UNCUT: Beat Corbyn in a fair fight, not by smearing him

24/08/2016, 07:13:33 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Is Jeremy Corbyn a racist?

It’s a strange and unfamiliar accusation against a politician who has spent his entire adult life on one anti-racist march or another.

Israel aside, Corbyn is the bleeding heart’s bleeding heart.

The allegation of racial discrimination against him comes from a serving Labour frontbencher, Chi Onwurah.

Writing in the New Statesman earlier this week, she complained about the way her brief as shadow minister for culture and the digital economy (nope, me neither) had been split between her and another Labour MP, Thangam Debonnaire, without telling either of them:

‘If this had been any of my previous employers in the public and private sectors Jeremy might well have found himself before an industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal, probably with racial discrimination thrown in – given that only five per cent of MPs are black and female, picking on us two is statistically interesting to say the least.’

‘In any other job I would have called on my union for support in confronting an all-white management which prevented two of its few black employees from doing their jobs. I would have expected the Leader of the Labour Party to condemn such ineffectual management which allowed such abuse.’

The accusation is a new low in the war of attrition between the Parliamentary Labour Party and their leader. Corbyn may be many things and not be many things, but he is no racist and the slur is contemptible.

It’s also a doomed attempt to ‘swift boat’ Corbyn on an issue he has made his own.

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UNCUT: This is my truth, tell me yours

22/08/2016, 09:12:49 AM

by Nic Dakin

Speaking for Owen Smith at a nomination meeting I came face to face with the truth that members believe about what caused the current crisis and leadership election.  It’s a truth that’s been pushed by certain sections of the media and a lot of people supportive of the current Labour Leader on social media.  It’s not a truth I recognise.  But for many of the really good, honest, genuine people there it had become a truth they passionately believed.

And it goes something like this: Jeremy Corbyn has done a really good job in leading the party resulting in it being ahead in the polls prior to the current difficulties.  These difficulties have been caused by dreadful Labour MPs (much hissing and booing whenever these pantomime villains were mentioned!) who orchestrated a coup against the noble Leader who has continued to behave with huge dignity and generosity throughout.

The reality, of course, is rather different.  I lived through these events and my truth is very different to this carefully polished, well spun version of events.

My truth goes something like this.  If it hadn’t been for around 20 MPs wanting to broaden the debate in the last election Jeremy Corbyn would never have got on the ballot.  Once on the ballot he fought a brilliant campaign and won.  It was the duty of all of us to then get behind him and do everything we could to make him successful.

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UNCUT: What comes after Corbyn?

20/08/2016, 11:16:34 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Assuming Labour loses the 2020 election (or any election called before that date), what happens next?

Of course, optimists will claim it’s all still to play for and the future is unwritten. But beyond the faith-based politics of the Corbynite Branch Davidians, the party’s immediate to medium-term outlook is bleak.

This week, the UK Elections twitter feed reported that at its current level in the polls, Labour will lose another 56 seats taking it down to 176 MPs. Much lower, even, than the 207 it managed in 1983, (and from which, it took 18 years to get back into government).

Even so, Labour would remain the second largest party in Parliament and with the left chalking up defeat as ‘eight and a half million votes for socialism,’ as Tony Benn infamously did in 1983, they are likely to learn nothing and forget nothing.

A formal break-away at this point is possible, with the post-Blairites and other moderates having a collective flip-out and trouncing off to set up a new centrist party. However, it is more likely than there will be an all-out civil war first, with the trade unions playing a central role in proceedings.

With the sole exception of the GMB, the main affiliates are currently happy to pander to the left. Tellingly, the GMB balloted its members about who to back in the leadership race, with a resounding victory for Owen Smith, beating Jeremy Corbyn by a 60/40 per cent margin.

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GRASSROOTS: The Parliamentary Labour Party has displayed dreadful judgement and the situation could yet get worse

19/08/2016, 11:32:23 PM

by Trevor Fisher

Despite the legal issues being resolved, Labour’s political options are becoming more sharp-edged and legalistic. This situation is worsened by the antics of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a group whose political judgement and even grasp of political rules is dire.

I agree with Richard MacKinnon in the comments for my last piece questioning, “How can a party be trusted running a country when they can’t even run themselves?” though his call for a purge is unwise. But the key issue is that the MPs can’t get the most basic political issues right. Certainly the Labour rules and those of the British constitution seem to be beyond them.

