Democracy requires a real choice: Jon Trickett must stand for leader

by Jon Lansman

Following its executive meeting this weekend, leading centre-left Labour grassroots organisation, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), has today called on Jon Trickett MP to stand for the Labour leadership, and has urged party and trade union activists to join the call.

CLPD members have reported that there is widespread dismay amongst party activists at the uninspiring nature of the leadership election campaign, with candidates queuing up to apologise for the alleged overspending by the last Labour government, and still failing to challenge publicly the neoliberal narrative on austerity which is the primary reason why Labour was ultimately judged wanting in its handling of the economy.

Those on the Blairite wing of the party may well believe that narrative but, like Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper might not. And yet, with no left candidate putting an anti-austerity case, there is no chance of them showing any more courage than their predecessors, nor of properly exposing the reasons Labour lost this election. They will do nothing more than espouse right-wing policies in order to chase right-wing votes. A left candidate is essential to changing the nature of this election.

The Labour Party desperately needs a candidate who:

  1. is working class – we are rightly concerned about the numbers of women and black people amongst our leaders, but we routinely underestimate the importance of leaders who are genuinely working class and not merely capable of pointing to “working class roots”;
  2. is an active trade unionist – not just a union member to get the union’s backing in their selection – who sees trade union rights and organisation as something a Labour government should positively encourage rather than something which can only be discussed in private;
  3. is against austerity and will commit from now on, whether they win or not, to present the case against austerity, whether it comes from a Tory government, a Labour government, or for that matter an SNP government.
  4. will commit to turning Labour into a movement again – not just a voter ID army but a real insurgency, the sort that can’t be run from the leader’s office in Westminster, that utilises the vitality of street protest, of trade union mobilisation, of the anger of tenants and disabled people whose lives are threatened with devastation by corporate greed and Tory cuts, that speaks with passion of a message it believes;
  5. will commit to ending the centralisation of power within the party – with no effective internal democracy, no serious challenge or questioning through a democratic structure, it is easy for the policy wonks, spin doctors and focus group facilitators to fall for their own propaganda.

There are two obstacles to having a candidate who fits the bill: the first is that too many MPs, including MPs on the Left, have already declared their support for other candidates. The second is the absurd requirement that only those who are nominated by 15% of the parliamentary party (currently 35 MPs) are permitted to stand – a barrier to standing which CLPD opposed from the start.

In 2010, when the threshold was only 12½ %, candidates had to be “lent” nominations in order to stand, which provided clear evidence that the threshold was already too high. But in the Collins report, an increase was proposed to 20%, later reduced to a still higher 15%.

Nevertheless, the party must have a real choice. Shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett, in CLPD’s estimation, is the one best placed to fit the bill. Join the campaign now. Help us urge Jon to stand, and then help him to win.

57 comments on “Democracy requires a real choice: Jon Trickett must stand for leader

  1. Uncle Albert on said:

    “The Labour Party desperately needs a candidate who will commit from now on, whether they win or not, to present the case against austerity, whether it comes from a Tory government, a Labour government”

    That’s all very well as a high-fallutin’ posture but when push comes to shove Left Labour MPs (and Labour Party supporters) support Labour austerity (as happened in general election) on the grounds that it won’t be as bad as Tory austerity. This prevents their voiced opposition to austerity from developing towards a practical alternative.

    It is no longer enough to talk the talk. If anti-austerity Labour MPs are to achieve credibility they must learn to walk the walk.

  2. Uncle Albert on said:

    Here’s part of a comment submitted to Jon’s article when published on Leftfutures – sums up the situation within the Labour Party very appropriately:

    “I was suspended from the Labour party for voting against austerity budgets. It was ok for me to campaign with my colleagues to win the seat fighting austerity. But I was no longer allowed to fight it when it was the Labour Group delivering it. I dedicated 20 years of my life to the Labour Party but when you have to fight for socialism in the Labour Party you know its time to leave… “

  3. Noah on said:

    robert p. williams: So what next?

    Well, the linked NS article trails the idea that UNITE splitting off would somehow lead to a new party of the left, and (correctly) points out the problem for a left leadership candidate in getting 35 MP nominations.

