The McDonnell Amendment: Why We Oppose It

The McDonnell Amendment presents an opportunity.

An opportunity to remove power from the PLP, allowing members to choose from a wide variety of leadership candidates.

The proposal to change the current threshold from 15% to 5% would cause more MPs to stand for the leadership and provide members with a greater number of choices from a wider political pool.

While the chances of at least one “Left-wing” candidate being nominated increase dramatically, so do the chances of not getting elected.

Should the Amendment pass, we’d find ourselves in a position where the Left is even more divided; uniting behind one of numerous “favourite” candidates; splitting the vote and allowing the Right to monopolise itself in just one or two candidates.

The Right have – in many ways – been better at “solidarity” than the Left ever has. While the Left has torn itself apart with its dozens of political Parties, newspapers, magazines and websites; the Right has focused on a handful of candidates, Parties and media outlets. That’s why they’re successful. They put the Party first. They close ranks. Their objectives succeed. Meanwhile, we – “on the Left” – are too busy squabbling among ourselves, pretending we each have best solutions.

The same problem exists within Labour.

Should the Amendment pass, division would increase not just within the PLP, but the membership, too.

We could be faced with a leadership ballot of Rayner, Lewis, McDonnell, Nandy, Khan, Cooper, Butler and Thornberry.

Five “Left” candidates would split the vote enough for Khan and Cooper to lead the polls, with Nandy dropping-out before the ballot opens.

But there’s another reason why the Amendment’s a bad idea: it’s simply unworkable.

We’ve supported (and will continue to support) Jeremy’s leadership. But it’s no secret Jeremy struggled to get on the ballot and, because of this, struggled to operate due to lack of support and – in some cases – direct attacks from his own Party.

Reducing the threshold to 5% would make Corbyn’s position even more untenable, should he stand again.

It isn’t enough for the membership to support the leader, even with a landslide victory.

Despite the best efforts of Jeremy and his team, the democratisation of the Party and shift of power from the PLP downwards hasn’t materialised.

The truth is, the vast majority of decision-making and media coverage takes place in Parliament; not in local communities.

The average person doesn’t care about a Branch meeting or townhall get-together. They care about what they see on the news; clips of despatch box attacks, MPs briefing against the leader and journalists ripping the Party apart.

The talent and experience within the PLP lies mainly on the backbenches.

To form an effective Opposition we need the experience, contacts and respect of senior MPs. That’s the way it is.

Should this be the case? No. Should we have more Left-wing MPs? Yes. Are we happy about it? Of course not. But that’s the way it is.

Securing this support with a  5% threshold would be impossible; unless the 5% contains names outlined above.

We need to accept that Labour will only succeed if its leadership is supported by most of their MPS; including MPs with significant frontbench experience and cross-Party appeal.

So, rather than support a 5% threshold, we propose the following: a 25% threshold with no abstentions allowed.

Every MP must be required to vote.

This would mean two things: First, every MP has given their opinion and had their say. Second, each candidate will be supported by at least 1 in 4 of their MPs.

The ballot would almost certainly contain a “Left-wing” candidate given the number of sympathetic MPs and overall political climate (both inside and outside the Party).

As a movement, we need to get serious, and start looking at real solutions based on the circumstances we’ve inherited.

A deselection process is much more feasible (and sensible) to achieve than the McDonnell Amendment.

The Amendment would entrench and exacerbate the divisions we already suffer, and could consign Labour to a generation of Opposition.

So, we ask: Do not vote for the McDonnell Amendment.

No matter how much we agree with it in principle, it is simply unworkable in practice; making our Party weaker and more divided than it already is.

Policies to Win 2020

We have a responsibility.

A responsibility to critique, suggest and propose; to share our thoughts and ideas; to inspire, discuss and contribute.

All of us have the ability to take part – and we should embrace the opportunity to do so.

A new age of political engagement and interaction is possible – and it’s already begun.

Social media, smart phones and laptops provide the tools to discuss, debate and organise in a way never before seen.

Each week, we will propose three policies. Policies we believe Labour should advance to win the next general election, and that Progressives should support on a cross-party basis; forming the foundations of a progressive alliance.

Without a common platform of policies, a progressive alliance remains both untenable and undesirable.

It isn’t enough to say “we broadly agree; let’s unite.” We need guarantees that defeating the Tories is rooted in common purpose; that our cause is greater than the Conservatives we oppose.

