Archives for posts with tag: Labour Party

oThe stock of secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to buy or rent a home of their own has been progressively reduced by the Right to Buy legislation, passed in the Housing Act 1980. This transferred assets created and owned by local government to individuals at prices below their market value or replacement cost.

The Local Government Association reports that the average discount increased by 132% to more than £60,000 in 2016/17 – selling properties at almost half price.

Councils are warning that this has led to a quadrupling in the number of RTB sales, which they have been unable to replace.

The current Right-to-Buy system only allows councils to keep a third of each RTB receipt to build a replacement home and prevents local authorities from borrowing to make up the shortfall.

These points were forcefully made by Stroud MP David Drew in December’s debate (video link) in the House of Commons. As he ended:

At the moment 70% of money raised for every unit of council owned accommodation sold under the right to buy goes back to central government:

  • We’ve bought the stock
  • We’re trying to do our bit
  • But we’re faced by a borrowing cap
  • How is that fair?

The Labour Party has pledged to scrap the scheme and Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has called for a halt to the government’s right-to-buy policy, describing it as the key reason for the “catastrophic shortage of homes” in England.

Scotland and Wales lead the way:

The Scottish Government abolished Right to Buy as a part of the Housing (Scotland) Act from 1 August 2016.

A law to abolish Right to Buy in Wales was passed by the Welsh Assembly in December 2017 and has now come into force.

The stock of social housing in Wales and Scotland will now be protected from further reduction and will provide secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to buy or rent a home of their own.





On November 25 the Conservative Party held a convention in Birmingham attended by 100 invited people, which rewrote sections of the party’s constitution.

The Campaign for Conservative Democracy mounted a campaign: Last Chance to save the Conservative Party, prompted by a document sent out by Rob Semple chairman of the Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board (above, with Theresa May).

The Draft Proposed Rule Changes for discussion at a meeting of the National Conservative Convention on 25 November 2017 included plans to:

  • rewrite the party constitution to remove references to constituencies altogether;
  • limit the right of local associations to choose their own candidates;
  • scrap the annual meeting of the Conservative Convention where people could listen and vote for candidates for top posts and
  • use on-line voting for all top posts in the party.

Reporting this, David Hencke asks if final approval will be given for these changes in the Conservative Party constitution at a meeting of the 1922 Committee (the Commons parliamentary group of the Conservative Party) at the March 2018 meeting of the Conservative Convention in Westminster?

If so, as David Hencke comments, “the contrast could not be much starker. Labour will go into the next general election as a mass movement with a mass membership who can influence policy and decide on who stands for Parliament, the police and the local council”.

Apparently oblivious of this Conservative development, The Times’ Lucy Fisher alleges Labour are forcing out so-called ‘moderates’ (aka New Labour Blairites) in a ‘purge’.

Times reader James comments: “We seem to be living in a parallel universe where the party that is open to all to join and all members have a vote to choose local candidates and party leader is being regularly criticised for being oppressive”.

Gary Younge writes: “Corbyn emerged in the wake of a global financial crisis, in a country rocked by the phone hacking scandal, the MPs’ expenses scandal and Operation Yewtree. His ascendancy represents a desire for a more participatory, bottom-up kind of politics that takes on not only the Tories in parliament, but inequality in the economy, unfairness in society and power where it has not previously been held to account”.





Comments on an FT article by Philip Stephens 

No policies? Every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

“Who can worry about housing, schools or transport, let alone the mundane aspirations of Middle England, ahead of the great liberation struggles.” I don’t know where Philip Stephens has been but every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

I would suggest he and the Labour party have lost the working-class vote thanks to the previous Blair government being non representative of them.  Remember Mandelson talking about being: ” Intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes…?” Corbyn has also suffered very badly by the press.  Mrs May has profited by Cameron’s mistake and badly handled Remain campaign and we are now at the mercy of this unelected PM and her party… (see also JC policy docs here)

Philip Stephens creates a narrative that doesn’t fit the facts. Corbyn has delivered effective attacks on the Government on welfare, the NHS and housing, some producing small U-turns.