    But the candidate who has been ostensibly backed by UNITE in the current leadership contest has had no trouble getting the required nominations, and is indeed the front runner according to the bookies.

    Unfortunately the problem of achieving a situation where there is a mass trade union based party, advancing the interests of the working class and capable of achieving political office, is much deeper and more complex than the NS article suggests.

  4. Uncle Albert on said:

    Noah: the candidate who has been ostensibly backed by UNITE

    You shouldn’t read too much into Unite’s candidate being the front-runner. Unite backed Labour in Scotland and look how that turned out – more Unite members voted SNP than voted Labour.

    It is the choice of the electorate that matters. As the author of the NS piece correctly observes: “… even under first past the post, a hegemonic political party’s position can be inverted in favour of another – and that goes for parties of the left and the right.”

  5. Karl Stewart on said:

    robert p. williams,
    Must admit I’m hearing this kind of argument more in the past couple of weeks, as we see even the non-Blairite Labour candidates falling overthemselves to adopt Tory political positions.

    I’ve heard several friends of mine who have been longstanding and loyal individual Labour members saying how they don’t feel like supporting any of the candidates.

    When I first heard Mandelson and others saying the day after the election result that Labour needed to move sharply right and ditch the unions, I expected people like Burnham and Cooper and others to oppose this.

    But I was wrong. What we’ve had, instead, has been a total capitulation to Mandelson’s Red Tory position.

    Is anyone going to step forward as a candidate opposing a move to the right?

  6. Karl Stewart: But I was wrong. What we’ve had, instead, has been a total capitulation to Mandelson’s Red Tory position.

    That is huge exaggeration. I would argue that the Blairites have looked particularly weak in this leadership campaign so far. Neverthless, in the absence of a left contender, the debate has inevitably drifted to the right.

    The deciding issue will be whether or not whoever is elected understands that the party is a broad church. That is why Liz Kendall needs to be opposed. Frankly, I could live with either Burnham or Cooper.

  7. John on said:

    Andy Newman: Frankly, I could live with either Burnham or Cooper.

    This article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32927139 – puts paid to Burnham as a progressive choice. In it he lauds entrepreneurs as “wealth creators”, describes them as “heroes” that deserve to enjoy the same status as doctors and nurses, and he has a go at the welfare system, saying that people shouldn’t expect “everything on a plate.”

    Labour is as close to being extinct as a viable alternative to the Tories as it has ever been.

  8. Vanya on said:

    Andy Newman: I would argue that the Blairites have looked particularly weak in this leadership campaign so far. Neverthless, in the absence of a left contender, the debate has inevitably drifted to the right.

    Andy, do you realise just how contradictory that reads?

    And if the left can’t come up with a credible candidate, just how broad is this church?

  9. Karl Stewart on said:

    Both Burnham and Cooper have said the Mansion Tax was a bad idea, they’ve both described business owners as “wealth creators”, they’ve both said the policy of reinstating the 50p top rate of tax is a bad idea, and neither of them have argued against Mandelson’s attacks on the trade unions.

    Labour’s acting leader has also promised that there will be no “union stitch-up” of the leadership election, and Burnham has pledged not to accept any trade union financical support for his leadership bid.

    All of the candidates, as well as the acting leader, have promised to support the Prime Minister’s renegotiation of the UK’s membership of the EU, and none of them have set any conditions for that support.

    Of course Kendall is worse than either Burnham or Cooper, but none of the candidates inspire any kind of positive enthusiasm, and all of them are significantly to the political right of Ed Miliband – who, let’s remember, wasn’t left-wing.

    EdM spoke out against public-sector strikes that were called, he was in favour of the destruction of Libya’s government and infrastructure, he supported the CIA-organised coup in the former Ukraine, he called the police to investigate Unite in Falkirk for the “crime” of exercising their constitutional right to participate in a local candidate selection, he agreed with the essential principles of the austerity agenda and that there was a need for cuts – he was to the political right of former leaders like John Smith and Neil Kinnock.

    But every one of the current candidates for the Labour leadership is significantly to the political right of EdM. Every one of them is politically closer to the Conservative Party than to EdM.

