Saturday, February 24, 2007

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy endorse John McDonnell

On Saturday I headed off, with Dave, to the Stop the war demo .
We wandered around and could not find the John4leader group. Dave then tried to see if he could find any groups calling for the restoration of the Shah that he could march behind .
After a while we decided to head over to the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy AGM (CLPD) that was meant to have both Micheal Meacher and John McDonnell speaking.
Interestingly enough Meacher did not turn up. John as always was there ready to have a debate and face grass roots activists. That of course is one of the key differences of their campaigns. John's campaign has been firmly rooted in getting out and meeting and debating with grassroots party members, trade unionists and students. Meacher has dithered about , preferring the confines of Westminster and horse trading for votes amongst MPS. Its a shame he did not see it as important to come along ,explain his actions and debate with John.

John gave a brief report on his campaign and then was asked his view on Micheal putting his name forward. He made the point that his campaign was about policies and that he had hoped Michael would have joined it and added his work on the environment.
After he left there was a debate about whether CPLD should endorse John.

Some felt that they needed to be pragmatic and look at who had the best chance of attracting the centre left ground. The trouble with that is the reality is no left or centre left candidate is likely to beat Brown. It seems that Meacher does not have any credibility either on the left or centre left amongst MPS and is highly unlikely to prove any sort of challenge. I also think any other centre left candidate is unlikely to step forward . Any serious contender is going to wait until Brown steps down rather than risk career suicide.

I also think this argument missed the point of Johns' campaign. Those who argued for backing John did so not out of idealism . They spoke about how John has brought in new members and encouraged people to rejoin . I would add to that people staying in the Party (as I am) because of the campaign. It is also re energising the left . A centre left candidate would not do that. John is campaigning in a way that the CPLD should fully support, encouraging participation at grass roots level and taking the debate out of parliament and back to its members.

Someone made the point that John is also getting his message across to young people.This is at a time when most see the labour Party as irrelevant. I think given the age range in that room full of CPLD members (majority over 50 ) they should welcome this aspect of the campaign.The vote went in favour of John. Given his campaign and the aims of CPLD I would argue that was not idealistic but realistic and pragmatic.

The reality is John , even if Michael stands down, will not become leader. Sorry, but we all know that in our hearts, not just cynical disillusioned lefties like myself. The best case scenario is that he gets enough nominations to go on the ballot paper . This would result in a campaign where the arguments about policy will be debated ,not just amongst members, but will get a hearing in the media. Socialist principles will be debated. It is the only way that will happen given the MPs who have put their names forward for Deputy. No one is coming from a socialist perspective even if Blears bizarrely uses that description .

It does seem that Meacher seems driven by ego and is willing to sabotage what has been a campaign around socialist principles in the Labour Party. He is not a left candidate and has no credibility either with the centre ground. Even with my cynical disillusioned outlook I do believe that John is genuine and is not driven by ego. I have seen him speak now a number of times and spoken to him at the TUC conference. His whole platform is based around policies and engaging people . Its not based around horse trading at Westminster but debate amongst members.

If Meacher succeeds in sabotaging the campaign , thus allowing Brown a clear run , he will deal a blow to the left. I suspect many of the enthusiastic younger new members may just walk away. The left in the Party will be shown as unable to unite and support a principled hard working candidate.

The words piss up and brewery come to mind.