Monday, 30 April 2018



Ever since the Blair-Brown takeover, Labour has tried to avoid pain and conform to the prevailing neoliberal orthodoxy in an effort to be respectable and avoid frightening people.

This path to power no longer works in the way it did in 1997 the year of hope. Since then Britain’s economic position has deteriorated, the people have rejected the old orthodoxies in the Brexit vote, and the 2017 election has shown that more radical policies are becoming more acceptable.

Which makes it time to tell the truth to the people. Britain is in a mess. Our economy can neither pay its way in the world nor support the spending the electorate requires. Our country is relegated to decline unless tough measures are taken.

First taxes must increase, particularly on the wealthy and the top five percent who’ve used neoliberal economics to lavish so much wealth on themselves.

Secondly the economy must be boosted by industrial policy, a national development bank and state aid to those sectors which can win a competitive advantage to build national champions in the way China has.

Third the pound must be made  competitive to close the trade gap, tax imports and boost exports and kept that way on a long term basis by changing the inflation requirement on the Bank of England to one on competitiveness and full employment.

Fourth boost business by requiring all profits made in this country to be taxed in this country, changing the imperatives to long term investment and building company strength. Corporate governance reform should  require workers on the boards, make takeovers more difficult, stop the sale of other services to audit clients  and break up  the Big Four auditors to produce competition .

Fifth replace the imperatives of the market by developing the public sector and public services, encouraging mutuals and cooperatives and emphasising community rather than competition by empowering local government, regulating the privatised sectors more effectively, developing general rather than means tested benefits  and restoring worker and union protections to advance the many rather than empower and enrich  the few.

All these are simple verities restoring Labour basics and  weakening the both the exotic spread of identity politics and the desperate desire to win the support of the middle class and London by punishing the poor and the North.

Britain needs a strong, resolute Labour Party not a pale pink meritocracy peddling a diluted version of Thatcherism or a pale pink Liberal Party. Labour needs a strong British economy if it is to deliver to the people ,rather than please the possessing classes.This is a time for boldness not PR peddling.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

How to deal with Eurojelly

We Brits are argueing among ourselves about what kind of Brexit, soft, large or non existent we want. It’s a waste of time. We’ll get what we’re given. Because we’re dealing with an entity which can’t negotiate, that won’t be much.

We’re not negotiating with naysaying Barnier or jolly junketing Junker but a giant jelly fish .EU authority is divided between twenty seven nations, a Commission which isn’t a government and a council of ministers which claims to be one but isn’t. Hovering in the wings is the pretend parliament which also has a say, though no one’s sure what it is

If they all negotiate it would be bedlam. Easier just to say “” and employ a professional naysayer to say it. In French. He then sets up hurdles for us to jump. When we do, he says no again.

This amorphous mass can only be kept together by firm rules, and Europeans are legalistic, while we Brits are pragmatic .Our question is “does it work?” Rather than what’s the law.

Of course the laws can be fiddled and in the EU they regularly are..No state aid, but the Germans have a Development bank and aid from regional banks.Free movement of people. But Poland and Hungary don’t allow it. Limits on budget deficits .But the French can go over.

All that’s internal .When it comes to negotiations with entries or leavers its easier to put up a blank refusal to change the rules and let the other party beat its head against a brick wall until they submit. That’s what they’re now doing to us.

Negotiations become a process of wearing the other side down by obfuscation, ever new demands and blank resistance until they either give up, as Greece did, or go away, as they hope we will.

In a coordinated operation Rampant Remainers help them to achieve this doing the EU’s work for it. They criticise everything the British government proposes, support the EU’s refusal to accept it, and create fear of disaster if we go. 

The aim of this coalition of yesterday’s men is to encourage the EU to be intransigent in the hope that we’ll lose heart,the government will fall and we’ll crawl back to Europe, saying we should have listened to Tony in the first place.

To sweeten the bitter pill Tony’s now saying the EU should control immigration. He hopes that this will make our humiliated voters a little happier about being humiliated.

It won’t.Look what happened to Cameron’s desperate attempts to get changes to help him win the referendum. He got peanuts. Tony will too because he runs up against the same inability to negotiate or change which Theresa May is already facing.

“No can do” is the EU’s answer to everything:change, reform,negotiation Macron, Greece, Cameron even their very own fifth column in Britain.You’ve got to be tough, absolutely determined, carry a big stick and be prepared to use it to get anywhere when you’re dealing with a jellyfish.

Chunks of the Labour Party, or at least Chuka and the chuckusins,see the Single Market, Brexit without Exit, as the way to do what the electors want while staying in the EU. It may be a solution for vested interests and business groups who know better than the people what’s good for the people, but Labour Single Marketeers must beware .Staying in the Single Market means abandoning much of what Labour needs to do to make Britain solvent.

Labour believes in open trade. The Single Market means agricultural protection and the concealed protectionism of pay to play as countries like Norway must pay big fees to finance marble palaces in Brussels

Labour  wants to create jobs. The single Market drains them as Germany accumulates growing surpluses at the expense of deficit countries ,like Britain, running a £60 billion trade deficit on top of membership charges..

Labour  opposes tax races to the bottom. The Single Market  allows countries like Ireland and Luxembourg to offer dirty tax deals to companies making their profits in Britain.Free movement of capital is freedom not to pay tax where its due.

Labour’s voters dislike excessive immigration.The Single Market institutionalises the free movement of Labour

Labour proposes industrial policy, aid to investment  and regional policy to rebalance the economy.The Single Market prohibits state aids to industry and  bans regional employment premiums.

Labour wants to boost demand to put people back to work. The Single Market drains it away to finance our big contributions and our trade deficit.We’re forced to borrow to pay both.

Labour wants to boost trade with the rest of the world. The Single Market allows no separate trade deals with other countries.

Labour wants to stop British companies falling into foreign control. Our huge trade deficit forces us to sell them  to fill the gap, and the Single Market negates national controls.

Labour believes in aid to help the poorest of the poor. The Single Market insists that much of our aid goes through Europe’s inefficient and corrupt aid system and requires cohesion funding  to subsidise the transfer of British jobs to East Europe.

Labour believes in democracy. The Single Market enthrones plutocracy and requires second ballots on votes against it.

 All this may be attractive  for Labour MPs whose Euro-enthusiasm is stronger than their social democratic priorities.Right wingers could see it as ruling out Corbyn-McDonnell policies by putting a Blairite straight jacket on the economy. Yet it’s more difficult to see why a party dedicated to rebalancing that economy and boosting jobs would benefit from it. Idealists are always a little naive, but Labour ones should put the interests of Labour’s people above their euro-enthusiasm.

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.