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Paul Richards’ blind spot

paulrichardsHere’s Paul Richards, New Labour spin doctor, laying into Compass for giving a platform to Caroline Lucas of the Green Party at the Labour conference:

‘The left-wing grouping Compass have caused a row by inviting Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas to the Labour Party conference fringe tonight. It’s not just that the Greens are our enemy, or that the other speakers include party chair Harriet Harman, who wasn’t told. What’s really annoying Labour activists is that Caroline Lucas is the Green’s candidate for the parliamentary seat of Brighton Pavilion. This is the seat that Labour’s Nancy Platts hopes to hold for Labour.’

Actually,  and like Don Paskini, I don’t disagree.

But would this be the same Paul Richards who is ex-chair of the Fabian Society, the group which has just hosted both Iain Dale, Tory PPC for Bracknell, and a certain Caroline Lucas, in Brighton, and who hasn’t mentioned that at all?

Very odd.

Categories: General Politics
  1. September 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Well, Compass is not strictly a party-political machine, is it? — not all members are from Labour. Surely this is more a question about whether Compass should be allowed to be free to invite who it wants?

  2. September 28, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I thought Compass was a party-political platform. *shrugs*

    On this matter, as I said at the Don’s place, I disagree with all of you. Caroline Lucas should have a seat in parliament. It’s high time we stopped regarding party banner’s as a means whereby to exclude people from our calculations who are more Labour than the current government.

  3. September 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    You don’t have to be in Labour to join Compass but you can’t be a member of another party (like the Greens). Obviously their platforms have been pretty broad lately Greens to Tories to Respect, etc. which I personally think is a feather in their cap – but I basically think it’s fair to regard them as a Labour group until they allow those people speaking at their meetings to join that is.

  4. September 28, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Well, the Fabians are pretty much universally regarded as a Labour affiliated group – indeed, I think it’s one of the Socialist Societies that gets a vote in the electoral college. And yet don’t they have Lib-Dem members?

  5. September 28, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    None of which was really the point of the post, which was to have a go at Paul Richards’ hypocrisy.

    In fact, I’m not too stressed about Caroline Lucas appearing with Compass (or indeed the Fabians) at the conference. I wasn’t stressed enough about it to comment over at Don’s place. It’s just an ‘on balance’ thing that, however much more ‘Labour’ Caroline L may be than the Labour candidate (and I plead ignorance of the actual Labour candidate in the seat in question), and however much we might be happy to associate/work with her if she were elected, for the moment for her to draw on Labour resources to get her message across etc. is not appropriate.

    Call me a stickler, but Nancy Platts won the nomination from CLP members in Brighton, so she is a legitimate candidate. If the Labour grassroots want candidates more ‘Labour’than, say, Caroline Lucas, then it has to organise itself to get them. We shouldn’t try have it both ways, because to do so is to delegitimise processes at local level many of us are keen to relegitimise.

  6. September 29, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I’m keen to give the grassroots power – but I don’t think the local process has any legitimacy, in a lot of constituencies. I admit that I don’t know how things stand in Brighton and Hove – but I’m inclined to disregard any local party which consents to put out “Vote Green, let the Tories in” leaflets at a local election.

    When talking about local organising though, I think it’s crucial to recognize Labour’s deficiencies. And one of them is that when fifteen people turn up to a selection meeting, and seven write in, it in no way confers legitimacy on the single person running to be PPC. Which is how things happened somewhere I do know.

  7. September 29, 2009 at 9:23 am

    The other good one just recently from Paul ‘the thinker’ Richards was when he wrote an article whinging about how empty conference was, which directly reinforced talking points of ‘Operation Tumbleweed’ – the Tory Party’s attempts to present Labour as demotivated.

  8. September 29, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Dave @6: I don’t think we’re a huge distance apart on this one.

    From your perspective illegitimacy of candidates is widespread because of failing parties, but I think you’d accept that there will be local parties where more than 22 people are engaged in a selection process.

    From my perspective legitimacy of candidates is fairly widespread because in fact in most areas there is decent engagement in the selection process (though less in other parts of the party’s operation), though I don’t deny that there will be some areas (I can name one in the North West) where due process has completely gone out of the window.

    I suspect, though I’m not going to bother to check, that Brighton falls into the ‘reasonably legitimate’ section.

    My main point, though, is that the Labour party in general still has a workable infrastructure which can be used by the Left if it is organised to take control of it (as it did in some places in the early 1980s), not just in respect of PPC selections but more generally by taking over CLPs through engagement in a) branches b) affiliated unions. None of this is rocket science, and nor will it be that hard in many places, where a couple of dozen activists will be enough to take over a CLP.

    All I’m saying vis-a-vis the Caroline Lucas thing is that it doesn’t fit right, if we are to organise around these abiding structures, to also say that these structures are not fit for purpose in any CLP. As I’ve said, I suspect they are more or less fit for purpose in Brighton, although I don’t doubt that the union engagement in the selection process was less than we would have desired.

    But in the end, inviting Caroline Lucas to one meeting is hardly going to impinge on the logic/manageability of a take over process, and I acknowledge that my argument on the narrower point of whether or not to invite is somewhat esoteric. As noted, I wouldn’t have picked it up at all had it not been for Richards’ hypocrisy.

    Don P @7: he does seem a bit of a knob to me, I have to say, though I’ve not taken much interest in his writings to date. He fits with that amorphous mass of writers of NL join-the-dots crap along with Richard Reeves, Jessica D’Asato, and of coursenow the boy Purnell (I’ll come to Dave’s peice on him later today), and I can’t easily distinguish one from the other.

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