Owen Smith, £200 billion

The Owen 2016 campaign has made an announcement: a “new £50 million fund for every council in Britain to access,” eradicating homelessness.

This £50 million is the latest in a long line of uncosted proposals from the Owen 2016 campaign.

His £200 billion “British New Deal” is now supposed to fund schools, hospitals, housing, transport networks, “Sure Start,” boost council finances and a plethora of other pick and mix polices from the 2016 campaign.

This “British New Deal” has allowed Smith to skip accountability on every question with one simple answer: “£200 billion.”

“How would you solve the refugee crisis?”

“£200 billion.”

“How would you solve our housing crisis?”

“£200 billion.”

“Railways?”

“£200 billion.”

Pretty soon, this £200 billion ceases to exist.

Not only this, but the “New Deal” would run across the whole Parliament, equaling a paltry £40 billion per year. Does this sound like enough to “Rebuild Britain”?

A better solution would be to launch a £500 billion investment bank, allowing full-control of not only 2.5 times as much capital but to be delivered through a regional banking system accountable to local communities; prioritising crises relevant to the areas in which we live. This is Corbyn’s policy.

However, let’s look at Smith’s proposal a little closer.

180,000 applications are made for “homeless assistance” each year, with around half this number accepted for council support.

Owen’s £50 million would fund an estimated £550 each year, for each person accepted “homeless” by their local authority. If Owen was to ensure everyone who applied for homeless support received it then the fund would provide just over £200 per person, i.e., one week in a bed and breakfast.

This is a scandal.

The truth is that Smith’s £50 million homeless fund – like his £200 billion “New Deal” – is nothing more than a practical joke on our most vulnerable.

Paying lip-service to causes Corbyn has championed for over 30 years in Parliament is no way to win an election.

This “Punch & Judy” politics of the Smith campaign has caused Labour to take unprecedented steps; barring members, supporters and affiliates from voting.

Indeed, Owen’s doing such a bad job that Party officials feel the only way to win is to purge hundreds of thousands of voters.

The Left has maintained its focus attacking Smith’s character (and for good reason).

But now is the time to start attacking his policies.

Smith’s proposals are not interrogated. Corbyn sits on the floor for an hour and the world ends. Smith promises to “Rebuild Britain” with a 6% increase in central government spending, and he’s “competent.”

No more.

We need to make a concerted effort to win-back members, supporters and affiliates who have been duped into believing Smith offers concrete leadership and achievable policies.

Smith has run his whole campaign on a fantasy-budget of just 1/17th of public expenditure. This isn’t fantasy-football. It’s real-life.

Labour members supporting Smith are our friends, family and comrades. We need to ensure we are reaching-out to them, making the argument for a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Like the anti-austerity platform Corbyn has forced into the political mainstream; why settle for Jeremy-lite when we could have Jeremy?

This election is about more than personalities. It’s about who has the radical programme we need for a Labour government. It’s about who is best-placed to serve everyone in our country – regardless of race, background or social status.

Jeremy offers a Party for all because he wants a government for all.

“United, we are very effective.”

It’s our job to show our Party, the media, the Tories, just how united – and just how devastating – we can be when we work together.

Solidarity.

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Image by HPOL.

Labour Purge – Chase Your Ballot

A Labour source has confirmed “a few thousand” votes have now been culled in the Party’s second leadership “purge.”

Figures of either “tens of thousands” or “hundreds of thousands” are total figures and include post-January members.

Members receiving letters suspending them from the Party have a right to appeal.

If you have received a letter of suspension, please contact labour@electoralreform.co.uk.

One member, who has not yet received their ballot, has been assured they will; receiving this e-mail from Labour’s “Membership and Communications Unit.”

Purge reinstatement
E-mail received by Labour member, confirming their right to vote by re-issuing ballot.

Although this e-mail refers to the recent NEC elections, it does seem possible to chase your ballot. Electoral Reform administered the NEC elections; they are also administering the leadership election.

This is the first evidence we’ve seen of a successful challenge by a Party member.

If you have not received your ballot, please follow-suit and e-mail labour@electoralreform.co.uk.

Labour Purge – 10 Reasons for Hope

In the wake of “Labour Purge 2,” it’s easy to become despondent.

