Some of you may well be saying- who? So let’s first have some info on the man himself. He said this himself, so we can assume he feels this to be true:
“I’m 43. I grew up in Kent and went to university in Bristol. I’m the fourth generation from my family to be active in the Labour Party – my great grandfather was Labour Mayor of Gravesend. I lived in Hackney for 16 years with my wife Linda. Both of us were Labour councillors for 12 years each, we stood down from the Council in 2014 in order to move to be near Linda’s family in Oxford, where we are already getting involved in the local Labour Party. I’m Vice-Chair (Membership) of Oxford Labour, and Linda is a city councillor representing Blackbird Leys. We have two sons, Jed (10), and Ben (4). I worked for 11 years as a director at a public relations company, but in 2011 took up a new day job running a grassroots campaign supporting Israel – the Middle East is always a controversial issue but I wanted to play a part in advocating a two-state solution as this is a cause I have been involved with for a long time. In 2009 I was hospitalised for five months with a severe neurological illness caused by a bone marrow cancer, which left me using a wheelchair for a year. I’ve recovered well, though my mobility is still and will always remain a bit impaired. The experience has reinforced my commitment to the NHS.”
Like many short bios, this leaves a lot out, but first let’s examine this.Prima facie it seems to show respectable socialist credentials. My concerns are these:
- He says he is pro two state solution as regards Israel. Bear in mind this excerpt is from his (failed) push to obtain a seat on the NEC. Why on earth state your position on ISRAEL in such an election? The NEC is a domestic organisation, the ‘governing body and the administrative authority of the Labour Party’. This for me is a disturbing non-sequitur and explains some of his more bizarre tweets, blogs and posts on LabourList. It is from LabourList that I first heard of him.
- Many commenters consider this ‘solution’ to be utterly unfeasible. Google is full of critique on this principle, and this is not just from politicians spouting hot air on the situation. Here is a scholarly article from 2013 laying out exactly why such a proposition has no real merit.
- We have to contextualise this with the ‘Jewish’ issue in the LP, crowed about many times in the MSM; the existence of the group ‘Labour Friends of Israel‘ (yes, there’s a Labour Friends of Palestine too, but without the finding and backing of *cough* ‘prominent people’ that LFI has, and whose LP MP members can be found here; compare this to which MPs are in LFI and feel free to come to your own conclusions) and the silencing tactic of bellowing ‘anti-Semite’ at anyone who criticises the Israeli government, with no separation of ‘Jew’ and ‘Zionist’.
Oddly enough I tried to access Labour friends of Israel today (16/03/17) and it’s been turned off. I will try and add the Labour MP members as that information should have been archives. I did manage to screenshot the LFI Officers however (below) before the site went down.
In my view what he is actually saying here is that he has ‘powerful backers’, that he was for the ‘coup’ against Corbyn, and possibly that he is a ‘Blairite‘. Even that last link above starts with ‘The Labour Friends of Israel group has trebled the number of Parliamentary supporters backing its work, as moderate MPs rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party.’ It is not too far fetched to approximately equate the ‘coups’ to support of Israel and whose fingers are in that pie, and the fact that Corbyn is renown for supporting the rights of Palestinians. Here is a creditable blog on the ‘Anyone But Corbyn’ push and what Akehurst may well have to do with that. So far, so hoopy, in that short phrase we could conclude that Akehurst is promising to agitate against Corbyn, and is relying on voters in the NEC elections last August to know this connection and vote for him accordingly. Such a shame, as we see on the link above, that this failed miserably for him and he came last but four, with 48,632 votes, when the ‘least successful’ winning candidate, Peter Willsman, obtained 81,863 votes, almost double Akehurst’s tally. Guess that humblebrag didn’t work for him there. Indeed, the NEC results were seen by most commentators as a clean sweep by Corbyn supporters.
