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Marching On Together
Monthly Archives: July 2016
How it can happen: Corbyn wins in 2020 to become PM.
Below is a report of how Jeremy Corbyn’s grassroots campaign paid off and how the Labour Party established itself as the party of government
‘The people I have to thank most of all for this are those who have worked so tirelessly to campaign to promote a new type of politics in all our communities. This is our victory.’ – Jeremy Corbyn, outside 10 Downing Street, 8 May 2020.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has won a landslide victory at the General Election and the first thing he did was pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of activists who played such a crucial role in campaigning.
Since the Labour leader cemented his place in the party following the leadership election of 2016, the party increased its membership by one million to over 1.5 million. The party had formerly merely mouthed the idea of recruitment as this had not sat comfortably with many MPs elected…
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Leeds United completed a satisfactory Irish section of their pre-season programme yesterday, with a comfortable 3-0 win at Shamrock Rovers to follow Wednesday evening’s 2-1 victory over Shelbourne. The 100% success rate is gratifying enough, but more significant is the fact that United seem to have added appreciably to their options going forward.
Last season, progress for Leeds was hindered by a lack of goals. The summer’s big signing, Chris Wood, struggled through injury and a lack of service, though he still went on to be top scorer. The lack of firepower alongside Wood, as well as poor service from out wide, conspired to limit both chances and goals for a United side that never really threatened to challenge towards the top.
There are early signs, though, that the coming season might be different. In the two victories this week, three new recruits have shown they might just have what it takes to increase the Leeds forward threat. Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson notched a brace in Saturday’s stroll at the Tallaght Stadium, his two goals sandwiching a Wood penalty. This alone seems to promise a productive partnership, but it was Antonsson’s hard work and movement that really caught the eye as he presented many a problem for the Shamrock defence. Add to this the pace and trickery of fellow big-money signing Kemar Roofe, along with loanee Hadi Sacko and the youthful promise of the exotically-named Ronaldo Vieira, and things might just be looking up for the Yorkshire giants as an attacking force.
Compared to the hard times of last season, it’s already looking like an embarrassment of riches up front for Leeds and, with the sure touch of new coach and former Swansea defender Garry Monk at the tiller, a significant improvement in the defensive third would be no real surprise. Further recruitment is expected, perhaps another winger coming in – NEC Nijmegen’s Anthony Limbombe is hotly-tipped to sign – and some strengthening in midfield where United have lost a potential star in young Lewis Cook, to Bournemouth. With another centre-back also on the agenda, it could well be a busy time at Elland Road as the countdown to the big kick-off proceeds.
Exciting times for Leeds perhaps – and yet nobody who knows the club will be getting too excited just yet. The wins in Ireland are encouraging, but the potential of the group Monk is putting together will face sterner tests before the season starts in earnest. A glamour friendly at Elland Road will see Serie A aristocrats Atalanta provide a real challenge on July 30th. By then, there may be new faces in the United team, with the recruits we’ve seen so far further bedded in. Garry Monk, though, will be focusing all his preparations on the Championship opener at Queens Park Rangers on August 7th, when live TV will give millions the chance to pass judgement on this new Leeds United.
For the time being, it’s looking promising for new coach Monk and his new team. Perhaps Leeds United might be about to launch a serious bid for promotion, something their long-suffering fans will confirm would be long overdue.
Why Corbyn does NOT need nominations to appear on the leadership ballot. It’s quite clear, and the motives of those who are bending themselves out of shape to suggest otherwise are, at best, highly questionable.
by Martin Odoni
There still seems to be a running attempt to make the nomination rules for a Labour leadership contest sound ambiguous. The latest Labour members to insist that Jeremy Corbyn requires nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party in order to defend his leadership are former Deputy leader John Prescott, and former leader Neil Kinnock.
Why they are saying this, I am unsure. They may have misunderstood, or they may have darker reasons, but either way, an analysis of the rules themselves shows that they are incorrect.
The rulebook of Labour Party membership is available online in PDF format, and the rules for a leadership contest are laid out very clearly in Chapter 4, starting on page 15. Here is what it says about the selection-of-candidates stage; –
“Clause 2 Subsection 2A
i .In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be…
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July 7th, 1993 was a very, very special day in my life. On that never-to-be-forgotten Wednesday morning, after a lifetime of waiting and to my immense delight … I heard that Leeds United had signed Brian Deane.