So, for our first set of policies, we suggest the following:

  • Free school uniforms for all Primary and Secondary students.
  • Free school meals.
  • Free dental care.
  1. Free school uniforms. Almost all students are required to wear school uniforms. Uniforms are designed to ensure equality among pupils; removing socio-economic status from the school environment. However, given the variety of school uniforms, supplied by supermarkets and clothes stores; quality varies and – because quality varies – equality varies too. A kid with Timberland shoes demonstrates more financial security than a kid with shoes from Primark. Not only is the purpose of uniform corrupted through private enterprise: the cost remains eye-watering for most parents. The Conservatives are so out-of-touch with the cost of schooling they had to pay the private sector to research the cost of school uniforms. The Department of Education didn’t know. Shouldn’t the department responsible for our childrens’ education know how much it costs? The average cost of school uniform – including PE kits – is just under £300 per pupil, per year. A family with three kids is going to pay just under £1,000 a year to clothe their children; not to mention time (and money) spent washing their clothes at the weekend, ready for the next week. These costs are a millstone around the necks of most parents in the UK. They should be scrapped. The cost to the Department of Education would be £2.5 billion (8.4 million students x £300. A small price for clean clothes, equality and more money for families.
  2. Free school meals. In addition to uniform costs, the average parent spends £437 per child, per year, on school lunches. Parents with three children in Primary education need to find £1,300 a year to provide their kids with lunch, in addition to just under £1,000 for their school uniforms. Providing free school meals to all Primary pupils would cost just under £2 billion. Rolling this out across Secondary education, provision of free school meals would cost an estimated £3.5 billion. For £6 billion, all pupils could receive free school uniforms and lunches, saving families thousands of pounds a year. This is a common sense solution for two of the many pressures families face.
  3. Free dental care. Average spending on dental care was £90 in 2013/14; most of which was paid by individuals to the NHS or private sector. The burden of cost remains with individuals and families; not with the government. £5.8 billion was spent on dentistry across the year; with £3.6 billion on the NHS and £2.2 billion on the private sector. The dental industry suffers from almost 40% of its services controlled by the private sector; something we haven’t yet seen in the rest of our National Health Service. For £6 billion, the NHS could cover the cost of all dentistry in the UK. This would be the first step to re-nationalising dentistry in the UK, ensuring the government regains control of an inefficient and costly private sector.

Total increase: £12 billion.

While tax rises in the top rate of tax, bank levies or a wealth tax would easily accommodate this increase, so could diverting funds between departments.

Central government spends £8 billion more on Defence than it does on Education. A simple re-balancing would provide two-thirds of the cost, with the rest coming from tax rises or savings elsewhere.

These measures would provide a much needed break to millions of households across the country and possess the broad appeal required to unite the Left in a practical, accessible and purposeful way.

Our policies need to be geared toward this accessibility so people can see its practical use and purpose in every day life.

This is, after all, what we are in politics to do. To make things better, fairer and more accessible, for all.

We will be publishing three policy ideas a week, so if you have anything you wish to contribute or discuss, please contact us via our Facebook Page, e-mail or Instagram. (Links at the side!)

Our NHS: Protected by Corbyn – Safe With Labour

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Gareth Snell, new MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, supporting our NHS. Image by @NameChangeGirl (Twitter).

“There’s no excuse. The money’s there.” – Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn’s back.

On a day which saw 250,000 march for our NHS, the message was clear: enough is enough.

Systemic abuse on our NHS has taken its toll.

A 7.5% NHS cut in Wales.

The worst real-terms cut to NHS spending since 1978.

The lowest-ever investment of additional cash.

Falling NHS spending against rising GDP.

NHS spending per patient falling until at least 2019.

And joint-lowest health spending against GDP of any G7 country.

Last week, Labour demanded proper funding for our NHS and social care, which is forecast to fall by £8.5 – £15 billion (as we reported here).

Today’s demonstration marked a turning-point: the Tories will not get away with this any longer.

People know “our NHS is not in crisis bcause of overspending.” That the crisis is “because of underfunding.” That, above all, it is a crisis made not here, “but down there – in Downing Street.” Jeremy’s words echoed throughout the halls of Westminster and across the country.

For the Tories, this was a wake-up call. People know how to organise. They know why to organise. Above all, we know we can organise.

“It frightens the life out of the Tories – and it heartens all our supporters.”

But away from the success of today’s demonstrations; another issue fought for attention.

Former health minister, Ben Bradshaw, found relevance speaking about Copeland.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, and published immediately after the demonstration, Bradshaw reported: “the only issue [in Copeland] was Jeremy Corbyn.” Not only this; if anyone said any different: they were “lying.”

Not only was Ben’s attack on Corbyn horribly timed, it completely undermined fellow campaigners in two areas: the Copeland by-election (or “liars,” and the 250,000 who marched to protect the NHS; the institution he was responsible for between 2007 and 2009).

We live in a time of national crisis. The NHS is in a state of emergency.

The Independent’s report is, at best, incredibly stupid or, at worst, a deliberate attempt to undermine the most pressing issue we face.

