Sunday, 23 October 2016

The foolishness of Brexit

The warning from the British Bankers Association that some banks are considering relocating to Europe in the new year because of Brexit, reminds us once again of the perilous state we are in.

The problem is not that politicians lie to us. The problem is that they have not the courage to tell us what we don't like to hear. The government knows Brexit will hurt millions of people in the UK, but they won't acknowledge it. They know it is set to seriously harm our economy and competitiveness in the world, but won't tell us. They can't tell us the reality because it would destabilise the markets. So we are stuck in fantasy land. 

We go on with the belief, I would say delusion, that somehow all will be ok, but it won't. Even if we take the most optimisitc scenario of Brexit from economists such as Patrick Minford we are in for a very hard knock. 

Just as in war, everyone becomes an expert. In the comfort of their armchair in front of the television it is easy enough. Suddenly people who haven't a clue will pontificate on economics as though their judgement carried the same weight as expert analysis by economists. And so the economic forecasters are dismissed as 'doom sayers'.

Of course we can look to the 'new opportunities' it might create - but opportunities for who? My prediction is that it will not be the poorest who will find any benefit or opportunity. Nor will it be middle income earners whose jobs are on the line or are relocated. A 'hard' Brexit would take us out of the single market, but what is the price of a soft exit? We don't know, but there will be a price.

There is a kind of blind stupidity to the Brexit case that runs something like 'Europe needs Britain more than we need Europe'. It sounds good and was used by Farage regularly over the years. It is meaningless twaddle - a politicians sound bite. We could rephrase it "Britain needs Europe as much as Europe needs Britain'. It is still meaningless. What isn't meaningless is that almost 50% of our trade is in the single market, and that is why a hard Brexit would be devastating to our economy.

We have no plan for Brexit, and nor can the government find any coherent consensus on what it will seek from it. Mrs May has no plan and no mandate. The reason she uses the mantra 'Brexit means Brexit' is because it doesn't. She knows that, but she hasn't the courage to tell us.

But, there is a further stupidity. Imagine someone putting a hole in the bottom of a boat. You have, say, thirty minutes to man the lifeboats and get everyone to safety. Everyone runs around frantically looking for the lifeboats, but none are to be found. That is Brexit. The captain of the ship hollers 'don't worry, think of the opportunities!'.  

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Opportunities for Labour, and why Labour can win

The Labour leadership election is over. Yes, it really is. Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected, as expected with a substantial majority. His supporters like to call this his 'mandate'. Yet it is doubtful this alone will resolve the problem for the Labour Party. The problem for Labour isn't simply leadership - it is direction and change.

The party conference season has been and gone. It was more noticeable for the renewed statement of the party's multilateralist position on the nuclear detereent. Jeremy Corbyn was crowned, but the problems fester. The issue of anti-Semitism in the party rumbles on, not least because of the ham-fisted response to the criticism from the House of Commons select committee. There are many who remain disaffected about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. To some, it is a battle for the heart and soul of Labour. As such it is a battle that may destroy the party. But it is also an opportunity - the possibility of a new consensus in the party, and a new way forward, meeting the challenges of today, not the problems of yesterday. It is time to look at the positives for Labour.

The first positive is that Jeremy Corbyn has put together a reasonably effective shadow cabinet. Labour can now take the fight to the Tories in the house of commons and hold the government to account. It has made a good start on Brexit and in demanding parliamentary scrutiny. They put the government front bench on the back foot and helped expose divisions in its ranks.

If Labour can rise to the challenge the country faces, it can still succeed. As the Tories struggle with the economic prospects of Brexit, they have been forced to abandon their old narrative of austerity. They also now talk of investing in infrastructure. The targets for balancing the books have been put on hold, and the strategy wasn't working in any event. This economic vacuum provides Labour with a chance to get its message across, if only it could decide what that message is.

It is often said Theresa May is shifting the Tories to the centre ground. But this is I think a mistaken view of what is happening. The Tory language may certainly be changing, but May's government is potentially more right-wing than Cameron's, and the more dangerous as it cloaks itself in the 'one nation' language. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

So how should Labour respond?

Labour must stop believing it can think for the working class. It is no good saying 'we are the party of the working class' if the party simply tells them what to think. Little can be gained by browbeating voters with 'principles' and socialism. Nor will Labour convert millions of voters to vote for socialism.