  10. Noah on said:

    Uncle Albert: You shouldn’t read too much into Unite’s candidate being the front-runner. Unite backed Labour in Scotland and look how that turned out

    You’ve missed the point I was making. I’m not suggesting at all that having been backed by UNITE will put Burnham into No. 10.

    I’m making a completely different point, which is that, sadly, there is (at least in present and likely near-to-medium term future circumstances) no prospect of a UNITE split-off from Labour leading to a mass trade union based party, advancing the interests of the working class and capable of achieving political office,

  11. Karl Stewart on said:

    Noah,
    I don’t think any union has backed any candidates yet.
    It may end up that unions don’t back/recommend any of the candidates.

  12. Noah on said:

    Karl Stewart: I don’t think any union has backed any candidates yet.

    Sure, officially that’s the case as far as I know. And Burnham seems to be working hard to make it impossible for UNITE or any other union to advise their members to vote for him.

  13. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think trade unions may be asking themselves why on earth they should continue giving these enormous amounts of money – and collectively, we gave them a few million pounds for the election – to people who not only just keep insulting us, not only won’t speak up for us, not only don’t want to do anything to help us, but are completely and utterly impotent in any case.

    To me it’s a no brainer – no threats, no demands, no ultimatums, just no more cash – end of.

    We could, instead, use that money to launch campaigns fighting for better pay, terms and conditions for all workers, to support our members, to campaign to recruit more union members, to resource the direct fight against employers.

    .

  14. Uncle Albert on said:

    Karl Stewart: Burnham has pledged not to accept any trade union financical support for his leadership bid.

    The other day, while being pressed during an interview for Newsnight, Burnham admitted that he thought there should be a role for the private sector in the NHS. Importantly Burnham refused to say if private sector involvement should be limited.

    I’m wondering if Burnham would be prepared to accept leadership campaign funding from healthcare corporations in order to add credibility to the pro-business position he is now very loudly trumpeting.

  15. Karl Stewart on said:

    Cooper is now saying that Labour mustn’t “swallow the Tory manifesto” or “stigmatise” people on benefits. to which her interviewer Andrew Marr asked if these comments were aimed at Kendall and Burnham.

    She also said she does want the 50p top tax rate to be re-instated, and Burnham has immediately agreed with her.

    Has it perhaps dawned on them that the debate was veering too far to the right and that they need try to cover their left flanks?

  16. John on said:

    Karl Stewart: Has it perhaps dawned on them that the debate was veering too far to the right and that they need try to cover their left flanks?

    I watched Derek Hatton being interviewed on the Andrew Marr show and the scaremongering about his motives in wishing to rejoin Labour is the really frightening thing. 29 years since he was expelled and yet you’d think it was last week.

    The whole Militant Tendency episode has left deep scars within the Labour machine, to the point where Labour has become a prisoner of the Tory press and commentariat. The unions founded the party yet today you’d think it was the trade union movement who were the enemy of Labour principles and not the Tories.

    Bring back Derek Hatton, I say. And the way things are going bring back Militant too. At least with them there was struggle and ideological rigour.

  17. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    I heard he’d rejoined too.

    Any mention of Hatton always reminds of Kinnock’s classic speech

    “…and you end up with a Labour leader…a LABOUR Leader…SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE!!!”

    (Or was that Spitting Image?)

  18. Not sure why Labour appears to have blocked Hatton’s membership. As a millionaire property developer he will fit right in – surely nobody seriously believes he has any truck with his previous ideas anymore?

  19. Sam64 on said:

    Degsy wants to rejoin the Labour Party ha ha! Hadn’t picked that up on the local grapevine. Mind you, I think he now lives in the Cheshire – whilst his business ventures include denuding Cyprus of precious water resources in the building of hotels and golf courses. What may have prompted his application is that he’s mates with leadership front runner Andy Burnham. Both of them are expat Scouse Evertonians and are seen together in one of the executive lounges at Goodison Park.

