Labour's National Policy Forum elections

Someone I'm supporting - Catriona Ogilvy

Here is my statement in support of Catriona Ogilvy for Labour's National Policy Forum:

We need people on our National Policy Forum who can combine practical experience, policy knowledge, and a clear understanding of our values. Few can do this well. Catriona Ogilvy is one who can, which is why she has my vote.

Cat's website is here.

Stephen Beer, 31/01/2012

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So, what did the ECB do again?

What happened over the year end and its implications for UK economic policy

When the Eurozone countries agreed in the autumn new measures to support European banks, few realised how significant these measures might prove to be in practice.  As the year end approached there were media reports that liquidity in the banking system might be under strain.  However the European Central Bank began its Longer Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO).  This was worth €489bn - ie large (the Financial Times reports that banks are keen to take part in the second round).

So, how did it work?  Well, European banks pledged assets (mortgate backed securities etc) to the ECB as collateral in return for which they borrowed cash for three years ie they were able to convert illiquid assets for a liquid asset (ie cash) at a relatively low interest rate.  The ECB required a margin on the collateral assets ie it valued them at a discount.  The banks then used the money in large part to buy sovereign Eurozone bonds.  If we were to chart Italian bond yields for example, we would see that one year bond yields rose sharply in November as people worried about sovereign and bank liquidity.  The announcement of the ECB measure seems to have had a profound effect, with one year Italian bond yields falling (it's assumed that banks were buying them).

The policy implications are that this appears to have taken some of the crisis pressure off Eurozone governments and given them more time to resolve the financial problems; without short term fears of a bank getting into liquidity-shortage trouble.  For example, it means that there has been some space to negotiate restructuring of Greek debt (yet to be finally resolved at the time of writing).

The policy implications for the UK are not easy to establish but the avoidance yet again of an extremely deep crisis in the Eurozone is positive for growth, which in turn should be positive for the UK.  The big question at present is to what extent is the Eurozone economy slowing down, or did it just have 2 or 3 poor months at the end of last year?  The UK faces a similar question.

Stephen Beer, 31/01/2012

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Labour's NEC elections

Someone I'm supporting - Johanna Baxter

Here's my statement in support of Johanna Baxter, who is standing again for the NEC:

Johanna has set a high standard for NEC members in the way she has engaged with CLPs and individual Labour Party members on Party matters. She has illustrated how to be both independent and effective. I hope she is re-elected.

Johanna's website can be found here.

Stephen Beer, 31/01/2012

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Labour's NEC & NPF elections

Vauxhall CLP's nominations

Vauxhall CLP nominated the following for the Party's National Executive Committee (in no particular order):
Ellie Reeves
Florence Nosegbe
Peter Wheeler
Joanne Milligan
Luke Akehurst
Ruth Smeeth

We nominated Diane Holland for NEC Treasurer.

Vauxhall CLP nominated Catriona Ogilvy, Fiona Twycross, and Joan Ryan for the National Policy Forum.  We still have one final nomination to make.

Stephen Beer, 31/01/2012

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Why Opposition is like a road trip

Are we there yet?

I spent yesterday at the Fabian Society's New Year conference.  As usual it was a pretty thought-provoking and a good opportunity to test the temperature of Labour members and supporters after an 'interesting' week for the Party.  Our leader has come under fire in the media, but meanwhile there have been a series of announcements eg on spending decisions which have not received so much coverage.

It left me thinking that Opposition is a bit like a road trip where we're still studying and even writing the map as we go along (our policy review).  We know our destination - we are heading towards a fairer society, in which everyone matters and not just a privileged few.  But how we get there is not always clear in detail.  As we go along, we identify some key milestones (Ed Balls' speech to the Fabians yesterday was one for example, as was Ed Miliband's speech on the economy a few days previously) and even travel along some familiar roads.

And on the way, the passengers (eg Labour members such as me) occasionally ask ' Are we there yet?' which can't be much fun for the driver but doesn't actually change the destination.  And perhaps along the way (ok, stretching the analogy a bit) onlookers (media) are asking 'why haven't they arrived yet?'.  It's not surprising that people sometimes get tempted to focus on the driving rather than the route.  Though it doesn't always make things easy for the driver.

The point is we will get there and when we do we'll most likely have picked up quite a few more passengers along the way.  But Opposition is a task that takes months and years not days and weeks.    So the current debates about the leadership etc need to be got into perspective.  What really matters is that we continue doing what we're doing ie talk about what we stand for and continue to put the pieces in place to write the next manifesto and fight the next election.

Stephen Beer, 15/01/2012

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