Labour needs to listen. It needs to listen to the concerns of ordinary working people. Only by doing that can it address the disconnect the party has with voters - and the disconnect with Labour is a growing chasm. This is why UKIP made inroads into Labour territory.

Labour must address the anxieties ordinary people have about their communities and their opportunities. Labour's policies must be seen to have relevance and speak to those concerns.

Electorally, Labour has a mountain to climb. But there are positives for Labour, and reasons to be optimistic, and we should not lose sight of them. Labour must now turn those positives to its advantage.
Labour has now the advantage of a leader who has the overwhelming support of its members. That is a great asset, but only so long as it doesn't simply become a personality cult. Labour must listen to criticism of its leadership and find ways to respond where that criticism is positive and relevant.

Labour is not the only party struggling. There is unrest across the political spectrum. There are problematic issues in all parties. UKIP struggles over its leadership and in finding a role post Brexit. The Tories have yet to get over the hurdles of Brexit and have a leader who is Prime Minister without a mandate.

Labour has a massively increased membership, many of whom are new to political engagement. They are enthusiastic and idealistic. It just is not my experience that these new members are all a bunch a raging leftwing lunatics. They care about our public services and social infrastructure. They believe in creating a fair society in which opportunity is not simply predicated on the accumulation of wealth and privilege. They believe in social justice. They want to make a difference. Above all, they are angry with past failure. They want Labour to stand for something.

The Labour leadership campaign was bruising, but Labour remains a broad church. There will be continued struggle over the direction of the party and its leadership. That has always been so. But there is now an opportunity to refocus and develop a coherent set of policies to address a fractured society.

We need new solutions to address a changed world, and to correct the failures of neoliberalism. We need a new approach to economic growth. We need a new narrative. We need also to address our crumbling infrastructure, a housing crisis, and failing social and health care system.

If it did anything at all, the leadership campaign further demonstrated a paucity of ideas on the left of British politics. The left is stuck, but not without hope. We are stuck with outdated solutions, and where there is a glimmer of a new narrative, it is but a sketch. New thinking is there, but it lacks clarity.

The left shivers in its nakedness. The clothes we once wore have been discarded and gleefully picked up by Mrs May's Tories, as she plays for the centre ground whilst shifting to the right. This is why Labour must not ignore the centre ground. But deciding what that means isn't easy.

Where is the centre ground? It isn't simply found by dividing ideas by half or by using focus groups. Half-baked ideas are not the centre, and nor are they radical. It does mean meeting the aspirations of hard working people - aspiration they have for themselves, their families, and for the future of their communities. Aspiration must not, for the left become a dirty word. Labour will only succeed if it can develop a strategy that can make a reality of those aspirations. The centre ground doesn't really exist as a set of policies. It is a kind of media abstraction. The centre ground can be built. The centre ground is a narrative accepted by voters. This is why Labour must reach out to voters and not simply talk inside a bubble. It must contribute to creating the centre ground - a fundamental shift of voter perception.

So, this is why Brexit and the government response to it gives Labour a chance to stake out a new centre ground.

You don't find the centre ground and shift to it. You define it.

Here lies a problem - new ideas on the left are currently half-baked. Yes, there are commitments to spend on infrastructure, vague notions about changes in ownership and control. There are commitments to spend, but little idea on how it can be funded. There is but one answer: borrowing. Without a coherent narrative, Labour will struggle for economic credibility.

In previous articles I have argued for a new economic approach and a new political narrative. Relying on growth alone, without strategies to achieve social redistribution of the benefits of that growth, is unlikely to be effective.

Growth that destroys the planet is not the growth we need. Nor is growth that increases inequalities.

Yet, we are locked into the politics of growth rather than the politics of fairness. We talk about the engine of the economy as if simply by raving it up it will solve all our problems. Growth becomes a good, an objective rather than a means. Instead of addressing the vast and ever growing inequalities in distribution of wealth and of opportunities, we are lured into a false premise - that if we grow fast enough it won't matter because the poor will benefit even if the rich get richer. But it doesn't work. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The beneficiaries of austerity have been the rich, with an ever widening gap between the rich and poor. Poverty is increasing along with health inequality as the rug is pulled from health and social care.

But here is the political trick. We are all locked into the system. The consequences of breaking the system are profound. Before breaking 'the system' we need to know how to put in place a new one.

Yet we must break free. Brexit presents Labour with an opportunity to do just that. It must now put aside its problems of leadership and concentrate on seizing that chance.