    Very quickly after his expulsion from Labour and his fall from deputy leadership of Liverpool City Council in the mid 80s, Hatton came to be seen locally as not much more than a scal on the make. In the subsequent period, I seem to remember that his further rebranding involved making some almost favourable remarks about Thatcher and play of the fact that he’d apologised to Mandleson – who’d he once told to fuck off outside the Labour HQ, Walworth Road. So the fact that he specifically mentions here that his motive in trying to rejoin Labour is to try to avert another New Labour leader hostile to the TUs is, mildly, interesting.

  20. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Cooper is now saying that Labour mustn’t “swallow the Tory manifesto” or “stigmatise” people on benefits. to which her interviewer Andrew Marr asked if these comments were aimed at Kendall and Burnham.

    She also said she does want the 50p top tax rate to be re-instated, and Burnham has immediately agreed with her.

    Has it perhaps dawned on them that the debate was veering too far to the right and that they need try to cover their left flanks?

    Yes karl I noticed that too. Cooper trying to look like the more traditional labour candidate whilst Burnham heads to the right?

  21. John Grimshaw on said:

    robert p. williams:
    Well that’s not happening.
    So what next?
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/labours-left-flank-must-ask-itself-it-time-walk-away

    I hear what your saying Robert. However the issue here is not whether a few decent Labour lefties will walk away but whether the unions will walk away. In my view that is unlikely at the moment. The reason being that the union leaders wont simply content themselves with funding campaigns only. They will still want political representation and as long as the LP has an electoral machine they’ll want to use it. Unless of course they’re shut out completely. I could be wrong. Maybe McCluskey et al will completely lose it in which case they surely will have to set up their own political party?

  22. No to EU on said:

    Post election I can see a lot of mileage in a UKIP and Labour merger. I think there is a lot of support for this out there.

    In which case Patrick O’Flynn comes to mind as the perfect candidate

  23. Karl Stewart on said:

    No to EU,

    No there’s no “mileage” in that at all. UKIP is part of the broad Tory family and if their voters go anywhere it’ll be back home to the Tories.

    The left should not pander to the right on immigration at all. We should simply point out to people that human beings have moved around ever since the beginning of time, it’s as much a natural occurence as the weather or the tides.

    As for the EU, the left needs to develop an exit-left strategy. Completely separate from and opposed to UKIP’s exit-right strategy.

    Have any Labour people considerd the impact on voters of Labour campaigning alongside the Tories for a ‘Yes’ vote?

  24. Matty on said:

    Uncle Albert,

    Uncle Albert:

    It is the choice of the electorate that matters.

    Exactly, which is why I will stick with Labour and you can stick with your tiny sects that can barely win 1% of the vote in the few constituencies that they stand in.

  25. Uncle Albert on said:

    Matty,

    I, generally, prefer to stick with the electorate.

    And by the way, I don’t think there’s much that is sect-like about the National Health Action Party.

  26. No to EU on said:

    Karl Stewart: No there’s no “mileage” in that at all. UKIP is part of the broad Tory family and if their voters go anywhere it’ll be back home to the Tories.

    And yet it was Labour votes that were taken not Conservative

  27. Karl Stewart on said:

    No to EU,
    No that’s factually iincorrect. Labour didn’t actually lose votes in England.

    Labour’s vote increased in England. Not by much and not by enough, but it did increase.

    UKIP has been a Tory party and part of the broader Tory political ‘family’ like the DUP/UUP are in Northern Ireland. And people who vote UKIP are essentially Tories.

    I doubt UKIP has much of a future in any case as the EU question is set to be resolved one way or another.

  28. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: part of the broader Tory political ‘family’ like the DUP/UUP are in Northern Ireland.

    Is that how you see the DUP? I think it takes some justification on your part to make that claim.

  29. Vanya on said:

    #31 You are right about the essential nature of UKIP as a party.

    Also I do know that in at least one area of Greater Manchester, Tameside, there were a number of seats where either UKIP or the Tories didn’t stand, suggesting some kind of implicit or explicit deal.

    But if by “essentially tories” you mean people who would otherwise have voted tory, do you hve any evidence that this is the case generally or in all areas?

    The reason I ask is that UKIP seem to be getting big votes in traditional Labour areas in the North, that don’t correlate with previous tory votes, and the perceived wisdom is that a substantial number of those are coming from traditional labour voters. I have some anecdotal evidence of this myself.