- Then let’s go on to the only arguably ‘socialist’ credential he actually espouses- the NHS. Nobody would wish cancer and all that goes with it on anyone, and anyone who takes the p*ss out of cancer sufferers are usually thought of as [redacted] c*ckwombles. But again, this is a silencing tactic- don’t be nasty to them, they had cancer…
- So at the risk of sounding like a c*ckwomble, this touching personal anecdote of why he supports the NHS is recognisable by anyone studying GCSE English non fiction (*cough*) analysis that this is called an emotional hook. And what is that? A deliberate device to pull at the heart strings of the reader to make them feel or do (in this case vote) something. Charity ads. use this all the time. And this is coming from someone (me) who has beaten the Big C three times.
- Where are his mission statements about HOW he is going to support pro NHS policy as an NEC official? Glaringly absent. If we compare Ann Black’s (whom I have it from Akehurst’s own mouth that SHE is Secretary of the Oxford CLP, by which I assume he means Oxford East CLP, and whom he describes as ‘excellent’) campaign summary on who she is and what she stands for (and she, despite the blaring of the Corbyn clean sweep is in fact centre-left, a member of the affliated organisation Grassroots Labour and partly responsible for ‘ disenfranchising members both at the July 19th NEC meeting and in suspending Brighton, Hove & District Labour Party, the LRC gives notice that it will never again support the candidacy of Ann Black for the NEC and calls for her immediate resignation as Chair of the Disputes Panel’ so perhaps not so pro-Corbyn, considering the stitch up that was the gagging of Brighton and Hove CLP which resulted in pro-‘left’ support being withdrawn from her)
well… we can’t, Google is not furnishing it. Nor is Ann Black, now. The LABOUR PARTY website does not seem to have ‘mission statements’ from any of the candidates and Black does not appear to have her own site like Akehurst still does. Not sure what to make of that really… again I will leave you to draw your own conclusions, or maybe have a search yourself and if you find any candidate statements, do let me know as I’d honestly like to see them.
We can see instead perhaps the most ‘famous’ candidate, Eddie Izzard’s basic statement however, for comparison- which he released himself to the media: ““I am announcing my intention to run for Labour’s National Executive Committee. After many years of campaigning for Labour I want to take the next step and get more closely involved by representing members. I have been a member of the Labour Party for 20 years. I have campaigned in over 100 seats, from the top to the bottom of the country and tiny towns and big cities in between. My own life taught me the importance of Labour values – from the age of six, after the death of my mother, I was raised with my brother by my single dad for seven years. I hate inequality and I believe in fairness, social justice and compassion. Most of all I believe in hope.” Eddie too uses personal anecdote and a brief list of how he has been politically active, but he uses themes on which he wishes to stand at least- against ‘inequality’, and for ‘fairness, social justice and compassion’. But when he talked of this to the Daily Mirror, just look at some of the transphobic comments he got, compared to genuine queries on his stance in the referendum and that his statement is somewhat vague.
A very interesting and tongue in cheek analysis of who was standing for the NEC elections and what they ‘really’ may stand for can be found here.
So what have we learned of Akehurst so far? As someone (me) who sits very much on the left of the party (no, not and never have been Militant or SWP, no not a Trot, and the fact I have to add that caveat is somewhat telling don’t you think), nothing edifying.
What are his other affiliations?
- It will come as no suprise that he is Director of We Believe in Israel; a project of the pro Israel campaign group BICOM.
- He glossed over his job pre politics, but that was at Weber Shandwick Public Affairs (WSPA) is part of Weber Shandwick Worldwide, one of the largest PR companies in the world and largest in the UK. CEO Colin Byrne is described as a key figure in the interface between big business and New Labour. Byrne worked for Labour and used to be Peter Mandelson’s flatmate. This is the man who has stated baldly that it is his daily mission to bring down Corbyn. When I tried to access the WSW UK website, it was down, as was the global website. Whether they still are when you read this I do not know.
- He was a lobbyist for the arms industry.
