Build Momentum behind Corbyn

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Building Momentum is a vital step, to stabilise the support for the elected leader of the Labour Party. It is necessary to respect the degree to which Labour is a broad church, and that people are entitled to robustly debate and defend their views, but it is also necessary to ensure that any such debate is conducted in such as way as to keep the party and the movement united against our common enemy, the Conservative government.

118 comments on “Build Momentum behind Corbyn

  1. UncleAlbert on said:

    I’m wondering how the promised opening-up and democratisation of the Labour Party will affect your ambition to become an MP, Andy?

    My guess is, now that insider political horse-trading is set to become less crucial, you’re going to find yourself on an increasingly sticky wicket.

  2. #1 What a strange comment. Unless of course you have evidence that Andy’s selection as candidate was a result of insider horse trading, which I’m sure you will be more than happy to provide.

    I do remember that sections of the right wing press were keen to try and witch hunt him when he was selected.

  3. UncleAlbert on said:

    Vanya,

    Goodness me, no.

    I was just thinking, as a LP member, the immediate priority must be to have a PLP that broadly reflects a Labour voting electorate.

    We must therefore recruit a disproportionate number PPCs who, in their post-education lives, are often accorded less prestige and less financial reward.

    Particularly as there are now more privately educated Labour MPs (17%) than there are MPs from ‘unskilled’ backgrounds.

  4. Well done Tom Watson for refusing to apologise under Tory pressure over the Leon Brittan allegations. Quite rightly, today in Parliament, he returned the focus to the victims of child abuse, suggesting that they are the only ones who deserve an apology, having been denied justice for so long.

    This Tory campaign, whipped up by Cameron, was as cynical and it was transparent. It only succeeded in casting a shadow of doubt over the credibility of those victims who have had the courage to come forward.

    Shame on them.

  5. John Grimshaw on said:

    Yesterday’s decision to reverse the original weird decision to back the Tory/PLP balance the budget thing a la Thatcher is going to set the cat amongst the pigeons.

  6. John Grimshaw on said:

    UncleAlbert:
    Vanya,

    Goodness me, no.

    I was just thinking, as a LP member, the immediate priority must be to have a PLP that broadly reflects a Labour voting electorate.

    We must therefore recruit a disproportionate number PPCs who, in their post-education lives, are often accorded less prestige and less financial reward.

    Particularly as there are now more privately educated Labour MPs (17%) than there are MPs from ‘unskilled’ backgrounds.

    Most Labour MPs have never worked. They come out of university and then work for other MPs/institutions as interns before rising up the greasy pole. Don’t they?

  7. John Grimshaw,

    We’ve now reached a point where “work” is anything someone does for which they get paid.

    Being on telly in a reality show is now work.

    If someone wants a model to sleep in the corner of a room then sleep is now work and anyone can do that.

    Lo, in the new sharing economy the government loves, there’s work for all. Health is no barrier. It’s all about finding someone who wants to pay you for that thing you do.

    If work is just that thing you do, that someone pays for, then SPADs work.

  8. The problem is not that Labour MPs have ‘never worked’, but rather that they – and MPs of other parties – increasingly regard politics as a career. Losing an election is therefore a type of redundancy, which entitles them to special consideration for redeployment in some other area according to their specialism. Given that their specialism is exercising power over the rest of us, the implications for democracy are not good.

  9. #6 and #8 Agreed.

    Which is why I don’t get why Uncle Albert addressed his comments to Andy.

    As far as I know Andy’s some sort of IT teckie who does a “real” job and also represents a lot of quite badly exploited workers as a lay trade union officer.

    Of course Andy can speak for himself but I really wonder what Uncle Albert is trying to say.

    Come on UA, put up or shut up. Particularly as, like me but unlike Andy you don’t identify yourself on here with your real name.

  10. Vanya: As far as I know Andy’s some sort of IT teckie who does a “real” job and also represents a lot of quite badly exploited workers as a lay trade union officer.

    He’s also worked as a hospital porter on low wages, so has experience of the struggles of people forced to live on poverty pay.

    In terms of life experience, knowledge, and his work as a TU rep Andy Newman is eminently qualified to be a Labour candidate.

  11. Karl Stewart on said:

    I don’t get UA’s point either. Clearly some kind of ‘dig’ but so obscure as to be pretty pointless.

    Anyway, on the wider point about ‘professional’ politicians, I’m not sure I agree with the consensus here that this is necessarily a bad thing.

    One wouldn’t be critical of the notion that we should have professional engineers, builders, doctors, lawyers etc, who have made a career out of their profession.

    So why is it necessarily a bad thing to have professional politicians who have made this their career and who have put in years of experience into it?

    I’d rather be represented by an experienced MP who knows what they’re doing, just as I’d rather live in a house built by an professional builder and be treated by a skilled doctor.

  12. John: In terms of life experience, knowledge, and his work as a TU rep Andy Newman is eminently qualified to be a Labour candidate.

    The key thing here is ‘productive work’. As I understand it Andy is a perfect example of a highly skilled worker, which in today’s advanced economies means a more or less direct application of advanced technical and intellectual skills in the production of values or services..
    These jobs are somewhat analogous to the ‘typical’ Bolshevik in the Russian revolution who would, by the standards of that day, be a skilled worker. Much like the bulk of the Communist Party’s membership in the post war era which in my experience tended to be either engineers, electricians, construction workers, metal workers (or teachers.)
    Professional politicians, like philosophers, economists, lawyers and creative intellectuals should be valued when they bring a distinctive intellectual or theoretical contribution to the mix in a party.
    The higher the proportion of actual workers in leading or representative positions – and the more responsive they are to the working class as a whole – the better.
    Which is why Momentum and the change in the Labour Party is so ennervating.
    My hitherto sleepy Labour Party has just booked Richard Murphy to speak at a meeting.
    Up until now the biggest political event has been the annual Morning Star Readers Group theatre shows by Townsend Productions. A new era of socialist emulation dawns. 🙂

  13. John: Guardian reporting that Corbyn has agreed to support British military action in Syria without a UN mandate

    No evidence for that in the text of the article. More likely a fudge position which keeps Hilary Benn on board while trying to fend off Cameron’s attempt to poach Labour MPs to support an immediate go ahead for UK planes to start bombing Syria.

    But indeed there are severe dangers in this approach. It would be distressing and demobilising if Labour’s position on bombing Syria became worse under Corbyn than it was under Miliband!

  14. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    I agree that would be immensely damaging, but reading beyond the headline, what’s been set out is the position Labour arrived at at party conference, namely to seek a UN resolution before any intervention.

    No-one is directly quoted suggesting action without UN approval and in the event of a veto, Hilary Benn limits himself to saying that, in that event, “we will have to look at the position again.”