No, no, no. Strike that. Just my little joke. The 7th of July 1993 was, of course, actually memorable for an infinitely better reason. Two weeks later than advertised (she never was that punctual, my wife) I became a Dad for the first and, to the best of my knowledge, the only time.
It’s exactly twenty-three years ago now, and whenever I see the beautiful young lady currently making a life for herself with her partner Liam in York, it amazes me how time has flown by since she made her first entrance. And I was there, as modern convention permits – indeed, demands. There were times during that long (especially for poor Tracy) period of labour when, believe me, the craven coward never far below the surface in me envied those yesteryear Dads-to-be. They were complacently uninvolved, able blithely to pace the carpet on the comfortable, clean outside, instead of sharing the hot and foetid atmosphere of a frenetic delivery room.
Kate was a planned baby, a wanted baby, a loved baby. But she probably has no idea, even today, of how she owes her very existence to my lack of precognition. If I’d been able to look ahead, when we decided it was time to present the old folks at home with a grandchild, things may have worked out differently. If I’d been granted a preview of some of the scenes that unfolded in that torture chamber of a birthing suite, I doubt very much whether Kate would ever have been considered, never mind conceived.
Thankfully though, the future is a closed book, and the human race was not to be denied a spectacular addition. So, we made our plans, happily envisaging the crib at home, the cot in the back room, the muddy football boots in the lobby cupboard and the toy goal net in the back garden. Oh, yes – I forgot to mention. Kate was supposed to be David. David Michael Kenneth, in fact; we generously honoured both Grandads in second and third place as well as settling on our favourite boy’s name as the winner. Because we knew, beyond reasonable doubt, that we’d have a boy.
The fact is that the Atkinsons had had a bit of a thin time of it on the distaff side over the previous fifty years. The last girl in the male line had been my Aunt Sheila in the 40’s; after that it had been boys all the way. My Dad sired three of us, despite always aching for a daughter (whom he’d have spoiled silly). My brother collaborated in the production of two more, and the received wisdom was that the Atkinsons could only churn out boys. I secretly wanted a daughter – having grown up as a truculent male teenager myself, I didn’t fancy handling the other side of that situation. But we both happily subscribed to the popular (and sensible) “doesn’t matter what we get as long as it’s healthy” line.
Once the supposedly tricky business of “dropping on” was accomplished – we struck lucky almost immediately, and one of my more irreverent friends dubbed me “one shot, one coconut” – our fever of speculation over what gender we might end up with grew apace. We actually resorted to an old superstition of dangling a wedding ring over the expectant tummy, and seeing which way it rotated, as this was supposed to be a sure-fire indicator one way or the other. We took care to eliminate any draughts which might set our experiment off to a false start, and Tracy lay down while I held the thread with the magic wedding ring attached. I swear on my soul that, with no outside influence at play, the damned thing suddenly jerked and started to rotate slowly clockwise – a sure sign that we were expecting a girl. So that was that particular old wives’ tale exposed as mumbo jumbo…
For the most part, Tracy’s pregnancy proceeded uneventfully. There was that one time when she felt some slight sickness, and fainted prettily on the upper landing, causing me to charge upstairs, snorting with alarm. And she seemed to exist almost entirely on milk and chocolate digestives, which transformed an ethereally-slim and insubstantial girl into a solid mass of obdurate flesh. On previous occasions when we’d collided in our tiny kitchen, I’d always ended up in fits of laughter as little Trace spun away through the door and glowered resentfully at mighty me. Now, it was my turn to bounce off and ricochet against the wall. And I was always getting edged out of bed by this brooding, broody lump of double humanity. It was a strange time.
In the end, Tracy was late delivering the goods – nearly two weeks overdue and showing no real signs of getting on with it. So, the decision was taken to get her into hospital, and “induce” her. This involved bed rest, a cocktail of hormone-based drugs, and subsistence on soup and ice cream. I spent a lot of this time visiting, and trying not to mention my own more interesting diet, for fear of provoking a hungry woman’s rage. When the time finally arrived, we realised that it was going to tick over on to the same day as my Dad’s 66th birthday and we still clung to hopes of presenting him with a grand-daughter – a gift that could never be topped.
