggerated claim that some streets had “90% student occupancy” without citing any data or evidence of this. This weekend, in a tiny article in the free Canterbury Times newspaper, Cllr. Calvett-Mindell repeated her calls for a cap on student homes in the city.

 The plans are a horrendous attack on students from a Government incessant upon getting 50% of young people into higher education, having committed themselves to narrowing the gap of opportunities for young people after mandatory education, making university an unfair default option for many young people who wish to aspire in other disciplines. How does the Government expect cities to cope with an increasing number of young people attending universities, when it narrows access to decent and fair housing?

It’s bad enough that students have to expect delays in their loans, even when the loans fail to cover the cost of rent for one term. It’s bad enough that students have to accept near poverty wages in jobs with non-flexible work hours. It’s bad enough that time and time again students are scapegoated by local authorities for being the root cause of anti-social behaviour in large towns and cities with a significant student population.

Students can expect to become fodder for negative campaigning in local elections. In cities such as Canterbury- where most students often return home between mid-April to mid-May before the start of the exam season- students are deprived of their opportunity to vote, losing their say and local councillors are fully aware of this. Students can expect local, mainstream politicians to use language usually reserved for the xenophobic BNP. There is already evidence that this is the case.

Under Labour, students have become an easy target. The decline in student activism, aided and abetted by the National Union of Students (NUS), has made cheap political attacks possible. Without the promotion of a culture of activism, students are more likely to be ‘benched’ by their elected representatives when it comes to organising against savage Tory cuts in higher education and the prospect of un-regulated student fees. Permanent campaigning is no longer a fixture for NUS bods and union careerists, they’re far more interested in governance reviews and the re-structuring of their bureaucracies.

Until we see the emergence of grassroots, activist-candidates in student union elections who care more about delivering for students than winning, many students will continually be subjected to a brutalisation that will be surgical, painful and ugly.

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Bankrolling the local party?

A little while back, Brighton blogger (and online community specialist), Dan Wilson, accused Caroline Lucas of ‘bankrolling’ the Green Party (scroll down to the comments section on the link). Most of the hacks, including yours truly, laughed at the absurd suggestion. Yes, Caroline Lucas makes a small contribution to the Green Party (and rightly so), but I believe it  to be a very modest one…and it certainly is compared to Barbara Follett, Labour MP for Stevenage, who was asked to payback £42,483, of which £32,976 has already been repaid. All well and good…I suppose. That is until we take a look at how much cash this champagne socialist has ploughed into her local party, Stevenage CLP. Are you ready for this? £116,100.00! I kid you not. Go on, take a look.

Yes, according to the wonderful folks at The Electoral Commission, Mrs. Follett has given a grand total of £116,100.00 to her constituency party since 2001. Talk about bankrolling a party. (I’m sure she’s enjoyed plenty of parties at her holiday homes in Cape Town and Antigua).

Now, I’m all for elected politicians helping out their local parties financially, I would be a bit peeved if they didn’t. But does anybody else think that £116,100.00 is taking the biscuit? I certainly think so.

(By the way, I’m sure there’s plenty of other Lab-Lib-Con MPs doing exactly the same as Mrs. Follett, I just haven’t bothered checking anyone else out, but I strongly suggest you do).

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Labour and CWU: Just a lovers tiff?

On Wedneday I posted the news that the London branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) voted overhwhelmingly in an indicative ballot to no longer fund the Labour Party. Socialist Worker believed that other branches were planning similar indicative ballots to speed-up CWU’s conference decision to ballot the national membership over whether or not it should continue to fund Labour.

On Wednesday at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton delegates voted to back the CWU’s call for ‘the government to take immediate steps to take responsibility for the Royal Mail pensions deficit.’ The emergency motion was seconded by Unite joint General Secretary Tony Woodley. Conference’s support of the motion would add pressure to those inside the Labour Government who still desire the part-privatisation of the service.

The Socialist newspaper this week carried an article whereby which they have laid the charge that the Government intends to smash the CWU union much in the same way Thatcher broke the miners in order to speed-up the ‘modernisation’ of that industry. The article said:

The biggest obstacle to privatisation has always been the postal workers’ union. This dispute is not about modernisation or combating so-called “Spanish practices”, it’s about Royal Mail and the government trying to smash the CWU to create a casualised workforce that any private buyer can use as they please.

Conspiracy or not? Well, I have it on good authority that the Government had already found a buyer for the proposed plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail and that the deal had already been signed before a bill was due to come before Parliament. I can reveal that the deal was supposedly signed with TNT and was kept in a safe until the bill passed through Parliament.

CWU members have until 8th October to cast a ballot in favour of national strike action over Royal Mail’s plans to modernise the service. The union is calling for a ‘yes’ vote and hopes that it can be consulted by the Government and Royal Mail over proposed plans to change the service.