- He is a member of Unite (Britain’s biggest trade union), the Co-Op Party who say ‘We believe that things work best when ordinary people have a voice, and when services are accountable to the people who use them’ (I guess that’s his socialist sop then) and Fabian Society, of which Corbyn too is a member, who are a ‘British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow‘. These are taken from his own website, but no mention of BICOM, his pre-politics job or his lobbying as in the bullet points above.
- On his site he says he is Secretary of Labour First, the national network of Labour moderates. Consider the use of ‘moderates’ here, this is a euphemism for ‘centre-left’ thinking. Now if we also consider that Blair took the party so far to the right in terms of the Overton Window that Thatcher described ‘New Labour’ as her ‘greatest achievement’, I think we can see exactly what he stands for.
Now let’s have a look at Labour First. It is proclaimed, by Akehurst himself, and quoted here that ‘Labour First calls itself the voice of Labour’s “moderates” dedicated to keeping the party “safe from the organised hard left, and those who seek to divert us from the work of making life better for ordinary working people and their families.”’ I guess this makes the Tweet below about the ‘hard left’ sound slightly less deluded anyway. Again, if we go back to the Overton Window, to a Blarite, Corbyn must seem like a communist, when in fact he’s no further left than the Greens, and is instead, a social democrat. Unless all those links on Google are lying 😉
Though I am still at a loss to decipher what that Tweet above actually means without delving into some post-alt/apocalytpic-facts world worthy of William Gibson.
I can possibly posit these bitter Akehurst tears are in response to him allegedly being voted off the Oxford CLP as secretary this month (March 2017.) No Mr Akehurst it was not some Momentum or Militant coup that got you booted, if indeed booted you were. However I will say I can find no evidence he was actually secretary in the first place, which makes the timing of this Tweet all the more odd. Plus the original Tweet that said this happened has long been deleted. (Unless it is his usual fare, I will admit the first time I checked his Twitter was today.) Maybe people are confusing his Vice Chair of Oxford Labour position as he states he is in in the quote at the top. In any case, his assertion as Labour First Sec that the LP needs to be kept safe from the machinations of the ‘hard left’ smacks either of paranoia or perhaps part of the hypothesis that those steeped in conspiracy are apt to accuse others of what they are doing themselves. (Psychology 101
– it’s human nature to do this, and for some commenters, even has a name, and for others, part of the definition of being a sociopath. [Insert caveat comment about such commenters not being the opinion of this blogger blah blah etc..] )
Oxford CLP’s website does not seem to contain details of their latest CLP meeting/AGM where Akehurst allegedly lost his Secretary seat, nor on their Twitter. But the issues they raise do seem to differ quite wildly from Akehurst’s own concerns. They talk of the housing crisis, council tax rises; welcoming EU citizens; the Dubs amendment (on the right of refugees to settle here); the homeless and the NHS, to name but a few.
This sounds far more Corbyn than Akehurst to me 😉
and if we compare Akehurst’s Twitter, with resplendent blue banner 😉 well, let’s have a scroll down then eh- Len (McCluskey) bashing during the Unite leadership period, sniping at Kate Osamor, bringing Israel into it, talking about ‘Trots’ and the ‘hard left’, with almost nothing on the Budget 2017 or the valid issues his own CLP has been raising.
So when he says ‘I’m confused because half of Twitter think I got deselected as an MP last night and the other half say I work for Israeli intelligence’ (no, Mr Akehurst, *half of Twitter* is NOT saying you are or were an MP 😉 ) yet again, the man seems to be missing the point. Perhaps the kind of ‘Labour’ that he is putting ‘first’ is not any longer the type of Labour a section of the party want, if an explosion of (re)Tweeting a post of gentle mockery about the man is any indication. Momentum, a pro-Corbyn LP affiliated group, has a little over 8000 members (whom he accuses of being ‘hard left’) and he accuses them TWICE in his Tweet of being a ‘faction’ with a negative spin on the definition of that word. What then is Labour First? Is it only ok to be part of a LP affiliated group if it leans to the right?
