Bennites

No compromise with reality?

First published in Progress magazine

No one has levelled with the public about what drives migration to this country

‘No compromise with the electorate’ was Ted Knight’s infamous opinion when he and his hard-left friends ran Lambeth council into the ground in the 1980s. After the 2015 general election, a senior Labour member of parliament who has long been associated with Progress said to me, ‘On immigration, you are as bad as the Trots – no comprise with the electorate.’ Recently another MP remarked how bizarre it was that, as they saw it, ‘Tony Blair and Diane Abbott basically have the same opinion on immigration’.  The former prime minister’s mantra of ‘fair rules without prejudice’ is certainly a position I – and most Labour party members – can get on board with. But the initial comment made me think.

Is there a neo-Blairite/neo-Bennite, liberal metropolitan elite view and is it just a modern form of Knight’s philosophy? Do they have a point? (more…)

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Livingstone appointment will backfire

First published on the Times Redbox

Putting aside all the usual criticism of his past, and acknowledging Ken Livingstone’s positives as a campaigner and a politician – not least his response to the 7/7 attacks in London – still does not explain his latest appointment to Labour’s defence review. At last night’s Left Book Club relaunch, he announced himself as co-convenor alongside Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary of state.

Of all the people Jeremy Corbyn could have appointed – for those not versed in Labour internal workings, most commissions have a National Executive Committee member as a co-convenor –  he definitely has not gone for a representative of one the unions whose members’ jobs depend on the defence industry. He has even snubbed Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, who nominated him in June and sits on Labour’s management committee. (more…)

The hard left is not the heart of this party

First published on LabourList

The debate goes that Jeremy Corbyn is the heart, Liz Kendall is the head. He speaks to true Labour values. The latter can convince once-Tory voters – critical to Labour’s future prospects – back to our party. The others split the difference.

Many appear excited at the politics Corbyn’s is giving voice to. But the reality is that what he represents is not pure form of Labour politics but an extreme one.

Corbynistas, neo-Bennites, or just simply Bennites and I want the same ends: a fair and equality society where the postcode you are born in does not determine the achievements of your life. That much we can agree on. (more…)