It seems that the Labour-right’s criticisms of Momentum – namely that it is a private organisation, not affliated with, or part of the Labour Party, yet is interefering with the internal business of the party – appear to have gone out of the window; as a new organisation, Labour Tomorrow, has been launched, with the stated intention of “Re-vitalising the grass-roots of mainstream Labour”, and seemingly as a bulwark against the presence and influence of Momentum, within Labour.
Organisations within the Labour Party are fine and dandy as long as they are called Progress, Labour First, and Labour Tomorrow. Whereas, if you are called Momentum, then you are apparently parasitic entryists, sitting in the belly of an unwilling host.
Who exactly are the people behind Labour Tomorrow? Well, there are three names registered with Companies House; Baroness Brenda Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, the right-wing former leader of SOGAT, the printworkers union; Lord David Blunkett, the Blairite loyalist and holder of several cabinet positions, and Nicola Murphy, a former special advisor to the Treasury and Gordon Brown.
Labour Tomorrow – was registered on April 1st this year – and is described as a:
Funding platform to re-energise the centre ground of Labour politics. It will raise cash which will be distributed to progressive projects in areas such as policy develoment, digital media, campaigning, and building activist networks
All of which are areas that Momentum have successfully exploited; unlike the team around Owen Smith – who have failed miserably to embrace technology, social media, or ways of building and managing activist networks.
The fact that Labour Tomorrow has launched so close to the leadership election is an indictment of the confidence its architects have in the ability of Owen Smith, to beat Corbyn. Clearly, they fully expect to to have to fund and fight a campaign after the the results of the leadership election are declared.
The Electoral Commission reports that in the last four weeks Labour Tomorrow has received over £250,000 in donations – including sizeable amounts from the hedge-fund manager, Martin Taylor, the former Special Advisor, David Taylor, and Lord Matthew Oakeshott, the former Liberal Democrat Peer, who apears to have switched his allegiances back to the Labour Party, after leaving in 1981 with his former boss and fellow right-winger, Roy Jenkins – to form the SDP. Businesses have also donated money; Fieldbonds ltd, a property letting organisation, and Betterworld ltd, a book wholesaler.
So what do we know about the three Directors of Labour Tomorrow?
Well, Since leaving her role in the Treasury, advising Gordon Brown, Nicola Murphy has worked as a Director for the Parliamentary Research Service, and was the Head of Government Relations’ for the health insurance company, Humana. You may be more familiar with the work of Humana than you think.
Some of their activities featured in the Michael Moore documentary about the US healthcare industry, ‘Sicko’. Humana’s UK operations were closed down when they realised that they wouldn’t be able to milk the NHS in the way they expected.
Murphy once found herself embroiled in a cash-for-access scandal when she was part of the PR company, Hanover, that was allegedly charging thousands for access to, and photographs with, the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
The former Home Secretary, Baron David Blunkett, doesn’t need much of an introduction. Since leaving the Commons and joining the Lords, Blunkett has certainly kept himself busy; landing himself fifteen paid and unpaid positions. Blunkett has always enjoyed extra-curricular earning and hob-nobbing. He once had a £49,000 a year role advising Rupert Murdoch on social responsibility, and was paid a further £150,000 annually for writing a weekly column in the Sun. It is worth noting that Blunkett was yet another Home Secretary who failed to revisit the Hillsborough disaster – despite it happening in his constituency. You could conclude that comments he made in 1990, claiming that “Liverpool fans got off lightly” was a telling measure of the importance he may of placed on re-opening the investigation.
Baroness Brenda Dean was the General Secretary of SOGAT during the extremely bitter Wapping dispute in 1986. While print-workers were literally and figuratively battling for their livelihoods on picket-lines in Wapping, Dean busy was making the ultimate sacrifice for her members by gorging on lamb-chops at a pool-side barbeque at Rupert Murdoch’s Californian holiday home. Unable to reach agreement at the pool-side; Dean and Murdoch went to a restaurant later that same day – where they agreed the dispute had to come to an end. Dean states that – “I liked him. Printing ink is clearly in his blood. All he wanted to do was print newspapers.” Dean knew full well that he wanted to do much more than just “print newspapers”. He wanted to sack thousands of workers and destroy their trade unions.
The SOGAT rank-and-file were less than impressed with her performance during the dispute. It was unlikely to have been a surpirse. She had already provided a weak opposition to Robert Maxwell, giving him – “Almost everything he sought” – during his redundancy drive, a year earlier.
Unlike Blunkett, Dean has only managed to acquire six positions on the boards of organisations. Perhaps she has been far too busy managing her 59,000 shares in the housebuilders, Taylor Wimpey plc, to take anything on any extra responsibilities.
It is too soon to make an assessment of exactly what activites Labour Tomorrow will engage in. No doubt the weeks leading up to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool will reveal more about its plans, backers, and donors. What is clear, is that far from being a forward-looking project for positive and progressive change – Labour Tomorrow is another case of the Labour-right and Blairites not paying attention to what has happened over the last year and thinking that discredited yesterday’s men and women are going to assist them combating the surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn, within the Labour Party – to become Labour’s tomorrow.
They have no chance!