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Member since: 2001
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I agree with much of this

With the Tories becoming more extremist and unhinged, and Labour retreating up their own behind the Lib Dems are becoming increasingly attractive to me, especially as the only genuinely pro free trade party we have left. It clearly isn't a coincidence that British politics has gone badly wrong since their influence was almost entirely wiped out at the last election.

However, their behaviour over Tuition Fees is a real millstone round their neck, and will continue to be so for decades to come. Destroyed their credibility, and wiped the party out in many areas of the country.

Similar-ish story for me....

My area is being rejoined with Bolsover under the proposals. In the short term, providing that Dennis Skinner's health holds up it would decrease the risk of me having a Tory MP at the next election.

In the long term however, the area is gentrifying and whilst Dennis Skinner is very popular locally, he is also a very old man who is not going to live forever. Labour still has a lot of work to do if it wants to keep control of the area where I live.

I'll be able to look at other areas at a later date.

If Liam Fox wants British business to export more....

.....then he will have to abandon the policy of leaving the EU as the EU single market is the thing that makes exporting goods easy.

I campaigned for "Stronger In" precisely because I want to keep things as easy as possible for British exporters, without foreign governments charging duties on British goods or excessive export paperwork.

Global Supply Chains Paralyzed After World's 7th Largest Container Shipper Files Bankruptcy

I hope that none of you have goods on a Hanjin vessel right now.


The question now is whether as a result of the bankruptcy process there will be an unexpected failure in the global supply-chain: South Korea's oceans ministry estimates a two- to three-month delay in the shipping of some Korean goods that were to be transported by Hanjin Shipping, and plans to announce in September cargo-handling measures which could include Hyundai Merchant Marine taking over some routes, a ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Making matters worse, Reuters adds that KDB's move to pull the plug was already having an impact on Hanjin's operations, with the company's various shipping assets already frozen. Ports including those in Shanghai and Xiamen in China, Valencia, Spain, and Savannah in the U.S. state of Georgia had blocked access to Hanjin ships on concerns they would not be able to pay fees, a company spokeswoman told Reuters.

Another vessel, the Hanjin Rome, was seized in Singapore late on Monday by a creditor, according to court information. "Now Hanjin must do everything it can to protect its clients' cargoes and make sure they are not delayed to their destination, by filing injunctions to block seizures in all the countries where its ships are located," said Bongiee Joh, managing director of the Korea Shipowners' Association.

The global implications from the bankruptcy are unknown: if, as expected, the company's ships remain "frozen" and inaccessible for weeks if not months, the impact on global supply chains will be devastating, potentially resulting in a cascading waterfall effect, whose impact on global economies could be severe as a result of the worldwide logistics chaos. The good news is that both economists and corporations around the globe, both those impacted and others, will now have yet another excuse on which to blame the "unexpected" slowdown in both profits and economic growth in the third quarter.

I've been thinking about the Personality cult bit recently

I'm slightly too young to know about Thatcher on this point, but in my adult life two UK politicians have had a major cult of personality about them. Tony Blair and Nigel Farage.

I may heartily dislike both, and certainly disliked the ginormous egos of both men, but both were hugely successful in their own ways.

Looking at Jeremy Corbyn, he is not an obvious candidate for a cringing cult of personality. He's not a brilliant orator like Obama, he doesn't come across as a raging egomaniac, or even somebody who takes much pride in his appearance and in stark contrast to media whores like Blair and Farage he actively shuns mainstream media.

And yet the faction of Labour he heads seems utterly dependent on him staying as Labour leader come what may and has built up a cult like base of followers who seem far more attached to the man than any wider cause. In my experience, you can object to policies like Railway Nationalisation and they won't argue with you about it, but the moment you suggest that he isn't doing a very good job as Labour leader they go apeshit.

So there is a bit of the personality cult with Corbyn, but it's quite different what you usually get with personality politics IMHO.

I live in an old coal mining area in England

The Industrial Revolution started in Britain due in large part to the fact that we had plentiful supplies of coal to fuel steam engines, and in later years power stations. Coal was the most important industry in Britain for many, many years and the British Labour party became a major force in politics thanks to the power of the miners.

In old pit villages you had a situation going back generations where people left school and went straight off to work down the mines. it was the only life people in many pit villages knew. And when the mines shut it was utterly devastating for those communities.

Some of the old pit villages are recovering well from the closure of the mines, others are still in a dreadful state.

