Welcome to Grassroots Labour
No new era, but the sound of an elite sharpening its axe Print E-mail
Friday, 14 May 2010 14:30
The Cameron and Clegg show won't seem so cute once the cuts bite, but if Labour backs another Blair, it will fail to benefit

We are at the threshold of a "new era", David Cameron declared yesterday, in the rose-kissed dawn of a "historic and seismic shift" in British politics. It certainly looks like coalition politics could be here to stay, given the historic decline in support for the main parties. But any idea that the new Tory-Liberal Democrat government represents a challenge to Britain's power structure, or even a break with some of the most shopworn politics of the past decade, was swept away as the ministerial carve-up was revealed.

With Liam Fox as defence secretary, William Hague at the Foreign Office, George Osborne as chancellor and Michael Gove in charge of schools, you have a quartet of throwback enthusiasts for US neoconservatism unmatched in today's western world. For all the talk of the brilliance of the Tory modernisers' coup, the prospect of the new home secretary Theresa May – who voted against abortion and gay adoption rights – heading up the government's equalities agenda, or Iain Duncan Smith dragooning the sick and the jobless into privatised cheap labour schemes is a sobering measure of the new reality.

Peter Willsman reports from NEC Print E-mail
Monday, 03 May 2010 14:17


·      Manifesto Meeting with Ed Miliband (25th Feb)  

Three NEC members (Ann Black, Peter Kenyon and Peter Willsman) representing the CLP section of the NEC, together with a handful of NPF members representing the CLP section of the NPF, held a two hour meeting with Ed Miliband and staff to discuss issues for the General Election Manifesto.  The NEC members insisted that that Labour’s response to the recession should be investment for growth not reductions in services and jobs that would only worsen the economic situation.  This should be combined with a commitment to progressive taxation eg. reform of council tax.  It was argued by most of those present that, for example, the Party’s policy of universal free school meals would send a powerful message that we are serious about tackling poverty and malnutrition.  It would also clearly separate us from the Tories and reinforce our core vote.  In response Ed confirmed that he full agreed with the general thrust of what was being said. 


A range of specific policies were pressed by the NEC members, among them were the following (with Ed’s response in each case).


Tobin Tax – this is government policy and it is being pursued at an international level. 

A massive increase in house building, especially social housing – this is accepted, but there are budget constraints.

A People’s bank based on the Post Office – This is being worked on.

Require multinational companies to account by country – Discussions are taking place at an international level.

East Coast Mainline to remain public – Discussions are taking place with the unions.

Reinforce the hunting ban – Ed was sympathetic.

Consider converting good selective schools to 6th Form colleges – Ed needed to think about this one!

Leasehold reform – Ed will see if the concept of commonhold can be further developed.

Saving money by cancelling Trident and ID cards – Ed sidestepped these by saying that nuclear disarmament will be pressed at a forthcoming international conference and that the introduction of ID cards will cost relatively little for several years.


·        Report of the 23rd March NEC

Questions to Gordon Brown

Gordon stressed that in contrast to the Tories Labour must clearly be seen as on the side of the majority and not the few – “We are the People’s Party, we always have been and always will be”.  This means giving the public a clear choice.  We stand for investment, fairness and public services.  The Tories would give handouts to the rich, would decimate services and deepen the recession.  These are exactly the same policies that the Tories pursued under Thatcher.  In response to questions Gordon reaffirmed the commitment to concessionary fares and to an expansion of house building, especially social housing.  He also distanced himself from the Tory-controlled local government employers, who are refusing any pay rise.  Several NEC members were critical of ministers who had made anti unions comments about the BA dispute.  Gordon responded that behind the scenes he had been trying his best to assist the negotiations.


“Cabs for hire”

Nick Brown, Chief Whip, gave a report of the disciplinary action he and the General Secretary had taken against those MPs who had disgraced both themselves and the Party by offering to sell their Parliamentary influence.  This action was unanimously endorsed.


Late Parliamentary selections

A report was given of the recent decisions of the NEC’s Special Selections Panel.  Attention was

drawn to the adverse publicity resulting from the Panel’s actins in relation to the shortlisting in Stalybridge and Hyde CLP.  It was agreed that more transparent procedures should be followed in future [unfortunately since the March NEC there has been the shortlisting in Stoke Central CLP, where the Panel’s actions are completely indefensible.  This will be raised at the next NEC].


East Lothian CLP

In January this CLP had carried a resolution requesting permission from the NEC, in accordance with the Party’s Rule Book, to re-open the reselection process for its sitting MP, on the grounds that there were ‘changed circumstances’.  This request was agreed by a special meeting of the NEC in early March.  The CLP then held an all-members meeting at which it was resolved by a large majority that the sitting MP “shall not be the Labour Party candidate at the next General Election”.  The MP then appealed to the NEC.  The NEC did not uphold the appeal and the CLP was given permission to select a new candidate.


·        Manifesto meeting with Ed Miliband (7 April)

Ed called a meeting solely with NEC members representing the CLP Section and Ann Black, Peter Kenyon, Christine Shawcroft and Peter Willsman attended.  The main thrust of the Manifesto was to protect and reinforce the economic recovery, but also to address the main issues facing us in the next decade.