He also travelled up and down the country campaigning to Remain. The problem was he and the Labour Party failed to breakthrough the media ignoring their campaign and focussing (in terms of the Remain argument) exclusively on the pathetic and useless official Remain campaign. Jeremy has been democratically elected twice to be leader. His record should in no way be considered dismal. He has consistently delivered his honestly and long-held beliefs.

Rubbish analysis as per usual although the historical throwback is well put.

Corbyn does care about housing, education, schools, middle england, under invested regions (it was Corbyn who was talking about a migrant impact fund), transition to Green energy.

Corbyn far-left? Inaccurate and “un-FT”. Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards.

Far-left policies include abolishing private healthcare, private education, the monarchy, making all third-level education free, nationalising banks and railways and a number of other things, some of which would probably be quite good for the country.

As it is, Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards. Far-left European politicians would include Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Alexander Lukashenko and any number of dictatorial 1980s Communist party secretaries in Warsaw Pact-era eastern Europe. Jeremy Corbyn is quite clearly not in that zone unless one is a swivel-eyed Daily Mail reader.

A question: When Brexit is done and May is left standing there blinking vaguely and surrounded by the wreckage of the economy where will the Conservative Party be in the eyes of the electorate?

Its reputation for sound economic management will have been trashed along with the economic damage it has just imposed on the country so who wins?

Philip you are doing the FT (and its readers) a signal disservice by misunderstanding Corbyn and the Labour left.

Copeland was never likely to vote for an anti nuclear Labour Party – and well you know that. The wonder is that the Labour Party nearly won the seat despite being clearly antagonistic to the existence of the region’s biggest employer. WE, the subscribers to the FT, expect objective reporting that enables good decision making.

Corbyn and labour can’t win at the moment, if they go to the middle and ignore the democratisation of their party they will lose, if they stay a democratic left party the boomers and those with assets won’t vote for them as they fear socialism

Meanwhile the millennials and future generations bear the brunt of public debt created privately, and shareholder capitalism which is a race to the bottom, generation rent, and the absurd 40% of income rent costs in areas where there are plentiful jobs and opportunity epitomises the modern day surplus extraction and misery of those who have not lived among the golden age of capitalism, add tuition fees, stagnating public services (NHS), erosion of employment rights and you can see why Corbyn is confident among that 20% (of which I’m a part, ha ha ha, how funny he’s so inept ha ha ha lets all laugh at corbyn because there are so many other alternatives out there that are SO much better).

The Tories will continue their irrational, economically illiterate policy that is not running the country into the ground but causing growing social issues, and new social actors will emerge from the post 2008 age eventually tipping the balance towards something more corbyn-esque. Until then it will be the same old, same old.

Corbyn’s crackpot policies are simply outrageous! Spending a little more on the NHS and primary school education?  Providing a bit more affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis? 

Failing to asset strip the public infrastructure? Rowing back a bit on the vast, exploitative Sports Direct-ification of the British economy?  Why, this is simply unpatriotic! How “radical” – somebody stop this crazed moderate, centre-left European-style social democrat Corbyn before my taxes end up a little bit higher and the proles end up with a slightly better quality of life!

God forbid that poorer people should ever have slightly better quality of life. Who knows where that might end? It’s better not to give people hope. It just encourages them to think. 

I agree.  Britain’s low wage, low skill, low investment, low productivity economy would be severely jeopardised by the dangerous, radical policies of Jeremy Corbyn. Sure, he’s languishing in the polls now, but the proles are a fickle lot and cannot be trusted to consistently vote for their own impoverishment. What if Corbyn dons a Union Jack leotard and starts leaping up to belt out a few verses of ‘God Save The Queen’ with gusto on the next campaign trail, waving a couple of flags about like the dickens.  Why, the proles might even be duped by this charade into voting him into office! This would leave us all at the mercy of an outbreak of half-decent working and housing conditions for the proles at any time.  This simply would not do, too much has already been invested by the Conservatives in their cooption of UKIP’s policy platform!