The MPs were deeply foolish in acting to pass the vote of no confidence, which has had no effect other than to trigger the current leadership contest. That Corbyn simply ignored the vote is a sign the MPs did not understand the nature of the man, and once he called their bluff they had to challenge him… hoping it must be assumed that the NEC would exclude him from the ballot paper or perhaps the courts would.

Even before they made these foolish moves, which risks Corbyn winning a new and stronger mandate, the MPs had made many stupid decisions. Bob Crossley was right in his comment to me that the big mistake was letting JC onto the ballot paper, but it remains the case that the previous mistake was approving the Miliband reforms which only allowed the MPs to have the limited control of nominating. Which they then bungled as fools like Margaret Beckett and Frank Field nominated JC. He can’t be blamed for saying Thanks Very Much.

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UNCUT: Corbyn’s “straight talking, honest politics” mask finally slipped in the Observer interview

17/08/2016, 09:00:42 PM

by Rob Marchant

So much has been made of Jeremy Corbyn’s honesty and freshness, that it is high time for us to probe it. After ten months of “straight talking, honest politics”, this weekend’s long and detailed Observer interview turned out to be rather insightful.

  1. “People should have the right to take part” in the leadership election campaign (having just joined the party). Now, apart from the fact that the Court of Appeal said that they shouldn’t (i.e. that the NEC is sovereign), historical precedent says otherwise. Major political parties have always had freeze periods for membership before they can vote, for the simple reason that it helps prevent manipulation and entryism. As various members have commented, you have a freeze date of 6 months just for selection of a council candidate, how on earth can you justify having a freeze date of zero, for something as important as the party leader?
  1. “That is what democracy is about” – no, that is not what democracy is about. Democracy is about having free and fair elections, not ones which are open to manipulation. That’s why we have freeze periods. We might also note that until recently Corbyn was not averse to appearing alongside good old Lutfur Rahman, the now-disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets, convicted of election fraud in 2015.Talking of election fraud, it is interesting to note that one of Corbyn’s key supporters in Momentum, Marsha-Jane Thompson, also has a conviction for it. Perhaps unsurprising, then, to find out she led the unsuccessful appeal to the NEC when Rahman was rightly deselected as Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2010. And Christine Shawcroft, suspended for defending Rahman and now not only back in the party but elected to the NEC. This is the respect for “democracy” which we are dealing with in Corbyn’s Labour, and that is why Labour HQ rightly fought back against it.

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UNCUT: Like the US Republicans, Labour is a local party with few pretensions to national relevance

16/08/2016, 10:17:19 PM

by Samuel Dale

The Republican party currently controls 31 of the 50 governorships in the United States compared to just 18 for the Democrats.

The one independent governor Bill Walker of Alaska only left the party in 2014 so he could take on the incumbent so, really, it’s 32 Republican governors.

In addition, Republicans control the state assemblies and senate in 23 of those states giving them supreme control over law-making.

By contrast, Democrats only have total control in seven states. Seven Democrat governors are also grappling with Republican-controlled state legislative chambers while only four Republican governors deal with Democrat controlled state legislatures.

Four Republican governors and four Democrat governors deal with split legislatures.

Put Simply: when it comes to local governments the Republican party is completely and utterly dominant while the national party is in meltdown.

The reason for the mismatch is multi-faceted. Firstly, most governor elections take place during mid-terms where turnout is low and presidential incumbents are unpopular. Opposition parties pick up local wins.

This problem is compounded by the fact that all US governors have two-term limits meaning they have to give up the power of incumbency. Only two governors – both Democrat – were elected before Obama became president.

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UNCUT: Love your local Corbynista

15/08/2016, 09:49:58 PM

by George Kendall

We’ve all had experience of the worst kind of Corbynista. The ones who insist that moderate members of the Labour party are right-wing extremists.

Some of them denounce social democrats as Tories. Presumably, they think there’s no difference between the USA andDenmark either.

But most Corbynistas aren’t like that.

I think what drives them is idealism. A belief that politics should be about improving the world, not making cynical political calculations. The tragedy is that they don’t recognise the idealism that is central to social democracy.

There’s a lot that’s idealistic about a well-run northern European social democracy. If there’s anything idealistic about a corrupt basket case like oil-rich Venuzuela, it’s pretty jaded.

Why don’t they understand that social democracy is the kind of idealism that delivers?

I think it’s partly our fault.

