Monday, 20 September 2010

Labour Leadership Vote

I sometimes wonder if I'm cut out for this political blogging lark. Apart from preening our vanity and practicing our writing, presumably us bloggers would quite like to influence people too. When it comes to the Labour leadership contest, I've failed on this score completely. I *have* finally made my choices this afternoon but realise this blog is too late in the day to influence the bakers' dozen of affiliated trade unionists and Labour Party members who regularly turn up on this site. Never mind, I'll be sure to get the posts about the next round of NEC and National Policy Forum elections in plenty of time!

This is how I voted. I have doled out all five of my preferences, because that's the way I fly.

No prizes for guessing first preference. I gave it to Diane Abbott. I haven't been impressed with her campaign or pleased with the manner of her nomination. From the stand point of socialists politics John McDonnell's candidacy would have made for a much more interesting and lively contest. There is talk of Ed Balls challenging the cuts consensus (more on that shortly), but McDonnell would have fronted a much more comprehensive and wide-ranging critique (which is precisely *why* he didn't secure enough nominations). But we are where we are. Diane Abbott is the only candidate in favour of scrapping trident, opposed the Iraq and Afghan wars in deeds as well as words, does not think the public sector and the working class should pay for the deficit, has a parliamentary record of opposing New Labour's authoritarianism, refuses to scapegoat immigrants, and takes seriously the need to restore party democracy. I know Diane won't win, and she can't even count on united left backing, but a good vote sends a clear message. It tells the eventual victor that they can afford to ignore the left at their peril. And it shows the wider electorate who've been alienated from Labour by the Blair/Brown axis that a significant section of the party is unchanged and unashamed of its relationship to the working class. That's why I voted Abbott, and would recommend others to do so too.

Barring an unforeseen upset, one of the Milibands are going to win. With this in mind my second preference went to "Red" Ed. I won't lie. When Ed Miliband
visited Stoke he performed much better than I expected. Politically he's hardly Marx or Engels, let alone Tony Benn, but he does appear to have drawn many of the right conclusions about why we lost the 2010 general election. He knows New Labour's blind enthusiasm for repressive legislation cost the party dearly among its core middle class support as much as its default setting for useless and regressive neoliberal policies drove a section of our working class vote away. Significantly, along with Abbott, he has refused to bash immigrants. He knows they are a lightning rod for all kinds of discontent, not least unemployment and lack of housing. He is committed to rebuilding the trade union movement and making sure they're listened too (though MiliE has been equivocal over his support for strikes against the cuts). And above all, he's more of a social democratic figure than the others bar Abbott and is not wedded to the disastrous "worse than Thatcher" cuts Alastair Darling promised before the election. If Ed Miliband wins, I think there will be more room for socialists to make their influence in the Labour party felt and more of a chance of Labour getting back into power than under any of the others.

Ed Balls would probably have got my last preference if it wasn't for his saving grace:
economic policy. For those opposed to the cuts, it is difficult to overstate how important it is for our argument to have someone articulate an anti-cuts position from within mainstream politics. Yes, we can put forward arguments light years ahead of present day consciousness about expropriating the expropriators, but there are hardly useful for winning a majority against the cuts now. Whoever wins, a fair vote for Balls will give a boost to his shadow chancellor's campaign, which he's sure to launch shortly after the the conclusion of this contest.

I just want to reiterate something I've said on this blog before. On a personal level, I quite like David Miliband. And if it wasn't for his mistaken view of how to win the next election, the question marks over rendition flights during his watch as foreign secretary, his submission to the cuts agenda, a good chunk of his policy platform, and the support of the most right wing, anti-democratic and neoliberal figures in the Labour Party, I might have voted for him. All that said, he is no Blair mark II. He is more "Labour" than the anointed one and appears more relaxed about trade union influence. Much is made of his name recognition among the public, but I'm convinced this is more a function of having a higher profile in the previous government than the others. What is potentially very worrying is Miliband's endorsement by practically all the right wing press. He is part of the New Labour cohort still obsessed with how things play out in
The Mail and The Sun, even though their power is not what it was when The Project was germinating. Among the five, he is the candidate most likely to win Murdoch's endorsement at a general election. But he's also the one most likely to be blown from pillar to post by press pressure.

