Thursday, 26 July 2012

Labour has the chance now to reject race politics in Tower Hamlets - it should take it

It was with a heavy heart that Labour Uncut uncovered a little-reported nugget from seasoned east end politics commentator Ted Jeory: the expulsion of five Tower Hamlets councillors from the Labour party.

Actually, no. It was rather with delighted surprise and relief.

At last.

One of the councillors, Shahed Ali, tried to compare their floor-crossing – to join the non-Labour cabinet of independent, Respect-backed mayor Lutfur Rahman – with the failure of Dan Hodges and Alan Sugar (neither of whom are elected politicians, incidentally) to endorse Ken Livingstone.

And where Ali lost all credibility, as Jeory points out, was with his somewhat risible cry of “racism”. Ah yes, it was nothing to do with the councillors’ abject disloyalty: they were being picked on because they happened to be Bengali Muslims. Of course.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Soothing factional politics within Labour: 9/10. Connecting with the public: 2/10

Durham Miners' Gala - view of the platform
I’ll let you into a guilty secret: I’m a sucker for brass bands. As a Yorkshireman who grew up about thirty miles from Durham, and a Labour activist with half my family from South Wales, I am still stirred by the solidarity thing. I probably have as good a nerdy appreciation of the last hundred years of Labour history, of Keir Hardie, Bevan and Bevin as the next member. I have even been known to shed a tear at party conference (I kid you not).

And I heartily agree with Mark Ferguson that Westminster has a real job understanding the North, and it needs to get out more (he’s also right about the closing of the regional development board One North East which, incidentally, I wrote to the Northern Echo about in 2009). These things are important.

My own biggest worry about Ed Miliband attending the Durham Miners’ Gala was a simple one: that, especially in the wake of the GMB-Unison-Aslef-Progress row, it would end up being a similar media car-crash as had been his appearance at the 26th March demo last year. It wasn’t.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Labour approaches a tipping point

“The future is unwritten” said Joe Strummer. He was right. We really can change the future: really. Because politics is driven by people and events.

That said, many of these people and events are in turn, whether we like it or not, driven by power.

It’s significant that even the word tends to bring to mind thoughts of how power corrupts or how the wielding of power is somehow an undesirable act. But power can be good too. We need it. The just wielding of power is a wholly good and desirable act, whether or not we agree with the political outcome. Democracy would be meaningless without it, after all. Power is there to be used for good, even if that is not always the result as we see it.

Those who have it can choose to wield it, or not. And sometimes it can be about perceived, rather than actual, power, as well. The shifting of the political tectonic plates often happens because the balance changes between one side and another, and it is often these events, rather than the froth of the everyday media, which we should be watching.

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