Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Why Yes Labour Supporters Should Back Corbyn

The collapse of Andrea Leadsom’s campaign for Conservative leadership and the coronation of Theresa May as not only the new Tory leader but also the Prime Minister. On Labour’s side, 172 MP’s feel they should decide the leadership rather than the 500,000 Labour members and supporters who gave Jeremy Corbyn a clear and decisive mandate. Since being voted onto the ballot the Labour NEC have came up rules and regulations to restrict any new members or supporters from voting, pricing new supporters by having to pay £25 to vote. Now reports are unfolding that the NEC are suspending all CLP meetings to prevent any support for Jeremy to be organised. It is clear democracy is taking a back seat in Westminster.

We in Scotland are more than used to that, having continually rejected Conservative politics and their austerity ridden vision more often than not in my lifetime we have had a Conservative Government. As a simple electoral maths shows, the bulk of the UK population lies in Middle England and London and ultimately they will choose the UK government. Being a traditional Tory heartland means that Conservative Governments are usually more successful, unless Labour operate in a Tory lite, New Labour viewpoint.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn as leader has put an end to the dominance of Progress and the leaders of dark arts Mandleson and Campbell (although you imagine they have still been pulling the strings somewhere in this attempted coup). Yet his leadership raises questions for socialists like myself who also believe in Scottish Independence, not through the perception of a nationalistic standpoint, rather an attempt to create the optimum environment for socialism and the betterment of the lives of the many within it.

During the previous referendum, I wrote...

Why the socialists voting no in this country feel we must tie ourselves down to successive governments which do not reflect or respond to the needs and aspirations of people in Scotland is difficult to comprehend. It is clear the interests or if we are to follow the supposition that Britain is a nation, the national interests are at best skewed from the interests of Scotland. These national interests are controlled by those who control the central economic and political institutions which as proven by Westminster have no relation to common interests. Why we would want to remain as part of such an institution is baffling, particularly when change is not only a possibility under independence but a likely reality. The greatest help we can make to our comrades in the Rest of the UK is to lead by example.

If Corbyn was to overcome the leadership challenge he faces and continue to build this momentum across the country then we may very well have a socialist Labour Government in the UK by 2020. This would then remove one of the many, but one of the biggest reasons I would have to continue to support Scottish Independence.

Unfortunately for this theory, the Labour PLP coup has already put paid to this. While Corbyn and his brand of politics may not be to the presses liking or even most of his MP’s. It has shown itself to be effective. Over half a million members now belong to the Labour Party, in 4 by-elections Labour have won them all, increasing the share of the vote in all but one. Opinion polls showed Labour begin to overtake the Tories with an Ipsos Mori poll showing an 8 point swing to Labour to give them a 5 point lead the week before the EU referendum.

Since the coup, any such lead has been shattered, the Tories now have an 11 point lead, attacked by the media and his own MP’s any purposeful opposition Corbyn has had at PMQ’s has been washed away, leaving him easy pickings for rude and undignified rebuttals by both Cameron and May.

At this point in time it would be fair to point out I am not a Corbynista, or a member of Momentum. I see that Jeremy is not the perfect leader, but he is the right leader at the right time for this Labour Party. I believe that with the disaster that was Brexit, that with a marked change in the public opinion of austerity and inequality that we are beginning to see that it would have been possible, despite opposition from the Labour grandee’s (some who had 8 years and still never won an election) and the mainstream media, that the message Jeremy Corbyn spread could have been successful at the next General Election. Now thanks to the plotters, schemers and those who have for the last 22 years attempted to rip out the heart and fabric of the Labour Party. The Tories may in all likelihood been handed another General Election victory. To be clear any new leader of the Labour Party will achieve less.

My friend Alan Wylie wrote a piece just yesterday which he argues that due to the likelihood of another Tory Government in 2020 that independence is now more important forever to be achieved.