There was no money left. The Tories have just borrowed billions. The crash will be spectacular.

This article is high in the running for one of the worst I have read in the FT in years.  We are in the end times of Neo-Liberalism, an experiment where maybe 20% did very well, and 80% were massively left behind.

Corbyn, Trump, Brexit are consequences of a system that has failed, and a financial system that collapsed in 2008, never a crisis always a collapse.  Stevens has no understanding of the why’s of brexit or the rise of Corbyn.  The left-right paradigm is dead.  I could not find one sentence in this article that is not total ideological nonsense.

If Jeremy has got under the skin of Philip Stephens so badly he must be doing something right.

Most Labour MPs and most journalists hate Corbyn as if he were the devil.  He represents the one pole of the process of polarisation caused by the 2007-9 Great Recession and the continuing crisis of world capitalism.

Let there be no mistake. The reason Philip Stephens is so horrified is because if his buddies amongst the old Labour MPs who are career politicians, were instead people of principle and socialists, then the Labour Party would be challenging for power.

The lesson of our era is the fluidity and rapidity of change. If Corbyn is right, (and I think there is lots of evidence to back him up), if he can be seen to be a leader of masses on protests and demonstrations, this will sharply polarise politics and this may match a simultaneous collapse in Tory support.  The Labour MPs who are resigning and trying to oust Corbyn again with their endless press briefings against him are part of a deliberate coup attempt. This time a sort of coup by water torture. They will fail again. The only major criticism one can make of Corbyn is he is too soft on these saboteurs. There are times when a sword must be wielded.

The worrying thing about this analysis is, his policies weren’t even that far left, they were definitely more central than Thatcher’s. Yet the FT reports this as if he’s Lenin/Kim Jung Un etc. His biggest failing for the press is he wants a meritocracy and for companies which require state support (through the use of tax credits to prop up salaries and increase profits and bonuses) to not pay dividends, which is effectively the Government paying the rich in an indirect way. Yes he has his failings, as does everyone, but generally speaking a lot of his economic policies would work fairly well at creating a long term balanced economy.

Corbyn, and his anointed heir, need to show there is an alternative to the Conservative Creed. Perhaps he needs to lose an election to clear out the MPs who are undermining him.

Perhaps this will result in his own political demise. But if he has a suitable succession plan in place then his success will come after he is gone. With the LabouraTory MPs planked off the sinking ship, seats will be freed for real Labour candidates for the subsequent election.

Facetious commentary. Corbyn has inherited a mess of a party with crumbling membership and totally out of touch MPs.

Time and time again polls have shown that the public want a ring fenced NHS, working railways and better care for the elderly, sick and disabled. To finance that he has stated that he will increase funding to the HMRC so that it can go after companies that are not paying their taxes (last year’s estimated unpaid tax was £34 Billion) which is probably why this article has been written in the style it has.

People want the state to intervene if something isn’t working. The current level of income disparity is something that is directly affecting the world by creating the perfect soil for fascism. Yet no other political leader wants to do anything about it (since it will affect their careers after being an MP). 

Versus the CIA and capitalism he is the best chance we have of having a fair society

Birmingham has been named the most entrepreneurial city in the UK for four successive years – with more start-up businesses than anywhere outside of London. Data released by StartUp Britain shows that 17,473 new businesses were registered in Birmingham during 2016, an increase of 25% on the previous year. There are almost 114,000 self-employed people in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, according to the Office for National Statistics. It also won an award for business support

The leader of Birmingham Council, Cllr John Clancy, said: “Birmingham, known for years as the city of a thousand trades, remains a vibrant centre for entrepreneurs who are prepared to work hard, strike out on their own, and get businesses off the ground. 

There was an outcry when the Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled a National Insurance hike for self-employed workers in the Budget – now postponed. Some 4.6 million people, around 15% of the workforce, are now self-employed and data from the Office for National Statistics show that two thirds of new jobs in the UK created in recent years are down to self-employment.