The old economic certainties have been ripped away. The Tories have had to abandon their balanced budget approach. Their narrative is in tatters as they struggle to develop a new one.

There is a void, and the left must now step up to fill it. The neoliberal myths are exposed.

When the system breaks down we tend to repair it using the same faulty template. We need a new template.

If our objectives are to make poverty history, or to make the world a less unequal place in which to live, then we need something different in the way we do things.

We see a yearning for this here in the UK and elsewhere, but if the left does not get its act together that desire for change will be swept up by the right. Across Europe we can see far right parties in ascendence, and the left struggling for traction. We see it also in the Trump phenomenon in the US presidential election.

We need a new political-economic settlement that puts social objectives and people at the heart of economic activity. This requires politicians, businesses and finance to work together to achieve fair growth. We need growth, not for its own sake, but for a purpose - the purpose of increasing well-being for all, whilst protecting the environment on which we depend.

The question is whether this is possible with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. I don't know the answer. But for all his faults, he is the leader of the Labour party, and he will be the leader in the years running up to a general election. Labour needs now to put aside the question of leadership and concentrate on the narrative and developing an effective campaign. For this, Jeremy Corbyn needs to build unity, not simply call for it. Calling people into line is not sufficient. This is why how he deals with the PLP is crucial. It requires pragmatism and fairness, not intolerance.

The answer lies in politics, and the will to change the direction of economic policy. It requires an economy harnessed for social and environmetal well-being. It requires Labour to reach out to voters and develop an engaging narrative - one that reflects genuinely their concerns whilst offering radical solutions. Credibility comes not just by appealing to those concerns, but presenting solutions that engage them in the process. Labour must respond to aspirations, not negate them.

This is why it must be pro-business, pro-enterprise, and pro-people. Public ownership should be promoted where necessary, but not as a totem. Labour won't succeed with sterile debate about nationalisation or privatisation. Yes, we need socialisation. Socialisation need not be anti-business, but it needs a new social contract with private enterprise. Business can flourish with a sound infrastructure, but infrastructure is not simply transport or housing. It is also people and communities.

We can no longer simply push the growth button without asking what kind of growth it is, or what kind of growth we need. To achieve the right kind of growth we need a leap in investment. Investment that will push us out of the old environmentally challenging production and consumption - we need a fundamental change in the balance of our economy.

Imagine growth in education. Imagine growth in environmentally friendly farming. Imagine growth of environmentally friendly energy, and of environmentally friendly transport. Imagine the development of communities and their engagement in the fight against crime, building safe environments.

In his speech to the Labour party conference the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell identified one of the answers - a new technological revolution harnessed to creating wellbeing, social justice and saving the planet.

That leap requires investment in the infrastructure necessary to harness it. It requires access for all, and the development of new skills. McDonnell in his speech also quoted Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz in saying “we have to rewrite the rules of our economy”.

Indeed we do. And if Labour succeeds in doing that, then it will win. There is a mountain to climb. Let's start climbing!

Friday, 7 October 2016

England needs a coherent national approach to waste

England has more than 300 different recycling systems. Some councils collect waste commingled - some separate food waste, and about another 260 do not. Recycling plastic differs across the country. This is why plastic packaging is often labelled 'check kerbside'.

There are different sizes and colours of bin, different types of truck, different types of recycling system and different types of anaerobic digesters consuming waste. Waste recycling is a post-code lottery.

The harmful effects of waste is a national problem. It requires a national solution. Cash-starved local authorities struggle to meet needs.

It is estimated that in London alone £19 million a year could be saved with a standard recycling system. The savings across the country could be immense.

We spend more than £3 billion a year simply collecting waste.

A single, harmonised system across the country, could drive up recycling rates.

WRAP recycling scheme data suggests that 97 per cent of English households are served by a recycling collection for plastic bottles.  However, the proportion of households served by mixed plastic collections (i.e. including non‐bottle rigid plastic packaging, such as pots, tubs and trays) is significantly lower, at just 57 per cent.

Plastic film collections do not exist on any notable scale.  

The absence of collections of non‐bottle plastics is likely to be a significant factor in the low recycling rate for this material.

But still my concern is with the amount of non-recyclable plastic being used in our supermarkets.

Yesterday when shopping I decided to count the number of items wrapped in non-recyclable plastic - apples, onions, carrots, potatoes, plums, red peppers, bananas, courgettes....on and on. Almost every item I picked up was wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. Some items had no information at all. This is from a leading supermarket claiming to have a strategy for reducing the environmental impact of packaging.

