Saturday, 15 June 2019

Golden Oldie on a Saturday: Terry - Twinkle

After a disappointing couple of weeks on the political front I thought it time not just for a short musical break but one with some interesting related trivia.  This song from Twinkle (Lynn Ripley) reached number 4 in 1964 and was her sole hit.

This single was banned on BBC Radio and ITV's Ready Steady Go but not by Top of the Pops. The song was championed by the pirate Radio stations London and Caroline. Twinkle was apparently the only female pop star ever to be allowed to stay overnight on Radio Carolines ship Mi Amigo!

Her pop career failed after her second single Golden Lights reached just number 21 and the other four failed to chart. However Lynn went on to marry that chap from the Milk Tray advert. Sadly Lynn died of cancer at the age of 66 in 2015.

Twinkle will be remembered not just for this song but as the image of the sixties woman.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Change UK in trouble

Change UK has been in news but not in a good way.  Former Labour/Change/Independent MP Chuka Umunna has finally joined the Liberal Democrats not that surprises anyone. This will help him keep his seat in Streatham where the local Labour Party has been infested by Momentum who drove him out of Labour. Frankly if I lived in Streatham I would vote for him as the Labour candidate will be one of the Corbyn cult.

It's rumoured that Heidi Allen former leader of Change UK is also considering a similar move and at least one of the other six "independent" MPs will go with her.

Change UK has been in crisis since it's failure to make any impact in the Euro elections which is why the six MPs split away. Frankly the main reason for Chaneg UK's failure so far is because no organisation was ever established on the ground. It has no members. Supporters can only donate. Hardly a healthy basis for a new party.

Even now though one of the MPs (I forget who) has been charged with setting up membership there is still nothing. In fact the only e-mail of late has been about yet another set back because of legal action over the name of the party:

We’re determined to do politics differently – which also means being transparent and straightforward with you as our supporters.

You may recall that lawyers for the company Change.Org disputed our right to register as ‘Change UK’ with the Electoral Commission ahead of the European elections. said they would sue each of our MPs individually unless we signed a legal agreement that would prevent the permanent use of the name Change UK. With no time left to register a new party name ahead of those European elections, our leadership at the time felt we had no option but to agree. say we must register a different name by 15th June or we as individuals risk being taken to court by them. We have asked them for more time to find a solution, but sadly they insist we must alter our name without delay or face legal action.

So that is why today we are making a formal application to the Electoral Commission proposing to amend our registered name to be ‘The Independent Group for Change’ and we now await the Electoral Commission’s decision on this.

This situation reflects the difficulties that new and smaller political parties can encounter. Of course, this does not in any way alter our determination to build and grow as a political party and movement. Our values and the reasons we founded our party remain the same.

That is why with the Conservatives leaning further towards their right-wing and Labour lurching to the left, we will continue to focus on the biggest challenges for our country, changing Britain’s broken politics and avoiding a disastrous no deal Brexit.

I have to say the name doesn't help the party's cause at all. It's messy.The window of opportunity for a new centre party around Change UK is steadily fading.

A number of Liberal Democrats have been trolling Change UK's unofficial Facebook groups. There are three of these and it's caused much ill-feeling towards the Liberal which includes myself even though I am prepared to have some kind of electoral arrangement with them come a General Election.

There does remain a need for a new centre party but time is running out for this project though it shouldn't be written off quite yet.


**Before anyone writes in saying the tweet is fake. I know but it amused me to take the piss out of Chuka so it stays.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Boris: A short trip to power?

Photo:By Arp (Image Number 6514 at Mushroom Observer)

The election for the new leader of the Conservative Party has turned out to be slightly more interesting than originally anticipated as several candidates admit to drug taking. Makes them all seem a little more human, especially in Michael Gove's case which I thought would be particularly difficult.

As for Boris we still have no idea though I amuse myself with the notion he might have eaten a few magic mushrooms which might explain his bizarre behaviour.  Still old "shagger Johnson" has a reputation of his own.

The front runner of course is of course Boris. He may get a serious challenger but short of making a major blunder that upsets his core Tory supporters I still think he is likely to win by a mile. Pity really given his desire for a No Deal Brexit which would be a bloody disaster. Tax cuts are the least of our worries.

Polls are suggesting that Boris would easily beat Corbyn's Labour Party and undermine the Brexit Party completely. The Liberal Democrats would have a modest revival and Labour will continue to eat itself.

Regrettably the more level headed Tory candidates Rory Stewart and my own preferred choice, Sajid Javid are not serious contenders inside the Tory party or the country as a whole.  I regret to say whilst London may be ready for a Muslim Mayor, the country is not which is a pity as Javid is a much better politician and role model than Khan will ever be.

Still maybe next time...

