Now -read the book!

Here is a link to my memoirs which, if you are a glutton for punishment, you can purchase online at
Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Savaged by a very poorly sheep

The incredibly measured and balanced postings on this blog would, you might think, be unlikely to upset anyone.

You would, I fear be wrong.

Above is a link to some commentary (written perhaps after a good lunch) from a comrade who feels that it is unbecoming in a CLP Chair (let alone an LCF Chair) to express opinions which might imply criticism of decisions previously taken by a Labour Group.

I would have responded sooner but no one drew this to my attention. It is (I am sure) entirely coincidental that a "journalist" from the Murdoch press contacted me just after this blog post was published.

The author is of the view that I should resign for having had the temerity to express socialist opinions. He is quite entitled to his opinion.

I don't think I will resign though.

I think that it is, and remains, the decision of local Labour Party members who holds elected positions (rather than that being the decision of - for example- those with paid jobs in the movement).

If Labour Party members in Brighton and Hove want to be led by those whose response to controversial decisions by the Labour Group will invariably be one of respectful silence then they will have that choice at each AGM.

If anyone supported me to be. Chair of either Brighton Pavilion CLP or the Brighton and Hove LCF in the expectation that I would be quietly supportive of whatever Labour Councillors did, regardless of Party policy, then I can only apologise (though if that was anyone's expectation then I doubt they were paying attention).

What we need is not silly sniping from the sidelines from those who absent themselves from decision making in the Party but a considered debate about how Party members can assert our appropriate authority in relation to decision making (currently) by the Labour Group.

Today I was happy to Chair a discussion about the Democracy Review organised by the Regional Office at which Party members had a constructive discussion about how we improve our decision making. I was sorry not to see my blogging critic there.

I welcome criticism but would welcome even more criticism which was meaningful and constructive. Until then I invite my critic to stand for election.

The Labour Party is changing and all who want to see socialism are welcome to be part of that change.

Sent from my iPhone

No longer sub judice - UNISON can act. Will it?

This Thursday the appeal against last year's decision by the Assistant Certification Officer was finally heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and reached its predictable conclusion.

No one can now claim that the matter is sub judice and that UNISON cannot therefore consider the decision through its lay structures.

Although the passage of time since the decision was published has seen the retirement of the Regional Secretary of whom the Assistant Certification Officer was so critical (and the departure from UNISON of other participants in this saga) it is not too late for the Union to learn from the decision and to respond to the recommendations which its representatives requested.

The Union has made some changes to its election procedures - but not with a view to increasing democracy or to guarding against the sort of misconduct which marred the last General Secretary election.

I hope that NEC members (whatever view they took in that election) will now insist upon a thorough review informed by the very clear and straightforward decision of the Assistant Certification Officer.

As a rank and file member I shall watch with interest.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Policies not personalities

As flattering as it is to have extracts from this blog quoted elsewhere, it is a shame when people treat debate about policies as if it were about personalities.

What matters about politics is how it impacts upon peoples’ lives, not who holds which political office.

What a local authority does is important. Who leads a local authority is much less important.

I wrote the last post on this blog in order to express my opinions (my personal opinions) about some policy issues in Brighton and Hove.

The separate question of who leads the Labour Group is a matter for members of the Labour Group.

More important than my opinions (or those of any individual, Councillor or otherwise) on substantive policy questions is the procedural question of how the Labour Group relates to the Labour Party. We have yet to get this right and we need to change.

Just as we need to work together in the local Party to develop a manifesto for the 2019 Council elections, so we need to find ways to work together to ensure that the policies agreed by our Labour Group reflect the views of Labour Party members.

We cannot undo things that have already been done, but from now onwards we need to ensure that – particularly where policies may be controversial within the Party – decisions are not made by the Group in isolation from the wider Party.

These detailed issues about how policy is made are much less likely to attract headlines, or interest, than a misrepresentation of policy debate as being about personalities, but these are the issues which should concern Labour Party members.