Monday 22 January 2007

Stand Together

One of the key objectives of our campaign is create such a climate of radical political debate that people and organisations find it common sense to adopt our analysis and policies. Gramsci in the twenty first century!

What I am a bit surprised about is the rapidity of the acceptance of some of our ideas and the individuals who are now espousing them.

Her are just a few extraordinary examples.

On Saturday I spoke at a well attended debate with Harriet Harman convened by Nottingham South CLP. After I had raised the issue of council housing and in response to questions from party members Harriet agreed that the way in which the Government had failed to respond to the Labour Party's conference decisions on the need to invest in council housing was not adequate and housing policy must be reviewed. She also extolled the virtues of trade union rights but didn't go as far as endorsing our Trade Union Freedom Bill.

In the same week both Peter Hain, Hilary Benn and John Cruddas, all of whom voted for the war against Iraq, became critical of the Government's policy failures over Iraq and called for a new solution to the crisis.

On Sunday even I was a bit shocked to read that John Reid had announced that he was looking at splitting up the Home Office into two departments. We had only published a press release to this effect a week before, based upon discussions with representatives from the justice unions.

On Monday (today)Compass publishes its economic policy booklet and virtually repeats the tax proposals and support for Land Value Tax that we had adopted at the Labour Representation Committee conference in 2005.

And then we see reports that ideas are circulating in Government on the need to tackle international tax avoidance. This was an issue taken up by the Tax Justice Campaign and in 2005 endorsed by the Left Economic Adisory Panel (LEAP), the group of Left economists which I set up and chair.

I knew this run of success wouldn't last so I wasn't surprised to read of the leaked memo from David Bennett, Head of Number 10's policy directorate, setting out the policy ideas for Blair's legacy agenda, currently being discussed in joint working parties with Gordon Brown's people. This memo proposes a "clean sheet redesign of Whitehall" resulting in a "radical (50%) downsizing."

The leak comes on the eve of the TUC's lobby of Parliament on privatisation and public service cuts, plus the day before the announcement of the PCS ballot on compulsory redundancies.

It confirms the scale of the threat to our public services by the privatisation obsessed leadership of Blair and Brown and the need for co-ordinated action in support of public service workers under threat whether it is an NHS worker facing privatisation or a civil servant facing compulsory redundancy. We need to stand together.