Sunday, August 08, 2010

Labour Leadership election

This process has not exactly set the nation alight. Unjustly we tend to think of US politics. But the US contest to become the nominee takes place over several years over which less successful candidates fall out of the race and happens (or consludes) just before the actual election.

Our contest takes place in the wake of an election defeat where the new government is enjoying its honeymoon (aided by the novelty of being a coalition) and where there are shades of difference between candidates it is a mistake to exaggerate them.

To that extent the process is a bit boring as well as being difficult for party members and affiliated members.

To the extent I've been able to engage with it I have been able to determine my vote. I've watched the UNISON hustings, watched the New Statesmen hustings, watched some of the TV material, read stuff online and discussed with colleagues in the Party and my own trade union and in LGBT Labour.

I am settled in my support of Ed Balls. He is a thoroughgoing Keynesian in a time where Keynesian approach is more needed than ever (avoiding the mistake of the 1930's by taking fright at the deficit in the way that the Tories and Libs are doing NB Keynes was a Liberal). I think he has an earthy normalness which is what a Labour Leader needs if it is going to reconnect with voters.

So my first preference goes to Ed Balls who I think deserves support. Of course other candidates are making their case and it's an election under the Alternative Vote. Of the other candidates I would give David Miliband my second preference. I've had my doubts about DM but, overall, I think he's done well to improve his appeal throughout the campaign though I thought he didn't do too well at the Unison hustings. Of other candidates I liked Andy Burnham but he's not experienced enough in my view and I have concerns about a Labour Leadre with some of his social views (though he supports marriage equality). I really like Dianne Abbott, she's a great speaker but I'm not sure she could be a leader of the opposition. Meanwhile Ed Miliband has garnered some support from Union political structures - though how representative of their members these bodies are remains to be seen.

Marriage equality in California and Argentina

Oops, with all their funding the organisers of Prop 8 gave no thought to defending legal cases after it passed and struggled because their campaign consisted of a) galvanising religious antigay sentiment b) lying c) using 'despisal' techniques - 'a storm is coming' 'they're after your children' etc.

This is easy to do against small minorities such as LGB people but likely to be unconstutional and so has proved. Judge Walker's ruling is slightly dull and boring but works through the facts as one may conclude them boiling down to i)marriage is long held to be a basic right ii)gay people exist and face a history and ongoing legacy and reality of discrimination iii)prop 8 is motivated by animus against a group and is deisgned to classify and mark them out. Therefore it violates principles of Due Process and Equal Protection.

Regarding the stay motions see here.

The state of California declined to defend Prop 8 and the Governor and Attourney General are against a stay of the ruling so we shall see. We must also await the reaction of th 9th Circuit who may themselves grant a stay if Judge Walker doesn't.

Then also the Supreme Court will get its final say. Either way it coud end up being a 5-4 decision whichever way it falls.

Equally encouraging if not more so is the decision by Argentina to enact equality in its marriage laws.