Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Shadow Cabinet Elections will make a bad situation much worse

Monday, September 5th, 2016

The Parliamentary Labour Party is about to vote on whether to reinstate elections to the shadow cabinet, reversing the only sensible thing Ed Miliband did as leader. It is a very bad idea in principle; in practice it will simply add to Labour’s catastrophe.

It’s bad in principle because leaders should be able to choose their own teams. No-one sensible would seriously expect a Labour cabinet to be elected, why a shadow cabinet? It was bad enough that after his 1997 landslide Tony Blair was required to keep the then elected team for a year as his incoming 1997-98 cabinet. Most of them were complete stars; I worked for one such. A few were not up to the job. A permanent such arrangement would be risible.

For moderate members who believe Corbyn is destroying the Labour Party, electing the shadow cabinet would be a self-defeating tactical blunder, playing into ultra-left hands. The current PLP would likely elect a sensible set of shadow Secretaries of State; they’d be spoilt for choice: Caroline Flint, Pay McFadden, Heidi Alexander, Rachel Reeves, John Healey, Chris Leslie, Peter Kyle, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, John Healey, Emma Reynolds, Lillian Greenwood, Julie Elliott, Ian Murray, Stephen Timms, Tom Blenkinsop, Bridget Phillipson, Lisa Nandy and scores of others would all be in contention. It’s a racing certainty that Corbyn’s current team would all find themselves out of a job. Richard Burgeon, for one, wouldn’t break double figures among his current colleagues. Diane Abbott? Pur-leaze.

But, I am told, shadow cabinet elections help PLP unity. Maybe in the 1980s they did. Now? Not so much.
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Corbyn needs to be crushed in the vote. If he’s not, Labour will be out of power for decades and deserve to be

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

This whole “should Corbyn be on the ballot paper or not” thing is now out of hand. It is really very simple. The left in the Labour Party has not been crushed since the mid 1980s around the end of the last era during which they were a malign influencing force. Unless the left are crushed Labour can’t win a general election. Unless Labour wins a general election the Tories will carry on running the country doing things the left and centre left don’t like.
Contrary to popular mythology (including my own at the time), Tony Bair didn’t vanquish the left. Sure, in 1984-5, there was the months-long Clause 4 national tour, I was at its last rally at Crofton Park’s famous Rivoli Ballroom, but the left knew the game was up and faded away. It was all a bit inevitable. What we really needed then, and desperately need now, was to be locked in a room until the fight was won. Blair’s true opposition inside the Labour Party wasn’t the left. It was Brown. And we all know how that turned out.
In about 21 days, about a quarter of a million members of the Labour Party will receive leadership election ballot papers. Sadly, membership numbers will be swelled by rather too many Trots and Tories to whom some idiot decided to give a vote for the sum of £3, but we will all have a vote.
I expect that Jeremy Corbyn will come last. A lot of people don’t agree. They include some pollsters who told us that a Tory majority was impossible in May 2015, and some bookies, including the one who had to pay me £450 because I thought a Tory majority wasn’t impossible but rather impossible to avoid.
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A good man put his words into action.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Councillor Paul Lakin, then Leader of Rotherham Council, addressed a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 10 September 2014. Given this week’s parliamentary statement by Pickles, it is worth setting out what Paul said in full. Some people say he was in denial. Nigel Farage alleges, libellously, that he and his cabinet were complicit in sexual abuse. Let’s have a look shall we? Interestingly, when he had finished his statement the entire room applauded including the full contingent of UKIP Councillors, 10 of them I believe, and the motion which formalised it was passed without opposition. I watched them all put their hands up. Paul said:

‘The people of Rotherham have been let down badly, and for too many years, by several agencies in this town, over the sexual abuse and exploitation of many of our children and young people.

‘Those children had the right to expect better of us, and we failed them. The Council accepts its responsibility and its full share of the blame for that failure, and I want to start by placing on the record, on behalf of the whole Council, our sincere and unreserved apology, to all the victims and their families, for the suffering they have endured over the years.

‘I am – we are – deeply, deeply sorry.

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Stephen Lawrence: in remembrance

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Three years ago someone commissioned the following from me. They didn’t publish it because they were worried it would upset Shami. Meh.

It’s 3 January so I thought I’d let it see the light while raising this year’s glass. Here y’go.

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Triple jeopardy

I’m no legal expert but 48 years in South East London has schooled me on where Stephen Lawrence died. My youthful drinking was done in pubs near where, a few years later, he was murdered by Gary Dobson, David Norris and others. Every journey on the 122 bus to visit my first girlfriend ended at the very stop where they stabbed him. I know they are guilty. Defendants and families aside, no one says otherwise. Dobson and Norris are not the Eltham Two, a modern day Birmingham Six. No MP will make a name fighting to clear theirs; no barrister will work for reduced fees to free them. Books may be written but they will only confirm the convictions. Dobson and Norris are where they belong and will, in time, be joined by the others. They weren’t fitted up by the system; they were protected by it: by its incompetence, corruption and institutional racism. For years. Their victims, Stephen Lawrence and friends and family, were stitched up. Until yesterday.

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