So, our advice is this: do nothing.

Don’t talk about it. Don’t Tweet about it. Don’t share it.

Don’t do anything except talk about how, today, there was only one leader, from a major political Party, defending our NHS: Jeremy Corbyn.

Tim Farron was nowhere to be seen.

He couldn’t even muster a single Tweet.

While the Lib Dems seek to capitalise on the rejection of the biggest democratic exercise in memory (Brexit); when it comes to the NHS: they have nothing to say.

Instead, Farron found time to Tweet about stealing the seat of the late Gerald Kaufman and praising new Party members.

farron

Perhaps he could have also mentiond the £1 million donation from Billionaire, Gregory Nasmyth. They are now the Party of big donors, second only to the Conservatives.

So at the next election, we need ask only this: who was it who stood by us when times were tough? Who was it who stood with us when demanding our rights? Which leader stood against the privatisation of the “greatest achievement” this counry’s ever seen?

Today was an opportunity for Corbyn to put Labour back on the map.

He succeeded.

“We’ve got the faith. We’ve got the fight. And we’re up for it.”

– Jeremy Corbyn, NHS Rally, 4th March, 2017.

The full video to Jeremy’s speech can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BPwNbFJnWY&feature=youtu.be&a

 

John McDonnell: Spring Budget Speech – All-Season Message

The crisis is real.

  • Families will be £5,000 poorer.
  • NHS and social care faces a black hole of £8.5 – £15bn.
  • Real wages have fallen more than any other major economy except Greece.
  • A £4 billion cut imposed on the disabled.
  • Social housing slashed 50% in one year.

This. With a growing economy. Higher tax receipts. And enough money to give away £70 billion to Britain’s “super-rich and giant corporations.”

The Tories prey on the weak. Torment the vulnerable. And goad the less fortunate.

And it’s totally unnecessary.

The government has the ability to act. It has the resources. It has the knowledge. It has the money.

Instead, the Tories are planning a 6% cut to public spending in addition to the cuts imposed by the last Conservative government.

With an average population growth of 400,000 (1.2 million by 2020), additional cuts will be deeply felt; reducing struggling families across the country from “Just About Managing” to “Barely Surviving.”

NHS projections are the worst they’ve been for decades.

The Foreign Secretary says Brexit negotiations could take years; leaving our ability to trade freely and cheaply in tatters.

And yet, there’s hope.

For a speech given in desperate times, Labour championed an alternative.

  • Reverse Tory privatisation by renationalising our NHS.
  • A minimum wage of £10 per hour.
  • Introduce a fair-pay ratio to ensure our lowest-paid workers benefit from the Boardroom.
  • Repeal the public sector pay cap.
  • Reverse the Trade Union Act.
  • Renationalise the railways.
  • Build a million new homes and council housing.
  • Restore public confidence by creating a new watchdog, controlling long-term spending.
  • Tax transparency rules to ensure public confidence in spending.
  • Ensuring all parts of the country benefit from investment and growth.
  • Giving back control to local communities.
  • Ensuring employees are offered “first refusal” if their business changes ownership.
  • Doubling the number of co-operatives.
  • Rights for EU nationals.
  • Investing in renewable technologies.
  • Breaking the “Big 6” energy companies.
  • Dedicating 3% GDP to scientific research.
  • Ensuring people earning over £1 million publish their tax returns, reducing tax evasion.

This common sense agenda is the first step to a more equal – more prosperous – Britain.

An agenda by which we can all unite. Left. Right. Centre. Tory. Labour. Lib Dem.

These are not the partisan policies of “Socialism” but a common sense programme for the whole country.

The Tories are content to bulldoze their way through communities.

Their policies reward the rich at the expense of the poor.

They bask in the chaos of a feckless Brexit.

Theresa May will argue the Tories are the Party of restraint. Of reason. Of responsibility.

But is it responsible to leave our elderly without the services they need?

To allow health spending to fall while our GDP rises?

When 8 out of 10 hospitals are no longer safe?

Is it restrained to cut benefits from young people struggling with unpaid internships?

Is it reasonable to halve new social housing when 75,000 households live in temporary accommodation?

These policies are destroying the Britain they claim to protect.

Labour’s policies – outlined by John McDonnell – offer real solutions to the serious problems we face.

Problems created by the last Conservative government; continued by Theresa May.

So, don’t believe the hype.

It is Labour – and only Labour – putting the country first.

It is Labour that will invest in the NHS, in public services, in schools and jobs across the country.

Labour that says, together, we can build a new reality.