  30. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: Is that how you see the DUP? I think it takes some justification on your part to make that claim.

    I thought unionism and conservatism were traditionally synonymous. Isn’t the SDLP tradtionally Labour’s fraternal party in Northern ireland?

  31. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya: do you hve any evidence that this is the case generally or in all areas?…I have some anecdotal evidence of this myself.

    Like you, my “evidence” is anecdotal.

    Campaigning in south London during this election campaign, for example, a middle-aged guy started saying how he wasn’t voting Labour because it wasn’t working-class any more, then he said he supported UKIP because of immigration, and then he got onto how he had bought his own council house back in the 1980s thanks to “Maggie” and that “Maggie” had been right to “beat the miners.”

    So he was a long-standing Tory, not a Labour voter at all.

  32. Matty on said:

    From http://www.leftfutures.org/2015/05/labour-needs-to-confront-not-appease-the-ukip-agenda/

    “Lord Ashcroft’s poll of 12,000 plus voters interviewed on 7 May is the most recent large publicly available survey that measured the switching of voters from one party in 2010 to another in 2015. As with earlier polling evidence it confirms that UKIP gained its votes mainly from former Tory and Lib Dem supporters, plus some from Labour.

    The greatest numbers of desertions to UKIP were from the Coalition Parties – 5.2 per cent of all those who voted in the 7 May election were 2010 Conservatives defecting to UKIP and 2.2 per cent were 2010 Liberal Democrats to UKIP. Only 1.7 per cent of those polled were 2010 Labour who switched to vote UKIP in 2015.
    Labour held on to the vast majority of its 2010 vote. Plus it gained significant 2010 Liberal Democrat support. As many 2010 Liberal Democrat supporters voted Labour in 2015 as voted Liberal Democrat – 6.4 per cent of all voters in both cases.
    2.0 per cent of voters were 2010 Labour voters who switched allegiance to Labour’s left in 2015, voting for the SNP, Greens or Plaid Cymru. This is greater than the Labour defections to UKIP.”

    Anecdotally, in Eltham on the doorstep I met some who voted Labour in the past (going back to 1997 and 2001 and a few in 2010) who were voting UKIP in 2015

  33. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: I thought unionism and conservatism were traditionally synonymous.

    Well historically, the unionist parties have been, …. unionist.

    The official unionists in particular made a virtue of being a unionist party that embraced both conservatives and labourism, hence Lady Sylvia Herman MP becomming a Labour supporting independent when the party made a pact with cameron, and being subsequently re-elected.

    Despite some oddities to do with their social conservatism, the DUP are a largely working class party, and broadly unsymapthtic to the Conservative’s approach to welfare reform.

    It is worth reminding ourselves that back in the day the paramilitary linked, but thoroughly working class, Progressive Unionist Party were trailblaizers in their support for LGBT rights.

  34. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Whilst campaigning in Bethnal Green I had a conversation with a woman who was trying to fix her plumbing. She has to be the first person I’ve met who has moved from Barking inwards as it were. So I popped the question and she told me she was “going to vote for the most left wing party available” (sic). I was immediately cheered up and was preparing to go into full shpiel when she followed that with “so I’ll probably vote UKIP”.

  35. Jeremy Corbyn enters the race! Hopefully that can help a public discussion about socialist ideas, but there will be more audience for those ideas outside the Labour Party than in.

  36. Uncle Albert on said:

    vox: there will be more audience for those ideas outside the Labour Party than in.

    How long before Labour supporters on this blog start claiming Corbyn’s supporters have succumbed to post-rational delusions…

  37. Noah on said:

    Uncle Albert: How long before Labour supporters on this blog start claiming Corbyn’s supporters have succumbed to post-rational delusions…

    Actually I’m having trouble finding any rationality in that comment. To be a Corbyn supporter you also have to be a Labour supporter.

  38. robert p. williams on said:

    Re: Corbyn.

    I think TUSC should give him what backing we can, particularly in the affiliated unions. In return we ask that if and when he fails to halt the march to the right of Labour, that those who back him in the Party be prepared to accept the obvious conclusion that Labour can’t be reclaimed as a party for trade unionists and the working class.

