Parliament returns today after the long summer recess. While Parliament is sitting New Socialist will be looking to highlight some of the more interesting items on the agenda, particularly those involving left Labour MPs and issues of ongoing concern to the Corbyn project. Where possible we will also look to demystify some of Parliament’s more arcane and impenetrable aspects and discuss how the parliamentary left and the membership-at-large can impact upon proceedings at Westminster.
Today (Tues 5th September): Westminster Hall debate on Venezuela (Graham Jones MP)
Over the lean summer months the media lapped up comments on Venezuela by two of the more vicious members of the party’s Old Right, John Spellar and Graham Jones, a subject neither had raised in Parliament in any context in their cumulative 33 years in the Commons. Spellar even spent five of those years under Ed Miliband as a Shadow Foreign Office Minister. That is all set to change today with Jones having secured a 90 minute debate on Venezuela to share his long-held, no doubt highly informed concerns...
This kind of behaviour is straight out of the Old Right textbook: the cynical adoption of an issue - at the time of writing the APPG mentioned in the article has yet to be formally registered or have any presence beyond these media comments - for the sole aim of rubbishing the left. The second the plight of the Venezuelan people ceases to provide anti-Corbyn headlines these MPs will toss it aside as a political concern. But this routine is more than mere cynicism - it is in keeping with what Joe Kennedy conceptualised in his piece for NS on the Stuplime Object of Ideology - its purpose is to irritate us into a frenzy, to keep our eye off the real prize. It is not difficult to expose these efforts, but the time and energy expended countering them is significant and when one nonsensical mole is whacked, another pops up immediately in its place. The cycle is endlessly exhausting and intentionally so. Of course, the only real way to break out of this is to marginalise these wreckers, in much the same manner they would seek to do to us.
Today (Tues 5th September): Westminster Hall debate on Blacklisting (Chuka Umunna MP)
Also today in Westminster Hall Chuka Umunna has a debate on blacklisting, the employer practice of collecting information on workers and systematically denying them employment because of their trade union activity. The practice was brought into the public consciousness back in the dying days of the Brown government when the Information Commissioner’s Office uncovered the activities of the innocuously named Consulting Association, a company which had maintained a list of construction workers and sold the information onto a number of construction companies. These companies included a number benefitting directly from major public contracts and as Umunna himself noted in a 2013 debate, the ICO also raised appalling concerns “that there may have been collusion by police officers and security services in the compilation of blacklists”.
Umunna, who counts himself as a member of Unite and the GMB, does have form on this issue as Shadow Business Secretary under Miliband and having already brought debates on the matter in 2013 and February this year. Previewing today's debate in the i Umunna said “I have seen evidence that I will present to ministers that shows blacklisting in the construction sector is almost certainly continuing" and that he will be "urg[ing] ministers to drop their opposition to authorising an inquiry into the practice”.
Wednesday 6th September: PMQs
The weekly spectacle of PMQs returns. The vast centrist dad contingent among our readership will be pleased to learn that Anna ‘Woke Soubz’ Soubry leads the way with the opening question to Theresa May and a smattering of Labour moderates were successful in the ballot for questions.
See here for the week’s full parliamentary calendar.
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