Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hobnobbing...

I have had a good week so far, and it is only Wednesday

(Warning, lots of name dropping follows)

On Monday I went to London for work and took advantage of the visit to go to a political reception in number 10

It was for Labour Party NEC members, NPF members, a few party staff, a few number 10 staff and a few cabinet members.

I had a bit of a chat with Cherie about Liverpool, my election and the high esteem in which we both hold Jane Kennedy, Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree. She was quick to point out that Jane had resigned rather than being sacked, because they think so much of her but I was equally quick to point out that she only resigned because of the appalling appointment of David Henshaw to the Chairmanship of the North West Regional Health body (I cannot remember its precise title.)

I had a nice chat too with Margaret Beckett where I told her in person what I have already said in here, that I thought her appointment to Foreign Secretary was great. We talked a bit about how she reacted to TBs suggestion (with an expletive apparently) and how exciting it is to be the first woman in one of the three top jobs (aside from PM itself Thatcher never held any of the three big jobs). She is hoping to continue her work on climate change from her new office, good luck to her!

I also enjoyed seeing Ruth Turner again and we had a good old gossip, she is now working in number 10 having previously been a founder of Big Issue in the North and a (northern) member of the NEC.

I went for a lovely meal afterwards with Mick Halloran who is now a special adviser (or SPAD as they like to be known apparently) in Prescott's office but was previously the Labour Party political assistant to the Sheffield Labour Group when I was the campaign manager there.

I stayed over night in a cheap and cheerful hotel/B&B in Victoria, the Dover on Bellgrave Road (I think that is the right name of the street.) Anyway it was only sixty five pounds and a five minute walk from Victoria station, I can definitely recommend it.

The next day was our full NEC meeting and we covered some interesting stuff

I took the opportunity of the presence of a new Chief Whip, Jacqui Smith, to tell Tony Blair how strongly local members in Liverpool feel, and no doubt all over the rest of the country too about the appalling discipline problems in the PLP.

I talked about our failure to act in the first term of Government against MPs continually voting against us, how when we did not deselect them, or even subject them to an open reselection it gave the green card for them to do what they like. And now here in Merseyside we have one particular MP for instance who writes in national newspapers to criticise us, on a very regular basis, not Tribune or the Guardian as you might expect but the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. I spoke about how angry it makes local campaigners to fight campaigns on the streets and then go home to find that their local MP is all over the papers criticising our party. I also mentioned the fact that they dont go to the PLP meetings any more but meet instead with the Tories and the LibDems to plot our downfall, how one Merseyside MP voted against the Government on a matter of conscience that was so important to him - the ward boundaries in London. I asked that we tackle this now because it is causing so much unrest and dissatisfaction.

It will be difficult and I dont know the best way to tackle it, perhaps the NEC itself can do something, I will certainly go on pushing and I know I have your support on this.

In the meantime I suggest you do as I have done and write directly to any Labour MP that you feel is betraying us, and tell them how you feel.

This is not about them standing up to be counted as good socialists, it is self-aggrandisement, sour grapes and loving the sound of their own voices.

I know that the best thing for the people of this country is a Labour government not a Tory one, sadly some of our parliamentarians dont quite seem to see this!

In other news, if you are a techie for Labour like me, you will be interested to know that we are redeveloping our software so that it all talks to each other (Labour contact etc) and helps us do so much more. I wont say more in here about this, no point in alerting the opposition, but contact me if you want me to put you forward as a trial user - I am going to be one I hope.

A draft paper is going out to party members for consultation on the way forward for political party funding, I did suggest as a by product that we do more to encourage people to leave a few bob to the Party in their wills. I said I was leaving ten grand to the party (Ann Black suggested I should watch my back on those days when the overdraft is threatening) and that dead people cannot be accused of leaving money to the party for political advantage. JP laughed and said he didnt know so much - and perhaps he has a point.

I do hope you will join in with this important discussion when it reaches your CLP.

We had a great discussion on the local elections and the NEC was kind enough to congratulate Liverpool Labour Party on its grand results.

I want to say something about my first full council which took place tonight but this post is already too long so I will close here and start a new one

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You go girl! Thank goodness you are on the NEC to represent the voice of the ordinary member. Thanks for all you do for us.

Andrea said...

"The next day was our full NEC meeting and we covered some interesting stuff

I took the opportunity of the presence of a new Chief Whip, Jacqui Smith, to tell Tony Blair how strongly local members in Liverpool feel, and no doubt all over the rest of the country too about the appalling discipline problems in the PLP.

I talked about our failure to act in the first term of Government against MPs continually voting against us, how when we did not deselect them, or even subject them to an open reselection it gave the green card for them to do what they like.In the meantime I suggest you do as I have done and write directly to any Labour MP that you feel is betraying us, and tell them how you feel."

I'm quite disappointed by some of those comments. Who do you think you're to decide who should be deselected or not? It's up to local CLPs to decide if they want to keep their MPs or not.
It seems you want 300+ MPs who doesn't speak their minds and just follow the whips line. How sad for democracy and the parliamentary process.
If Blair's government had listened more to concerns of some MPs, it would have certainly eliminated many rebellions.

if it's true that some rebel MPs are too outspoken (ex. Bob Marshall-Andrews), others like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Alan Simpson, Kelvin Hopkins, Katy Clark and Lynne Jones are great examples of hard working MPs who deserves to be reselected.

LouiseB31 said...

I dont mind so much those who vote against the party line on matters of principle, it is those who go straight to the media to badmouth the party, day in and day out, who I object to.

Councillors have to abide by the whip, don't they?

Jo said...

It's not the party they speak out against, it's the government.

We're all Labour and on election day we all vote Labour and campaign for Labour and work for Labour values in our communities. Isn't that enough?

LouiseB31 said...

Jo - it might be enough, if it was only true. Some of your political heroes did nothing in the local elections, some of the MPs you admire so much did not knock on a single door, talk to any voters, deliver any leaflets, or in any way support any of the Labour candidates in their area.

I dont object to people voting against the party line as I have already said, so much as those who dedicate themselves to bringing the Labour government down.

We shall have to agree to disagree