Cllr Clancy called on Mrs May immediately to overrule Chancellor Philip Hammond and rule out any increases in Class 4 NIC payments. He said the proposal would hit those who took risks to set up small businesses and create jobs.

Well-informed readers explain that – as long as the self-employed have a contribution record established – they get the standard state retirement pension and older self-employed workers attaining pension age today have, in many cases, some pension accrued as employees for a number of years of their life which the present generation will not have. Benefits the self-employed cannot access relate to holidays, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has announced that Labour is to convene a summit to develop a new deal for self-employed workers and small businesses and develop Labour’s policy on self-employment. – recognising “that the world of work itself is changing”.




Programmes on Sky News and the BBC have shown bombing, mass starvation and collapse of medical facilities in Yemen. British firms have supplied military hardware and British military officers have helped to direct the Saudi military campaign.

In October the Labour Party submitted a parliamentary motion which opened: “That this House supports efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities and provide humanitarian relief in Yemen, and notes that the country is now on the brink of famine; condemns the reported bombings of civilian areas…”

The government voted against this disloyalty to our ‘special friend’ Saudi Arabia, as did some Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Shabana Mahmood.

Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff and human rights lawyer Kim Sharif will speak at this public meeting in Sparkhill organised by Stop the War Coalition, which does not support either side in Yemen’s civil war but condemns outside intervention and bombing by Saudi Arabia with the support of British and American military personnel.


 Roger Godsiff has raised six concerns in parliament after the government – via Tobias Ellwood, a minister at the department – issued ‘corrections’ to six statements on the Yemen crisis dating back almost six months:

  1. The government admitted issuing six statements misleading parliament on whether Saudi Arabia committed war crimes in Yemen.
  2. Saudi Arabia is in fact committing war crimes by targeting civilians and non-military infrastructure in Yemen.
  3. The UK is continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and these weapons may be used to commit war crimes in Yemen by the Saudi regime, which is a dictatorship with no regard for democracy or human rights.
  4. Continuing to sell arms to the Saudi regime both enables and condones violence against civilians.
  5. The UK’s standing in the world is diminished by these actions and strongly urging the government to urgently reconsider its arms export policy to Saudi Arabia.
  6. And the safety of civilians in Yemen and the UK’s reputation in the world should be prioritised over the profits of arms companies.


Contact Stuart Richardson: email or see



One-party rule for the foreseeable future?

On Sunday evening two of our readers were considering the future and seeing no possibility of anything other than an elective dictatorship, after boundary changes expected to boost the Conservatives by 20 English seats.

The younger generation and their children will bear the brunt

trickle-downAs yet, people in their 20s and 30s in the Birmingham-Solihull area merely express mild concern about this prospect – they don’t seem to realise the implications of such apathy for all who are not wealthy, not of Oxbridge/Russell Group ability or not in good health.

Award-winning journalist Matthew Norman has asked three questions:

How long do you think it will be before a party other than the Conservatives is in position to form a government?

Can you imagine it within two decades, or three?

Can you envisage it in your lifetime at all? 

An article he wrote last February referred to “our enfeebled democracy” and his sense that “Britain is shuffling on its Zimmer towards one-party statehood”. The points made included:

  • Labour is politically wounded by its huge losses in Scotland.
  • Labour has also been financially weakened by the Government’s Trade Union Bill halving what it gets from the unions.
  • Government will continue to sidestep the Commons by using statutory instruments and
  • threaten to create new peers whenever the Lords don’t rubberstamp cruel and oppressive measures.
  • Government will inflict more austerity on the poorest, continue to award beneficial concessions for the richest
  • and allow the health of city dwellers and the climate to be even more affected by many forms of pollution which benefit big business. 

Matthew Norman finds it “incredibly depressing . . . that no one gives a damn”

The writer puts it more mildly, like Yeats she finds that: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”. 


Democracy appears to be doomed – unless the cross-party alliance to promote electoral reform gains ground.