    That’s a pretty open-ended statement, which of itself doesn’t suggest anything.

    However, you’re quite right to express concern. There should be no question of even the consideration of UK military action without the express request of the legitimate and internationally recognised Syrian government.

  15. Stop the War are encouraging people to lobby their MPs over the issue.

    Get lobbying everyone!

  16. UncleAlbert on said:

    John: eminently qualified

    The point is that the entitlement brigade have already bagged enough key positions.

    Better that they, along with the fair-minded, graciously step aside and allow the under-represented to occupy positions from which they may prominently contribute.

    One problem is that the politically ambitious, some of whom have gratefully emerged from the gulag of politically dubious organisations, may become over-fond of the sunny uplands of meaningful public life and will seek, by fair means and foul, to slam the door shut behind them.

    Our hope must be that the promised democratisation of policy making and extension of accountability within the LP will diminish MP influence and pull the rug from beneath those with careerist intent. Perhaps, as Momentum builds, the focus of political life will shift away from the Westminster elite. We may then be able to look forward to fixed five year terms for all MPs.

  17. #17 Very interesting general points, some of which I sympathise with strongly, but your initial comment on the subject was far from general.

    It was directed at Andy Newman. So why not justify your quite unpleasant personal dig or retract it?

    Nobody of course has the power to make you do either. But if you don’t it simply makes you look like a complete tosser. This blog has had its fair share, but I didn’t think you were one of them.

    Let’s face it, the JC factor has wrong footed quite a few of us (in a good way).

    You probably didn’t think you’d be in the Labour Party ever again, Andy I’m sure certainly didn’t think he’d be in the position of praising John McDonnell.

    Let’s try and be a bit nicer to each other.

  18. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya:
    Let’s try and be a bit nicer to each other.

    Bollocks to that, let’s get back to the good old SU days when we used to have some decent scraps!

  19. Noah: No evidence for that in the text of the article. More likely a fudge position which keeps Hilary Benn on board while trying to fend off Cameron’s attempt to poach Labour MPs to support an immediate go ahead for UK planes to start bombing Syria.

    If Corbyn agrees to Benn’s proposal of Britain seizing the sovereign territory of another country to establish ‘safe havens’, with no UN resolution and no permission from the Syrian government, he at once places himself in the imperialist camp.

    I really hope you’re right on this, but I suspect that you’re not. The EU, Trident, and now Syria. This is not going well.

  20. John Grimshaw on said:

    UncleAlbert:
    I’m wondering how the promised opening-up and democratisation of the Labour Party will affect your ambition to become an MP, Andy?

    My guess is, now that insider political horse-trading is set to become less crucial, you’re going to find yourself on an increasingly sticky wicket.

    Well I’ll have a go at this. I’m guessing that if we do get some kind of democratisation and opening up in the LP, which we want I presume, then some MPs who have been shoe-ins, will have to start taking their jobs seriously and will face the prospect of not being MPs. Andy doesn’t come across to me like one of those sycophants wanting a sinecure and presumably were he to be elected would take the job seriously. I’m therefore guessing that this will make it more likely that people like Andy will get selected rather than less likely. So why would Andy be on a sticky wicket?

  21. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    It’s being ‘spun’ by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian…
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/13/corbyn-signals-labour-could-support-military-action-in-syria-without-un-support

    …by Laura Hughes in the Telegraph…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11930418/Labour-could-support-military-action-in-Syria-without-UN-authorisation.html

    …and also in this unnamed Sky News report…
    http://news.sky.com/story/1569237/corbyn-signals-labour-support-for-syria-action

    …that Labour is suggesting that it may support UK military action even without UN approval.

    But Hilary Benn’s ‘Comment is Free’ piece, from which Hughes, Wintour and the Sky News report take their material, doesn’t explicitly make this suggestion. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/13/syria-intervene-humanitarian-crisis-un-resolution

    What Benn actually says is that there should be a UN resolution and then adds: “Of course, we know that any resolution may be vetoed, and in those circumstances we would need to look at the position again.”

    So Benn does not state that Labour will support UK military intervention without a UN resolution, although admittedly he doesn’t say that the lack of a UN resolution will rule it out either.

    There’s clearly an ambiguity here and what’s needed is a firm statement from the party leader. The Labour Party unanimously passed a conference resolution just a couple of weeks ago stating that the party would only back UK military action under specific conditions, one of which was an authorising UN resolution.

    A principled position would be to rule out any consideration of intervention without the express request of the Syrian government. But the position of ruling out action without UN approval is at least better than the pathetic ‘we’ll do whatever the Tories and their USA puppet masters tell us to” line currently being advocated by some.

  22. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    I have a suspicion that you may be right John, but the article I think is very badly worded. As Noah says it may very well be some sort of holding position. It’s hard to tell. Given Corbyn’s previous positions, i.e. good from our point of view, he doesn’t have much wiggle room. Given that the French, the US and now the Russians are already bombing assorted targets in Syria I suppose the Brits are thinking well we might as well get in on the act, in some kind of childish macho desire to blow something up. But if they’re serious about “safe havens” whatever that means, (I assume they’re panicking because they don’t want refugees) I don’t see how they’re going to make it work without ground troops. Is that what Benn wants? Or is there some plan to let the Turks and the Jordanians in? That would constitute a serious escalation I would have thought.

  23. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I see your point. However as a socialist I don’t support the UN and would not be in favour of military intervention whether there’s a resolution or not. Also see my above point. I’m still unclear about what this “military intervention” is above and beyond the extremely confusing mish mash that’s already going on.

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw: However as a socialist I don’t support the UN and would not be in favour of military intervention whether there’s a resolution or not.

    I’m also opposed to military action by my country in Syria regardless of whether there is a UN resolution or not. It should only be even considered if the Syrian government request it – and even in that event, it should only be for consideration.

    However, insisting on a UN resolution before committing to action is preferable to going ahead without a UN resolution.

  25. John Grimshaw on said:

    None of the below has the remotest chance of happening without a negotiated agreement with the Russians and the Assad regime and an agreement that he would stand down after some kind of electoral process.

    effective action to end the threat from Isis

    • the creation of safe zones in Syria to shelter those who have had to flee their homes

    • the referral of suspected war crimes to the international criminal court

    • increased humanitarian aid to those who have fled to neighbouring states

    • an agreement for countries to welcome their share of Syrian refugees

    • and a major international effort bringing together Russia, Iran, the neighbouring countries, the Gulf states, the US and Europe to agree a post-civil war plan for Syria.

  26. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’m also opposed to military action by my country in Syria regardless of whether there is a UN resolution or not. It should only be even considered if the Syrian government request it – and even in that event, it should only be for consideration.

