Thursday, 1 February 2018

Correspondence with CalderValley Momentum

Thanks for writing Mr Mitchell,

Momentum often holds open meetings and you would be more than welcome to attend any of these which are advertised through Facebook and emails to members and supporters. Our Facebook page is open to all who wish to view and comment on posts so it use usually clear to people if a meeting is public or not.

It is regrettable that one of the candidates attending last night posted something that may have implied, to some, that the meeting was open, though I note that apart from yourselves, no one else made this error.

I'm sorry I didn't offer to buy you a beer, that was very rude. But as you had nearly a full pint in your hand I didn't feel it was necessary.

I understand your discomfiture at turning up to what was assured to be an interesting meeting and not being allowed admittance, but 'members only' unfortunately means 'members only'.

I hope you, and all Labour Party members in Calder Valley do get a chance to hear all the candidates before the hustings as that is the best way of ensuring an open democratic process. And I'm sure you will be as impressed as we were.

As to your questions, which I answer out of curtesy,

1, I'm not aware that Momentum is acting like an affiliated organisation.
2 No, we have not had any other meetings with candidates, open or closed. Last night was the first opportunity our members had to meet the candidates.
3 Momentum is recommending to members that they give their first three votes to the candidates who are Momentum members, in which ever order they choose.

All the very best


Dear Roger,
Thanks for your prompt reply. Good to know that it’s easier to get emails from Momentum then admission to its meetings
I’m sure that you don’t want to be thought of as some kind of secret society but if you’re not to give that impression it’s best not to act like one and that would mean having your meetings open to Labour members and not advertising them on Facebook as”public event”when they aren’t

It’s a bit unreasonable of you to blame the candidate for not saying that it was a closed meeting when she was only doing her best to put her case to as many party members as possible, as well as daft to say that I was the only person to be unable to read her mind or understand the contradictory signals you were putting out.Petty debating point that, Lansman wouldn’t like it, though since he wants to recruit more Labour members he might like you to allow people to pay at the door.

I assume you’re being lightly sarcastic in apologising for not buying me a beer, though of course, you’re perfectly free to do so whenever you want. What you actually said was that I should go downstairs and use the opportunity to drink which you were kindly providing by refusing me admission. upstairs.
Nice of you to express the hope that we all get to hear all the candidates in the two days before the selection but that only makes it more incompressible that you should have stopped my wife and I from hearing those who came to your meeting.

Finally your questions which you answer out of courtesy rather than accuracy.
Q1. Waken up. Momentum is applying to be an affiliated organisation and in making recommendations which candidate members should support and who they should deselect you’re acting like one. Naughty
2.So last night was your first ( selective) opportunity to meet the candidates. How many were there and who didn’t get the opportunity?
3.Did your recommendation to vote for  Momentum members arise from the meeting after hearing them speak. Was there any consideration of this or of the pros and cons of each or all at the meeting.I take it that your membership isn’t secret too, so which of the candidates are Momentum members, locally or nationally? If you’re going to hand out certificates of merit or black spots Labour members should know who’s got them.

Sorry to ask so many questions. Momentum didn’t exist when I were a lad.Happy to correspond or meet. Your campaigning record looks impeccable.
Yours (dare I say it?) fraternally

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

An Evening with Momentum

On Tuesday 30 January I responded to an invitation from one of the four candidates on the Calder Valley Labour Party shortlist to hear her speak at a meeting organised by Momentum. On its Facebook announcement Momentum advertised this as a “public event”.

Going into the meeting with my wife we were refused admission and asked to leave.When we protested we were referred to Roger O’Doherty who appeared to be in charge. He said that we couldn’t attend Momentum meetings if we weren’t members and suggested that would give us time to go downstairs and drink beer. He didn’t offer to buy any but this was, after all, Yorkshire.

A concerned lady came down to assuage my annoyance and explained that I would not have been admitted to the party’s LGBGT group either.  She added that I couldn’t be allowed in because the group would be discussing the candidates.

Now I make no criticism of the candidate, who in the short chat I was able to have with her, before the meeting was very nice and an excellent identity candidate.But Momentum is not a Labour Party affiliate and in the light of Labour’s sad experience with parties within the party, from CND through Militant to the SDP it is legitimate to ask why an organisation which believes in an open democratic Labour Party, and wants to increase participation behaves in a fashion which could be viewed as conspiratorial, even sinister.

