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Labour’s 2015 leadership election: Lord Owen interview on BBC Newsnight

Lord Owen discusses Labour’s 2015 leadership elections and media speculation that it could lead to an SDP-style split in an interview on BBC Newsnight. View the interview, from around 16’50” in the programme, here.

Please note, access is time-limited by the BBC, expires approx 17 August.

Lord Owen hopes cooperation over Caroline Lucas’s NHS Bill could lead to a wider progressive alliance amongst the political parties.

The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.

This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge.  It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it.  I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis.   Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy.  It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election.  This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020.  If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.

This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out.  I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament.  It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.

 

 

Lord Owen calls for time limits on Prime Ministers’ tenure of office

Prime Ministers should stay in office for no more than ten years or eight years if the Fixed Term Parliament Act is changed from five to four years, according to former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen. He believes limitation would curb the hubristic behaviour of Prime Ministers who become intoxicated with power. Speaking at a conference on Leadership: Stress & Hubris on 17 November, hosted by the Daedalus Trust and the Division of Occupational Psychology of the British Psychological Society, Lord Owen outlined his Private Member’s Bill, introduced in the House of Lords on 11 November, to provide for a maximum limitation related to the period during which a Prime Minister can hold office of two terms of Parliament under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. For a full copy of the Bill and the Explanatory Notes  please click links below..

Prime Minister (Limitation of Period of Office) Bill

Prime Minister (Limitation of Period of Office) Bill Explanatory Notes

For more on Hubris Syndrome, visit DaedalusTrust.com – the website of the academic and research oriented Trust dedicated to raising awareness of this important leadership and governance issue.

Statement By Lord Owen On the Labour Party Special Conference Decision

STATEMENT ISSUED BY LORD DAVID OWEN, SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014 ON THE LABOUR PARTY SPECIAL CONFERENCE DECISION TO REFORM THE VOTING SYSTEM FOR THE LABOUR PARTY LEADER

“This is a brave and bold reform by Ed Miliband and one I strenuously argued for as a Labour MP at the special conference on Saturday, 25 January 1981.  This very desirable change, nevertheless, threatens to weaken Labour’s financial support at a critical time when I and many others are hoping to see the Party produce a plan for Government from May of next year to rescue our NHS. Saving the NHS is my main political priority and I suspect that of many others. To help Labour reverse the 2012 NHS legislation without yet another major reorganization, I have made  a declarable contribution of over £7,500 to Labour funds. Unless there is a change of Government the NHS in England will be completely destroyed by 2020.

I want to support Labour but also value my independence. I have informed the Convenor of the Crossbenchers in the House of Lords of this. I will continue to sit, as allowed under their rules, on the Crossbenches as I have done from 1992. However, since I can no longer be called a Crossbencher under their rules, I will now be an independent Social Democrat.”

Lord Owen pays tribute to Baroness Thatcher

Article by Lord Owen, published in The Telegraph, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: they underrated her, and always paid the price

Mrs Thatcher was not regarded as much of a threat by the Labour Party when she became Conservative leader in 1975

Not many people in 1975 believed that Margaret Thatcher would be as serious a threat to Labour as she became. Barbara Castle, however, sensed immediately that she was a star: “She has lent herself with grace and charm to every piece of photographers’ gimmickry, but don’t we all when the prize is big enough?… She is in love; in love with power, success and with herself… If we have to have Tories, good luck to her…”

To read the full article please click here

Simon Jenkins, Writing in The Guardian Supports David Owen’s Call for Study of Impact of Power on Leader’s Personality

“Gordon Brown now suffers that incurable syndrome: ex-PM”

Article by Simon Jenkins, in The Guardian Thursday 14 July 2011

Click here to view the full article

For more on Hubris Syndrome, visit daedalustrust.com – the website of the academic and research oriented Trust dedicated to raising awareness of this important leadership and governance issue.

Way With Words Speech: Coalition

Speech by Lord Owen at the `Way With Words’ Festival

Dartington, Sunday 10 July 2011

‘THE COALITION’

The present Coalition Government that emerged after a few days negotiation owed almost everything to the openness and generosity of the speech that David Cameron made on the Friday once he realised he had lost the General Election.  It was the surprising nature of his words that made it possible for Liberal Democrats to set aside merely supporting a Queen’s Speech of any party that had both a majority of the seats and a majority of the votes and instead actually become part of a Conservative-led coalition government. To read the full speech  please click here

Speech by Lord Owen: Learning From Opposition

Speech by Lord Owen: Learning From Oppostion. How Does Labour Avoid The Mistakes of  The Past

Click here to read full version of the speech

“31:51:81” Progress Meeting with Political Historians, Monday, 16 May 2011