Here are 10 reasons to be hopeful:

  1. Labour HQ looks incompetent. Labour’s NEC made history, taking steps unprecedented in British politics. Backed by General Secretary, Iain McNicol, Labour has culled over a third of its members. Purging the head of the Bakers union (BFAWU) led John McDonnell to demand the protection of members from a “rigged purge.” Presented with little to no evidence of their suspensions, members have received letters outlining vague justifications, such as “sharing inappropriate content” on social media.
  2. Iain McNicol will resign. The systematic abuse of members and supporters is a final “Hoorah” from the General Secretary and his outgoing team. The NEC will soon have five new representatives; promising to protect and serve Party members. McNicol cannot survive this.
  3. A purge won’t happen again. Labour can look forward to a future where Party members and supporters have greater powers, authority and responsibility; where Party leaders have greater accountability to the movement they represent. Is it any wonder Jeremy Corbyn wanted to democratise the Party? The Labour purge is precisely the kind of scenario he foresaw and demonstrates just how irrelevant party members have become in the eyes of HQ. The devolution of powers to the Party Grassroots is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.
  4. Tories may be callous; but they’re not stupid. They know what’s happening in the Party. They know systematic attempts have been made to obliterate members. Accusations of Corbyn being a “fantasist,” “weak” or “inept” are dissipating. Many Tory voters now find themselves cultivating a sense of respect for Corbyn as a person, regardless of his political leanings. This is half the battle.
  5. Floating-voters. The public see Corbyn suffering anti-democratic forces. They see the bullying. They see the abuse. And, while many of them may think he’s “incapable of winning a general election,” he has their respect.
  6. Labour Hustings. Thursday’s debate in Glasgow revealed yet more ugliness as Smith attacked Corbyn for “not voting to remain” in the European Union; conveniently forgetting he campaigned with the entire “leadership of the Labour movement” in Cardiff.

    Smith EU gaffe
    Owen Smith Tweet – edited by HPOL.
  7. Pressure. Smith’s habit of resorting to abuse when under scrutiny is not just a problem for his leadership ambitions but for the PLP as a whole. In Smith’s own words, there’s a concession that “Jeremy is right” about almost everything. The Party cannot defeat Corbyn on policy and has therefore resorted to ad-hominem attacks.

    Patronising crap
    Owen Smith Tweet – 14th June, 2016.
  8. Numbers. The scale of anti-democratic plotting in Labour is unprecedented. But gerrymandering votes away from Corbyn won’t work. The number of eligible voters (roughly 300,000 after “Purge no. 1”) means HQ still faces a mammoth task. Even if Labour was to purge another 200,000, the percentage of Corbyn/Smith supporters would remain the same. The danger is the specific-targeting of Corbyn supporters which, if evidenced, would see Iain McNicol and co. behind bars.
  9. Corbyn is winning  undecided leadership voters. After Thursday’s debate, HPOL carried-out its own polling of undecided/previously-undecided voters, based on the evening’s Hustings. The result was conclusive. Owen’s performances were getting worse. Through the leadership challenge, Corbyn has developed precisely the skills he’d been attacked as lacking.
    HPOL Poll - Glasgow Hustings
    HPOL‘s polling data within 24 hours of #LabourHustings.

    10. Labour HQ wants Corbyn supporters to quit – and they’re not doing it. Having accepted Corbyn is impossible to “break as a man,” Labour turned its attention to the only available target: its own members. This new attempt to break Jeremy Corbyn through his supporters is both cruel and stupid. Systematic purges may prevent many Corbyn supporters from voting; but in doing-so Labour is creating more in their place.

Our message is clear: Don’t be silenced. Don’t lose hope. Stand up for democracy. And let’s win this election.

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Jeremy Corbyn. Image by HPOL.

Why HPOL is backing Jeremy Corbyn

We’ve written a lot over the last few months on why Jeremy should remain Labour leader.