Also worth remembering that old pit villages tend to be very insular places. Outsiders of any description are often looked on with suspicion, which can easily turn into strongly anti-immigrant sentiment, or just plain old fashioned prejudice.

Let me put it this way

I don't think Owen Smith is some sort of messiah. Far from it. But I do think he would be more capable of getting the basic stuff right than Corbyn.

I agree that further splits on the left will be disastrous. The ideal situation would be a strong united Labour party making formal alliances with the Lib Dems and Greens to ensure that we are all working together.

However, Labour is in such a horrendous mess that a split may become inevitable. There are too many people in that party who clearly cannot work with each other, nevermind working with others from outside the Labour tradition.

More United clearly isn't founding a new party, but it does promise funding and resources for candidate's who sign up to their agenda. I suspect that it's intended as a way to gently prod non-Corbynite folk on the left towards working with the Lib Dems. Especially on EU policy. I also suspect that it's been created on the premise that a split in Labour is increasingly likely.

Mass membership alone doesn’t make a social movement

Superb article (yet again!) from Owen Jones about the need to get people active in political parties. Getting people to move from being supporters to full activists is an issue that many voluntary organisations have to deal with.


The idea of leftwing middle-class professionals descending en masse on working-class communities to campaign at election time is fraught with issues, mostly arising from contrasting experiences and different priorities and outlooks. But this is merely a hypothetical problem because it simply isn’t happening. Political rallies may brim with enthusiasm, as do many local party meetings when it comes to debates about the party leadership. But some constituency Labour parties have grown three-fold yet experienced little or no increase in door-knocking; some even report a decline. When it comes to campaigning, Labour has a very large paper membership. There is a clear danger of it being reduced to voting fodder and a source of funds.

If Labour is to have a future, that has to change. A mass membership offers immense potential that, as of yet, is untapped. Labour needs to adopt a strategy – led by trade unions – to recruit and give leadership positions to underrepresented working-class people, particularly in the north, whether they work in supermarkets or call centres. There needs to be a concerted effort by long-standing experienced members to get new members to knock on doors.

Partly this is about giving members confidence: some feel uneasy knocking on strangers’ doors for the first time. A scheme for community organising, backed up with sophisticated training, needs to be instituted. Setting up credit unions; creating food banks that organise recipients; social events for young people; schemes to organise private tenants and the burgeoning self-employed; volunteers to provide company for lonely pensioners – these are just some of the things a social movement could do. And what of mechanisms to feed in policies from the grassroots? The risk is of a movement united by total loyalty to one leader, rather than bubbling with ideas for policies to change society.

Progress won’t be achieved by intolerance for differing opinion on the left, let alone the wider public. An optimistic, understanding, empathetic, inclusive, outward-looking movement needs to be built. All of this must be part of a wider strategy for gaining power, of course. The Tories won the last election with few footsoldiers on the ground. Without a clear plan for power, the history books will refer to the left only as an explanation for how the Tories were able to rule for so long. Enough of the false dichotomies: Labour doesn’t have to choose between being a social movement and a party of government. It can be both.

Let me put it this way

Looking at the mess that is politics at a national level, I can see a strong case for joining the Liberal Democrats right now.

However, looking at local politics I would have to say the exact opposite! Whilst I may be strongly persuaded by the Lib Dems merits over Tories & Labour right now, they have by their own admission completely died out in my constituency. If I were to join them I would be, as they might say on "Little Britain" the only lib dem in the village. And in the neighbouring town of Chesterfield the entire local party was suspended last year over a bullying scandal. Looking in the other direction, there is a local Lib Dem MP, but that's Nick Clegg, who is not my favourite Liberal Democrat to put it mildly.

Plus my local Labour MP only has a slim majority and will be hard pressed to prevent the nightmare scenario of the Tories taking the seat at the next election.

If only Labour would stop being such a complete basket case of a party.

May be the best way out of this mess

We need to unite the pro EU parties and groups, because it is very likely that the people who want to force us into economic catastrophe will be united at the next general election.

To me, the best starting point would be a formal alliance between the Liberal Democrats and The Greens. Labour clearly isn't fit to build such an alliance at present, but a split is looking increasingly likely.

And pro EU Tories are going to be very out of place in their party before too long. Especially if they elect Andrea Leadsom as PM. They will need proper representation too. We need to build a big tent.
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