Monthly Archives: December 2015

Privatising by stealth – the local dimension

The various branches of the Honiton and Tiverton constituency party usually concentrate on national rather than local politics – probably because Labour has no representatives at District level.  However, the glinting  skull of Tory privatisation has been exposed beneath the skin of normal Council business – courtesy of a gang of active independent councillors and their terrier blog, East Devon Watch (see Links).

Various commentators have puzzled over the Chancellor’s pig-headed insistence on a catastrophic austerity programme in spite of wide-spread economist advice against it.  It has been suggested that he is doing this to strip away the state (NHS, BBC, etc) in favour of privatisation by his friends and contributors.  While this seems  entirely in character, there is not much we can do about it here in the blue wastes of the Tory South West; but we can do something about the local plot.

The story comes from East Devon Watch at Devolution.  Click on this link to see the text, but here is my summary:

(a) The government has offered to devolve power and budgets from central to local government, but the process must be “business-led” involving a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  In the SW, the LEP is called Heart of the South West (HoSW) and it is leading a devolution bid together with 17 local authorities. See link above for details.

(b) LEPs have no democratic structure or representation and do not publish minutes of meetings.  There is a discussion of objections to devolution on the LEP network, together with a defence of the government’s strategy.  It suggests the structure of the devolved organisations should be agreed locally, but only in secrecy because . . .”these are often difficult and uncertain conversations that benefit from a degree of privacy, to allow for more honest and frank conversations to take place. It would be much harder, if not impossible, to conduct these negotiations in public.”  So much for democracy and local representation.

This is a sinister development with major implications for society on a local level. We need to apply whatever pressure and influence we can to get as much public control and influence over the process and our CLP can be as active here as any.

I am writing to the Chairs of our branch and CLP to suggest this be debated at the next meetings.

 

Links to other sites

The new menu Links gives short-cuts to various sites connected with the Labour movement and it’s fringes.  They are usually updated frequently and provide alternative viewpoints, although I have excluded rabidly anti-Corbyn crazies.

Reply from SW Region

SW Region say that all emails from the Leader come direct from Central Office which has the same list of members’ emails as the region’s do.

A certain amount of confusion is only to be expected with the rapid growth in membership, but let’s hope it is soon sorted out.  The Leader’s great plan for continuous consultation depends on accurate and complete contact information.

An email from the Leader

I didn’t get this email, but a member in another CLP did. I have asked regional and central offices how such emails are handled.

The Leader speaks. . .

“Next week we will welcome our newest Labour MP to Westminster.

Jim McMahon has won a clear and overwhelming victory for Labour in Oldham West and Royton. Jim will be a worthy successor to Michael Meacher who served the people of Oldham with distinction.

Jim McMahon was right to say “I am sick to death of what the Tories are doing to towns like Oldham. The Northern Powerhouse rhetoric is nothing more than a write-off of the north.” The Conservatives have nothing to offer communities like Oldham.

We were told that Labour would struggle to hold this seat. Yet 62 per cent was the largest share of the vote Labour has ever held the seat with.
We campaigned hard on tax credit cuts and the other issues that matter to the public. We saw off UKIP because we, not they, are on people’s side.

I want to pay tribute to Andrew Gwynne MP, who led our campaign, his colleagues Angela Rayner MP and Debbie Abrahams MP, and the brilliant Labour Party staff and volunteers in the region and around the country who made this possible.

Labour has shown in the last few weeks that we are on the move: growing, campaigning, winning.

Help us build on Labour’s famous Oldham West and Royton victory – let’s grow our Party further. Invite your friends to join us, sharing why you’re part of our growing movement.

Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party

The debate and it’s lessons

I saw quite a lot of the Syria bombing debate on the Parliament channel and came to the following conclusions.

Reason or rhetoric  All the speeches I saw had either one or the other: dramatic nonsense (Yvette Cooper) or plain logic (Dr Julian  Lewis). Some had neither,  but none seemed to have both.  Conclusion: listen to what they say, not the way that they say it.

Corbynism really is a new kind of politics The old kind was well displayed in the debate – rowdy, childish, power-seeking hooliganism reminiscent of a reform-school playground (as I imagine it is).  The Corbyn way was quiet, serious, short on charisma but long on democracy and good sense.

However, good sense does not make good TV, and so the commentariat hate it and keep trying to goad Corbynist interviewees into entertaining controversy.  John McDonnell gave a good example of how to use patience and focus to resist this during Nic Robinson’s barbed interrogation on Radio 4 this morning.

Conclusion – change the motto.  See above.

Reaction to date

Thanks to those who have commented.

Mark suggests a new motto –  “a new kind of politics”.  What do people think? Is this better than the positive motto?

He also thinks party rules prescribe confidential minutes.  I have asked our BLP about this.  Myself,  I think a new kind of politics should be more open than that.