    Instead of wasting time and energy on the Labour Party which, despite their efforts, is rapidly ditching the ‘lite’ part of Tory-lite, we invite them to join us in debating how to build a new party of the working class on the foundations already laid down by TUSC.

  39. Noah on said:

    robert p. williams: In return we ask that if and when he fails to halt the march to the right of Labour, that those who back him in the Party be prepared to accept the obvious conclusion [etc etc]

    No deal.

  40. pete jones on said:

    I hope to god TUSK doesn’t back Corbyn. They’ve been the touch of death for anything else they’ve been near.

  41. Andy Newman on said:

    pete jones: I hope to god TUSK doesn’t back Corbyn. They’ve been the touch of death for anything else they’ve been near.

    If they really wanted to help, they would back Liz Kendall

  42. John Grimshaw on said:

    “I have the honour to remain, Sir, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant.”

    Nuff said.

  43. John Grimshaw on said:

    robert p. williams:
    Re: Corbyn.

    I think TUSC should give him what backing we can, particularly in the affiliated unions. In return we ask that if and when he fails to halt the march to the right of Labour, that those who back him in the Party be prepared to accept the obvious conclusion that Labour can’t be reclaimed as a party for trade unionists and the working class.

    Instead of wasting time and energy on the Labour Party which, despite their efforts, is rapidly ditching the ‘lite’ part of Tory-lite, we invite them to join us in debating how to build a new party of the working class on the foundations already laid down by TUSC.

    Robert I think you may be getting in front of ourselves here. Obviously I would prefer Corbyn to be leader of the LP compared to the others on offer (see Burnham’s latest obsequious revelation above – to Charlie boy on the subject of homeo-mythical medicine) but two things are true. First, he’s not going to win for any number of reasons that I can think of and secondly those of us on the left outside the LP will have virtually no influence on what decision will be made, and in my view nor should we seek to have any. It would be disingenuous. The other thing is that these “foundations” that you talk about. I don’t think we’re are anywhere near that yet. A small hole in the ground maybe?

  44. Vanya on said:

    Glad to see that the SWP and Socialist Party’s electoral front really is named after Fleetwood Mac’s worst album.

  45. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya:
    Glad to see that the SWP and Socialist Party’s electoral front really is named after Fleetwood Mac’s worst album.

    Well I did back the TUSC candidate round here Vanya but I do wish there was a better name. What about Tsk?

  46. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: see Burnham’s latest obsequious revelation above – to Charlie boy on the subject of homeo-mythical medicine

    I am sure that these sort of replies are etiquette dictated by the relevant civil servants.

  47. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: What about Tsk?

    Yes, because that would match the actual impact they have on politics, equivelent to tutting loudly in disaproval of bosses

  48. Uncle Albert on said:

    Noah,

    Well, some on this blog claimed the Scottish electorate had taken leave of their senses for voting for an anti-austerity party which had no chance of winning the general election.

    Supporters of anti-austerity Corbyn, a candidate who will never have the opportunity to implement anti-austerity policies, are in a similar position. If Corbyn does get on the ballot paper he may assist Kendall by taking votes that otherwise would have gone to the other ‘Left’ (Gawd help us!) candidate Andy Burnham.

    For those in the LP there are only two options: Progress-mainstream or Progress-lite.

  49. Noah on said:

    Uncle Albert: some on this blog claimed the Scottish electorate had taken leave of their senses for voting for an anti-austerity party which had no chance of winning the general election

    On the contrary. Those on this blog who critiqued the pro-SNP bandwaggon specifically rejected the claim that the SNP is in reality an ‘anti-austerity party’.

    And moreover, they acknowledged that the SNP could win the general election- for the Tories.

  50. Matty on said:

    Uncle Albert: If Corbyn does get on the ballot paper he may assist Kendall by taking votes that otherwise would have gone to the other ‘Left’ (Gawd help us!) candidate Andy Burnham.

    Showing yourself up again. It’s an AV system. The ballot paper asks voters to rank candidates in order of preference.