The questions which should be answered at, or before, the Labour Party selection on Saturday are:-
1.Why is Momentum behaving like an affiliated organisation when it isn’t?
2. Has Momentum held similar meetings for the other three candidates and were these also closed meetings?
3.Is Momentum as an organisation in Calder Valley backing one or more candidates, or is it opposing one or more .Will any such advice be publicly announced?
As I understand it Momentum is a sectional organisation promoting a series of left wing policies. I am not opposed to these policies but I do see Labour as a broad church with several strands of opinion.These must live together,cooperate with each other and work openly, if our party is to win power in a conservative country with a malign media.

Monday, 22 January 2018


Britain’s elite and Europe’s have one thing in common. They both know better than the people what the people want. Better say “really want” because they see the transient needs of the little people in jobs, a rising standard of living and a fairer society but they know, what the people don’t that there’s a greater good beyond that. What the people need is a strong European Union moving steadily and happily to ever closer union and if the people don’t always realise that then it’s the responsibility of both elites to guide them there..

That noble vision is far more important than any transient popular whims such as cheaper food ,catching our own fish or managing our own destinies. People might have been prepared to die for their country in the past but these are more enlightened times. Now patriotism is old hat and the people need a brotherly ( sisterly and transgender) love for Europe.Even if they don’t quite realise it.

So any ignoble aberration from this noble instinct must be due to some mental aberration, ignorance, stupidity, Russian bribery, or the uncomprehending malevolence of antediluvian populists. All such whims must be overruled and expunged.

Referenda therefore, can’t be allowed. As President Macron has pointed out even the French might vote against their interest Which is why whenever the Dutch, the Irish or the French have made the mistake of voting against what the EU wants, they have been required to think and vote again to get it right.

It follows from all this that the two elites are not only entitled but positively required to work together to stop the people being overwhelmed by folly. British Remainers, and Blair’s Resisters must work to discredit and stop Brexit. The Eurocracy are making it difficult to get are both working to heaven’s plan and both should, must and will collude and conspire together to stop it.

So don’t assume that when Tony Blair goes to Brussels he’s just popping in for a drink or three with his old mate Jean Claude Junker, or reviving his prospects of becoming president of the EU. Don’t assume either that the Remoaners who flock there are just going to take selfies with Barnier in the Grande Place or enjoy fish restaurants they can’t afford. They’re all there to plot the wrecking of Brexit and plan how to achieve that together

The joint strategy is for the British fifth column to keep up the fight, terrify the nation by predictions of disaster, ruin, death and chlorinated chicken, and create the impression that the nation is divided and beginning to repent, so as to encourage their Euro mates to drag things out and demand impossible terms . Then, under this combined assault, the poor bemused Brits will repent and crawl back and the EU can get on with its business of making the Euro work, creating a European army and building more marble halls in Brussels.

Dead easy. So far its worked well, split both British parties,lowered Theresa’s aims, terrified the softies into demanding that we stay trussed in the single market, and extinguished UKIP’s will to live. Another year of this and, they think, there’ll be no need to wait for the recalcitrant old to die off. Yesterday’s men can resume their rule as Britain clamours to go back on any terms. They may even be willing to join the Euro , and send our depleted army over as the Pioneer Corps of Macron’s Grand Armee with the band playing Beethoven’s Ninth instead of the National anthem. Democracy? Champagne all round.

Happy Euro-day to one and all!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Important New Year Message to the Labour Party


If you’re hoping to see Labour climb down from its mugwump position over Brexit in 2018, forget it. Labour will stay firm in its indecision. The iron may be rusty but it’s entered Labour’s soul.

It can’t take any firm position because to do so would split a party which has always been disunited on the EU. It took a revolt by 69 Labour MPs to take Britain in, and while Labour stood on a policy of withdrawal in 1983 by 2003 it had stood on its head to become the most Euro-enthusiastic party around. Now the divisions are even worse. Euro-enthusiasts led by Peter Mandelson’s deputy on earth, Chuka Umunna, fight to stay in and many MPs have a romantic vision of an illusory EU which their constituents don’t share. Some Trade unions have given up hope of a Labour government and look for crumbs of comfort from Brussels and several Labour local authorities feel the same

The number of MPs who want to withdraw has dwindled, but the leader, and his acolytes having consistently opposed membership, still see it as a capitalist ramp, hostile to socialist economic measures while a substantial number of others want to obey the democratic decision of the people in the least disturbing manner.

The result is a firm decision not to decide. Jeremy Corbyn has taken a lot of flack for this from Euro enthusiasts denouncing him for losing the referendum by his lack of enthusiasm and MPs who want to cling on to the EU attack him for not demanding that Britain stay in a single market which he thinks will make industrial regeneration impossible. A few who remain loyal to the old policy of coming out urge him to back the people’s decision. Others just want rid of the whole business. This is a party of 57 varieties of Euro-policy.