Monday, 10 June 2019

Difficulties of organising the political centre

I took a break from blogging over the weekend (though not from discussions on Facebook) to both rest after a difficult week politically and gather my thoughts after the split in Change UK. That this has caused difficulties and undermined the project at hand is of course undeniable. The main steam media and our opponents on line have been gloating at what they see as the end of a short lived party.

That many have given up or joined the Liberal Democrats has been obvious from the three Change UK Facebook groups I belong to. The Lib Dems have been trolling trying to recruit even before the departure of the six MPs. Slowly these individuals have been given the proverbial boot or muted as in the case of one particularly odd individual Marx de Morais who having joined the Liberal Democrats is establishing a TIG faction in it. Not many takers I gather but the Lib Dems may live to regret recruiting this bloke.

I have appealed for people to hold the line as we have been sent an e-mail by the remaining MP's which states quite clearly that the organisation is to be formally established with membership and policy groups. Providing this proceeds with due haste there remains a chance that we can salvage the situation though it will now be more difficult to establish the group as a serious contender than before.

However I'm up for it and so are more than a few others from what I see on social media so it is going to be worth a try.

However I have been involved in organising a moderate/centre political grouping before I am well aware of the problems involved. For all of my working life I was involved in the civil service unions which merged changed names and eventually became PCS which I belonged to until a year before I retired.

PCS is led by Mark Serwotka a hard left activist in conjunction with an alliance of activists from the various far-left groupings including the Socialist Party (Militant), Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party, Socialist Appeal and Labour left-wingers. There was a time when I was involved in this milieu in the days of the CPSA even very briefly serving as National Organiser of the CPSA Broad Left when I was a member of the Socialist league (IMG for older readers).

Promotion ended that quite quickly but I learnt first hand how sectarian Militant (as they were called then) was in relation not just to other socialists but had little interest in the members except as tools for their political purposes. Like all Marxists they care about the amorphous "class" but not a jot about the individual or his or her rights within that class so long as the "right" line was enforced.

Fast forward by the end of the eighties I had broken with the left which isn't that easy. All sorts of relationships and friendships had been predicated on a political basis for over a decade. Eventually it became a total wrench to move away both physically and mentally. I can only liken my feelings during that period as akin to the Catholic "guilt complex" that others might understand.

Eventually this led me into conflict with the far-left but other than argue with the SWP et al at Branch level I needed to find others of my ilk. That eventually came after the collapse of the National Moderate Group in the CPSA/PCS after an ill thought out (and frankly undemocratic) attempt to oust the newly elected General Secretary Mark Serwotka.

A new grouping arose which eventually became called 4themembers which was a nice branding and allowed for a house style of bulletins and newsletters. By chance rather than inclination I became the groups National Secretary for almost the entire existence of the group. It was never a large grouping and had a network of at most 150 activists at it's peak but declined over the years as people retired.

Despite issuing weekly e-mails (sometimes more)  called 4TM Notes & Updates to supporters and our periphery there were always only a limited number willing to actually do things. Everybody had an idea of what I should be doing as National Secretary (despite everything I was doing) but didn't volunteer themselves.

Now trade union factions are qualitatively different to political parties. There was a limited PCS membership which due to both cuts and people just leaving was continually declining and the pool of activists attracted to the group limited especially as our reach was restricted. Eventually both events and arguments led to the decline and demise of 4themembers.

Firstly our numbers declined as key activists in friendly branches started retiring in numbers that effected the groups operations whilst other left with new jobs or on exit schemes, An argument of how the group was to be organised resulted in a split between the three of us who held the group together. I resisted attempts (rightly or wrongly) to go to a membership based organisation preferring a loose network organised via social media as physical meetings proved too small to represent the groups decisions.

I did publish an internal bulletin, 4Discussion which ran for 62 issues (going public as of #27) which allowed quite in depth debate and for the network itself a voting process around a separate bulletin 4Decision. However this was not enough and there reached a time when  I was unable to organise a slate of candidates that could even have a majority on the unions NEC even if elected.

4TM never managed more than 4 NEC members at any one time and more often than not just had the one. Even a merger with the remains of the old National Moderate Group failed to change our electoral fortunes.

It was at this point I felt the organisation had become untenable. The group was now too small and with no recruitment in the civil service that was not about to change. I decided to quit the group in 2014 which collapsed a year later. The problem has always been that people with moderate views are not always prepared to give up as much time as hard-left activists and ordinary members gradually disconnected with the internal affairs of the union.

Membership of the PCS union is now at an all time low as a result of the hard-left control and their failed policies. The opposition has ceased to exist. Barely 10% voted in the recent election for Serwotka's deputy and only around 7% in the largest section of the union in the PCS.

There was a battle with the hard left that eventually wore me down and despite remaining an annoyance with my e-mail lists and eventually this blog which Serwotka tried to censor on one occasion I felt time was up and joined the Prospect union instead. A modern union led by proper trade unionists not political activists sadly my involvement was cut short by an aneurysm and subsequent retirement.