It is now obvious that the PLP has doomed the UK to a generation of Tory rule. Far from being a government in waiting. Jeremy Corbyn was always in a no-win situation – he’s had to face a torrent of abuse from fellow Labour MPs, who employed dirty tricks and black ops within the media, yet gets blamed for the ‘unelectablity’ of the Labour party. It’s near-on impossible for Jeremy Corbyn to lead Labour to success with so many knives stuck in his back.

So what does this mean for Scotland? Short answer – a lot. The longer answer is that the implosion of the Labour party will have a fundamental effect on how Westminster politics will be in Scotland. Without a functioning Labour party at Westminster then Scotland is doomed to a generation of Tory rule, which Scotland did not vote for. We are doomed to years of right winged Tory Governments with absolutely no means to get rid of them.
While I agree with his premise, it is important that those within the Labour movement and Labour Party are not so quick to abandon ship. I said above that Corbyn is the right leader at the right time for Labour, it is also more than that. Any independence movement in Scotland must bring with it the Labour movement. That’s why it was pleasing to see Alex Rowley’s comments supporting a second referendum. An independent Scotland must acknowledge and accept that it’s closest partner, geographically and politically should and will be the rest of the UK. We must seek to have a partner in this who will promote the values of fairness, equality and social justice. Only a Labour Party can achieve this. Only a Real Labour Party that is led by the likes of Corbyn can possibly remove the establishment agenda that has promoted inequality and poverty for so long.

Furthermore, as socialists it is our duty to support and ensure a better life for our comrades in other nations. I said many times during the first referendum that my solidarity does not end at Dover and it will not end at Berwick in an Independent Scotland.

To paraphrase the great political leader Simón Bolívar; “Political gangrene cannot be cured with palliatives and Britain is totally and utterly infected with gangrene. A green mango will ripen, but a rotten mango never ripens; the seeds of a rotten mango must be saved and planted so that a new plant may grow. That is happening in Scotland today.”

It is not only in our interests that we vote yes, but also the working class of the rest of the UK. We can lead by example, proving to them and the world that it is possible to have a socially just, fair and equal society one in which responsible businesses flourish in a vibrant and diverse economy. But it is also important that within the UK currently we continue to support those who will bring a better way for our friends south of the border. That is why I support Corbyn and the Labour Party and why I will still support a yes vote for an independent Scotland.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

A Letter to Jeremy

In light of the news I received yesterday I wrote this letter to the Labour Party Leader. 

Dear Mr Corbyn, 

We have never met, but I wanted to write to offer my support to you as you undertake such a difficult time with the PLP and a minority of the Labour membership. 

I am a former member of the party who left following the Scottish Referendum in 2014. I had founded an organisation called Labour for Independence. Some within the Scottish Labour Party accused us of being an SNP front. We were not... By the end we had a membership of over 1000 including Bob Thomson the former chair of Scottish Labour, Les Huckfield a former cabinet member of Callaghan's Government among others and the support of Dennis Canavan. I appreciate and respect we have differing views on the independence question but I believed and still do that it would lead to a return of a real Labour Party much like the one you are promoting. 

I left the party upset about the way the Scottish Party had behaved and joined the Scottish Socialist Party. This was a mistake on my part. My aim was to try to bring them to a more traditional Labour position but it was not to be. As a member I campaigned for them in the General Election which has lead to my current issue. 

I applied to rejoin the Labour Party last week. It had been a major consideration for me for some time as Labour will always be my home. The final impetus was the attempted coup to your democratic leadership. 

Unfortunately yesterday I received word from a journalist that my application has been refused as I had campaigned previously for another party. I'm sure there are many members within the party who have been in other political parties and as such will have campaigned for them. Although I have yet to receive an official decision. I intend to appeal this and hope that I can once again rejoin the party, and under your leadership help to reinvigorate and rebuild the party in Scotland. 

If I am unsuccessful, I wanted to wish you the very best of luck. Please know that regardless of any final decision on my membership I will continue to support you, your leadership and those who fight to return Labour to a party of equality and social justice. 

