Young Labour battle commences

December 24, 2006

The biennial battle for the yoof spot on Labour’s NEC is ready to kick off in the New Year, bringing a nostalgic tear to this correspondent’s eye for some of the hilarious antics through which previous elections were stitched up by the powers that be.

This year’s “official” candidate is Stephanie Peacock, whose main claim to fame is her public defence of top-up fees on these grounds: “It’s only fair that if you use a service you should pay towards it.” Let’s hope they don’t let her anywhere near the rest of our public services.

Standing from the moderate wing of the party is young trade union activist Daniel Carden. The Daily hopes he mounts a credible challenge, if just in the hope that there will be some entertaining constitutional contortions by Labour Students’ fixers in their efforts to stop him.


Cruddas and the bloggers

December 19, 2006

Yesterday gave The Daily a chance to join other bloggers in a conference call with Jon Cruddas.

The conversation was extremely positive, discussing the potential for the internet and blogging to be a positive new tool, not just for Jon’s campaign, but for the Labour Party as a whole.  What was also refreshing was that Jon actually listened to what all of us had to say about internet campaigning.

I think that’s one of the big differences between Jon and the other candidates – he seems to be actually listening to what people on the ground in the Labour Party are saying. That’s exactly the kind of change we need at the top of the Labour Party and this election is our chance to get it.


Polling and the deputy leadership

December 6, 2006

Harriet Harman’s campaign were so pleased with their specially-commissioned YouGov poll last week that Harman cheerleader Joan Ruddock has sent out their analysis of the results to every member of the PLP in a round-robin email. So far, the only public reaction has been an interrogatory reply from John Spellar (the PLP’s answer to Luke Akehurst) questioning whether Harman is sufficiently in love with nuclear missiles to be worthy of his consideration, regardless of her supposed electoral appeal.

But when you cut through the spin, what do the polling results actually mean? Mike Smithson has already written a pretty solid rebuttal of Harman’s main line of argument over at pb.com and we would (belatedly) echo his points. 

Read the rest of this entry »


When interviews go wrong (part 1)

December 4, 2006

Today’s Daily Mail (no link) contains an excellent example of why, no matter how desperate a Minister is for publicity, there are some interviews that should be refused. Peter Hain’s interview with Petronella Wyatt should be taught in Spin Doctoring 101 as an example of how not to do it.

The appalling results of the decision to speak to Wyatt are not online (and we hope readers don’t buy the Daily Mail) so The Daily has decided to offer highlights through the week.

Today’s gem comes in response to a question on his use of Hillsborough Castle, the Northern Ireland’s Secretary’s stately home:

‘We all play football in the throne room,’ he boasts.

‘Are you trying to be cool and rebellious?’ I ask censoriously.

‘No,’ he says hastily. ‘We have great respect for the throne room — we were very careful. It was a very small football.’

More of that sort of cutting edge chit-chat same time tomorrow.


Cruddas talks on Iraq, Trident, the Party

December 1, 2006

We mentioned that Jon Cruddas was reported to be getting ready to join the debate on Iraq. The interview on GMTV Sunday is now being trailed around the net, including by Tom Watson MP. We have some quotes from the interview, which speak for themselves.

It is refreshing to see a serious contender in the deputy leadership contest actually prepared to debate the tough issues, rather than just repeat the Government line.

In the interview, Cruddas says of the war:

Well I think I was wrong, actually. I think you can not look at the situation in and say that it is anything other than a disaster, actually. And I’m not questioning the motives of why we went in, I think the premise was wrong obviously in terms of the weapons of mass destruction. I saw it from the back of the former Yugoslavia issues and Sierra Leone as an attempt to deal with totalitarian regimes, however any look at what we’ve created is not a liberal democracy we sought to create, but is sort of approaching carnage.

He goes on to say:

Well I do regret it, I think the key question is if we know now, if we knew then what we know now, would you still have voted for it, and I can say no, I wouldn’t have done. And I think that’s the key question really. So therefore I do regret the way I voted on it and the key thing now is not to compound the problem but to try and resolve it, so we’ve got to look at the next decision rather than the last one.

On Trident:

Well my position is that I’m not convinced about the need for a renewed nuclear capability. Last week Charles Clarke, for example, made a really interesting speech about whether this was a weaponry for a previous era and that’ basically where I’m at, I will need to be convinced about this and my instinct is to be opposed to it. I want to see the process, I want to see actually a debate across the party about it because I think this is so critical and such a profound issue that the party has to be involved.

Talking about the Labour Party’s future, and whether disagreements with Gordon Brown would cause problems in a future Labour leadership, he says:

No I don’t think so at all actually, I think it would help rebuild a sense of a wider, deeper coalition that is the Labour Party, and I don’t see the status quo as an option for us, we’ve lost more members than we actually have now, since 1997, membership activity is in decline, the active space is in freefall and we need to rebuild this. The only way that we can do this is to try and rebuild a sense of a progressive agenda, now that might be challenging for aspiring leaders of the party, but I think in the end it will be helpful to them.


Dodgy loans and party renewal

November 29, 2006

Following the loans affair, the Labour Party has now published what it has taken in loans. It makes pretty grim reading – the Party is now £23.4 m in debt; £1.5 m of it has been called in and is now repayable within months; £17 m will have to be repaid by the end of next year.

The whole affair of slightly shady business men stumping up loans to secretly finance the last election campaign leaves a bad taste. It only serves to drive away people from getting involved in the Party, which itself is a vicious circle. With less activists, we become more reliant for a funding base on big donors and more reliant on money as we have less activists.

Renewing the Party is the only way to solve our problems. It’s fairly clear that the old labour dream of a flood of new union money to displace the donors isn’t going to come true. Neither is it a viable for the Party to scale down high expense campaigns for upcoming elections. The answer is to re-energise the party, bring in new members and get the ones already in more involved.

One obvious model is that of Howard Dean in his primary race. The fact that he didn’t win is neither here nor there. He managed to energise Democrats and bring in huge amounts of money in small donations. That money didn’t all just come because he had a snappy website. It came because of the small Dean events and meet ups that took place. It came because people felt that they had a stake in the campaign.

That is why democracy in the party is not just a question of people who are unhappy about policy x or policy y having their say. A genuinely democratic party that gives the members a real voice would help people feel that they are part of something worth bothering with again. That would bring in new money and help get enthusiastic volunteers for the tough campaigns ahead. That is how we get out of the money vicious cycle and start to fight back against Cameron’s Tory machine.


Tom Watson on the deputy leadership

November 29, 2006

Tom Watson has a poll on his blog about the Deputy Leadership race, which is well worth a look at.  We missed it when it first went, but it looks like it is still live.  Click here to answer his questions.