    However, insisting on a UN resolution before committing to action is preferable to going ahead without a UN resolution.

    Good. Although under the circumstances I don’t see who can call for intervention, and in any case the US, French and Russians are already intervevening.

  27. John – you are being too harsh on the leadership. At the moment, socialists have a somewhat precarious grip on power within the Labour Party. Several initiatives are ongoing to stabilise and consolidate the recent – spectacular – gains. Momentum, for example, falls into this category.

    During this period, we must disrupt any attempt to unite the soft left with the hard right in the Party. That requires discipline and a willingness to compromise. If Jeremy and John tried to force the full Corbyn agenda down the throats of Shadow Cabinet members, that would precipitate a meltdown, with mass resignations and rebellions.

    Trident, Syria and other issues of principle do not readily lend themselves to compromise but if that is what is required to achieve the greater prize, so be it. I, for one, am prepared to trust leaders who have a very solid track record as principled socialists. Don’t let ultra-leftism derail the British left’s best opportunity for many decades.

  28. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,
    Russia is acting legally, at the express request of the internationally recognised legitimate Syrian government, in accordance with longstanding international treaty obligations.

    The US and France are acting illegally.

    As to who can “call for intervention” in Syria, the only legitimate body who can legally do so under international law is the Syrian government.

  29. Karl Stewart on said:

    Nick Wright,
    With respect Nick, that was JohnG’s comment not mine. And you’re absolutely right to point out that Russia is acting absolutely in accordance with international law.

  30. Obviously the stance taken and Parliamentary vote the of the Labour Party vis Syria is important. More important in respect to the kind of political opposition it is going to provide to the Tories is the ‘fiscal charter’.

    I’m sure most here are glad that the official Labour position is now to oppose this cynical piece of politicking – I hear Osborne is urging undecided Labour MPs to vote with the government today. And you can put this down to Corbyn and McDonnell finding their leadership way. But it has been a bit of a mess. First there was an acceptance of this economically illiterate con trick by McDonnell that seemed as much a knee jerk and craven reaction as what we could have expected from his predecessor, Ed Ball. Then there was the ‘I’ve changed my mind, I’m going to vote against now’ u turn. I can only hope he clarifies the position in the debate this afternoon, he admits to leaving Labour MPs confused. Honest new politics perhaps, but it has allowed backbenchers who are to say the least sceptical about Corbyn and co to claim that the leadership is incompetent and lacks credibility. I suspect this is the line amongst many Labour MPs, mine included, who aren’t out and out Blairites but are definitely towards the right of the Party: yes Corbyn clearly won the leadership election, but Labour must be a ‘credible’ opposition. After this poorly handled issue, I’m sure that they are going around this morning saying that this isn’t the case. Certainly that was the gist of a depressing piece on C4 news last night.

    Anyway, I clicked on the join link for Momentum, haven’t heard anything yet.

  31. Sam64:
    Anyway, I clicked on the join link for Momentum, haven’t heard anything yet.

    Perhaps the vetting committee is looking at your comment above and thinking about your application… 🙂

  32. Noah,

    Noah, a welcome joke – I think, maybe you’re scrutinising applicants! Anyway, made a few days before comment.

  33. Sam64,

    Doubtless the actual reason for delays in ‘Momentum’ getting back to people is a positive one – that there is a very high volume of applications to deal with.

    On the issue of the Fiscal Charter, I don’t think that what has taken place is a ‘U turn’ as such but rather a welcome firming up of Labour’s policy- given that the previous Labour Leadership had accepted the government’s previous Fiscal Charter.

    It was misguided for McDonnell to attempt to continue that policy, and it is very good that the Fiscal Charter is now being opposed.

    This is of course a political matter.

    The right wing wreckers in the PLP did nothing to challenge the previous, incorrect policy. And if a good policy had been replaced by a bad policy they would welcome it rather than be making a fuss. They are going on about ‘incompetence’, because a bad policy has been replaced with a good policy.

  34. Vanya: Andy I’m sure certainly didn’t think he’d be in the position of praising John McDonnell.

    I think that John has been a revelation in his new role. It just shows that the effect of his marginalisation within the Party had led to his talents being wasted,and I am deeply impressed with him

  35. Marxist Lennonist on said:

    Re the position on Syria, I’m not convinced that Corbyn has “joined the imperialist camp”, but the defence of some on here that its not too bad a position really is one I can’t endorse. Could there be a third explanation – that Hillary Benn has a different position from Corbyn? And is being a disloyal Blairite wrecker with it…

  36. Karl Stewart on said:

    Marxist Lennonist:
    Re the position on Syria, I’m not convinced that Corbyn has “joined the imperialist camp”, but the defence of some on here that its not too bad a position really is one I can’t endorse. Could there be a third explanation – that Hillary Benn has a different position from Corbyn? And is being a disloyal Blairite wrecker with it…

    Personally, I don’t think the UK should even consider a military intervention unless requested to do so by the Syrian government.

    So I don’t think the position of only backing UK military action in Syria if there is a UN resolution is the right position to take.

    But it has to be said that that is a far better position to take than the unprincipled and irresponsible warmongering of the MP Jo Cox and her fellow neo-liberal loons, whose posturing risks war with Russia.

  37. Andy Newman,

    Second that. Got in and I’ve been watching the parliamentary debate on the fiscal charter. Not just in terms of substance but as a speaker, debater McDonnell is much better than any New Labour MP that I can think of.

  38. John Grimshaw on said:

    Those of you who are in the LP and in the right area have got some targets now. I will write to Ms Ali but she doesn’t always respond.

    Rushanara Ali
    Ian Austin
    Adrian Bailey
    Ben Bradshaw
    Ann Coffey
    Simon Danczuk
    Chris Evans
    Frank Field
    Mike Gapes
    Margaret Hodge
    Tristram Hunt
    Graham Jones
    Helen Jones
    Liz Kendall
    Chris Leslie
    Fiona MacTaggart
    Shaman Mahmood
    Jamie Reed
    Andrew Smith
    Graham Stringer
    Gisela Stuart

  39. George Hallam on said:

    sam64: Not just in terms of substance but as a speaker, debater McDonnell is much better than any New Labour MP that I can think of.

    Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
    And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;

  40. I’m surprised at Graham Stringer- he rebelled to vote against the Work and Welfare Bill.

    Why rebel to the left and then to the right on such a relatively similar issue? Strange.

  41. George Hallam,

    Are you familiar with the acronym WTF George? Hardly biblical or Shakespearian I know.

    Anyway, in so far as I understand your comment, despite the sneering of the media, certainly in the case of BBC news last night who’s only coverage of the fiscal charter debate was McDonnell’s ’embarrassing, embarrassing…’ and subsequent apology to a Tory MP, my praise wasn’t meant to be either faint or sneering.