Good luck in your continued efforts. 
Best wishes

Allan Grogan

Thursday, 7 July 2016

An Apology That Will Lead To Justice

Blair must face justice for the decisions he made. 
Yesterday the hurt and anguish felt by so many families of service men and women was laid bare. After 7 years The Iraq Inquiry, chaired by Lord Chilcot was finally produced. At over 2.6 million words in length the complete findings will take some time to be poured over. What the 150 page summary did produce was damning evidence as to the ineptitude of the intelligence provided, the legitimacy to go to war and the planning for during and aftermath of the invasion. While this report has added fresh impetus to the responsibilities and criminal actions by several in the UK government, not least the Prime Minister. It will be scant relief for those families, nor a nation which has lost 250,000 lives and been plunged into a world of extreme violence and terrorism.

One line in the 150 page summary of the report which particularly stands out is Blair telling Bush that he ‘will be with him, whatever.’ This highlights the obvious corruption and criminal negligence in avoiding any attempts to achieve a more peaceful resolution. That he was willing to fabricate, or at best exaggerate the intelligence findings and push through a war on a country, based on deception, lies and an alternative agenda of oil excavation.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a despotic tyrant, but not any more so than others who Blair courted during his reign and which Britain have played a role in installing when it has suited their agenda. Hussein himself was at one time the preferred dictator of the UK and US, with them arming him in his war against Iran. However, despite his dictatorial regime it is incredible for Blair to that Iraq is in a better place than under Hussein’s rule especially not after this weekend when over 200 Iraqis died in yet another terrorist attack.

Iraq is now in the midsts of a bloody civil war between the Sunnis and Shaites, they have been invaded and poisoned by terrorism and in the North faced with the Islamic State regime. Make no mistake this is a direct consequence of the invasion by UK and US forces. The fact Blair still refuses to accept this or apologise for his role in the destruction of a once peaceful nation speaks volumes about his integrity and moral fibre.
The consequences of regime change has lead to terror and destruction in Iraq.
Nor does he display any semblance of guilt in putting British armed forces in danger, many losing their lives or suffering serious injury. The refusal to meet families of soldiers who lost their lives such as Rose, the mother of Fusilier Gordon Gentle shows his contempt for the consequences of his decisions made in office.

What is clear is that he must face some form of punishment for his actions. It is my understanding that the International Criminal Court will only look at abuses from soldiers. They fact that those who sent them there in the first place will not be tried, beggars belief. Neither will there be prosecution of Blair in England, even the chances of a trial for war crimes are unlikely in Scotland unless new legislation is introduced. Therefore I ask, no I plead with the Scottish Parliament to introduce an Iraq War Crimes Bill to allow justice to be done and for Blair and others who were culpable be convicted for their actions.

While Blair ducked and dived away from meeting any families of any responsibility in his media appearances. It has been left to the current leader to stand up and do the decent honourable thing and apologise on behalf of the Labour Party for leading Britain into this war. He apologised not only to the people of Iraq but to our own armed forces and the families of those who have lost. Dignified and respectful; in one day Jeremy Corbyn has done more to improve Middle East relations than Blair did in 13 years in power. He looked and acted like a true leader. As opposed to Tim ‘told you so’ Farron and Dodgy Dave, whose hero Blair was defended to the hilt. It is of no surprise that the Blairites and the likes of Hilary Benn were so keen to remove Corbyn before yesterday as his humanity and conscience only made their attitudes and views all the more repellent.

The lessons are there to be learned from the Chilcot report but I doubt the usual suspects will ever learn. That is why the leadership of Corbyn has been so refreshing. As someone who has long opposed the war in Iraq, his morality in this is without question. He was not the one who needed to apologise, yet he took that step as it was the right thing to do. I commented in an article last week that Corbyn was the right leader at the right time for the Labour Party. Yesterday he proved that in spades.