But it's Andy Burnham who gets my last preference. He has said some good things about the NHS, the need for a national care service, and party democracy. But little else. His 'aspirational socialism' makes vacuity look substantive. His continued support for the Iraq War, despite everything, shows Burnham up as dogmatic and out of touch. And advocating a reduction of union influence in the party was never going to score brownie points with me. So no, Andy, no.

Elections for the National Executive Committee have been taking place too. There has been much less public discussion of this, for obvious reasons. Just so you know, I voted for Sam Tarry, Christine Shawcroft,
Susan Press, Sofi Taylor, Ann Black, and Peter Kenyon.


Merseymike said...

I voted Ed M first preference and also placed Andy B last, largely because of his conservative social attitudes - too much influence from Vatican plc for my liking

Sister C said...

I voted Ed Miliband first preference (no surprises there). Ed Balls second, which surprised even me but his economic policy has impressed me. David Miliband third, he probably would have got my second preference if it wasn't for his campaign team phone canvassing extremely badly. I then stopped with the preferences because Abbotts and Burnhams campaigns were so poor I didn't think they deserved a vote

Gary Elsby said...

Labour's plan for the elderly was so bad that even Labour dropped it.It made the Conservatives look quite appealing to the biggest vote in the Country.

Ed Balls has been promised the Chancellor role by David Miliband.
David Miliband has promised John Cruddas the Chair role (if he forgets about the Deputy role).
Dianne Abbot sttod no chance due to female/black uneducated bias within the Labour Party.
Hopefully she will put Burnham last.
David Miliband= more of the same.
More of the same lost Labour the election.

Phil said...

Gary, what evidence do you have that Diane Abbott was disadvantaged by prejudice in the party?

Regards the shadow chancellor's position, it's not within David Miliband's gift to promise him anything as all shadow cabinet positions are *elected*. I would like to see Ed Balls in that position, but as you know the PLP are a law unto themselves.

Sabcat said...

I wrote something elsewhere that ended:

"I couldn’t care less what anyone in the Labour party has to say about what they would do if they were in power. I only care about what they do now. Put simply if any workers vote for strike action and the Labour party does not give them unequivocal support then they don’t deserve the name “Labour”. Of course everyone with anything like a memory knows they won’t offer that support, and they haven’t deserved the name for decades."

Seems an appropriate comment to this post.

Phil said...

And yet it retains the support of the bulk of the organised working class.

Getting all moralistic about Labour will not take us one step closer to a socialist society. So what to do? Wish it away?

Boffy said...

Quite right Phil, and, of course, there were those much to the left of the LP who refused to support the LOR strikers, because they used slogans that were not politically pure! In fact, some even wanted to erect pickets against the strikers!!!!

Sabcat said...

Does the LP really retain the support of the bulk of the organised working class? I'm not sure how you'd measure that. If you mean that the bulk of the trade unions are still affiliated then you're right but it's hardly the same thing. The connection between the members and leadership of many trades unions is much weaker than the connection between union leadership and Labour. What was the turnout in the leadership election of the largest union in 2008? It's indicative of the problem.

Who's getting moralistic? I'm simply pointing out that the PLP have and will continue to act in their own class interests. Do you think the last 13 years have brought us closer to a socialist society? Personally I don't and I don't think that the Labour party in the future will either. It'll stand in the way.

Maybe I'm wrong though, maybe when the cuts bite and action is taken to resist them the Labour party from top to bottom will have their shoulders to the wheel supporting that resistance. We both know they won't though, don't we?

Gary Elsby said...

The Labour Party 2010 (please note) is not the Labour Party of 2009 or before.
Not only is there a black/female prejudice against Dianne Abbot, there is a fundamental shift away from the 50/50 gender balance towards a male dominated hierarchy within the Party.
How come you want proof of anti black/female conspiracy when in fact there has been a clear direction against any woman standing for a position for years.
Dianne's card was marked so well, it took an absurd vote from Harman to get her on the ballot paper.
The PLP (I will name them!) have chosen to go against our 'aims and values'and have chosen to have no aims and values whatsoever.
David Miliband HAS promised the chancellors role to Ed Balls and to say that he has not 'gifted' a position to Ed when he is part of the biggest 'gifting' planted vote in the history of the Labour Party.
People who are guilty are usually criminals.
If David Miliband came out against Trident, it would be splashed all over the 9 o clock news and championed as our Leader in waiting.
If Dianne Abbot happened to suggest the same, we would call he campaign 'shit'.