Jeremy Mallin, writing from Solihull, firmly admonishes the FT

ft nikkeiSir, You argue in your editorial “Labour must now act to remove Corbyn as leader” (June 28) that Jeremy Corbyn should go.

Why? And why should you say so?

I am not a fan of Mr Corbyn or the Labour party, but its constitution vests the selection of its leader, whether you like it or not, in the whole party membership, paid-up supporters and affiliated trade unions.

It is all very well for an ever-increasing number of Labour MPs to state that they want him to resign, and although it is obvious that trying to continue without their support is impossible, I admire Mr Corbyn for standing by the rules of his party’s constitution.

The attitude articulated by Labour MPs in this instance, and by the FT and others on issues such as the EU referendum, that the rules of the game should be ignored in order to satisfy the whims of a self-appointed and laughably called “elite,” is one of the reasons Leave won last week’s referendum, and the ongoing uprising against the west’s “elite” will continue to resonate.





progressive politics event header

The election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party – a Labour leader ‘without historical precedent’ – offers a challenge to all those political groups, organizations and parties that oppose continuing inequality, climate change and the dominance of ‘Capital’. For Greens he offers a special opportunity – an opportunity to articulate and promote a progressive politics that is distinctly different from that of the Labour Party and one which is more suited to successfully addressing the complex and interconnected problems of a 21st century post capitalist future.

The political discussion on progressive and Green politics in Britain today will be based on the independent think tank Green House’s new e-book, Green Politics and the Left. This publication is dedicated to the memory of Michael Meacher MP, a conscientious, thoughtful and committed parliamentarian who remained true to his radical principles even in ministerial office. His help and counsel as a member of Green House’s Advisory Group will be sorely missed.  greenhouse_smallContents of the e-book:

  1. 1.The Forward March of the Greens Halted? – Rupert Read 7
  2. Can Corbyn Avoid a Return to the Eighties? – Victor Anderson 14
  3. Democratizing the Media – John Blewitt 17
  4. Why Greens are Republicans – Anne Chapman 26
  5. Policy V. Politics – Lucy Ford 29
  6. The Fall of Neoliberalism – Victor Anderson 32
  7. State, Market and Democracy in Green Politics – Thomas Lines

‘Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best’ said the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. For Greens today, politics has to be more than ‘the next best’. Clearly, political goals have to be attainable but what is often considered attainable has for the last thirty years certainly not been either of the best or even the next best.

Not everyone will agree with the authors here but democracy, and especially a Green democracy, is about deliberation, participation and informed debate. Let the debate begin.

This event will be held  in the Adrian Cadbury Lecture Theatre (Aston Business School ) on 16 February 2016, 18:00 – 20:00, doors open at 5.45pm.

Speakers: Anne Chapman (Green House), Rupert Read (Chair of Green House / Green Party) and John Blewitt (Aston University)

Event Chair John Blewitt: Co-Director of the MSc Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Aston Business School and editor of Green House’s And Green Politics and the Left …

To register go to:

A reader who had one brief contact with Cllr Ward a couple of years ago found her conduct very unsatisfactory; have many of her constituents had similar disappointments?

We read that – for the second time – Hodge Hill ward Labour Party members have refused to endorse sitting councillor Anita Ward. Two weeks ago, Cllr Ward failed by 18 votes to three to win a ‘trigger ballot’ vote, which meant she had to face a formal reselection procedure and would not automatically go forward as the candidate.

mayors for peace header

As a researcher our reader had approached Cllr Ward, then mayor, to give a few words to add to her picture in a city centre peace trail leaflet, one of a series of city trails devised in Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, London and Cambridge. This, because Birmingham became a member of the worldwide Mayors for Peace initiative in 2007. 

Perhaps the concerns about Cllr Ward are deeper and more substantial – our reader’s experience indicates that possibility

anita 2 wardCllr Ward initially agreed to do this, but then backed out and brusquely refused to discuss her change of heart.

