11 thoughts on “London Blairites join Conservative social cleansing

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  4. Tuesday 8th August 2017

    posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

    Symptoms of resentment bubble up on Twitter

    A RIGHT-WING operator behind a rule change designed to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has said the party’s left should “drop the obsession with rule changes.”

    Luke Akehurst, the secretary of the pro-Blairite Labour First faction, argued yesterday that the left had adopted a “winner-takes-all mentality” since the election.

    His comments on BBC Radio 4 came after Labour MPs started a public brouhaha using passive-aggressive messages on Twitter.

    Shadow fire minister Chris Williamson had said on the social media site that he was travelling to Redcar in the north-east of England for the launch of a new Momentum branch.

    Redcar MP Anna Turley, who resigned from the front bench last year, tweeted a waving emoji along with Mr Williamson’s message.

    She appeared to be protesting against the fact she had not been informed of the visit.

    She later added: “I’m not angry!! I really don’t care, I just wouldn’t set something up in a colleague’s seat without telling them.”

    Traditionally MPs inform one another when visiting a constituency other than their own — but some argue that this is frequently not adhered to.

    Mr Williamson was in fact speaking in the neighbouring constituency of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland — which is now held by the Tories.

    But another Corbyn critic, ex-shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, posted online: “What are you doing going to a colleague’s area to do this without speaking to them?”

    The micro-aggressions will be seen as a symptom of a lingering resentment from some Labour MPs at the left’s resurgence.

    Mr Akehurst accused the left of attempting to seize control of low-level party positions purely for the sake of factionalism.

    And he said leftwingers were also seeking to change the party rules in order to strengthen their own position.

    But his own Labour First faction has put forward a rule change for next year’s conference that could tip the balance on Labour’s ruling NEC against Mr Corbyn. The change would increase the number of seats on the committee appointed by councillors — who are regarded as more hostile towards the Labour leader.

    Mr Akehurst also called on Mr Williamson and Momentum founder Jon Lansman to say they opposed deselecting sitting MPs. The shadow fire minister said he favoured mandatory reselection of candidates, adding: “Even the chair of the local bowls club will periodically have to be re-elected.”

    Step away from the keyboard, Ms Turley

    ANNA TURLEY’s Twitter feed yesterday was a sight to behold.

    When activists asked about her relationship to Blairite faction Progress, whose website she has written for repeatedly, she accused them of “fake news.”
    Turley’s reply to a thread of comments describing Momentum as a “cancer” and referring to a Labour activist as “vile” was: “Dig in xx.”

    Approached for comment by the Star, she said she meant: “Stay in the party, don’t let people grind you down,” and had not seen the abusive tweets in the thread.

    “I don’t agree with the terms you say were used,” she added.

    Perhaps the Redcar MP was just a victim of the late-night typewriter, as Barry Gardiner likes to call it. But it wasn’t even noon.
    And this would not be the first time.

    Last year, on the day that Labour banned new registered supporters from using the words “traitor, scum or scab,” Turley referred to Unite leader Len McCluskey as an “arsehole.”

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-3bf6-Blairites-moan-while-left-gets-on-with-the-job#.WYlvA1FpwdU

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  10. Tuesday 10th October 2017

    The Party’s housing policy still clings to New Labour’s infatuation with home ownership rather than breaking with it, argues MARTIN WICKS

    JEREMY CORBYN’S conference announcement that Labour would be carrying out a review of “social housing policy — its building, planning, regulation and management” is very welcome.

    So is his comment that “Labour would speak to social housing tenants all over the country” and bring forward “a radical programme of action” in time for next year’s Labour conference. However, one critical issue needs adding: funding.

    The review gives tenants and supporters of council housing the opportunity to tell Labour what we think would constitute “a radical programme of action.”

    It suggests that Corbyn recognises the need to go beyond the manifesto which was still rooted in New Labour’s housing policy.

    For instance, Labour’s “first priority” was not a council housebuilding programme but helping first-time buyers onto the proverbial housing ladder.