As ballots begin to arrive, here are our top-10 reasons for supporting Jeremy:

  1. Jeremy created the most diverse Shadow Cabinet ever assembled. Over 50% of posts were filled by women. Owen Smith claims to champion equality. But Corbyn is the first-ever leader to form a majority-female Cabinet. He achieved this even though Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman, Margaret Beckett, Liz Kendall, Rachel Reeves, Mary Creagh, refused to serve. He made no excuses. He committed to a 50% female Shadow Cabinet and he delivered it.
  2. He has championed a new, open form of leadership. Whilst some have described this as “weak” and “ineffective,” Jeremy has delivered an unprecedented openness; not just for members and supporters, but for the PLP, too. Refusing to enforce the whip on key votes like Syria and maintaining an open-door policy for members of Parliament, Jeremy has delivered more freedom for the PLP than any other leader in history. Encouraging honest disagreement, permitting free-votes and even public disagreement were all largely unheard of prior to Corbyn’s leadership. Jeremy has abolished the notion of “collective responsibility” and allowed MPs the freedom to speak their minds and vote with their conscience. Those who quit the Shadow Cabinet have been assured they are welcome back. Sarah Champion’s return was welcome proof of this.
  3. Jeremy has tried to “form a Cabinet of all the talents.” Jeremy’s leadership has always been – and will continue to be – about inclusivity. In doing so, he’s made a concerted effort to include all wings of the PLP in the Shadow Cabinet; ensuring it reflects the “Broad-Church” of the Labour Party. This proved difficult when so many refused to serve; but a genuine effort was made to do this, and Jeremy remains clear he intends to try again if elected next month.
  4. Jeremy is a winner. 4 mayoral elections, 4 by-elections, 85% CLP nominations, maintaining council majorities, tripling membership and winning two High Court battles (albeit with one overturned on appeal) and winning all 6 spots on Labour’s NEC is not the record of a loser. This is the record of a serial winner. His own constituency success is rivaled only by Tony Blair, who achieved similar majorities for Sedgefield as Jeremy has for Islington North. Corbyn won 8 general elections with an average majority of 56%. In his 7 elections as an incumbent MP he has never won an election with less than 50% of the vote. 30 years’ experience of thumping victories across 8 general elections is exactly the kind of mind we need leading the PLP.
  5. If knowledge is power, Corbyn’s got plenty. Jeremy has an encyclopedic knowledge of all-things-politics. 30 years in Parliament of putting power into principle (to reverse a Smithism), vindicates him as the right candidate to lead a principled Labour-base and a political Parliamentary Party. No one is better-placed to represent the Party.
  6. Jeremy has a vision for society – not just the economy. “We have to ensure that all our events as a Party are accompanied by music, by dance, by art and by culture, and that society is accompanied by music, dance and art and culture.” Jeremy’s vision is one that surpasses material, bare-bones, economic necessities. A society where our work has a purpose – where the emphasis is rightly-placed on providing opportunities through economic prosperity; of investing in our young people, in arts, in culture, in personal development. Jeremy sees an economy working for all so all can fulfill their potential. This has to be the emphasis of the next Labour government. Not just an economic strategy – but a vision of how society can be; how it can encourage us to utilise our potential to fulfill our hopes and dreams.
  7. Jeremy has been proven right on too many occasions. Whether it was the Iraq War, Child Tax Credits, Anti-Austerity or Private Finance Initiatives; Jeremy Corbyn has stuck to his principles at huge personal cost. Often ridiculed for holding positions deemed unpopular at the time, Jeremy has been proven-right: Again. And again. And again.
  8. Nobody wants a Labour Party split. A lot of thought has been put into a potential split; most of it blaming Corbyn. But ask yourselves: what’s easier to change? The minds of over 300,000 Labour members? Or the minds of 172 Labour MPs? The burden of responsibility has and always will be on the shoulders of the PLP. Should Owen Smith win the election, Labour would almost certainly lose at least 150,000 eligible voters, in addition to the vast majority of those who joined post-January 12th, 2016. A financial black-hole of almost £10 million in membership fees. An obliterated Party activist base. The almost-certain return of large donors to override what little “grassroots” are left in the Party. A split on this scale would be far more damaging (and is far more likely), than any potential split within the PLP.
  9. Jeremy Corbyn never sought power. Owen Smith declared his political hero was “Nye Bevan; because he sought power wherever he went.” But aren’t the best leaders those who don’t seek it? Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Moses? A reluctant politician is the only politician worth having. They understand the gravity of the position. They have the humility to know that it’s only by working together that we can share our success. Seeking power at any cost creates stubbornness and a temptation to sacrifice ones principles to attain it. There’s a reason Jeremy had been chained to the back-benches for 30 years: he believed that standing up for what’s right was more important than a promotion to the front-bench. This is why he was elected.
  10. Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party grassroots has taken a collective step to create a new kind of politics. This hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always gone smoothly. But it’s happened. Labour is now reaching-out to people and communities who had been forgotten by previous Labour governments and who need our help now. “No one – no community – ever – left-behind.” This is not a soundbite. It’s a promise. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is leading the way for a new form of community engagement, for revolutionising the way we campaign (in addition to traditional door-knocking); extending our reach far beyond our traditional support-base but also back to our traditional support-base. A united voice which combines grassroots activism and campaigns not for Jeremy Corbyn” but “for Labour and against the Tories.” A coherent and organised vision from all sides of the Party would be unrivaled in force, ability, passion, intelligence and efficiency. It would be the most effective political tool in recent history. We could be not just the biggest Left-wing Party in Europe – we could be the most successful, too.