Her failure to give a reason for not performing this minimal act, in fulfilment of an internationally agreed role, was disappointing and rather unpleasant. The researcher also entered the fact that Birmingham had followed Manchester City Council’s lead, becoming a member of 78 nuclear-free local authorities, though nuclear fuel rods are transported through the residential heart of the city by train, and nuclear warheads are driven along major roads and motorways around Birmingham.

A Labour member who was at the meeting told Chamberlain Files: “People were shouting and saying ‘no we aren’t going to vote for you’. There was concern that Anita doesn’t even live in the ward.

And is Birmingham still a ‘nuclear-free’ LA with a ‘Mayor for Peace’?


Birmingham based Professor Rex Harris writes:

Today I am 76 and I thought I should take this opportunity to reflect on the state of my beloved Labour Party and hopefully demonstrate that the present “doom and gloom” surrounding the party is, in my view, totally unjustified.

Although society has made enormous strides in technology and science we are still living under a very regressive political system. Thus we still have the primitive “first pass the post” electoral system whereby, with just 38% of the vote, the Tories have been re-elected for another depressing 5 years during which time the gap between rich and poor will become even wider.

Lack of scientific expertise in Parliament

The cabinet is still predominantly ex-public school and male and in the composition of the new parliament of around 650 MPs, only a very tiny minority will have any significant scientific/engineering background and hence technical knowledge. I believe that in the last parliament there was only one science-based PhD and, in the current batch the picture is probably even worse.

This critical absence of technical expertise is, to my mind, extremely worrying as the quality of the future will be dependent on implementing long term, technically-based measures determined by the overwhelming need to reduce carbon.

The mammoths in the room are climate change and resource depletion and yet these topics received barely a mention in the debates leading up to the 2015 general election. These and related areas will determine, not only the future shape of the Labour party   but that of the whole world and these should be the dominant themes in the current and future debates.

When asked to define the most challenging aspect of his political life, Harold McMillan stated:

                                     ” Events dear boy, events”

This was a very wise statement and with the increasing manifestation of climate change in the UK as well as throughout the world, related events will become ever-more predominant in political life. The difficult, if not impossible task, is to predict the exact time it will take for the reality of climate change and resource depletion to have a significant impact on the electorate.

Currently, I believe we are all living in a “fools’ paradise”

The stark reality is that our present consumer driven economic system cannot provide the necessary long term solutions to these problems and this is why the Labour party must not seek short-term political gain by trying to emulate our existing system which seems to be based predominantly on the motivating force of personal greed.

The necessary changes cannot be achieved by short-term tinkering with the existing system

The majority realisation that there has to be a radical change could come in the next 5 years or it might take longer, but come it will.

In the meantime the Labour party, along with other like-minded groups, has to formulate detailed root and branch policies to provide a workable alternative to the present unsustainable system which is based on the growing consumption of ever diminishing raw materials and evermore carbon-based energy.

The Labour Party must provide the blueprint for a sustainable future and the sooner it sets its mind to this objective the better.

It might be useful to consider what could be some of the political priorities (in no particular order):

  • Introduce a system of proportional representation and real federalisation within the UK.
  • Increase substantially the proportion of female Labour candidates.
  • Try and increase the proportion of candidates with a scientific/engineering background. Aim for engineers and scientists to be “on top” not just “on-tap”.
  • Develop a series of independent technical workshops to inform MPs and other policy makers of the technical challenges that lie ahead.
  • Set-up a parliamentary group to investigate comprehensively the impacts of climate change and resource depletion. For instance, to develop a full-scale recycling strategy
  • Look to build a purpose-built parliament building in the Midlands and convert the existing parliament buildings into tourist attractions.
  • Strengthen and expand the concept of a “Green Bank” to fund new businesses based of sustainable technologies.
  • Electrify all urban transportation and develop battery recycling technologies.
  • Strengthen and develop EC and other international ties.

These are just some of the many priorities that Labour will have to address, analyse and then formulate workable solutions. A far cry from today’s often trivial and somewhat irrelevant arguments


Date: Monday, 27 July, 2015, 16:03