The early hours of that July 7th were a riot of readings, tubes, examinations and just about every medical intervention you could imagine. Tracy was in a lot of pain, and I felt a miserable mixture of guilt and helplessness. Every five minutes, so it seemed to me, some new person would stride into the room, stick another wire, tube or implement somewhere about my poor, spread-eagled wife’s person, and bustle out again. Tracy gulped at gas and air in between times, and demanded either an epidural or a section, in increasingly strident tones. The epidural was granted at last, but took two tries to work, amid instructions for me to hold my wife VERY steady, as she’d surely be paralysed if the needle missed its mark. Thanks, Doc.
Then, all of a sudden, it was action stations in earnest. I was hastily retrieved from a waiting-room where I’d tried to catch ten minutes sleep on two pulled-together chairs, and peremptorily ordered to grab a leg, and keep out of the way. I surveyed the scene at the business end, and immediately knew that I was going to do that awful, clichéd thing, and faint. This filled me with horror – I’d be the deserving object of scorn in that overwhelmingly female environment, with my wife stoically suffering away. I’d never live it down. Mumbling an excuse, I dived for the adjacent bathroom, and splashed ice-cold water on my face, gulping massive breaths of air and feeling the muzzy sensation and the hissing and rushing in my ears fade away. I tottered back out into the delivery room, and resumed my station at Tracy’s left ankle, by which time the baby’s head was crowning. I stared again, fascinated now. We two were mere moments away from becoming three, and yet still we didn’t know the single most important fact about our child: boy or girl?
All those doubts seemed to vanish as matters accelerated towards a conclusion. With a courageous, fantastic effort, Trace had managed to deliver herself of a head, and was well on the way to producing a couple of shoulders. I gazed at my child’s mop of raven hair, and then marveled as a muscular upper torso began to emerge. I’d seen that thick black mane before, and those lithe and sinewy shoulders and limbs, oiled with unspeakable secretions and glistening in the harsh light. I’d seen them in Westerns galore, they were unmistakable. We were having an Apache.
The head and shoulders, unsurprisingly, are the hard part. The rest of my offspring fairly hurtled out, and with an exclamation of delight I squeaked at my wife in the high pitch of emotional release, “We’ve got a girl, Trace! And she’s bloody gorgeous!!” (Sensation, and sustained applause)
Now, another new-fangled tradition played itself out, as I was given some scissors and ordered to cut the cord. I ballsed it up, of course, getting three quarters of the way through, the scissors out of control in my shaking hand. But I somehow managed to saw my way past the last bit, and then I had my daughter in my arms for her first ever cuddle. 4:38 am. Welcome to the world, Kathleen Abigail. Happy birthday.
I don’t remember too much after that. The rest of the day was a confused blur of phone calls; my Dad being fooled into thinking it was a boy before we told him he had his grand-daughter, a lift home with my delighted parents while Trace was ushered off to a bath and a well-deserved sleep, and then celebratory bacon sandwiches at our house, courtesy of Mum. We stopped for a pint of milk and the scum fan who kept the sandwich shop down the road saw me and was taking the mick over Brian Deane. I told him I’d got a far bigger story, and so it came to pass that one of my earliest congratulations on new fatherhood came from a scummer, forsooth. He was a good lad though, as it goes.
I do remember later, my Dad saying during the first visit how he was so pleased to have a grand-daughter for his birthday, and Tracy snarling that she “hadn’t done it for him”, as my Mum laughed in the background. And cameras were popping all over the place, everyone but my poor, tired wife lapping up the star treatment. Kate-who-was-supposed-to-be-David slept beautifully through all this, giving an entirely misleading impression of how she would comport herself during her noisy first three months. And then it was back home for us non-combatants, leaving Tracy to feeding lessons, and more blessed, welcome sleep. Kate Atkinson had arrived, and things would never be quite the same again.