The takeover by the Labour Party by the sort of activists typified by Serwotka and his cronies is the reason I cannot abide the thought of a Labour led government. These people are not just duplicitous and dangerous they are also incompetent on every issue you can think of. We need a new centre party that is an alternative to the Labour party which is strong on the economy, on welfare and defence.

If "One Nation" Tories can be persuaded to join us that's fine to but I'm not a bleeding heart Liberal.  An electoral arrangement fine but Change UK is needed as a distinct and separate party. It will be difficult but I'm up for the challenge and ready to report for duty.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Peterborough: The worst of all possible results?

Outline map

The result of the by-election in Peterborough was never going to be my taste. It seemed like a two-horse race between the Brexit Party and Labour who already held the seat. The possibility that this might revert to the Conservatives was highly unlikely though they polled better than expected.

In the end Labour won with a small majority with a candidate who has distasteful views on Jews and it's not just anti-Zionism when she "likes" a post that accuses the prime Minister Theresa May of having "Zionist slave masters". Such wild eyed conspiracy theories are the realms of Nazi's and other anti-Semites especially in the Islamist world.

Corbyn was already cooing on TV this morning as he gets a boost to his otherwise failing leadership.  Praising his new acolyte who survived against the odds despite the racism demonstrated in her social social media likes he avoided answering a question about a second referendum by waffling on about  general election that the Tories are not going to risk at this stage.

It's total hypocrisy that his supporters who have spent the last few years trying to enforce their views on reluctant MP's in the name of "democratic accountability" and want a second referendum are not demanding the same from Corbyn. It shows the left is not as democratic as it claims to be not that anyone outside their rarefied circles ever believed that.

The ability of the Labour Party machine to throw so many activists into the maelstrom is something they will not be able to repeat at the next general election. It also has to be said that the large local Muslim community also rallied to Labour's cause. 

I shed no tears over the defeat of Nigel Farage who stormed out of the count when he realised he lost . The one-issue Brexit Party has no organisation on the ground and couldn't match Labour's ability to deliver voters on the doorstep.

The Tories were down (mainly due to the Brexit Party) but were not out coming third. The two main Remain parties returned to their normal positions lower down the feeding order. This was not natural territory for either "remainers" or the Liberal Democrats.

The Renew Party which I backed yesterday polled appallingly with a mere 45 votes. The window of opportunity for a new party including Change UK did not exist in Peterborough and is a lesson that the organisation must take note of if it is to survive in the coming months.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Peterborough by Election: Vote Renew Party Today (Endorsed by Change UK)

The by-election in Peterborough takes place today. There are 15 candidates standing and since Change UK is not standing the party has endorsed the Renew Party candidate Peter Ward.

Renew co-operated with Change UK during the Euro-elections and several candidates on our list were from Renew including their leader Annabelle Mullins.


Peter will be a passionate advocate for diversity, the environment and sustainability for Peterborough. His story as a community champion for tolerance and a barrister specialising in anti-discrimination law is a great example of how Renew is helping people from outside politics to give voters an exciting new choice at the ballot box.

Renew launched in late 2017 as a vehicle for ordinary people supporting radical political reform. We currently have a shortlist of over 120 candidates nationwide ready to run at the next general election. All are ordinary people ready to put ideology aside to achieve the practical political reform that we need.

More information on Renew from their website:

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

An Appeal to Change UK Supporters

When Change UK was launched I was one of thousands who signed up as a result on the opportunity being given to break with the major political parties. No one said it would be easy especially as the bulk of the MPs we needed to defect from Labour hung on then and are hanging on now despite the growing threat of a coup against Tom Watson for building an opposition group around him.

Many Labour MP's face deselection from Corbynite extremists. Meanwhile moderate and pro-European Conservative MP's are facing deselection by a move to the right in many constituency parties led by many who were previously in UKIP. When three Tory MP's joined the group my hope rose further. The time was at hand to build a new centre party.

Of course yesterdays split by six MP's has been a major blow to this project and many supporters have given up already with others joining the Lib Dems. However they are not a centre party but an alternative party on the left in my view. A mixture of sandals and anti-Trident views that are not to my taste I am not a Liberal.

I stand in the tradition of Clem Attlee and Harold Wilson bringing social justice and resisting both fascism and communism in equal measure.  Parties change and people change, needs change. That's why I joined Change UK because what we need a return to the level headed political centre. Strong on social justice, strong on defence and strong on the economy.

Ex Labour or ex Conservative we are none of us "Liberals", we are something different who will offer something different to the people of this country. We have made errors, we have stalled in our work, however the need for Change UK still exists. We can survive this setback,. We can move forward against the established parties. It will take time. It will be far from easy. We will argue. We will fret. We will sweat. But in the end it will be worth the effort as over  the coming months and years a new party develops to replace the old.

Politics remains broken. We have been set back but we can fix this. Let's build a new party and fix this country.