The NEC members stressed the importance of clearly distinguishing our policies from the Tories, through emphasizing our values and principles in practice eg by tackling poverty, progressive taxation, ensuring the bankers pay and building much more social housing.  Labour must not be cautious.  The Tories will promise the earth and Labour needs to be bold.  The key will be winning back former Labour voters and getting our vote out.  Ed did not demur.


·        Clause V Manifesto Meeting (8th April)

This was the formal Manifesto approval meeting as laid down in the Rule Book.  It was chaired by Gordon Brown and included the NEC, Cabinet, Union leaders, representatives fro the PLP and NPF – altogether some 70 comrades.  The meeting lasted over 2 hours.  All ten chapters were moved, debated and finalised – on every chapter Gordon called everyone who indicated.


In opening the meeting Gordon said this was one of the most radical Manifestos our Party has presented.  He picked out three themes – securing the recovery, building even better public services and reinvigorating politics.  Several TU speakers pressed the issue of universal free school meals and Peter Willsman pointed out that this is a symbolic issue that separates us from the Tories.  Ed balls undertook to redraft this section.  Willsman also asked for recognition to be given to the role and contribution of the Co-op Movement and Co-op Party and Ed Miliband took this on board.  Willsman also pressed on the Tobin Tax and Alistair Darling reported on the considerable progress that has been made in the last few weeks.  Willsman also pressed that our commitment to giving football club supporters trusts a right to own a share of their club should be given much greater prominence.  He also argued that there should be more attention given to the issue of tackling tax avoidance by multinationals, which particularly disadvantages third world countries.  Willsman also felt that capital gains should be taxed at the same marginal rates as income tax.


Following the publication of the Manifesto there will be further specific departmental policies announced during the campaign.  These will address several of the issues raised in the prior discussions with Ed Miliband.


Peter Willsman is a CLP rep, on the NEC.  He is always available for advice and assistance phone 020 8854 7326.

REPORT OF CLPD AGM 2010 Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 09:25
by Mick Loates

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) held its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 20 February at Conway Hall in central London. It was as lively an event as ever, with a number of decisions taken in preparation for this year’s and next year’s Labour Party annual conferences. Pete Willsman, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and CLPD secretary, gave a report on the activities of CLPD over the last 12 months and an overview of last year’s Labour Party conference.
CLPD meetings at 2010 Labour Conference Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 09:51

Sunday 26th Septemeber 10.30am

CLPD Rally

Bar 38 Peter Street (adjacent to secure area) Manchester

Wednesday 29th September 6pm

Assessment of Conference

Bar 38 Peter Street (adjacent to secure area) Manchester


Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance pre-election statement Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 March 2010 14:58

The CLGA links all Labour Party centre and left democratic-socialist groups and newspapers, all of whom will be working for a Labour General Election victory. As the 2010 Manifesto consultation draws to a close we are backing the following approach:

1.    For Labour to win the election, it has to set out a clear agenda of public investment in contrast to Tory cuts.  Investment will restore economic growth which is necessary to rebuild government revenues and so reduce the public deficit.

2.    Labour should make a clean break with market dogma, deregulation and privatisation. Everyone who shares Labour values can see the difference between public provision inspired by service, and private sector greed. That's why Royal Mail must remain wholly in the public sector and train operation brought back into it.

3.    Equality, fairness and social justice can only be achieved by Labour making a much bigger investment in council housing for rent. Greening the economy is vital to tackle climate change and create more jobs. Fair pensions for all must be a right. Spending has to be increased in the NHS, state education, renewable energy and public transport.

4.    Wealth creation goes hand in hand with more redistribution to boost living standards of the low-paid, unemployed, disabled, elderly and anyone  disadvantaged. High pay should face higher rates of tax, and low pay lower rates. Union rights to help safeguard employees from exploitation should be strengthened. Personal liberties are as important as national security.

5.    The whole of the financial sector, including retail and investment banks, must be taxed to pay for the global bailout. Savers and investors have to be better protected from wanton greed. Lending for social purpose must be ensured.

6.    Our international aid must be increased to 1% of GDP, and paid for by abandoning Trident, and bringing troops home from Afghanistan. Social Europe must be strengthened, and our commitment to the rule of international law never put in doubt again.

Your last chance to influence Labour's manifesto Print E-mail
Monday, 22 February 2010 14:51

We must do our best to ensure that the party’s manifesto for the election contains the policies which will best enable us to reconnect with our core voters without whom we will not win.  Party and trade union members have not been involved in a proper review of the party’s policies since the start of the biggest economic crisis in almost a century.  However, Ed Miliband, as co-ordinator of Labour's next manifesto, has invited the comments from CLPs and individual party members. 

Below are listed 50 ideas you may well support but, whatever your views, please send them to Ed Miliband at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it – you can cut and paste the ones you like and add other ideas of your own.


Please don’t delay – do it now.  It will not take long.




Grassroots Umbrella Network Conference Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 January 2010 09:48

Grassroots Umbrella Network Conference

March 6th 12 noon onwards

Conway Hall, London

Building a left agenda for the General Election and after



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