    Here’s a quote for you George, I’ll admire you all the more if you can identify it without Googling: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken’.

  42. I see Frank Field is on the list. I only glanced at it, Frank’s featured in NSS this week. Seems he’s relishing the prospect (I was going to use another phrase, but being a member of the Labour Party and that..) for a deselection attempt in Birkenhead. He urges all others who might be kicked out by their CLP to immediately resign and fight their seat in a bi-election. Sounds like he can’t wait to get back to the infighting of the 1980s when he was repeatedly de-selected in favour of left candidates by a clear majority of his constituency party, and repeatedly survived by the seat of his pants.

  43. #48 … and as I’ve pointed out previously, called on voters in one of his neighbouring constituencies to vote for the SDP as the Labour candidate was too left for his liking.

  44. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64: Here’s a quote for you George, … ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken’.

    Oliver Cromwell, possibly his best know quote.

    I thought it probable that you didn’t intend to criticise McDonnell, which made your comparison with New Labour politicians rather droll.

    I’ve long thought that McDonnell was a lightweight. As far as economics is concerned, I think it’s clear that he is out of his depth.

    Jeremiah 23:16
    Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain

  45. George Hallam,

    Correct. Was old OC also a bit of a light weight btw in your esteemed view? Is there anybody who isn’t a bit of a light weight when it comes to economics? Yes I know Olie wasn’t first and foremost a 17th century economist.

  46. George Hallam on said:

    sam64: Is there anybody who isn’t a bit of a light weight when it comes to economics?

    Yes, of course.

    Here are a few (in no particular order).

    Ian Harwood (of Redburn Partners not Dr Harwood)
    Ha-Joon Chang
    Paul Ormerod
    Photis Lysandrou
    Fred Lee
    Michael Roberts
    Steve Keen

    This doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with them, but they are all serious thinkers who are worth listening to.

  47. Marxist Lennonist on said:

    Vanya,

    To make Jeremy look less rebellious by comparison perhaps 😉 As he was consistent and always had a cause…

  48. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Haylett: Yes, a typical Guardian balls-up.

    Well maybe be, but my list was from the Mirror, so maybe a list was given to both papers by someone in Parliament?

  49. John Grimshaw on said:

    sam64: Is there anybody who isn’t a bit of a light weight when it comes to economics?

    There is a view that all economists are basically flying by the seat of their pants.

  50. jock mctrousers on said:

    Sam64: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken’.

    Does it strike anyone else that that is a VERY strange thing to say? ” in the bowels of Christ”? wtf? Like ” I’m asking you from up Jesus’s a-hole” ? No, that doesn’t work…

  51. jock mctrousers,

    Yes, well Jock, context is key. I’d imagine it had more, let us say, rhetorical purchase when used in the synod of the Church of Scotland in 1650 than it might on SU in 2015. But I think it’s a cracker and actually highly relevant to dogmatists of the political left in as much as it means think long, think deep, own up to yourself, you may be wrong. Although you sort of have to wonder if Cromwell ever much considered if he was wrong.

  52. john Grimshaw on said:

    Sam64,
    Yes well OC obviously didn’t consider whether he was wrong when he and Ireton disarmed the Levellers both in the debate at Putney and then later in Burford before marching the army off to Ireland.

  53. UncleAlbert on said:

    Vanya:

    Come on UA, put up or shut up.

    By Jove, you’ve certainly got your knickers in a knot over this.

    Anyone with even minimal experience of LP processes will know that becoming a PPC requires a degree of horse-trading (i.e. hard and shrewd bargaining).

    If the priority is as it should be, and as Corbyn has suggested it ought to be, all fair-minded people will accept that those from an institutionally advantaged background are already over-represented on the Green Benches. Therefore, the privileged should decline the advantages thrust upon them, at least until the rest of us catch up, and step aside.

    And, hopefully, the institutionally over-indulged who persist with their ambitions will find themselves on a sticky-wicket.

  54. Karl Stewart on said:

    Regarding the newly-launched ‘Momentum’ movement, would it not be a better use of our effort and time to concentrate on encouraging this new, energetic and lively wave of newly-politicised young people to join trade unions and become active members rather than urging them to attend local Labour Party committee meetings?

    Our unions need new members and young workers need union organisation.

    Which sectors are most young workers employed in? Largely retail, call centres and mostly in non-unionised, insecure jobs on low pay and with few rights.

    This is where a real difference can be made. Fighting for better pay, for job security, for proper contracts of employment.

    And let’s stop, once and for all, this nonsense of regarding the NUS as any kind of trade union. It isn’t a union it’s a club. Nothing wrong with students joining it, nothing wrong with being in a club – but it isn’t a union.

    Young workers, whether working full-time or working part-time while also being students – these are all workers and should all be urged to join unions.

  55. John Grimshaw on said:

    Of course we should encourage these new members/supporters to join TUs. I suppose it depends on whether they are returning members (I assume these would have a higher union density) or new members. We should also encourage them to demonstrate and protest. I suppose however the value of Momentum is in trying to get people to get to CLPs so that ultimately certain MPs can be deselected in favour of other ones. My concern is that trying to get people to do all these things is a big ask.

  56. #67 I agree with you that this is vital, a point that came out during a discussion during a public meeting I went to on Saturday about the anti-union bill.

    The problem is that the unions don’t have the same institutional/ organisational strength to determine what happens in the Labour Party nationally or at constituency level that they used to.

    By the way, students can take up Unite Community membership unless they in regular more or less full time employment, although I dispute that NUS is merely a club- it has a role of fighting for students’ rights in terms of grants, living conditions etc. It may not always be very effective but that’s its role nevertheless. I don’t know of any mere club that does that.

  57. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya,
    My point is not to recruit young workers into unions for LP purposes, but as a means of self-organisation at the workplace, collectively fighting to improve pay, T&Cs etc and also giving the TU movement an injection of energy and vitality that it needs.

    Yes of course the NUS does a lot of other stuff as well as running cheap bars and various fun events for students, but the left needs to get away from this notion that it’s any kind of trade union, or that it is in any way representative of young people as a whole.

    Most importantly, issues such as low pay, zero-hour contracts, zero employment rights etc are issues disproportionately affecting young workers – and the solution lies with those workers, by getting organised into proper unions.

    A strong, young, energetic and militant union movement also provides a material base for a substantive shift to the left politically.

  58. Karl Stewart: the left needs to get away from this notion that it’s any kind of trade union, or that it is in any way representative of young people as a whole.

    Not sure which bit of the left had either idea to be honest Karl.

    I think most people recognise what its role is. Anyway, the point is that most students are also workers now, and should be in an appropriate trade union in addition to the NUS.

