Monday 8 August 2016

Labour at the High Court

I am pleased and disappointed with the ruling handed down by the High Court today.

Pleased because the decision to curtail the rights of new members and limiting the time frame supporters could vote in (not least the cost attached to doing so) was obvious shenanigans. Disappointed because the courts should not be intervening in the internal administrative procedures of the Labour Party.

But let's be clear about this. If you are a party inviting folk to participate fully in its democracy from day one, recruits on that basis, and then unexpectedly changes the rules then you're asking for an intervention from outside. The outgoing NEC should have seen it coming but, as we know, the leadership's opponents waited until a number of Corbyn supporters had left the room to quickly push the measures through. What were they thinking? That new members would lie down and accept it? That the winder membership would be cock-a-hoop at the "tough decisions" they had made?

The court case then is entirely the fault of the NEC. They could have saved a lot of bother if it had left matters well alone, and not - perversely - throw away the best chance anti-Jez forces had. Recruiting "moderates" hand over fist, which they should have done these last 10 months but didn't because politics is so much hard work, and swamping Corbyn supporters was their only route to victory. Poor Owen Smith.

The court cases we've seen these last couple of weeks mean our procedures are under scrutiny like never before, and in this case they were found wanting. The appeal by the party might succeed, but to be sure the heyday of the stitchers and the fixers better be over, or future decisions could end up before the courts.


Nickoli said...

We really need rules that are set in advance of a leadership election. Whoever wins, whatever happens, we really need the next NEC to set rules and timelines that are agreed and understood, instead of having to decide on (and endlessly argue about) cut off dates *during* the contest.

Phil said...

Yes. The Tories were clear on their join forms that members don't get a leadership vote for three months. I have no in-principle objection to a six month rule, but we should be consistent and not chop and change willy-nilly.

BCFG said...

What is happening is that the PLP are using every trick in the book to stop Corbyn being leader and doing everything to ensure Smith has half a chance.

In other words short of killing Corbyn (for now), the PLP are openly hostile to their leader and want shot of him by whatever means necessary.

I can't think of a precedent for this.

Mass deselection and expulsions of the conspirators is a start and the stakes could not be higher. Democracy v Technocracy.

A political party has to be more than providing Oxbridge types with a £70k a year career plus benefits.

This is a battle for representation. There can be no doubt can there who the mortal enemy are? There are at least 172 of them in the PLP!

Blissex said...

If I remember well J McDonnell was quite opposed to this court case because one of the consequences is that the party may have to refund (most of) the £25 to anyone who asks, and the finances of Labour are not wholesomely wonderful. This apparently put him in a difference with J Corbyn; I guess the latter worries more about the formal respect of the rules, the latter more about the party finances. As someone was saying Labour needs a £25 leadership election every year.

If you care about something fund it, with cash if not with your time. Even small amounts by many people help a lot.

Anonymous said...

«providing Oxbridge types with a £70k a year career plus benefits»

Ah the naivety of some people! That's peanuts for an oxbridge type. MP etc. incomes may seem large to people who work as "bulk headcount" in the real economy, but for elite/professional jobs they are quite small and unrewarding. Hey, Petronella Wyatt was recently complaining that her £80k a year as a senior journalist was quite modest for London. B Johnson was calling £250k per year as mayor "chicken feed", advisedly. The real money for politicians happens *afterwards*, as a reward for service.

Blissex said...

«mortal enemy are? There are at least 172 of them in the PLP!»

I think that the true number of neoliberal Labour MPs is around 100-110, not 172, and even the 100-110 hardcore are not "mortal enemies", they are just political adversaries. A good number of the 172 are not hardcore whigs, but worry about the context, more than the man or his policies.

The most serious problem J Corbyn as leader of Labour brings is not mythical trot entryism, or imaginary unelectability, etc, but the relentless attacks from most of the press and the BBC. These do damage Labour as a whole.

A commenter on another blog noted that the main problem with J Corbyn may be that hen is likely blacklisted by Likud, and that may in practice matter a lot; his not being neocon may be the real problem, more than not being neoliberal.

G Brown a year ago warned about the consequences, he did not quite mention J Corbyn's domestic policy: «Gordon Brown has become the latest senior Labour figure to warn against choosing Jeremy Corbyn as the party’s next leader, suggesting that the MP for Islington North could damage international relations by allying with Hezbollah, Hamas, Venezuela and Russia.»

That «allying with» is of course pure fantasy, but that exaggeration has a clear meaning. So a good chunk of MPs may be thinking that if ABC was leader of Labour the heavy guns of the neocon propaganda machines might adopt a much more benign tone.

We live in "interesting times" as to neoconnery: today's front page leading article in "The Times" begins:

"Russia has edge over us in battle, army admits
The Russian military can outgun British troops on the battlefield, the army has admitted in a leaked report laying bare the firepower, hacking technology and propaganda developed by President Putin’s state."

Such is the insanity of the context.

PS. I have noticed that some "progressive" academics are careful to interleave random attacks on Germany and Russia (via Merkel and Putin) with social-democratic domestic policy proposals. I suspect that these are given as token of loyalty to the establishment. Many countries have in effect quite limited sovereignty in foreign affairs.

jim mclean said...

Have we not just elected Rhea Wolfson of I am here to build a movement elections do not matter stance to the NEC as the principle voice of the Corbynistas, the voice of the people. A graduate of Oxford and to top that, St Edmund's, the last medieval college surviving. I believe the young comrade has never lowered her bourgeois standards to create surplus value in any manner. I am getting the feeling we are watching a battle for the hearts, soul and control of the party of the workers, a battle between the Bourgeois and Petite Bourgeois. The battle in the tories being between the Grand Bourgeois and the Petite Bourgeois. Ms Wolfson, the PLP and the Leadership are all alienated from those the say the wish to represent. Feel you may be taking the Scottish route.