Gary Elsby said...

A point of clarification.
The PLP has decided to go against 50/50 male/female elected 'shadow cabinet' and has chosen to become a male dominated shadow cabinet.
Now why would they do this?

Paul said...

Interesting post, though your vote is incorrect, in that you have not followed my instructions.

Brother G said...

Gary, your utter lack of basic comprehension is astounding.

You don't even seem to be able to understand the distinction between a policy and a campaign. People such as myself on this blog who have criticised Diane's campaigning ability have frequently expressed agreement with her on policy.

Diane Abbott is right on immigration, on Trident, and on the issue of party democracy. She is also incapable of running a campaign with all the concrete organisation and activity that comes with that.

There is no point in electing a leader who has good ideas but is useless in practice.

While Diane Abbott did indeed have difficulty getting on the ballot, that is because a) the Right of the party did not want a socialist in the race and b) the Left of the party wanted a more competent socialist in the race.

Saying Diane Abbott is being rejected because she is black is like saying that you were rejected by Stoke-on-Trent because you are a mad drunk. In both cases those identities are irrelevant next to the relevant issue of the way in which your campaigns were handled.

Brother G said...

'The PLP has decided to go against 50/50 male/female elected 'shadow cabinet' and has chosen to become a male dominated shadow cabinet.
Now why would they do this?'

1. Because a 70/30 split is currently more in line with the proportion of women members in the PLP?

2. Because there are male members of the PLP who realise that their own chance of making it onto the shadow cabinet would benefit from opposing a 50/50 cap?

Personally I'm in favour of the proposed 50% women idea, but I think there is probably more to it than outright hatred against female MPs.

Gary Elsby said...

I never judge a book by its cover, Brother G, but I believe you to be the best horror story I have never read. In fact, I laughed out loud so much, I might even read you one day!
You belong in merica and not Great Britain.Campaigns are bought by the bucket load over there and they will deliver you the best politicians that money can buy.
For the record,you are what I was put on this planet to be against and yes, I know, that I am a mere serf dutifully bound to serve my Masters.
What crap you write of upstanding moral policies but only to be relieved of such admiration because the poor black woman has a shite campaign team.Oh F*** off Brother G.
In my world it's what is said and what is truthfully said that counts and abbot has said it loud and clear for longer. Big deal that I have failed once more to select and elect Murdoch's man.
Could I apologise for not running a better campaign myself but I have rectified this on my to do list:
1.Must be better than the BBC/ITV/SKY/Trade Union movement (vote labour or get the sack)and the £18M full colour leaflet campaign by united press plc (Tris superimposed onto Fisher.)
For you Brother G, it is the packaging and for me, it is the substance.

Gary Elsby said...

There is no hatred of women anywhere in the Labour Party, but now try doing the decent thing and follow the line of the PLP in the CLPs and branches and all other forms of organisation within Labour.
It's a rule breach and nothing will be done about it.
Labour lost the General Election.

Brother G said...

"I never judge a book by its cover, Brother G, but I believe you to be the best horror story I have never read. In fact, I laughed out loud so much, I might even read you one day!"

I'm flattered Gary, but to be honest I've always envisioned myself as more of the saucy erotic novel type. Maybe something in the Mills & Boon mould?

"For you Brother G, it is the packaging and for me, it is the substance."

But surely in this example saying nice fluffy things about immigration and Trident would qualify as 'packaging', whereas the ability to draw people to your cause and organise them in such a way as to efficiently broadcast and deliver your message would count as 'substance'. What you seem to have done here is the age-old error of actually saying exactly the opposite of what you mean.

In fact, the Diane Abbott 'package' is top-notch: black, female socialist with a long backbench career standing in stark contrast to the opposition. What is in fact missing is the substance. Scratch beneath the appealing surface and what you find is a mediocre candidate.

"Must be better than the BBC/ITV/SKY/Trade Union movement "

I'm not sure what Sky and the Trade Union movement have in common. And as for an £18 million leaflet production backing Tristram's campaign, I think you are grossly overestimating Labour's fundraising capabilities.