Time is running out between Labour and the CWU to resolve the conflict. Unless the Government can bring the CWU leadership on board with the consultation process on the changes then the CWU has the potential to bang a couple of more nails into Gordon Brown’s coffin. What is perhaps most worrying for the Labour leadership is that the CWU leadership still has an ace up its sleeve- it can honour the conference decision to ballot the membership on the continuation to fund Labour.

If the next national strike is a messy one, and if Billy Hayes cannot be satisfied by any offer Royal Mail brings to the table, the CWU leadership would have no choice but to reveal its ace card and to pull the plug on Labour. It would almost be certain that unless the Government can appease the CWU it’s membership would most likely vote in favour of ending the CWU-Labour link.

The drama is certain to continue.


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Could a British ‘Die Linke’ pose a serious threat to Labour?


A little while back Socialist Unity carried this article on the RMT’s decision to maintain the NO2EU coalition from June’s European Elections. The RMT will be hosting a conference on Saturday 7th November 2009 at the Camden Centre, London discussing ‘ The crisis in working class political representation.’

Andy Newman’s analysis over on the Socialist Unity article that first carried the story is a rather sound one, and he is right to point out that in five or more constituencies there already exists a strong left-of-Labour challenge either from the Greens or from Respect. But could the NO2EU coalition that fared so badly in the European Elections ever seriously develop along the lines of Germany’s Die Linke, or would it remain a has-been, over-ambitious project that goes the same way as Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party?

In the context of Germany and Die Linke, both German history, it’s electoral system, the activity of trade unionists and other socio-economic factors make most comparisons between British and German ‘social democratic labourism’ somewhat futile. Die Linke is effectively a Social Democratic Party (SDP)-mark II with radical-left and neo-Marxian factions, some of which are revolutionary and others of which are reformists. Oskar Lafontaine, the popular co-chairman of Die Linke, is a former high-profile member of the SDP having been both a former chairman and former finance minister. He was also the former Prime Minister of the German state of Saarland between 1985 and 1998. The most prominent point of tension within Die Linke is over the issue of participation in coalition governments with either the SPD or the Greens in order to keep the neo-liberal and conservative parties (the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party) out of power, with some of Die Linke’s platforms and tendencies much more enthusiastic about co-operating with the SDP than others. In Britain, the electoral system makes coalition governments almost impossible at Westminister, although a hung Parliament is not beyond possibility, it would be likely that both the Tories and Labour would seek either unionist or civic nationalist support for a minority Government. Neither party would be overly enthusiastic about entering into co-operation with the Liberal Democrats, even though the Lib Dems believe they are in with a shot of becoming ‘King makers.’

If the results of the European Elections are anything to go by (along with smear tactics from the right-wing press) then an RMT-only electoral challenge has neither the political talent nor the numbers capable of posing a genuine threat to either Labour, or for that matter the BNP. What would be needed is the enthusiasm and support from the other non-affiliated unions, such as PCS, FBU, NUJ and perhaps soon to be, CWU. Bob Crow’s ambition would not be enough to maintain a left-of-Labour coalition and the smaller the coalition the more personality becomes a factor of difference rather than policy or political direction. The split in Respect emerged to be a personality difference between John Rees (both with SWP members and non-SWP members) and the ‘populist’ wing led by George Galloway and others. Without the unifying force non-affiliated trade unions could have supplied to Respect from it’s inception, cracks emerged and the debate turned away from the political and on to the personal.

Trade unions are unifying forces inside coalitions, they can lead the direction of policy debate and are largely recognised to be the financial brokers of electoral challenges. Eventually all party factions of a coalition would take their cue from the leadership of supportive trade unions.

The support of trade unions can offer motivation and enthusiasm to all coalition factions. Factions would be much more willing to compromise with ‘cash promises’ from trade unions because it is a chance for them to grow and expand in an attempt to exert it’s influence inside a coalition. With trade union money a left-of-Labour coalition can hire a communications and press team, a publications team and full-time organisers to get on with the busy task of professionalising and politicising a new electoral coalition and prepare it for an organised electoral challenge. Without trade union money any left-of-Labour electoral challenge is likely to be minimal and only concentrated to one or two constituencies where the likes of either Respect or the Greens have been slaving away for years and months. Elections really cannot be fought on shoe-string budgets. This is something most radical-left players who wish to consider any electoral attempt must realise. The power of a message is only as good as the price tag that funds it.

In my opinion a British ‘Die Linke’ would only ever be possible if the non-affiliated unions were committed to the project from the start. The RMT does not have a large enough political fund to be the foundation for a party that seeks to re-discover labourism. For any kind of coalition to have a serious chance of establishing itself like Die Linke has, under a first-past-the-post or even an Alternative Vote (AV) system, it will need big money so that it could fight in the constituencies. Regardless of what it decides it’s political programme or message to be, all players that desire some kind of permanent left electoral challenge have to realise that they need the unifying factor of trade union funding.

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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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