This will not however bring back the loved ones lost in our armed forces or those casualties from Iraq. This will not stop the continual bloodshed, including over 200 lives being lost this past weekend. Apologies will not repair their lives, will not fix a country in ruins, but it is an important first step on the way to justice. Something Mr Blair must surely face if we are to maintain any sense of morality in this world.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Where does it all end?

My current take on the whole Labour coup is that there is no easy way out of this. Most disappointingly of all is that this has came at a time when the Tories should have been on their knees. The pound crumbling, losing the AAA credit rating, Osbourne having to finally admit there would be no surplus by 2020. Instead of a united front going in to attack a wounded and hugely flawed Tory party. Our MP's decided to go after our own leader who has a huge mandate from our membership.

From what I can tell here are all the choices, none of them play out well for Labour and all play well for the Tories and on the plus side (Personally speaking...) for Scottish Independence. 

- Tomorrow Watson manages to agree a deal with the TU's this results in Corbyn having to resign but with his policies being maintained. The membership rejects this as a coup from 172 MPs and any new leader is hindered right from the start.
- The Watson/ TU meeting has no resolution and Eagle and or Smith challenges Corbyn.

. Corbyn wins and the party splits

. Corbyn wins and the party stay in standstill.

. Corbyn loses and the majority of Labour activists leave in protest. (Unlikely) 

Party splits:
- The New Labour/SDP 2 have the second largest group of MP's ... say 120/30 but no activists and few members. Corbyn's Labour has fewer MPs than them and possibly SNP. Now have an opposition with no support election is called Tories win with Corbyn Labour a long way off as opposition SDP 2 doesnt get off the ground.

Party standstill:(Unless mass support for Corbyn)

Election is held Tories win, Corbyn never given chance to put forward a programme with full support of PLP and Labour. Regardless of deselection Labour sent into a decline that will take 10-20 years to recover. Chances of Scottish Independence increase but steep divide between England and Scotland.

I am for independence for Scotland, not just because I believe that it is the best chance for Scotland to become a more progressive and fairer society, but also that it will allow greater autonomy for nations like Wales and Northern Ireland and an opportunity for the north of England to create trade from other avenues. None of this will happen without a Labour Party capable of being united and winning elections. This includes in Scotland where a one party populous, or a Tory opposition which will drive the SNP further right.

Scotland and the UK need a strong left of centre Labour Party. The wider left has proven itself incapable of taking up any sort of coherent position to enable it to get beyond 1% of the vote.

At a time when national borders should be even less important we seem to have stumbled into a Scotland, a UK and a Europe unable of finding any source of sanity and togetherness. Sturgeon has performed admirably but the issues affecting Scotland, the UK and Europe cannot be met by one woman or one party alone. This makes the collapse of Labour all the more tragic.

It is clear to me that we must unite and support Jeremy Corbyn and enable him to make the case for deselection of his MP's in any forthcoming election and campaign on an anti austerity ticket, moving forward with an economic plan that will include large scale infrastructure rebuilding, an internationalist view of any negotiations with the EU and the development of a basic income ahead of the growing technological revolution.

If not the future may become very bleak indeed.

Friday, 1 July 2016

What Makes A Leader?

Over the last 7 days there has been endless discussions on television, print and social media about the qualities of leadership. Since the EU referendum which has sent Britain on a one way ticket out of the European Union and sent forth economic and constitutional turmoil which will undoubtedly have a lasting impact.

This week may have been the most bizarre week that I have ever observed in British politics. With the pound collapsing, credit ratings diminishing and the EU urging the UK to speed up their go slow exit. The resignation of Cameron, the ascension and destruction of Boris you would have imagined that it would have been a pretty awful week for the Tories. Yet they have somehow managed to come out of it, if not smelling of roses certainly surviving through anonymity. Instead the Labour Party through an attempted coup supported by their usual friends in the media has taken the main spotlight. The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) claim that despite convincing 2/3’s of Labour supporters to vote remain, it wasn’t in fact Cameron or Boris or even Farage who is responsible for Brexit but rather Jeremy Corbyn. Citing him lost in leadership and lacking the necessary skills to do so.

