Blogosphere campaign to kick-start John McDonnell’s nomination

“The party needs a strong left-wing voice and John is the obvious candidate.”

As Ed Balls prepares to announce his intention to stand in the forthcoming Labour leadership election, Sunny Hundal is doing his bit to widen the field of would-be Labour leaders still further by encouraging MPs to sign John McDonnell's nomination papers.

Nominations close a week tomorrow and any candidate that wants to enter the race needs at least 33 signatories.

McDonnell has already complained that the brief nomination period disadvantages less established candidates while benefiting well-known faces such as the former foreign secretary David Miliband. "I think it undermines the democratic process from the outset," he told the BBC News Channel.

The blogosphere might now be McDonnell's salvation. Writing on his Liberal Conspiracy blog today, Hundal says he is convinced the "party needs a strong left-wing voice and John is the obvious candidate".

Hundal lists the MPs who backed McDonnell in May 2007 prior to Tony Blair's departure. (In the end, Gordon Brown was spared a leadership contest three years ago.) He also lists other members of the Socialist Campaign Group who didn't nominate him last time around, and encourages readers to "pick one or two names, find out their office numbers, call them and politely ask whether they would be nominating John McDonnell and why it's important that they do".

 

These nominated him last time

1. Diane Abbott MP, Hackney North and Stoke Newington
2. Ronnie Campbell MP, Blyth Valley
3. Martin Caton MP, Gower
4. Michael Clapham MP, Barnsley West and Penistone
5. Katy Clark MP, North Ayrshire and Arran
6. Harry Cohen MP, Leyton and Wanstead
7. Frank Cook MP, Stockton North
8. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
9. Jim Cousins MP, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central
10. Ann Cryer MP, Keighley
11. David Drew MP, Stroud
12. Bill Etherington MP, Sunderland North
13. Mark Fisher MP, Stoke-on-Trent Central
14. Paul Flynn MP, Newport West
15. Neil Gerrard MP, Walthamstow
16. Dr Ian Gibson MP, Norwich North
17. Nia Griffith MP, Llanelli
18. David Heyes MP, Ashton-under-Lyne
19. Kelvin Hopkins MP, Luton North
20. Lynne Jones MP, Birmingham, Selly Oak
21. Michael Meacher MP, Oldham West and Royton -- stepped down
22. Gordon Prentice MP, Pendle
23. Linda Riordan MP, Halifax -- has endorsed Ed Miliband
24. Alan Simpson MP, Nottingham South
25. Dennis Skinner MP, Bolsover
26. David Taylor MP, North West Leicestershire
27. Robert Wareing MP, Liverpool, West Derby
28. Mike Wood MP, Batley and Spen

Other members of the Socialist Campaign Group who didn't nominate him

29. David Anderson MP
30. John Cryer MP
31. David Hamilton MP -- has endorsed Ed Miliband
32. Kelvin Hopkins MP
33. Ian Lavery MP
34. Austin Mitchell MP

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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The Future of the Left: trade unions are more important than ever

Trade unions are under threat - and without them, the left has no future. 

Not accepting what you're given, when what you're given isn't enough, is the heart of trade unionism.

Workers having the means to change their lot - by standing together and organising is bread and butter for the labour movement - and the most important part? That 'lightbulb moment' when a group of workers realise they don't have to accept the injustice of their situation and that they have the means to change it.

That's what happened when a group of low-paid hospital workers organised a demonstration outside their hospital last week. As more of their colleagues clocked out and joined them on their picket, thart lightbulb went on.

When they stood together, proudly waving their union flags, singing a rhythmic chant and raising their homemade placards demanding a living wage they knew they had organised the collective strength needed to win.

The GMB union members, predominantly BAME women, work for Aramark, an American multinational outsourcing provider. They are hostesses and domestics in the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a mental health trust with sites across south London.

Like the nurses and doctors, they work around vulnerable patients and are subject to verbal and in some cases physical abuse. Unlike the nurses and doctors their pay is determined by the private contractor that employs them - for many of these staff that means statutory sick pay, statutory annual leave entitlement and as little as £7.38 per hour.

This is little more than George Osborne's new 'Living Wage' of £7.20 per hour as of April.

But these workers aren't fighting for a living wage set by government or even the Living Wage Foundation - they are fighting for a genuine living wage. The GMB union and Class think tank have calculated that a genuine living wage of £10ph an hour as part of a full time contract removes the need for in work benefits.

As the TUC launches its 'Heart Unions' week of action against the trade union bill today, the Aramark workers will be receiving ballot papers to vote on whether or not they want to strike to win their demands.

These workers are showing exactly why we need to 'Heart Unions' more than ever, because it is the labour movement and workers like these that need to start setting the terms of the real living wage debate. It is campaigns like this, low-paid, in some cases precariously employed and often women workers using their collective strength to make demands on their employer with a strategy for winning those demands that will begin to deliver a genuine living wage.

It is also workers like these that the Trade Union Bill seeks to silence. In many ways it may succeed, but in many other ways workers can still win.

Osborne wants workers to accept what they're given - a living wage on his terms. He wants to stop the women working for Aramark from setting an example to other workers about what can be achieved.

There is no doubting that achieving higher ballot turn outs, restrictions on picket lines and most worryingly the use of agency workers to cover strikers work will make campaigns like these harder. But I refuse to accept they are insurmountable, or that good, solid organisation of working people doesn't have the ability to prevail over even the most authoritarian of legislation.

As the TUC launch their Heart Unions week of action against the bill these women are showing us how the labour movement can reclaim the demands for a genuine living wage. They also send a message to all working people, the message that the Tories fear the most, that collective action can still win and that attempts to silence workers can still be defeated.