    And yes, the primary reason to recruit to the unions is not to build the Labour Party, but clearly there’s a potentially symbiotic relationship between the growth of the latter in particular in terms of young people, as a result of the Corbyn victory and the increased audience that gives for the idea that being in a union is a good thing.

  59. I hate to say it, but my support for Jeremy Corbyn is starting to wear thin. His latest wheeze is securing a private meeting with China’s President during his state visit to lecture him on human rights.

    This is Western liberal arrogance. There is plenty to be going on with holding our own govt’s human rights record to account. How many countries has China destroyed or destabilised in the past 16 years? How many people has China lifted out of poverty, and how many has our govt forced into poverty?

    If reports are accurate, Corbyn has succumbed to Benn over Labour’s policy on Syria, and he considers Putin as much of a threat to peace as the West.

    I’m disappointed.

  60. I have been following this interesting debate on the “Left Futures” website about Momentum and who will actually be allowed to join it.

    http://www.leftfutures.org/2015/10/momentum-must-guard-itself-against-the-swp/

    It seems that some comrades want it to be restricted to just Labour Party members while others are more comfortable with it being open to all socialists whichever organisation they belong to. I think the poster “Rod” has got the right idea really.

    He writes “There are thousands of people who are interested in politics but are disinclined to join Labour because of the disastrous aspects of New Labour’s legacy. Momentum provides an opportunity for such people to contribute to the development of an alternative to the Tories while avoiding the stone-walling of the still powerful Blair-ite elite. Momentum should continue to be open to all.”

    I think it preferable to defeat the SWP politically rather than using bureaucratic means which run the risk of shutting out other comrades who might wish to get involved around specific issues but who are not yet prepared to join the Labour Party as full members.

    I also see on the Left Unity website that a range of proposals are being presented in motions to their conference that seek to re-position that organisation in the light of Corbyn’s victory. For example, a motion from Lambeth suggests that LU should now suspend its own electoral campaigning in order to support Corbynite candidates. Another motion suggests that LU should seek affiliation to the Labour Party. And there are various other interesting ideas concerning LU’s future too.

    Any thoughts about these two issues?

  61. stockwellpete,

    Yes, I saw the posts as LU as well.

    I have to say that I wouldn’t want to be involved in an organisation that takes in the Trotskyite fringe and that I didn’t envisage Momentum to be a sort of rag bag of the far left – pejorative terminology I know but you take the point. You can predict what the meetings etc would be like: after an initial energetic flurry, increasingly internecine as the SWP attempt to grandstand by outflanking Labour members on every available policy/issue opportunity by appearing to be further to the left – and some even smaller Trot sects then siding with Labour members just to be against the SWP. I don’t think the energy and optimism around Jeremy Corbyn would be furthered by allowing in people outside the Labour Party and it would probably quickly piss off some people who joined over the summer.

    So, no to SWP members participating in Momentum, Labour members only in my view.

  62. John,

    Re Corbyn ‘This is Western liberal arrogance. There is plenty to be going on with holding our own govt’s human rights record to account’.

    Well, absolutely John. Heaven forbid that he should have the temerity to raise anything like trade union rights, amongst other human rights, in China. After all, Jeremy Corbyn is an Englishman and the English authorities deported the Tolpuddle Martyrs. He ought to be apologising! And while we’re at it, whateraboutery all this stuff that the Chinese are putting at risk half the jobs of British workers in what’s left of the steel industry (c.15,000) at risk through dumping heavily subsidised, cheap exports. Remember the opium wars in the 19th century when British imperialists dumped all of that cheap smack on the Chinese!

  63. Sam64: Heaven forbid that he should have the temerity to raise anything like trade union rights, amongst other human rights, in China

    Okay, well let’s then be consistent. The next time Obama arrives in the UK hopefully Jeremy will take the President into a quiet side room and lecture him on the current levels of incarceration in the US, which eclipses that of China, the execution of inmates by lethal injection, including the mentally ill, the treatment of Native Americans, immigrants, the shooting of unarmed black men by racist cops, and so on.

    Interesting how your, and Jeremy’s, concern for human rights is restricted to China of all the major economies.

    As I said, ‘Western liberal arrogance’.

  64. #76 In fairness, we don’t know whether Jeremy would do that or not.

    Bear in mind that his leadership campaign was faced with a huge campaign to depict him as a terrorist sympathiser and anti-semite because of his support for the Palestinians.

    I don’t expect social democrats, however left wing they are, to be consistently good on all issues involving imperialism. The Chinese issue confuses a lot of people on the left, and not just in this country.

    Flowing from that Sam’s analogy with British imperialism and the Opium War is simply utter nonesense.

  65. Vanya: I don’t expect social democrats, however left wing they are, to be consistently good on all issues involving imperialism.

    Which is why people of unsurpassed wisdom, awareness, knowledge, and principles – like you and me – are needed to keep him straight whenever he veers off course. 🙂

  66. #78 I don’t know about that but it’s certainly one of the reasons that there continues to be a need for a Communist Party in this country.

  67. Vanya, John

    Er, sorry to disturb the habitual and cosy little love in you boys have on SU, but I wasn’t making an analogy between British imperialism at its most heinous, the opium wars, and contemporary Chinese state subsidies to domestic steel manufacture (which is, like or not, the cause of the impending devastation to remaining industrial communities in Britain). It was parody.

  68. Disappointment with Jeremy Corbyn is inevitable – not because of any particular personal flaws he has, but because he cannot possibly satisfy all the exaggerated hopes placed in him by diverse leftists over the summer. If he raises the question of repression in China, then one part of his political constituency – those who think that it is somehow imperialist for anyone in Britain ever to criticise the Chinese government – is going to be disappointed. If he does not, then another part of his political constituency – the human rights activists – is going to be disappointed. Either way, he can’t possibly please everyone.

    Personally, I’ll only be disappointed if he turns out to be worse than what went before. And he’s got a long way to go before that happens.

  69. Sam64:
    Vanya,John

    Er, sorry to disturb the habitual and cosy little love in you boys have on SU, but I wasn’t making an analogy between British imperialism at its most heinous, the opium wars, and contemporary Chinese state subsidies to domestic steel manufacture (which is, like or not, the cause of the impending devastation to remaining industrial communities in Britain).It was parody.

    British steel is in crisis because it is under invested and owned by people who are interested only in making a profit.
    When the Tories nationalised steel in the post war period it was to provide steel for British manufacturing at costs subsidised by tax payers with the profit realised further down the production process.
    Membership of the EU and global trade agreements means open borders for capital export and effective barriers against domestic market protection.
    Those sections of the British bourgeoisie who realise their profits by the sale of Chinese goods manufactured under this regime have no objection to cheap Chinese steel embodied in these production processes but they will object when Chinese wages rise (as the Chinese party, government and trade unions jointly plan) thus making Chinese steel more expensive.
    By the same token British employers will insist on British wages remaining ‘competitive’ ie low enough to make British exports competitive.
    The problem for British steel is private ownership. And the capitalist state embedded in the system of global capitalism. Not Chinese imports.

