In a historic move workers in McDonald’s outlets in Cambridge and Crayford have gone on strike over low wages and insecure employment. The industrial action was organised by workers and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) who have courageously taken on one of the largest companies in the world. But successes in this area from across the globe have shown that workers can successfully lobby for better working conditions. This action can bring about real change but only if the struggle of these workers is highlighted and staff at other fast food outlets unionise.
Labour has long claimed to be active in every community up and down the country and whilst this is not an untrue statement, there are many parts of Britain where the Labour Party is exclusively encountered in the press. For many citizens political activity is something that is people want to do but do not know how to get involved with issues they care about. My suggestion would be to make the Labour Party into a grassroots movement that is active at a level that is much more localised than just parliamentary constituencies. Empowering local people should be the future of the party and this requires a new approach to party organisation.
The Secretary of State for Women’s and Equalities Justine Greening has announced that there will be a consultation on a piece of legislation that would significantly change the legal status of transgender people in British society. The government have also announced a change to the rules regarding blood donation that will benefit gay and bisexual men. These measures are important and should be welcomed, however that should not mean that pressure on the government should be alleviated. Additionally, some aspects of society are still hostile towards the very idea of transgender equality and conversations need to be had so that so that our fellow citizens feel welcome in society.
There is much discussion in Labour Party circles about the merits and pitfalls of mandatory reselection. The opponents of this idea are exclusively in the more moderate wing of the party and these individuals fear that if primaries were to be held for all Labour candidates for Parliament, the party would swing to the left. This is a well-founded fear as if left-wing membership were truly empowered to take these decisions, as opposed to a moderate group of party insiders, Corbyn’s leadership would be secured for the foreseeable future and his successor would likely oppose any attempt at modernisation, which is simply a euphemism for moving Labour away from socialist roots. But nevertheless, mandatory reselection should be introduced.
Because of Theresa May’s general election own-goal, Labour are more influential and united in the House of Commons, and indeed the Tories and now descending into their latest Europe-based civil war. In an attempt to appear more Prime Ministerial, Theresa May gave a speech today in which she reached out to the Labour Party and other parties to work with the government on delivering Brexit. May said “I say to other parties in the House of Commons- come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country”. Labour needs to seize this opportunity in order to preserve the more positive aspects of EU membership whilst also exploiting the fissures currently opening up in the Conservative Party.
When Theresa May took over as Prime Minister she spent a great amount of time trying to convince people that the Conservatives were the party of working people. Naturally people like myself laughed in her face because all of her policies tell the complete opposite story, but for many the message was believable. However within a few days of the Queen’s Speech, this narrative has been undermined the Tories’ own actions. The Conservatives and the DUP voted in lockstep to maintain the public sector pay cap at a 1% annual rise which, in practice, is a pay cut.
Theresa May is, to quote George Osborne, “a dead woman walking” and today’s Queen’s Speech perfectly exemplified this fact. May had initially intended that the announcement of a date for the speech would be a way of gaining leverage on the DUP but this did not happen and as a result there is not yet a formal arrangement in place to prop up a Tory minority government. Because of this political uncertainty the speech was devoid of serious proposals other than vague statements about Brexit that could be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s views of the EU, and a notable absence of proposals that were in the Conservative manifesto. Continue reading →