Perhaps fate has helped decide that Labour’s most dramatic conference in years should be held in Liverpool. The city will always be associated with the last time the party was under attack by Trotskyists with intimidation replacing reasoned debate at party meetings.

Liverpool,as a city, has been transformed since the 1980s so let’s hope television reporters don’t use too much sepia footage of the Militant rallies outside the Town Hall. The city is run by a moderate mayor with mostly moderate MPs, but they have faced party meetings where the old bullying tactics have returned along with the new phenomenon of anti-semitism.

The leader Jeremy Corbyn is probably unaware of much of this. The dirty work is done by people in his name. Corbyn points to the huge increase in Labour’s membership. In isolation it is a great achievement to have become the largest political party in Europe.But how many of them are caught up in a Corbyn fan cult unaware of the Trotskist plotting and unwilling to do the spade work alongside established members to get Labour elected?

In this year of uncertainty we have to allow the possibility of an Owen Smith victory, but let us consider the consequences of Corbyn winning again.

I have spent the summer talking to some of the 170 Labour MPs who voted no confidence in Corbyn, to see if there was an appetite for a split to form a new Social Democrat Party. I would be surprised if that happens. It is more likely that they will stay until many are deselected Labour during the boundary changes. Others will be defeated in the 2020 Conservative General Election victory.

Why is this when the need is for a centre left party embracing Lib Dems, Greens and Labour moderates to fight for Britain’s place in the European Union, social justice and responsible capitalism? One MP told me that when it came down to it, he was damned if he was going to let the Trots force him out of his party. I can respect this. It is easy for a journalist to move the pieces around the chess board of politics and not take account of the deep allegiances that MPs have to their party. I would only ask him and others to look at the bigger picture as the Tories career on with their Brexit madness, social unfairness and cuts.


How good it was to see Lib Dem delegates waving the EU flag at their conference in Brighton. They are the most pro European of the political parties and on my visit to the seaside I found them devastated by the referendum result but with a determination to fight it in a responsible way.

It would be reckless for a party with Democrats in the title to defy the Brexit vote, but they are right to demand that whatever deal is cooked up by the Three Unwise Men (Fox, Davis and Boris) must be put to the British people. They can then decide between the known reality of the EU or the Brexit deal. In the summer they chose between the EU and promises of £350m a week for the NHS and the prospect of 80 million Turks coming to stay.

Alongside Brexit the talk in Brighton was of centre left cooperation but I found it pretty unconvincing. Ex Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown was pushing his More United project. He says it isn’t a political party, more a movement. That won’t butter any politcal parsnips.

Then we had two of the most impressive women in politics, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and Wigan Labour MP Lisa Nandy, telling a fringe meeting how much they had in common. But how could that be given politcal expression? The only idea to emerge was to find constituencies where the Greens, Labour and the Lib Dems could decide to field one strong candidate and 2 “paper” ones. Such manoeuvers insult the voters intelligence. If you stand you should always want to win.

What is required is action from the leadership of the Greens and Lib Dems along with Labour moderates to form an election pact, anything else is just meaningless hand wringing.

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What an appalling start to the New Year it has been for British politics.

David Cameron’s decision to allow Cabinet members to split on the E.U Referendum is a flat contradiction of what he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr a year ago. The Prime Minister is a brazen pragmatist. What he said yesterday does not matter. He can busk it with his effortless Etonian charm. Now we must wait and see how many Cabinet Ministers take the opportunity to rubbish the deal Cameron gets from his negotiations. If Home Secretary Theresa May, and careerist Boris Johnson join the perennial anti EU Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling then the Prime Minister has a serious problem and so do those of us who want to stay in. Cameron will deserve it if the campaign becomes acrimonious and the Tory Party is split for a generation.


That is what happened to Labour soon after Harold Wilson allowed his Cabinet to split on the 1975 referendum. Within six years Cabinet members who had campaigned to stay in formed the Social Democrat Party whilst the Labour Party descended into faction fighting. It vowed never to return to those days when it won power sixteen long years later but this week we have seen in the longest reshuffle in history that Labour is going to be unfit for office until 2025 or 2030. What a betrayal of working class people! From the Blair-Brown feud to the current shambles, both left and right in the party have let ordinary people down big time.


Apart from the EU Referendum which is likely in June, what else have we to look forward to this year?


Kennedy, Bush, Clinton; it is amazing that in a country of 320 million people that it is quite possible that between 1989 and 2024 either a Clinton or a Bush will have been President of the United States apart from Barack Obama.

It looks almost certain that Hilary Clinton will win in November because the Republicans have narrowed their support base at a time when America is becoming more multicultural. It is possible the Republicans will choose Donald Trump but even if it is Florida senator Marco Rubio, they are still likely to be handicapped by their reluctance to accept the USA as it is.


Labour are likely to be heavily beaten in the Scottish government elections but if they can win the London Mayor race and hold their very strong position in local government in the North, there will be no immediate pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.

Locally interest will focus on Liverpool where Joe Anderson is due to stand again for mayor of the city. As he has recently taken over as chair of the Liverpool City Region which is due to elect a mayor for the wider area next year, he may stand down. It is difficult to see how elected mayors in Liverpool and Salford will sit happily under mayors for the larger combined authorities.

Meanwhile Leeds, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria will be looking to conclude devolution deals.