  70. Vanya:
    #78 I don’t know about that but it’s certainly one of the reasons that there continues to be a need for a Communist Party in this country.

    and this is the party line as spelled out by Rob Griffiths
    “The new political situation opened up by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour Party leadership contest now presents the Communist Party with specific responsibilities and tasks. The most urgent is to win greater political clarity in the labour and progressive movements in favour of the following propositions:
    Corbyn’s victory is of historic significance and has the potential to point Britain towards the road to socialism. Why? Because it represents a left turn in the labour movement and its electoral mass party, which is an essential precondition for winning a left government backed by a militant, popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance.
    Given the balance of forces in the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the requirements of Labour’s cumbersome policy-making procedures, Corbyn is now constrained in terms of the political positions he can adopt publicly. The need to compromise forced upon him and his supporters should not be used to spread cynicism, pessimism and defeatism or to call into question the significance of his victory. That can be left to the ultra-leftists, sectarians and anarchists. Criticism of the compromises in question should be firm, but temperate and mindful of realities. As for the worst of the New Labourite saboteurs in the PLP, they will have to be squeezed out by political argument and popular pressure.
    The battle of ideas within and beyond the labour movement is intensifying, with a crescendo culminating at the 2016 Labour Party conference. Communists and socialists must be fully engaged in it in their political and trade union organisations, assisting Corbyn and John McDonnell in the fight for left and anti-imperialist policies.
    We know as Communists that the most favourable conditions for ideological struggle are those of mass activity and action, central to which will be campaigning by the anti-austerity, trade union and peace movements.

  71. Nick Wright,

    An odd combination of ‘capitalist’ and ‘socialist’ realism. Parts of this could have come from the FT. Actually the tone is too strident for the FT. Maybe the Wall Street Journal.

    The fact remains that, at least according to Labour’s new business sec, speaking in the Commons this afternoon, British workers could work for nothing and British steel production would still be uncompetitive given the scale of Chinese state subsidies.

  72. Nick Wright,

    And come to think of it, the FT wouldn’t get basic facts wrong – although anybody who has been following this story will know that what there is of a British steel industry (it’s shrinking as I type) is globally owned.

  73. Karl Stewart on said:

    Sam64: contemporary Chinese state subsidies to domestic steel manufacture (which is, like or not, the cause of the impending devastation to remaining industrial communities in Britain).

    The cause of the devastation to British Steel is the policy of successive UK governments in continuing to import steel from abroad.

    You can’t blame the Chinese (“a great bunch o’ lads”) for selling their products to whoever will buy them. It’s 100 per cent the fault of UK government.

    Surely the obvious policy is to ban all steel imports immediately.

  74. Sam64: The fact remains that, at least according to Labour’s new business sec, speaking in the Commons this afternoon, British workers could work for nothing and British steel production would still be uncompetitive given the scale of Chinese state subsidies.

    Another compelling argument for Britain to leave the EU, repudiate the current global trade arrangements, control the export of capital and invest in modernising British manufacturing, protect domestic industry and reskill the working class.

  75. Nick Wright: Another compelling argument for Britain to leave the EU,

    I fear that a section of the left has reached the point where it views exit from the EU as a panacea for all of the contradictions of neoliberalism. I would caution against such hopes. That light you see at the end of the tunnel may well be an oncoming train.

  76. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,

    No-one sees leaving the EU as a solution to everything in and of itself, but it’s an absolutely necessary step in the right direction.

  77. John: I fear that a section of the left has reached the point where it views exit from the EU as a panacea for all of the contradictions of neoliberalism. I would caution against such hopes. That light you see at the end of the tunnel may well be an oncoming train.

    Wise words. Whatever way Britain exits from the EU it will be a big setback for big business, the banks and transnational corporations, for Cameron especially.
    But there are some dangers if the campaign to leave is conducted exclusively around the issues that the subordinate sections of British capital think important.
    This is why it is so important for the labour movement to fight for its own interests and those of the working class as a whole rather than subordinate itself to one or other of the Brexit campaigns.
    This requires a substantial measure of tactical flexibility, great care about language, prudence about which platforms people appear on and a sharp nose for where money is originating.
    There are some unsavoury elements among hedge funds especially who see sectional advantage in Britain leaving the EU.
    The ‘internationalist’ argument put forward by the EU lobby has lost any credibility with the treatment meted out to Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Spain and the concept of a ‘social Europe’ has been stripped bare by the various legal judgements which have weakened trade union rights, deregulated the labour market and driven down wages everywhere (including Germany and the Nordic countries). Nevertheless sections of the labour movement, most especially those most connected to the most profitable bits of industry, the military industrial complex and banks, on this issue, remain tied to the bosses’ interests.
    Among Labour MPs those who most value the connection with US capital are the most enthusiastic about the EU because Britain is an extension of US interest in the EU, an anchor for the NATO strategy. These are also the people most tied to the New Labour neoliberal economic strategy.
    The British people will judge membership of the EU principally with an eye to their economic security and prospects.
    Our ruling class, especially the most powerful section s of capital have an eye to strategic considerations about the ways in which power is exercised. These should be in the mind of the labour movement as well.
    Already the more far sighted among the bourgeoisie worry that a Corbyn-led Labour party is shifting the focus of British politics. See Andrew Murray on Corbyn’s labour
    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/andrew-murray-on-corbyns-labour/
    For the working class movement to be, once again, at the centre of politics raises the question of power, who rules and in whose interests.

  78. Nick Wright: This is why it is so important for the labour movement to fight for its own interests and those of the working class as a whole rather than subordinate itself to one or other of the Brexit campaigns.

    I generally disagree with NIck, and the CP, over the issue of the EU.

    My overall view is that – on balance – EU membership is in the interests of the British labour movement.

    However, I also believe that as Cameron seeks concessions over employment rights that there is a greater chance of me campaigning to leave than to stay. I will write an article about this shortly.