Yet neither Labour’s MPs nor the commentariat realise that the old serial rebel has grown into a leader, and a Labour Party leader at that. Jeremy is committed to what has been the central aim of every previous leader except Blair and Ramsey McDonald. He wants to hold a discordant party together to win power. Instead of condemning him for his radical past they should ask the crucial Labour question. What’s the would Harold Wilson do?

The answer is much the same as Jeremy is now doing, though Jeremy does it with less flair and cunning. In the early sixties Harold opposed membership of what was then the Common Market. As Prime Minister he attempted to join. He then reverted in opposition, to staying out. Finally he concealed Labour’s divisions and his own changes behind a pretended re-negotiation followed by a referendum This healed the splits and allowed Labour to win power and govern.

As he transforms from protester to politician Jeremy must ask himself why waste time and expose the splits over something that’s not central to his purpose of winning power and rebuilding Britain? Better to take the Wilson approach. Harass government in its difficulties, divisions and EU intransigence, while keeping quiet on what Labour would do, how much it would pay for a Get Out of Jail Card, and what kind of settlement it prefers. Instead of joining the battle, the opposition can carp and criticise the government’s position. Whatever it might be.

That may be unhelpful. It must weaken Theresa’s negotiating position. It will certainly encourage Brussels to be tougher and Lord Heseltine to support Labour but, as Lord Kindersley once said of one of his own dirty deals “it may be anti-British and derogatory to sterling but it makes sense to me” As it would for any Labour leader who puts party first.

Of course Jeremy still wants to win power, but not just yet. Labour won’t-indeed can’t- emerge from its bomb shelter until the Brexit war is over and either negotiations fail or Theresa comes away with a settlement which is less than the electorate wants. Why wander onto the battlefield before that? Why sink in mud to be hit by shrapnel, bombs and abuse when you can help a baffled government to fail. Just think what Harold would do.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Endgame or Eurocide?


The Brexit negotiations make it clear that the first past the post electoral system and the elective dictatorship it supports are no longer fit for use. Britain’s disintegrating party system needs proportional representation to work effectively and fairly.

The old system claimed give Britain strong government. It no longer does that. Since 2010 we’ve had coalitions and Theresa May’s shambling government, and now, negotiating with a devious oponent we look incapable of toughing our way out of a paper bag, let alone a game of 27 to 1.

The EU has grabbed the cards. It requires us to jump three ever rising hurdles, none of which can be agreed until we know the terms of departure, before we can even talk about them. It’s already hinting that there will be no concessions on that if we ever reach it

It would take a tough single minded government with a clear idea of the national interest and a determined and united will to fight out of this trap .Instead the political parties are divided, we argue among ourselves about whether we want a hard or a soft Brexit , (which only the EU can decide), the vested interests moan and threaten, the government bids against itself and the instruments of power are weak and broken.

The Tories are clearly divided. The Chancellor is cool on the whole enterprise, the vicar’s daughter hopes to win by being nice, the Brexiteers talk tough and a small, vocal group want to call the whole thing off and rejoin the Junker Friendship club.

The situation is worse on the Labour side. A substantial minority, hope that the difficulties will be so great that government will give up, and they’re ready to support anything that contributes to that outcome. A small number are ready to support the government, more just want to attack the Tories for making a mess.

The leadership holds things together by attacking whatever the government does while secretly hoping that Theresa will hang on long enough to prevent the poisoned chalice passing to Labour. That would force them to take clear positions on, immigration, even bigger payments for leaving, transition arrangements and all the other things on which the party is divided.

If it came to power before the settlement Labour would have to choose between rejecting the referendum verdict of the people and being nasty to an EU which many love almost as much as Vince Cable. Much easier to denounce whatever the government does

All this makes things easy for Junker, Barnier, Tusk and the abominable No men .It absolves the EU from getting 27 states with different interests and views to agree on any common strategy apart from “Just say No”. So we end up negotiating with a very taciturn “I speak your Weight” machine.

The EU listens to all our internal arguments. It encourages the protests of the vested interests. It pays undue attention to the disrupters and rampant remainers, observes our divisions and sees all of that as absolving the EU itself from any need to negotiate seriously.

All they need do is accuse Britain of having no proposals, being laggardly and speculate that Theresa May’s government is too weak and fragile to do anything, let alone commit Eurocide. It’s a pathetic spectacle, but one which is totally unacceptable to those who voted for Brexit and many who didn’t but are still proud of their country.