And what on earth is an Owen Jones/Clive Lewis post-Corbynite? How many MSM tropes and slurs (such as Lewis’ alleged ‘coup’ based on the fact that ‘somebody’ bought a website called Clive For Leader (debunked by his own office and something he also called ‘b*llocks’) and the fact he voted against the Withdrawal from the EU Bill). And I guess combining Lewis with Jones is Akehurst trying to suggest that Jones is being attacked by the ‘hard left’ too, for not continuing to vocally support Corbyn now he has his cosy Graun job.) Oh now that’s clever isn’t it- what murkiness he is asking us to delve into once more to follow his train of thought. The man is obsessed with the ‘hard left’ to a point that is frankly uncomfortable to read. Whatever ‘hard left’ elements there may be in the LP (and Corbyn is not one of them) they are assuredly not thinking about Akehurst anywhere near as much as he is thinking about them. His reasoning has utterly broken down when he calls ‘followers’ of Lewis OR Jones as post-Corbynites, for if people are (as he seems to suggest) moving from Corbyn to Lewis in their support they’re s**t out of luck, for Lewis has made it as clear as he can that he supports Corbyn but he too works to his own personal principles (WftEU bill votes, arms/Trident votes). As for Jones, well I have written a blog about him where I do question some of his reasoning too, but Jones has never gone into tin foil hat territory like Akehurst has.
“If anyone starts criticising Corbyn at public meeting there’s booing and hissing, people are getting howled down,” says Luke Akehurst, a candidate for Labour’s National Executive Committee, who campaigns in Oxford. “It’s always been stormy, but the referendum has brought the whole thing to crisis point.” The full article of this is here, and couched in terms of the LP under Corbyn being at the point of failure.
- How is this helpful to what he alleges is his own party? Aren’t some of his blogs, posts and Tweets not against LP rules? Thousands of people have been purged from the party by the NEC for less.
- And what has the referendum to do with it? What exactly is he trying to suggest here? Could it be the alleged ‘reason’ for the ‘chickencoup‘ in the first place, Corbyn’s alleged ‘weak’ performance (< link to his actual speech on youtube) on behalf of Remain, when this was a blatant untruth?
^This is a screenshot from the LSE study. Will put the link in asap.
So what next for Akehurst? He’s still a Councillor in Oxford, according to some but can find no evidence for that either, or for him ever having been a Councillor there. Blackbird Leys, where his wife stands, is not under re-election in May 2017, though there are some seats up for grabs in this Labour controlled Council. Now I am not suggesting voters ‘punish’ his wife for her husband’s shortcomings. (I would however like to know more of her stances on these issues, wisely perhaps, she keeps her online presence to a minimum, with some very positive Twitter posting that shows she is active in her area so good for her 🙂 .) Linda (Smith) is indeed on their list of City Councillors. Again,we can see the merit of fact checking here 😉
Perhaps Akehurst will not return to politics this time. It may well be for the best, as he seems to like backing the wrong horse. He was part of Hazel Blears’, the ‘Labour Party chair’s…expected…announce[ment of] her candidacy soon, and is understood to be receiving advice from Weber Shandwick director of public affairs Luke Akehurst.’ Remember her? Her resignation as an MP due to the expenses scandal? Her subsequent nice little earner as Director of the Co-Operative group? Above I cited the MO of the Co-Op. How does her appointment coincide with that? And have a look at her voting record.
Maybe he will disappear into his own Twitter echoes and people will have nothing left to spoof. Now while his relative fall is small potatoes in the eddies (no, not Izzard) of the LP ‘righting’ *cough* itself after decades of being Con Light, and it is foolhardy to speculate this could part of the ‘left’ push back he fears so much, it is hard to deny that his actions brought his fall upon himself. Or perhaps his ‘backers’ *did an Eagle* after the NEC elections and decided to ‘pull out’ while they still could.