As the coming days go by more and more people are aware that Brexit is but a timely tool for the PLP to begin this hostile takeover but it does beg the question...What are the merits of true leadership? 

There is no question Nicola Sturgeon has shown this week that she has it in spades, while panic consumed Westminster, she appeared Statesperson-like and dignified. She did not rush to the quick quip or told you so as her predecessor may have made the mistake of doing. But what of other leaders? Farage seems to be immune to scrutiny by the BEEB who have used him as a poster boy then wonder why UKIP have advanced. Is his leadership of a one man party, leading from the front the model of a skill set required? If so why does his most talented politician and only MP shudder when he hears quotes from dear old Nige? 


Perhaps it is Cameron who has shown the necessary leadership qualities, he who in an attempt to soothe his backbenchers announced this referendum then promptly quit before any of the long negotiations that his decision led us to began. Or maybe Boris Johnson; who saw the opportunity (always good in a leader) and subsequently realised he was in over his head. Or perhaps Michael Gove who saw an opportunity to stab his Brexit buddy in the back and announced that Boris lacked the leadership qualities needed to be PM (sound familiar) and instead for the good of the county, he of multiple hand claps should run.

It could of course be that true leadership lies closer to home within the Labour Party. Like Angela Eagle who was visibly upset at having to resign for Jeremy’s cabinet days after her leadership website was created, she who turned on Corbyn despite the support for the leader of her own constituency group. Perhaps we should look to our ‘greatest leader’ Tony Blair to see what it takes. Good communication, comfortable dealing with the Murdoch press, has the visions and values that makes most Tories stand up and admire him. Possibly could be in a whole lot of trouble over war crimes should a new Labour leader not hush it up.

In truth if this is what it takes to be a leader then Jeremy Corbyn should resign.....He wont attack a country that is not a direct threat to the UK like Blair, he wont pretend to support someone or something for the sake of political clout. Perhaps he doesn't always seize the moment or communicate his values and ideas as well as we would like... Or maybe he’s just not been given that voice.

The truth is in standing up to a hostile press, an establishment who wants him out and his own parliamentary team who seem to be more afraid of Corbyn winning an election thus angering their own backers than actually doing something that helps those that Labour were created to protect... Through all of this, despite the pressure, strain and attacks. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to stand down. Instead he holds true the belief that the leader of a party is elected by all of it’s members regardless of their rank, friends or donation. One member one vote has taken years to be adopted by the Labour Party and that is now the crux of this battle. Who really is in charge? The PLP taking advice/orders from PR companies with tenuous ties to culpable agents in a Chilcot enquiry.... Or the membership?

It is in light of this that I have made the decision to rejoin the Labour Party. I do so after months of consideration and also as a matter of expedience. Labour is, was and always will be my home whether I am a member or not. It is in my blood. I believe that the best of the Labour Party is the shining force in changing peoples lives for the better. It is this ideal that through all of my actions within the party and beyond I have always strived for.

The final decision was prompted by this Labour coup. I know Corbyn is not the perfect leader, but he is the leader we need, in the party we have, for the times that we are living. He will not turn away and run when it gets tough like Cameron. He will not lead you up the garden path and then head off with his ball when the going gets tough. Nor will he knife you in the back. His honesty while often his undoing is what attracts thousands to hear him and 60,000 in the last week to join/rejoin the party. This is why his argument on the EU... That it is not perfect nor should it be abandoned. That the deprivation and despair of many working class areas of the UK is not down to immigrants, rather the austerity environment we live in today.... Resonated with those who truly listened.

I believe with a party supporting him fully, with a shadow cabinet free from past history of PFI’s, votes on welfare caps and austerity and votes on Iraq and Syria... That Jeremy Corbyn can resonate with the people of the United Kingdom and create a fairer more equal society.

I believe this is why the Labour Party was created and I believe it can be achieved under the strong leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. That is why I have rejoined the Labour Party and hope to help make it real again.