Just 15% of household plastic is recycle. Tonnes of the stuff ends up in landfill. There is no point blaming the consumer if the plastic is non-recyclable. But councils were unable to recycle 338,000 tonnes of waste in 2014-15 because of contamination - up from about 184,000 tonnes in 2011-12.

The cost to local authorities of re-sorting so-called contaminated recycle bins is said to be the primary reason the vast majority of the waste is being rejected.

Councils say they are working to stop people putting the wrong items in bins. I have seen very little sign of such work. Our waste strategy is a shambles. 

We need a more coherent nationwide strategy.

Monday, 26 September 2016

All not what it seems in packaging

I have just had a lovely slice of apple and blackberry lattice pie from Waitrose. It came in a cardboard carton, which I turned over to read recycling codes: card is 'widely recycled'; foil is 'check locally for kerbside'; but the window of plastic in the carton is 'not recyclable'. Why not? Why produce such complex packaging? It is unnecessary.

I also had a lovely bit of toast from a slice of Vogel's Soya and Linseed bread 'crammed with bursting seeds and grains'. You can imagine the explosions of the seeds and grains! It was lovely toasted with a bit of cheese, cheese on toast being one of my favourite snacks. But the really good thing thing is that the plastic 'bag' it came in is recyclable. Well done Vogel. it leads me to a question. If they can use recyclable plastic bags for their bread, then why can't others? Why is the plastic wrap on the bunch of bananas from Waitrose not recyclable? And also why are bananas in a bag at all? The answer to the latter is of course sales promotion. It is easy to sell a bargain if it is packaged.

Recycling plastic is a mess, and it is a mess we the consumer is having to deal with. The onus has been placed on us to sort it out and put the appropriate bits in our recycle bins. But while the responsibility has been placed upon us, the producers appear to be doing little to ease the problem with mixed packaging, and with packaging for promotional reasons rather than necessity. It really is unnecessary to put apples in a cardboard carton with a plastic covering. Apples can be and should be sold loose.

Let's take black plastic Trays. Black plastic trays used for microwavable ready meals are not currently recyclable simply because they are black. The problem is that recycle companies use optical technology to sort the plastic, but it can't cope with black plastic! It is unable to detect the polymers.

You would think it would be sensible to make all plastic trays a colour that can be recycled, but I think the problem is that black is used to cover the colour impurities in the plastic. Some companies have been trying to overcome this problem, but meanwhile we are putting these trays in the recycle bin when they can't be recycled. The solution is simple. The government could act to make it mandatory for such trays to be recyclable. The government could act to stop this nonsense.

And then there are Yoghurt pots. Several manufacturers now use PET, polyethylene terephthalate, yoghurt pots, which are the same polymer type as plastic bottles. PET yoghurt pots can be recycled. That is good.

However, some yogurt pots are made from polystyrene and are not generally accepted in plastic recycling schemes. Polystyrene has an entirely different make-up to the polymers used in plastic bottles and there are currently limited outlets for this material. That is bad.

So here is the question: If some yogurt pots can be recycled, then why shouldn't it be mandatory on producers that ALL yogurt pots be recyclable? Doesn't that make sense?

We can stop this nonsense! Governments can act.

But our government has left us, the consumers, to sort out the problem with plastic. Surely it is time we stopped non-recyclable plastics being used for packaging.

When you buy fish and chips and they give it to you in a styrofoam carton it is not considered recyclable because when it is broken down it doesn't produce sufficient to be reusable. This is also why styrofoam cups can't be recycled. We should stop the use of such cups.

The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 29% is currently being recovered or recycled. Around 38%, 2.4 million tons of this is plastic in packaging.

The UK has a plastic packaging recycling target of 57% by 2020. Frankly I don't think this is good enough. It doesn't address the problem of too much packaging.

According to the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP), 1.7 million tonnes of this plastic waste comes from households and the rest from commercial and industrial companies. Plastic bottles, pots, tubs, trays, films and plastic bags are the most common types of household plastic waste.

The government has acted to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags. But what is the point of this when we go on using non-recyclable bags four our fruit? The onus has been put on us, the consumer to recycle our plastic waste. There is much talk of fines to households for not properly recycling such waste. We have a responsibility to ensure that the waste item is placed into a collection system which maximises the opportunity for collection and recycling of the material content. This is why I find it frustrating that so much of the outer packaging is not recyclable. Many don't realise this and they simply put it in the recycle bin. Tonnes of this wretched stuff, used for outer packaging, cannot currently be recycled.