Lawrence Shaw said...

About right Phil, I reckon. I did Abbott 1, Ed M 2 and left it there.

I couldn't bring myself to vote for Ed Balls after he named and shamed the Eastern European "influx" as being the reason wages are low - no Ed, it's because your old government let bosses basically get away with it by not setting the minimum wage anywhere near high enough.

Meanwhile, whilst I do think Andy B plays well to the "floating voters", he was fairly incoherent in his message - vacillating between praising unions as agents of social change one minute to rabidly defending Iraq and big business the next, largely depending on his audience from what I could see.

The main thing in this election goes deeper than the candidates standing - it is more about seeing whether the Blairite spell can be broken.

The Blair Continuity wing have entrenched their support behind Dave M, that much is clear. In Blairs recent narcissistic tome, for example, he names Community and Usdaw as being the only two unions he liked to deal with - and sure enough, they are the two unions backing Dave M. Mandelson keeps coming out to try to rubbish Ed M. All the clues are there.

The fact of the matter is, whatever happened in the 90s, that the British public do not now desire more New Labour. As you correctly identify, the power of the conservative press has hugely diminished in the general political discourse, and many people now desire a strong economically progressive and socially liberal voice and will not be swayed by what some embittered, twisted twat like Trevor Kavanagh tells them to do.

In other words, this IS the exact time for Labour to "lurch to the left" (as the Sun will put it). Don't forget the Tories LOST the general election, in spite of the most favourable electoral conditions since the aftermath of the Falklands, mainly due to the huge support given to the Lib Dems by many progressive young voters. Now those people are fast realising their mistake and it is time we reclaimed that ground from the liberals and destroy them as incoherent and opportunistic political force they always have been.

People don't like cuts when it actually affects them, as the toffs are about to realise. In 2015, Labour will be well placed to come back with the correct progressive and socially inclusive approach to building support over the next four years. But if that approach is more authoritarian, reactionary, pro-bank, millionaire-worshipping, US coat-tailing to keep the tiny elite who run the media happy, then we will fail. Rant over.

Sister C said...

It's been obvious for a while now that Gary doesn't hold much stock in the quality of a candidates campaign. His own attempts at office make that quite clear.

Perhaps Diane would have had more success if she had accused the BNP of gassing themselves with Zyclon B, right Gary? Or maybe a clipart cartoon of Lord Mandelson? It's a shame not everyone on the left possesses your imagination and spark.

I find it ironic that you profess to only care for people who stand up and speak the truth, when you yourself fabricated quotations from Mark Fisher and Peter Mandelson in your election material. Or does that dedication to honesty only extend to policy, an area where you have managed to remain relatively silent throughout your tenure as class gimp.

Phil said...

I don't think there's anything more that can be added to what Lawrence has said.

Gary Elsby said...

Sister C:
Where to start?

1. The BNP are on Youtube gassing themselves with Zyclon B, the gas used to kill six million Jews in WW2
2.I have never misquoted Mark Fisher or Lord Mandelson in written form or verbal form.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding you have with what you would like to believe.

Incidentally, what are the quotes you mumble about? I can back myself up, can you? Coward? (note I sign my full name).

Gregg said...

The prejudice against Abbot isn't because of her race or gender, but because she is left-wing. John McDonnell - a white man - faced the same prejudice. There has not been room for people from that wing of the party to take any forward roles under Blair and Brown. This has led us to the bizarre situation where Ed Miliband is considered a left-wing candidate, when the bulk of his positions clearly place him on the right of the party.

Ed M is not as far to the right as his brother, or Burnham and Balls. But the key difference is that he believes Labour should go back to being a broad church with room for the left on the front bench and in policy making; rather than confining itself to being led by a narrow group of political opportunists with fundemtnally conservative visions who reduced Labour to its lowest share of the electorate since 1918.

Anonymous said...

regaarding the shadow cabinet being elected my understanding was that the mps just elect who they want in it and not their particular roles and therefore david oe ed milliband could put ed balls into any role they wanted assuming he was elected. The lack of a campaighn group candidate for the shadow candidate shows a lack of confidence that diane abbot is going to do well. james?

Gary Elsby said...

Prejudice by whom?!!!
One member one vote is not prejudice.

Corruption is deliberately stitiching up the ballot, of which I can prove.