    While Corbyn had spoken of 100,000 council homes a year, this was watered down to 100,000 “affordable homes” for “rent and sale” by the end of the parliament, with no indication of the proportion of each.

    Shadow housing minister John Healey has said that Labour will “begin the biggest council housing programme for at least 30 years.” However, that would be no great feat since only 16,000 were built then in England.

    Swindon Tenants Campaign Group asked Healey how many council homes the party is committed to build and what proportion of the 100,000 homes would be for rent and sale.

    His office informed us that “the exact proportion of rent/sale and exactly how many homes councils build will depend upon their choices once liberated from the cap on their housing revenue account.”

    This suggests that the emphasis will be on borrowing to build rather than government grant. How much grant would be available under Labour?

    We were told: “In real terms, grant funding in 2009-10 was over £4 billion. Average annual funding under Labour would be restored to around this amount.”

    This is a reference to New Labour’s National Affordable Homes Programme of 2008-11. The scale of support for new council housing from this was puny.

    If a similar amount of money is available under Labour then it won’t go very far, especially, as Healey’s office has confirmed to us, as the grant will not just be for “social housing” but for part-ownership as well. Moreover, councils will have to compete with housing associations for whatever grant is available.

    How many homes could councils build from additional borrowing once Labour lifted the cap?

    Healey’s office quoted to us an old estimate of the Local Government Association that councils could build 80,000 homes over five years.

    That’s a meagre 16,000 a year — better than for many years but not on a sufficiently large scale to tackle the housing crisis. Yet even this estimate is untenable. It predates coalition and Tory government policies which have blown a big financial a hole in councils’ 30-year business plans.

    There is a fundamental problem with the policy of councils borrowing to build. It takes no account of the financial crisis faced by local Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs).

    Not only do councils have to service £13 billion extra “debt” handed out in 2012, government policies such as the four-year rent cut mean that individual HRAs are losing hundreds of millions of pounds in rent income.

    Swindon Council, for instance, is now expecting to take more than £300 million less rent over the remainder of its 30-year business plan than was projected in 2012 when the “self-financing” system was introduced.

    Bristol faces a shortfall of £210m for capital spending. Other local authorities are estimating a loss of 12-14 per cent of projected income solely as a result of the rent cut imposed by the government.

    We have seen the connection between the Grenfell Tower catastrophe and the underfunding of existing council housing. The council’s HRA has a shortfall of £87m over the next five years alone for necessary capital investment on its council stock.

    It is unrealistic to expect council HRAs to take on more debt to build when they have to service the bogus “self-financing” debt and face a shrinking revenue stream.

    The cost of servicing additional debt would eat into their funds at a time when they have insufficient income to maintain their existing stock.

    Servicing debt cost them 25 per cent of their income in 2016-17 (Local Finance Statistics, England). Income for HRAs fell by nearly 3.6 per cent over the last financial year.

    A Labour councillor responsible for council housing in one area recently said to me: “Why would I want more debt which has to be paid through a declining income stream? In the end it will just mean more cuts to service.”

    Labour’s housing policy as expressed in the manifesto bore no comparison to the expectations of Labour supporters based on the previous commitment to build 100,000 council homes a year.

    The party’s policy clings to New Labour’s infatuation with home ownership rather than breaking with it. In fact, the party promised to extend Help to Buy to 2027, with support offered to people who earn up to £100,000 a year.

    As the correspondence with Healey’s office shows, even the grandiose commitment to “the biggest council housing programme for at least 30 years” is merely rhetoric. Labour has as yet no commitment to a definite number of council homes.

    With the prospect of a Labour government — something which was widely considered as improbable before the general election — there is an urgent need for supporters of council housing to campaign now for a genuinely radical shift in Labour’s policy, from its concentration on home ownership to instead make council house building its first priority.

    We should be under no illusion that the review will involve a fierce debate and a political struggle against resistance, which strives to cling to the corpse of New Labour’s housing philosophy.

    Martin Wicks is secretary of the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-fd4b-A-radical-programme-of-action#.Wd00ZjtpEdU

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