Jeremy’s got a job to do. And we need to help him finish it. Vote Jeremy. Win 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn: Changing Perspectives

Over the last 12 months, Jeremy has ridden a political earthquake.

What started as a pipe-dream has become the biggest movement in politics.

Storming the leadership election with 60% of the vote, tripling Party membership and winning all available spots on the National Executive Committee; Corbyn’s movement has surpassed all expectations.

However, there are serious challenges ahead.

The Labour Party continues to undermine Party members and supporters, Owen Smith is gaining ground on undecided voters and Tom Watson is preparing to resign, triggering a new Deputy Leadership contest.

The scale of the task cannot be underestimated – but neither can we.

Whilst the scale of Labour’s actions has surprised many of us; it pales in comparison to our own.

The resilience shown by Jeremy and his supporters has been as unprecedented as the attacks themselves.

Rallies, protests and social media have become weapons of the new political class: Everybody.

While Owen Smith has been happy to mock the Labour base, screaming, “It’s not about the t-shirts we wear and the badges on our lapels, it’s about power,” the rest of us have been fighting to ensure Jeremy is able to carry-out his mandate and win not just a Labour government, but the right Labour government.

There is one fundamental difference between Owen and Jeremy: Understanding.

Owen Smith is part of an elite that has failed to grasp the reality in which we live: that there are serious, devastating, structural issues within our society that need changing. Now.

The world is full of beauty, human achievement, creativity and success – but it is also full of deep despair, anxiety, intolerance and suffering. There are serious problems that need addressing.

But these can only be addressed through our appreciation of what success looks like. And this is where the Left has failed.

It’s often been too easy to criticise – to focus on the negatives – without providing sufficient alternatives.

It’s not enough to say, “we want peace” or “we want prosperity and social justice.” We need to provide a vision – a suggestion – of what this might look like and what it means.

Corbyn is one of a handful of politicians who have not only attempted this but have made it a central part of their campaign.

Indeed, the central purpose of Jeremy’s political life has been to provide and empower an alternative vision – one that is wholly and completely based on the reality in which we live.

In the last Labour debate, Jeremy was asked what music he listened to on his iPod. After giving a typically honest (yet unfashionable) answer of “Classic FM,” he took the question to its logical – although unintended – conclusion:

“We have to ensure that all our events as a Party are accompanied by music, by dance, by art and by culture, and that society is accompanied by music, dance and art and culture.”

A society in which we all have the opportunity to reach our full potential. A society in which we are encouraged to use our talents. A society in which hope and aspiration are taken seriously and not dismissed as luxuries or hobbies. Where the “real world” of the office job is replaced by the ability to use our talents; to live in a new world of humanity, diversity, passion and hope.

This is the reality Jeremy believes in.

And so when Jeremy says that, “We all want – and are determined to get – a Labour government to deliver for everybody in this country,” he is not simply saying, “We will deliver jobs, security, etc.” He is saying we will fundamentally change the way this country is run. We will fundamentally change the way our economy works. We will institutionalise humanity so that every decision we make is made for the good of all; for the single Mum, for the unemployed, for the sick, the disabled, our young people. Everybody.

We will create a new reality so the middle-aged, middle-earning “professional” chained to their desks and trapped in a job, destroying their zest for life, has a chance of utilising their gifts and fulfilling their potential.

For those of us forced into jobs we don’t understand to pay rent we can’t afford; Jeremy speaks to us. For people feeling guilty for having mental health issues; that their responsibilities to their families “prevent” them from being ill; Jeremy speaks to them.