We need a firner strategy on packaging.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A disconnected list of old and new targets isn't a climate strategy

Jeremy Corbyn is set to outline his energy strategy today.  It is expected to include

Promoting 200 new publicly owned "local energy companies" by 2025 able to supply towns and cities across the UK.
Encouraging 1,000 new "community energy co-operatives", backed by state funding to pay for connection to the National Grid.
Insulating four million homes to high energy efficiency standards
Phasing out coal-fired power stations by the early 2020s
Restoring the Climate Change Department
Supporting plans to plant 64 million trees in next 10 years

It is good that Jeremy Corbyn appears to be putting together a more coherent approach to the environment. But it is still a hotch-potch with little that is new. Indeed much is old. We need to be much bolder and more innovative.  

Coal-fired generators are due to be phased out by 2025 under this Tory government plans, so not a lot new there. There is very little on how we enhance renewable, although planting trees goes a long way. However, we need to see where, when and how these trees could be planted. 
Home Insulation is way behind targets despite government support. Estimates by the Committee on Climate Change in 2014 suggested that 4.5 million cavity walls remained un-insulated, 10 million easy-to-treat lofts could benefit from additional insulation and 7 million solid walls were still without any insulation.What we need to see is the detail on how to make progress on the targets. Setting targets just isn't working.
Restoring the Climate Change department is good, and necessary, but isn't a great leap forward. It speaks more of how important climate change is than putting forward a clear strategy on dealing with climate change.  It is more politics than substance. 
I give Jeremy marks for effort, but the real problem from a global point of view is that the UK has been 'meeting' its targets for emissions largely by exporting manufacturing abroad to China and India. If we took account of the pollution of our imports then we are doing very badly. Tackling this will need a substantial revival of UK manufacturing with an emphasis on environmentally clean production. I see nothing here on that. However, if this is tackled in the overall economic strategy, then we could really be making new ground.
What I want to see from Labour is not just the targets but how it would be done. The last manifesto was pitifully weak on this. It is time we began to put flesh on the old bones that keep being put forward. Yes, we need more home insulation, but how best can we meet the targets? Yes we need our consumption to be 'clean' but how do we do that when we export our polution to China and India. We need a new manufacturing strategy that promotes clean production in the UK. Labour has time to develop a coherent strategy for the next election, but I don't see it  presented here by Jeremy Corybn. Marks 6/10.

Monday, 5 September 2016

For Labour to abolish university tuition fees it needs to find the funding.

Funding for higher education has become an issue in Labour's leadership election.  Most Labour party members I talk to would like to abolish university tuition fees.

Up to the 2012/13 academic year, higher education institutions in England could charge a maximum annual fee of £3,375. This changed in 2012/13 when the cap was increased to £9,000. The vast majority of universities and courses charge the £9,000 maximum.

Now the cap has been increased to £9,000 there is some evidence that it is deterring potential students from poorer backgrounds, or at the least it is affecting the decisions poorer students make. This was always the concern.  

But, whilst there is evidence that fees may affect decisions, the doomsday predictions of a massive decline in students from poorer backgrounds has not materialised. There are now more young learners entering higher education from lower socio-economic groups than at any time before. This number continued to increase even when the cap was lifted to £9,000. But as UCAS point out 'it is likely that application rates remain a little below what they would have been if higher fees had not been introduced.’

The bottom line is that if we abolish fees altogether then we need to find funding for the universities, and that would need to come from tax revenue.  Labour should at least consider whether fees should still be a component of funding. We can't just have a wish list of state funding without knowing the costs and how they would be met.  We should at least consider whether there is a sweet level of fees that would help raise revenue without being a deterrent to poorer students entering higher education.

The expansion of universities and the numbers of students put a considerable strain on universities. There has been a huge expansion of student numbers. This is good, particularly if it is broadening access and opportunities. But it needs funding. 

Funding from fees now makes up a substantial amount (47%) of university funding. The government has systematically reduced the amount of direct funding for universities in England and Wales. One alternative would be a graduate tax, but it is not clear this would raise sufficient revenue to replace the funding from fees, or if it could be imposed fairly. The universities need funding up front, not at some time in the future when graduates start earning sufficient to pay a premium tax rate.