  79. jock mctrousers on said:

    UncleAlbert,

    Nick Wright,

    I looked over here specifically to see if there was any reaction to this news yet. We’ve come to a pretty pass when even the Telegraph’s economist is smelling fascism. From the article linked to above:

    ” Silva is effectively using his office to impose a reactionary ideological agenda, in the interests of creditors and the EMU establishment, and dressing it up with remarkable Chutzpah as a defence of democracy. The Portuguese Socialists and Communists have buried the hatchet on their bitter divisions for the first time since the Carnation Revolution and the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship in the 1970s, yet they are being denied their parliamentary prerogative to form a majority government. This is a dangerous demarche. The Portuguese conservatives and their media allies behave as if the Left has no legitimate right to take power, and must be held in check by any means. These reflexes are familiar and chilling to anybody familiar with 20th century Iberian history, or indeed Latin America. That it is being done in the name of the euro is entirely to be expected. Greece’s Syriza movement, Europe’s first radical-Left government in Europe since WW2, was crushed into submission for daring to confront eurozone ideology. Now the Portuguese Left is running into a variant of the same meat-grinder. Europe’s socialists face a dilemma. They are at last waking up to the unpleasant truth that monetary union is an authoritarian Right-wing enterprise that has slipped its democratic leash, yet if they act on this insight in any way they risk being prevented from taking power. Brussels really has created a monster.”

  80. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright,

    It is certainly shocking. The surrender of national sovereignty involved in the Euro currency is I think indefensible.

    Correct me if I am wrong though, this is still a Portugese constitutional crisis, as the President is acting outside his powers.

    The difficulty will be, I suspect, that in light of the thin left majority, it will be hard to hold the anti-austerity coalition together when a serious fight is required.

  81. Andy Newman,

    It not just membership of the Eurozone. Membership of the EU is a surrender of national sovereignty.
    This is not just a Portuguese crisis. Political power in Portugal is deeply embedded in the personal, institutional and structural integration with the EU, at the level of the economy, investment, diplomacy and government.
    The political viability of the elite is bound up with this level of integration and the personal connections are very intimate.
    The US connection is also very intimate. Barroso, the right wing party leader was, until last year President of the Commission and is particularly close. (As the student leader of the violently anti communist, anti PCP and very bourgeois Maoist MRPP he was an instrument of Franck Carlucci, the US ambassador (and intelligence figure) who arrived in Portugal just before the 1975 Carnation Revolution and hot foot from his previous posting as US ambassador to Chile before, during and after the US backed coup.)

  82. Andy Newman: conservatives and their media allies behave as if the Left has no legitimate right to take power, and must be held in check by any means.

    An attitude shared by many Conservatives and their media allies in this country. Not to mention certain Labour MPs.

  83. Regarding Russia and China, those countries are no more exempt from criticism because of the sins and crimes of Britain and America than vice versa. The one does not in any way justify or lessen the other.

    In Corbyn’s case, criticising the Chinese government’s human rights (not to mention Saudi Arabia’s) isn’t “western arrogance”; it’s consistency.

  84. I’d be very interested to hear how far people on this board think Labour’s ‘broad church’ should go. Labour does need the activists that selected Corbyn to enter the debate about its future and mobilise to campaign, but a lot of MPs, party members, and voters would react angrily if they thought people were being silenced by a brand new group.

    Livingstone seems to think those that disagree with Corbyn should be deselected, and a lot of others think disagreeing with Corbyn should mean expulsion. Is that just Livingstone being Livingstone, or is that the general feeling?

  85. jock mctrousers on said:

    Here’s a skeptical look at Pritchard’s take on the Portuguese election. (It’s sort of fun to shout about fascism, but it’s much nicer if things aren’t quite that bad yet). This is quite long, but thorough and convincing. Short story: nothing to get knickers twisted over yet –

    British Euroskeptics Go Off the Deep End, Flog Bogus Portugal “Coup” Meme
    Posted on October 26, 2015 by Yves Smith
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/10/british-euroskeptics-go-off-the-deep-end-flog-bogus-portugal-coup-meme.html

  86. Karl Stewart on said:

    jock mctrousers,
    So the two parties of the pro-austerity right achieve a combined total of 38 per cent of the popular vote, and 107 of the 230 parliamentary seats and the three parties of the anti-austerity left get 51 per cent of the popular vote and 122 of the 230 parliamentary seats.

    And the EU directs Portugal’s president to appoint the leader of the larger of the two right-wing pro-austerity parties as prime minister.

    And this isn’t a problem for you?

    Personally, I don’t understand why the Portuguese are not out rioting in the streets.

  87. Andy Newman on said:

    jock mctrousers: This is quite long, but thorough and convincing. Short story: nothing to get knickers twisted over yet –

    I agree. This is why I say this is a Portugese crisis, not a general European one. It is not unheard of for inconclusive elections to lead to delays on forming coalitions. Particularly if we look at the recent history of Belgium.

    Nick Wright: This is not just a Portuguese crisis. Political power in Portugal is deeply embedded in the personal, institutional and structural integration with the EU, at the level of the economy, investment, diplomacy and government.
    The political viability of the elite is bound up with this level of integration and the personal connections are very intimate.

    Sorry Nick, this doesn’t fly. The close integration of Portugal’s ruling elites and institutions with the dominant global institutions of capital would be the case anyway, whether or not Portugal was in the EU.

  88. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: It is not unheard of for inconclusive elections to lead to delays on forming coalitions.

    But it’s not an inconclusive election according to the actual results is it?

    The three left parties have a majority of the popular vote, a majority of parliamentary seats, have agreed to bloc, have agreed a basic programme, and have presented this to the president.

    The president rejected their plan and, instead, invited the leader one of the two right-wing parties, who cannot command a parliamentary majority, to become prime minister.

    The president also put out a statement explaining that his decision was based on his personal disagreement with the political programme of the left.

    Now, some are arguing that we should not worry about this, that this will all be worked out in a few days, that there’s nothing unusual about any of this etc…etc…but the facts are the facts – the left won a majority of the popular vote and commands a majority in parliament, but has been denied power by the president.

    It’s a coup.

  89. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: The president rejected their plan and, instead, invited the leader one of the two right-wing parties, who cannot command a parliamentary majority, to become prime minister.

    You have not saitisfied me that the President’s actions are actually outside the scope of discretion in the Portuguese constitution.

  90. jock mctrousers on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Karl, please read carefully the Yves Smith piece I linked to. The explanation is too long for there to be any point in me posting bits of it here, but as I understand it the 3 left parties did not run as a coalition, and the tradition is that the party with the largest number of votes ( the right party) is usually asked to form a government. In a few weeks, if the right party forms a government, the left majority will be able to vote down its policies, forcing it to resign, and then…

  91. Karl Stewart on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    I did read the article you linked to, it’s where I got the details of the results from.

    The right-wing bloc is not one party, but two, the Social Democrats and the People’s Party and neither of them are the largest single party. The Socialist Party is the largest single party with 32 per cent. Both the Social Democrats and the People’s Party each received far fewer votes than the Socialist Party.

    So the “biggest party” argument is nonsense.

    And the right bloc is not the largest coalition of parties either. They received 38 per cent and the left bloc received 51 per cent.