A world where stress, poverty and illness are recognised as serious problems with serious but preventable origins; where we have a societal duty to ensure people suffering are supported, respected and valued; this is what Jeremy Corbyn has fought for and stood for his entire life; and now he is giving us the opportunity – the platform – to do the same.

The Owen Smiths of the world say, “We don’t live in that world.” But it is our duty to create it – and we have taken that responsibility.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, we are putting our beliefs into action. We are creating a better future – and a better present – for all. 

“Things can – and they will – change.”

Labour Appeal – Reasons to be hopeful

As Corbyn’s winning-streak comes to an end, there are still many positives to take out of the campaign.

First, the five claimants suing the Labour Party have achieved something many never thought possible: launching an effective crowdfunding campaign against their own Party.

Second, despite losing the appeal, the claimants managed to crowdfund well-over the amount required to cover their legal costs.

A provisional £60,000 (plus VAT) cost schedule, with £30,000 due within 28 days was required and raised within just several hours of the ruling. As things currently stand, over 5,000 people have donated an average of £16 per person (7am, 13/08/16). Taking FX rates from just 3 months ago, this is remarkably similar to the average $25 contribution to Bernie Sanders’ grassroots campaign in the US.

pledge figures
CrowdJustice pledge count for appeal costs – 7am, 13/08/16.

Third, the Court of Appeal has shown why Labour’s NEC elections were just as important as Labour’s upcoming leadership election.

The appeal process has proven that Labour’s NEC is, first, often an instrument of anti-democratic politics and, second, justified in “presuming” it had the power to implement this style of politics.

The consolation for Labour members and supporters is that abuse of this power should never happen again.

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Heavy Metal Politics Twitter TL – live coverage of appeal on 11/08/16.

Fourth, Labour’s newly-elected, “pro-Corbyn” NEC (with the possible exception of Ann Black), now has a legal basis for wielding the same powers for members instead of against them. The Court ruled that Labour’s NEC had the power to “act retrospectively” and take full-control of the election timetable, which included “retrospective freeze dates.”

Fifth, “Jeremy For Labour” is starting to fight-back. Hard.

In the wake of the Court’s decision, Corbyn’s campaign launched a strongly-worded attack:

Corbyn statement appeal
Jeremy For Labour Twitter TL – 12/08/16.

Jeremy Corbyn has always stood by the disenfranchised. That’s why so many people voted for him – and he’s doing so again, against his Party, when the Party is in the wrong.

This is the first direct attack on Labour Party HQ from the Jeremy For Labour campaign. Previous criticisms have been made by individuals only. This marks a decided turn in campaign strategy, as we near the end of the hustings period.

Owen Smith said in Thursday’s debate that he was “Labour to [his] bones” and would therefore “serve Labour on the backbenches,” allowing him to vote against policies he disagreed with.

Yet, within the same debate, Owen attacked Corbyn for voting against the Labour Party 500 times, from the backbenches, stating, “I won’t do what Jeremy Corbyn did and vote against my Party 500 times.”

Unlike Owen Smith, Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated his principles for over thirty years in Parliament, often ridiculed until being proven right. The idea that Owen Smith believes he could do the same (particularly in the context of spear-heading a coup against the membership), is laughable.

Sixth, Grassroots journalism is undermining the relevance of the mainstream press.

Heavy Metal Politics was able to break the Court’s decision well-ahead of mainstream media outlets, with Sky’s Breaking News alert flashing almost two minutes after HPOL had reported the Court’s decision.

Breaking news
Heavy Metal Politics Twitter TL – live coverage of appeal on 12/08/16.

We were breaking news that other organisations hadn’t even thought to break, and doing it more quickly; things like legal costs, payment schedules and expected resolution time-frames, to name a few.

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Heavy Metal Politics Twitter TL – live coverage of appeal on 12/08/16.
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Heavy Metal Politics Twitter TL – live coverage of appeal on 12/08/16.
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Heavy Metal Politics Twitter TL – live coverage of appeal on 11/08/16.

HPOL has not even launched yet, but we remain able and determined to report breaking political news to our followers and readers.

If we – all of us – as a collective movement – can organise as well as Labour members and supporters have shown across the country, then we will win. And we will continue to win. And we will always win.

Solidarity.