Diane Abbott, socialist Labour MP and guest on the BBC’s This Week explains why she isn’t at the party conference:
Gradually conference has become overrun with lobbyists. Fewer local delegates go. And, when the prime minister speaks, many find that their seats on the floor of the conference have been taken by party staff. This is because paid staff can be relied upon to clap to order. New Labour loyalists scorn how conference used to be. They point out how embarrassing the public rows about policy were. But a Labour party where ordinary party members had a real say would never have gone to war with Iraq or abolished the 10p tax rate.
The Tribune blog confirms the attitude of Blue Labour to democracy:
Ministers have required some basic education in the democratic process during the new arrangements for negotiating policy with party representatives under the National Policy Forum. One did not understand that everybody in the process had one vote and that ministers could not simply dictate.
Yes, presumably they thought “one man, one vote” meant “I’m the man, my vote decides it”…
The Prime Minister and beleagured Labour leader, Gordon Brown, has been forced to attack the greed of the corporate elite – for even the Tory press speaks about the City slickers with contempt.
Mr Brown said “irresponsibility”, driven partly by the bonus culture, had helped trigger this month’s markets crisis and that elements of the bonus system were “unacceptable” and had to be tackled.
At the same time he’s been stressing on The Andrew Marr Show that his government is pro-business and pro-markets.
Kitty Ussher, economy secretary at the Treasury, appeared at the Labour conference with media baron Rupert Murdoch’s favourite economist, Irwin Steltzer and the private equity boss Simon Walker, to discuss the economy:
Walker said the new crisis would mean more business for private equity and sovereign wealth funds – eg the Chinese and Indian governments — to invest in Britain. So that’s all right then.
However, the Labour faithful should not be too downhearted. Ussher kept calling contributors “comrade” throughout the proceedings.
It must be very disconcerting for these New Labour types.
Jon Cruddas, runner up in last year’s deputy leadership contest and distinctly Bold Labour, has called for a new 45% top rate of income tax to fund tax cuts for low and middle income workers:
Mr Cruddas said too many people had been caught by the current top rate of 40% – but those earning more than £175,000 should pay more.
Speaking at a Labour conference fringe meeting, he said the party needed “clear dividing lines” from the Tories.
He also savaged rebel MPs who have been calling for a leadership contest.
Mr Cruddas told the Compass fringe meeting that the financial turmoil of recent weeks had given Labour a chance to have a radical policy rethink and a “return to the values and ethics” the party believed in.
It should be noted, and noted well, from Frank Luntz’s Newsnight focus group that when a group of Labour and floating voters were shown Nick Clegg’s speech at the Liberal conference in which he called for tax rises for the rich and tax cuts for ordinary workers, the response was overwhelming approval…