    Of course according to a strictly literal interpretation of UK constitutional law, Her Majesty The Queen can decide not to ‘ask’ anyone to form a government and can, legally, dismiss Prime Ministers – she did in Australia in 1975.

    No formal laws were broken in 1975, but it was clearly a coup.

    And the president of Portugal may have not exactly broken any Portuguese laws in this instance, but it’s clearly a coup.

  92. Andy Newman: I agree. This is why I say this is a Portugese crisis, not a general European one. It is not unheard of for inconclusive elections to lead to delays on forming coalitions. Particularly if we look at the recent history of Belgium.

    Sorry Nick, this doesn’t fly. The close integration of Portugal’s ruling elites and institutions with the dominant global institutions of capital would be the case anyway, whether or not Portugal was in the EU.

    True
    It is undoubtedly a Portuguese political crisis and it is not yet a general European crisis but it is a crisis centred on the structural, political and economic problems of the European Union and most particularly of the PIIGS and their relationship with North European monopoly capital and the banks. And this is a relationship that is mediated through the institutions of the European Union in which Portuguese political figures and the elite in general are deeply embedded.

    The Portuguese political dimension may soon be resolved ­ most probably by an accommodation between the deeply divided Socialist party and the right wing parties that would most likely separate it from the PCP and BE.

    It is not improbable that the BE might fragment under the strain of this, as it did once before when it joined with the PS.

    Your last sentence points to a general theoretical or methodological problem in dealing with the European Union.

    Opponents of Britain’s membership of the EU (or other countries membership for that matter) are often challenged with the assertion that all the nasty things that are done by right wing governments can be done whether or not a particular country is in the EU.

    Turn this on its head.
    Would it be advisable for a country that had maintained its sovereignty to join the EU because all the nasty things a right wing government might do could just as easily be done if it remained outside?

    The point is the institutions of the EU have been shaped as the instruments of actually existing, financialised, monopoly capitalism for the conditions we are actually in.

  93. jock mctrousers on said:

    Karl Stewart: The right-wing bloc is not one party, but two, the Social Democrats and the People’s Party and neither of them are the largest single party. The Socialist Party is the largest single party with 32 per cent. Both the Social Democrats and the People’s Party each received far fewer votes than the Socialist Party.

    So the “biggest party” argument is nonsense.

    Well, you’ve got me there. But did the Socialist Democrats and the People’s party EXPLICITLY run as a coalition?

  94. Karl Stewart on said:

    jock mctrousers,
    Did the UK Conservatives and Liberal Democrats run as a putative coalition in the 2010 election campaign? No they didn’t.

    They held talks after the election, reached an agreement, and put together a post-election coalition able to command a Parliamentary majority.

    Which is what the three left parties in Portugal have done.

    Imagine the situation if, after the Tories and Libdems had reached their coalition agreement, if HMQ had then refused to allow them to form a government because she disagreed with their political programme. And if she then, instead, had asked Gordon Brown to form a new government.

  95. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright,

    I have an instrumental view of the EU, basically based upon whether exit would weaken or strengthen the capacity of trade unions to organise, and around defence if jobs and employment rights.

    The question of whether UK should have joined is totally different from whether after decades of membership, we should leave.

  96. jock mctrousers on said:

    I re-read the Yves Smith piece. I have to admit I get mixed messages from it. Right at the very end, there’s this which seems to contradict what she’s been implying up to then:

    “ In other words, this would be a European version of what we call “gridlock”. But as Ed Harrison stressed via e-mail, “If the parties present a FORMAL coalition to the President that has a majority he MUST allow it.” So we’ll see soon enough if the three “lefts” decide that the enemies on their right are a compelling enough cause for them to put aside their long-standing rivalries and work together. “
    That seems to imply that it’s not necessary constitutionally for the left parties to have declared themselves as a coalition BEFORE the election, to qualify as the largest bloc/party/whatever… And have the lefts indeed FORMALLY presented a coalition?

    Here’s the stuff preceding that statement, which seems to justify the president’s position:

    Two right wing-parties, CDS and PSD, the incumbents, ran together in a coalition called PaF received 38% of the vote. That made them the largest bloc but clearly not a majority. The three left parties that together got a majority did not campaign as a coalition, have never been in a coalition, have long-standing enmities, and some key policy differences (for instance, the Socialist Party, or PS, is anti-austerity but wants to stay in the Eurozone, while the Communists are opposed to austerity and want to leave the Eurozone). The PS leader, António Costa, is trying to form a coalition of these three parties that traditional have scrapped over left-leaning voters. But “trying to form a coalition” is not at all the same as having one.

    Chris Hanretty sums up on Medium:
    In this case, the facts are these:
    1. In the elections of the 4th, no single party secured a majority. The incumbent right-wing Social Democrats (PSD) and their allies the CDS won the most votes and the most seats, but failed to win an overall majority. Their main challengers, the Socialists (PS) improved their vote and seat share, but the big winners were the Left Bloc (BE).
    2. Prior to the elections, the PS had not discussed a pre-electoral alliance with the Left Bloc or the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). However, once it became clear that these parties had won a majority of the vote (50.75%) and a majority of seats (122 of 230), negotiations began.
    3. The Portuguese constitution gives the President of the Republic the task of “appoint the Prime Minister after consulting the parties with seats in Assembly of the Republic and in the light of the electoral results” (Art. 187).
    4. The current President is Anibal Cavaco Silva, the most successful leader the right-wing PSD has ever had.
    5. On the 22nd, the President gave the leader of the PSD, Pedro Passos Coelho, the task of forming the next government, as some had expected he might.
    6. In the speech explaining this decision, the President explained that in all previous elections, the task of forming the government went to the party with the most seats, even where that party did not have a legislative majority. He gave the example of the 2009 election, where the PS formed a government.

  97. Andy Newman: I have an instrumental view of the EU, basically based upon whether exit would weaken or strengthen the capacity of trade unions to organise, and around defence if jobs and employment rights.

    Andy
    I think that our ruling class also have an instrumental view of the EU. They have shaped into an instrument for weakening the bargaining power of workers and the capacity of trade unions to organise.
    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9be0-EU-membership-drives-down-wages#.VjEgB3jmtiA

  98. jim mclean on said:

    John Wight, an article please on why the Scottish Labour Party deserves to die. The renewal of Trident will protect the Steel Industry, FFS. Well that was a brief sojourn.

  99. john Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright: Andy
    I think that our ruling class also have an instrumental view of the EU. They have shaped into an instrument for weakening the bargaining power of workers and the capacity of trade unions to organise.
    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9be0-EU-membership-drives-down-wages#.VjEgB3jmtiA

    This is not completely true though is it? There are some rights workers have that originate from the EU which most anti EU campaigners would like to ditch.