Brother G said...

Go on then Gary. Prove it.

Gregg said...

Since Kinnock's post-1987 blame-shifting witch-hunts, the PLP leadership has treated membership of the Campaign Group as grounds for expulsion from the front bench, so the Campaign Group has not put forward candidates for Shadow Cabinet elections (and those members who have put themselves forward have left the Campaign Group if successful).

Gary Elsby said...

Brither G, you take the piss, surely.
Why do you think a TV crew are coming to Stoke?
On your way home from school, could you ask your sister, C, to hurry up with these misquotes I make as I want to make them again on camera.

What world do you live in brother G?
A world where Stoke votes David?
Spare me this anguish.

Brother G said...

"What world do you live in brother G?
A world where Stoke votes David?"

Well...yes, actually. Although personally I was more bemused about Andy Burnham coming second.

It's all well and good saying people like yourself wouldn't have backed him, but people like yourself arn't in the Labour Party anymore are they, on account of throwing their toys out the pram and running as an independent.

lurker said...

- D.Mil
- A.Bur
- E.Ball

but it seems I'm in a minority in wanting Labour re-elected... :-(

i fear the shine will soon wear off "lightweight" Ed and you'll understand why the grown-ups supported his big brother. Too bloody late.

i'm dreading Saturday and the sound of haw-hawing from West London.

Brother G said...

"i fear the shine will soon wear off "lightweight" Ed and you'll understand why the grown-ups supported his big brother. Too bloody late."

To be honest this is exactly the sort of patronising bullshit that has been coming out of some David Miliband supporters throughout the campaign, and is exactly what puts people off. If he does lose, it may well be people such as yourself who are to blame.

Gary Elsby said...

Brother G, how many Keele students knocking on doors of bentilee does it take to sink in that they, yes they, are the one's at fault.And yes, you are right, if I were still in, the vote would have been different.(I was graded 'E' hostile and not allowed to take part in any Labour elections).

How stupid to see bright young things doing the Labour thing and for all good causes.

Spare me this motion sickness that David Miliband best represents pots, pits and steel and anything else digital. It's pure bollocks and all keele students must be made to write out 10,000 words why they were too docile to see corruption (and want 44 single wards).

You have four hours.

lurker said...

"If he does lose, it may well be people such as yourself who are to blame."

By pointing out uncomfortable facts? Yes, that figures.

Brother G said...

"By pointing out uncomfortable facts? Yes, that figures."

Considering David Miliband's hawkish approach to the deficit, his continuation to rely on the debunked triangulation methods of the past 13 years to explain our defeat, and his campaign being populated with a disproportionate number of out-of-touch New Labour cronies, I don't think you can really call proclaiming him the only serious candidate an 'uncomfortable fact'.

David Miliband has his virtues. He is clearly a great intellect, and has the gravitas to make an immediate impact, but there are plenty of reasons to support a different candidate beyond not being a 'grown up'. Such as having a set of values that are incompatible with the centre-right, for instance.

Gary Elsby said...

....and not sanctioning torture.

lurker said...

Out of touch? I think you'll find DM has the overwhelming support of ordinary, non-Labour voters - the people who win and lose elections.

Although I grant you EM is no Michael Foot, this does all have echoes of that earlier contest when Labour chose heart over head, and look where that got them.

You may, or may not, be secure in your bunker, with warm feelings for those seemingly endless days of self-righteous opposition when your opinions never had to be tested by the realities of government, but it seems a shame for the thousands, if not millions who will suffer a generation of Tory rule for your principals. Or do you think they will deserve what they get?

lurker said...

Can I just sign off by saying - having gotten in and found out the result - well, what a tragedy. Not only did the members and MPs clearly vote for DM, they were over-ruled by the unions.

I know you can respond that it's always been that way, but really, what's the point in being a member, when the unions will simply choose the candidate with his pecker in their pocket? For once the charge of "vested interests" cannot be rebutted. And it's not as if the unions have a record of acting in the nation's interest - their selfishness ushered in Thatcher, after all, and I think we can safely say the next general election is over before it began. I hope you're happy. You may have won but both Labour, and generations of ordinary people, have lost.

Phil said...

You don't know anything about how affiliate member vote works, do you? Worry not, there will be a post on this tomorrow.