A new reality, unbound by the despair inflicted on families across the country. A reality which doesn’t just defend the most vulnerable: but actively fights for them. Where our sick, disabled, unemployed and elderly feel liberated – able to live with the dignity they deserve; where hope for a better future isn’t a last resort; but an every day experience. Where our kids and grandkids can be safe in the knowledge that we acted: we acted on housing. We acted on health. We acted on jobs; and we acted on climate change, ensuring future generations have the healthy planet they need; to live, work and thrive in. A reality – an existence – to believe in.

This reality is possible.

With the right leadership – with hard-working, principled, passionate leadership – we can say, “We will.”

We will build those hospitals. Those schools. Those parks. Those roads. Those homes.

We will build our communities: Our theatres. Museums. Libraries. And cinemas.

We will build the future we need from the rubble they left.

Brick by brick, we will rebuild what they tore down.

We will go beyond what’s expected of us – not because we can – but because we must.

We will build a Labour government – ready for the present – building the future.

Strong. United. Together.

Solidarity.

Donald Trump: What it Means for Jeremy Corbyn

Billionaire. Businessman. Narcissist. “Pussy-grabber.”

“The Donald’s” been called a lot of things.

But there’s a word many of us are still struggling with: “President.”

For a B-List celebrity to bulldoze his opponents this swiftly was not just unexpected: it was unprecedented.

Knock-out rounds against Cruz, Kasich and “Marco” propelled Trump from penthouse to White House in months.

Elected on a handful of action-points, Trump destroyed the foundations of the political archetype.

Clean. Cut. Professional. Qualities with no place in the new political order.

Experience was a curse.

Qualification caused alienation.

And while character-flaws obliterated campaigns, millions of voters decided political failings were greater than personal ones.

A chequered-past was preferable to an empty suit.

Misogyny became “locker talk.” Assault became “jealousy.” Tax fraud was “smart.”

A litany of personal and professional scandal was forgiven; because he wasn’t a politician.

Issues counted. Feelings mattered.

“No record” was better than a broken one.

In an inaugural address promising to “unlock the mysteries of space,” many of us are scrambling for the key to his success.

Our search for solutions is betrayed by our reluctance to accept the result: we don’t want Trump to be President.

It’s too ridiculous. Too improbable. Too dangerous.

We remain hung-up on the celebrity of Trump to comfort ourselves: “This isn’t happening.”

Reality-TV has become Reality-Life.

The boardroom will beckon. The gavel will fall. The finger, pointed: “You’re fired!”

But Reality-Life benefits from Reality-Rules.

Impeachments are rare.

Republicans dominate the House.

The Senate swings red.

Trump is immune.

And yet, there’s hope; hope that extends beyond the next four years.

Despite a sledgehammer policy agenda: politics has matured.

Banning Muslims, building walls, shredding regulations; these cartoon policies; this crayonic, back-of-a-cereal-box mess… these policies transcended Trump.

His personal failings were overlooked. For once, personality took a back-seat.

Attacks on Clinton were rooted in political failure: Libya. E-mails. Lobbying. Diplomacy.

People studied the issues – and voted Trump: the most divisive, unorthodox, contemptuous personality in American politics.

For the first time, the iceberg-candidate won – a candidate with not one, not two, but a whole graveyard of skeletons in the perennial closet.

The issues were bigoted. The policies, savage.

But the vote was principled. It was brave: it was ground-breaking.

Trump isn’t a Saviour of the Right. He isn’t a Saviour of the Left.. But he might be… Just might be… the start of a new age.

An age of politics where  background, religion, race, gender, profession and ability serve not as  tools to be beaten with; but as perspectives to see with.

Where a criminal record isn’t a hindrance, it’s a benefit.

Where a poor education is a qualification to learn.

Where a background of addiction helps fix our health system.

Where poverty, broken homes and relationships are a source for change.

An age where no one is a write-off. An age where, if we want to contribute, we’re supported. Enabled. Empowered. Trusted.

This is the future we can work towards. The reality of which we’ve proven already: that democracy – depsite its outcomes – is ready for a new kind of politics.

A politics where everyone is credible. Everyone is electable. Everyone – together – hopeful.

Hopeful for a new future.

A better future.

Together.

So for anyone thinking, “Corbyn’s a nice guy, but,” or “I like Corbyn’s policies, but don’t trust him to deliver,” remember this: If Donald Trump can do it, against insurmountable odds; against media narratives, against Establishment choices: Corbyn can too.

Trump had a small but deadly team of ruthless campaigners. And while Cambridge Analytica played a huge part in amassing supporters, the truth is tens of millions of Americans voted, when everyone told them not to.

We live in a new age. An age where, if reality says no, it’s a challenge; not a fact.

So when we campaign. When we strategise. When we work together. Remember three words: We. Can. Win.

Solidarity.

(This article is an amended version of the original, published on Tremr: https://www.tremr.com/tim-johnston/donald-trump-celebrity-saviour-president)