And Brian Deane? Well, he had his moments at centre-forward, and even got Leeds into Europe one year with a virtuoso goal at Spurs. Beyond that though, his main claim to fame is that he arrived in my life on the same day that my only child did; but there, the comparison ends. Kate is now twenty-three, this very day – and continues to confound, amaze and delight us as she lights up our lives. She doesn’t share her birthday any more, her grandad having passed away early last year. But the stories of her childhood are many and memorable; they’re the treasures we still hold now that she’s making her way in the world.
And, if I live to be a hundred, I’ll never ever forget the day I first met my daughter. Happy birthday, Kate. And all our love, as ever.
This article was previously published in the Huffington Post
The die is cast, the ringleaders are known, their motives are nakedly obvious for all to see. The Parliamentary Labour Party coup, conceived months ago to be hatched when the timing was right, has not gone well so far. Firstly, several previous anticipated opportunities have failed to materialise. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour was fancied to lose the Oldham by-election, but it held the seat and the plotters, poised quivering and eager to pounce, had to slink frustrated back into the undergrowth.
Then, the Local Council elections. Again, there looked to be an opportunity, with the ever-obliging BBC prematurely reporting a night of disaster for Corbyn’s troops, only to be embarrassed as things turned out annoyingly well, with Labour emerging as the largest party. The EU Referendum was Last Chance Saloon – the final opportunity before the publication of the Chilcot Report, with all of its possible nasty ramifications for the Blairites of the PLP.
So, the script was written before the results were known, in line with furtive early preparations elsewhere pre-dating overt action. But yet again, the figures have not stacked up as desired. In the face of a brutal and mendacious Leave campaign, Corbyn’s Labour members voted almost two to one to remain – a highly respectable figure given the fertile territory the likes of UKIP and Farage have found among the disaffected and marginalised poor. Labour’s remain vote was only a percentage point or two short of that of the SNP – and nobody’s calling Nicola Sturgeon a referendum failure.
All of the pretexts upon which the anti-Corbyn movement hoped to base their rebellion have turned out to be duds. Despite their own professed agenda and the complaisant backing of the media, their motives are paper-thin and full of holes. But there’s that pesky Chilcot thing in the offing, and it’s imperative to get rid of Corbyn before he can use a damning report to start inflicting some long overdue justice. So, for the traitors, it’s realistically now or never.
But there’s another problem. The leadership challenge as such is probably not such a good idea. The incumbent leader would be on the ballot paper as of right, and looks set fair to trounce any and all opposition, possibly by a wider margin than even last September’s historic landslide. If Corbyn could be persuaded to stand down, that’d be a different matter. He’d then need to secure enough PLP backing to be nominated for a leadership election – which would of course be relatively unlikely, as demonstrated by the constitutionally impotent no-confidence motion. So a Corbyn resignation is decidedly the way to go. But Jeremy steadfastly refuses to budge, citing the enormous mandate he was given only nine months ago.
Hence the current impasse. The unedifying spectacle now playing out is a bitterly ironic one of deeply dishonourable men and women calling upon a decent man – that rarity in politics – to “do the honourable thing”, and resign. They seem eager to give him extra increments of time, hoping against hope he’ll “see sense”. The right-wing press throng the touchlines, oafishly cheering on these turncoats. But Corbyn knows that resignation would not be the honourable course. It would be highly convenient, for the would-be usurpers, but honourable? No way. So he carries serenely on, under immense strain, while his detractors seethe helplessly.
This is the classic Traitors’ Dilemma – act recklessly, or perform a humiliating retreat?. What are they to do now, if this inconveniently honourable and determined man refuses to fall on his sword? Skulk away again, with Chilcot waiting to explode in their faces? Hardly. Launch a challenge anyway then, and damn the consequences? Well, to be the means by which Corbyn increases his already massive authority in the Labour Party as a whole – that’s hardly the sort of history your average Blairite wants to be making.
Angela Eagle, who has shed tears of pure crocodile in the past few days, together with the rest of the opportunists thirsting for the kill, all of them are faced with the Devil’s Alternative. Whichever way they decide to act, they’re likely to plummet into an abyss of obscurity and ridicule. It really is a very problematic situation. But it’s one, let us not forget, entirely of their own making.