Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Stoking It Up

On Friday, George Galloway told me to face to face that he had no remaining desire to re-join the Labour Party.

He is on record as calling for 57 Labour members of Durham County Council to lose their seats this year, taking that authority to No Overall Control, because of their treatment of the Teaching Assistants.

He is also on record that he would take a seat in the House of Lords if I did. At 2:20, he announced that live on air a few weeks ago.

His professed interest in Stoke is doubtless more in the second category than in the first.

But he now hints at contesting every parliamentary by-election without ever doing so. That one could rapidly become very tiresome indeed.

Red Labour, which I suppose is the nearest thing that I have to a faction, is strong in Stoke.

That should be kept in mind even though the AWL is already dead against a Galloway candidacy there or anywhere else.

They have described themselves to me as Shachtmanites, albeit "Left Shachtmanites", whatever that might mean.

Whereas a few hours ago, Chris Nineham (and yes, he does look like his father) told me that almost no one would now describe themselves as Trotskyists.

But his Counterfire, which comes very much from out of that tradition, has been notable for the platform that it has provided for the Teaching Assistants' campaign, as surely as the Morning Star has done.

The same is true of Spiked, the sibling of whom the other old Trots do not speak, but of whom they are all nevertheless fully aware.

Counterfire and the Morning Star would presumably both support either a Galloway or a Red Labour candidacy, and ought to make it clear that they would not support the former against the latter.

It is difficult to see Spiked's supporting either option.

But all three, and George himself, ought to support the approach to the County Council elections set out in the link above.

Labour's loss of this unitary authority for half a million people would be very big news, and it would set the scene for the 2020 General Election.

For reasons that will by then be 25 years old, but which retain currency, I shall be contesting the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, most of which is where Pat Glass MP will be retiring.

I shall be doing so without any party designation, not even the word "Independent".

I am not a member of any political party, but I am part of numerous overlapping networks of political interdependence, not least the Teaching Assistants' campaign.

Since he has taken to reasserting himself in British politics, I challenge Tony Blair to declare that he is the Labour candidate for this open seat here in his old County Durham stomping ground.

Either that, or to shut up and go away.

 It is imperative that Grahame Morris, who has given the Teaching Assistants stalwart support, be re-elected at Easington.

But there has been no such support from any of the other MPs who intend to stand again, all of whom are Labour.

Likewise without any description next to their names, candidates from among the Teaching Assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, need to stand against those MPs, and they need to be sent to a House of Commons that their presence would transform.

A similar dispute is ongoing in Derby, where the former MP Chris Williamson needs to return to Parliament for whichever constituency he chose, and where, again, Teaching Assistants or their supporters need to be elected on this same basis for every other seat.

The Liberal Democrats are on course to deprive the Conservatives of dozens of Remain-voting constituencies in the South.

Aside from this dispute, at parliamentary elections in the North, Labour's support holds up enough to win under First Past the Post.

That system will also secure the SNP's continued strength in Scotland.

Wales will still be pretty much as it has always been.

All bets are now off in Northern Ireland.

A hung Parliament in 2020 is a very distinct possibility. I fully intend to be there.

We should all want the Durham and Derby Teaching Assistants to be there.

Let's make it happen.

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