Those who advocate abolishing fees altogether must come up with alternative funding. We could make it a priority to increase direct funding, but it competes with the need to fund the NHS and social care. I have yet to see any real costed alternative. We need to find one.

My approach would be to systematically reduce fees over a period of years, with a gradual replacement with direct funding. It is sensible to consider  a graduate tax as a temporary measure to find such funding in the future, but the devil would be in the detail. It is also sensible to see some level of fees as part of the mix, but at a much lower cap.

If Jeremy Corbyn promises to abolish fees, then he needs to be honest about its cost, and where he will find the funding. The Universities have no faith in government commitment to increase funding. There is also a great deal of anxiety about the loss of revenue from EU students post Brexit. None of this is easy. Don't believe anyone who claims it is.

Friday, 2 September 2016

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns?

There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp.

But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As Secretary of the Camapaign Group, he led the attempt to oust Neil Kinnock in 1988. Sadly, he has continued this approach even when he was elected leader last year.

Opposition comes naturally to Jeremy Corbyn, the responsibilities of leadership are more tricky, and certainly more messy. Thus he continued to oppose rather than seek understanding and compromise for the greater good of party unity and electability. The Labour party 'establishment' were still the enemy. The PLP became the enemy.  The shadow cabinet became the enemy.

Rather than lead, he picked unnecessary fights with his shadow cabinet. This was ill-conceived, and it was doomed to failure - and failure is what it is.  If he wins the current contest, which appears likely, then unless he adopts a different approach it is likely to destroy his party.

This is the problem I have had with his leadership. In so many ways he has been leading Momentum rather than the Labour Party. He is more at home addressing their rallies than he is leading all of Labour. From the start he failed to seek compromise or reach out to the parliamentary party, and he failed to seek a way forward. Trident is an example. It has been Labour's position to support renewal of UK's nuclear deterrent and the party fought the last election on a manifesto pledging to keep a nuclear deterrent.

We cannot expect the Parliamentary Labour Party to abandon that position simply because Jeremy has become leader. Yet this is what he expected.

Corbyn rightly agreed to set up a review, and the then Shadow Defence Secretary, Maria Eagle, was to lead it. But without consultation, Corbyn made Ken Livingstone a joint chair of the review. It was a provocative move.

We hear so much from his supporters that the PLP would not work with him. On the contrary, many were willing to serve in his shadow cabinet. Maria Eagle was one of them. She didn't run to the press shouting about his lack of consultation. But it was symptomatic of the way he would treat his shadow team.

By all accounts, he rarely consulted with his shadow team on an individual basis, and yet he made policy statements. He repeatedly declared war on his own shadow cabinet. He opposed them. His experience in politics is only to adopt positions, not to negotiate with others.

Jeremy's supporters would have us dismiss the entire PLP as 'Blarite' or 'Tories', or worse (go on twitter to find much worse). But we would be foolish to ignore what they have been saying telling us from their experience of his leadership.

Jeremy Corbyn has succeeded in uniting his PLP, but only in as much as he has united them against his leadership. Now, when anyone expresses similar concern they are subjected to the same dismissal of their points. They are not listened to. The reply is always simply 'if you would support him' then it would be different.

Corbyn's supporters won't listen. They are on a mission. It is their way or none. That is what is so damaging about them. That is what is so damaging about Momentum. That is what is wrong with Jeremy's leadership - 'his way or none'. And then there is Momentum, a party that now straddles the Labour party.

Momentum is not just 'Labour supporters'. It embraces also The Socialist Party (former Militant Tendency) and The Socialist Workers Party. Neither of these parties wish Labour to succeed. Yet they bus people to Corbyn rallies.

I have voted for Owen Smith 2016. I believe Jeremy is leading Labour to destruction because of his 'take it or leave it' approach to policy. It is their way or none, and that ignores a substantial number of members who do not support 'his way'.

Labour's greatest achievements have come through compromise. They come though embracing the broader church of the Labour party not narrowing it. The NHS, welfare reform, equality legislation and much more was achieved by being electable, not by saying 'its my principles or none!'. To achieve little is easy enough, to achieve much is difficult. It requires more than a wish list. It requires a coherent programme on the economy and on social policy. It requires priorities and a degree of pragmatism about what can be achieved. But nothing can be achieved without power. Nothing can be achieved without reaching out and addressing voter concerns and becoming electable. We need a Labour government.

A good leader does not hold his party ransom for his principles. That is unprincipled.