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Diane for Leader Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 June 2010 17:09

By Peter Willsman - Labour Party NEC member

Diane Abbott’s leadership campaign has excited comrades about the possibilities that have been opened up. The party’s left wing will for the first time since the 1980s be able to participate in the contest and put its views before the party membership. Additionally, the left is putting forward a candidate who has wide appeal. In the two public polls published since Diane put her name forward for consideration she has either been the voters’ first or second choice for leader. She will bring a breath of fresh air compared to the list of white males who are also on the ballot paper.

The left needs to pull together and put its efforts into building support for Diane’s campaign, as this will help get across the popular agenda that Labour needs to adopt so it can rebuild support amongst the electorate. Diane will ensure there is a proper debate on the direction Labour should take, which party members have been saying is desperately needed.

The two Eds, in particular, will now have to clearly set out where they stand in relation to the abomination that was New Labour. As Jon Cruddas has said, he has known the Eds for nearly 20 years but still does not know where they stand on most major political issues. After Diane launched her campaign, pointing out how wrong it was to invade Iraq and the damage it did to Labour’s support, both Eds publicly distanced themselves from Blair’s decision to invade and indicated they understood the need for rebuilding the trust that Labour lost as a result.

Diane’s critique of neo-liberalism, her support for investment for growth and opposition to reductions in public spending, for progressive taxation, social justice, anti neo-con military adventurism and for peace can now all be aired in the course of the forthcoming election campaign.

Like Diane, I have been appalled at the way other leadership candidates and their supporters are targeting immigrants. Suggestions that migrants are the cause of low wages or to blame for fact that the Labour government did insufficient to address the housing shortage are just plain wrong. There is no evidence that migration has had any impact on wages and terms of conditions. But it is clear the last government fiercely resisted proposals to regulate the labour market thus allowing wages to be driven down, irrespective of the nationality of the workers. In fact there is strong evidence that the migration of the past decade contributed to strengthening economic growth and improving public services.

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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.

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PR and AV are problems not solutions Print E-mail
Saturday, 20 June 2009 07:41

by Peter Willsman
Secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and member of Labour’s NEC.

The public’s disgust at the goings-on at Westminster is being exploited by the supporters of proportional representation (PR).  They are trying to suggest that the electoral system is somehow to blame and they put forward PR as a panacea to solve the problems.  New Labour is in a panic, and in their desperation to find something to take the heat off, many of its supporters are also opportunistically talking up the attractions of “electoral reform”.  All this ignores the convincing reasons why our Party has supported first-past-the-post (FPTP) for all these years.  It is because FPTP produces majority Labour governments.  People join Labour because they believe majority Labour governments offer the best hope for a progressive future.  In stark contrast PR means coalition governments and little or no chance of majority Labour governments.

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