We’ve become so obsessed with beating the Tories that we’ve lost touch with the language we need to inspire good people, who want to help make the world a better place. We’ve failed to make the case for a hard-headed idealism that works, rather than ideological solutions that don’t.

I’ve become very involved in the EU fightback. And I’ve had the pleasure of coming across a number of people, some who used to support Jeremy Corbyn, some who still do. These people share a lot with me over Europe. A passion for internationalism, a horror of racism. Most of all, they share my fear that the most damaging consequences of Brexit will be for some of those who voted to leave.

Anyone who has read my blog posts will know that I don’t agree with Corbyn, and in particular I don’t like the people he closely associates with. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like his supporters.

My hope is, they’ll change their minds and become social democrats. I suspect, eventually, many will.

But, even if they don’t, just because they support Corbyn, doesn’t stop them being great people.

George Kendall is convener of the Social Democrat Group – a Liberal Democrat organisation to develop the social democrat tradition of the Liberal Democrats, and to build links with social democrats in the Labour party

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UNCUT: Will metro mayors last the course?

11/08/2016, 11:48:43 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Westminster has woken up in the last 48 hours to the fact that there are shortly to be new centres of power in British politics.

Although Labour has merely unveiled its candidates for elections in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands, it is hard to see, catastrophe aside, how Andy Burnham, Sion Simon and Steve Rotheram won’t actually be running these great conurbations in nine months’ time.

That certainty aside, there still other uncertainties about the roles:

1) The metro mayors will create a cadre of ‘disruptive’ new players in British politics.

At least that was George Osborne’s hope. Will Theresa May see things that way? The jury’s out. She was certainly a fan of direct democracy when it came to police and crime commissioners, but the election of the first wave of metro mayors in the Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham ‘city-regions’ next May is almost certainly an all-Labour affair in the party’s heartlands. Not much for Tories to celebrate. Will the new PM thank the old Chancellor for lumbering her with a new gang of provincial opponents?

2) The devolution of power also means it spreads more widely.

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UNCUT: The Brexit calamity is at the heart of Corbyn’s inadequacies

09/08/2016, 06:26:38 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Peter Mandelson and Will Straw, unsurprisingly, questioned the focus given to the EU referendum by Jeremy Corbyn on Laura Kuenssberg’s Brexit documentary. Given Brexit’s slender victory, a more dedicated Labour campaign may have kept the UK in the EU.

We will await the extra £350m a week for the NHS that the Brexit campaign allowed us to believe would be forthcoming. Not once do I recall Corbyn exploding this myth with, say, the fierce clarity of Ruth Davidson at the Wembley debate on the EU referendum. Only the tediously tribal wouldn’t concede that Davidson is impressive. At the same time, however, it is lamentable that a Labour leader can so pall next to a Scottish Tory, a supposedly extinct bred reborn as the most coherent opposing voice to the SNP hegemony that Corbyn was supposed to shatter.

Rather than Scottish recovery, it feels more like the Labour weaknesses that the SNP have ruthlessly exposed will creep south. Brexit asks questions about the future purpose of UKIP, a party dedicated above all to this end, but also exposes a divergence between Labour and many of our traditional supporters in the north of England and the Midlands, which UKIP might be recalibrated to capitalise upon.

Theresa May will look at Labour’s loosening purchase on these regions and spy opportunities for Tory advance. As May looks north, Corbyn tacitly endorses attempts to deselect Peter Kyle, one of Labour’s few MPs in the south outside of London, providing little sense of a lifting of Labour’s traditional southern discomfort.

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INSIDE: Labour’s metro mayors will have to be the next best thing to governing

06/08/2016, 10:21:52 PM

As the Labour leadership race gathers pace, another party selection process enters its final week.

Labour members in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and a big chunk of the West Midlands are choosing candidates to fight next May’s first-ever ‘metro mayor’ elections.

These powerful new roles will create a cadre of directly-elected civic leaders, with direct personal mandates, who will take charge of economic development, strategic planning and transport in their areas. The Greater Manchester package also includes the £6 billon health and social care budget for the city-region.

Given the three conurbations are each strongly Labour, the party’s selection process will, in all likelihood, choose who becomes the eventual mayor in each area.

In Merseyside, the contest is a race between Liverpool’s directly-elected city mayor, Joe Anderson, and Liverpool Walton MP (and Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary private secretary) Steve Rotheram. Anderson, a powerhouse local government veteran who is well-regarded in Whitehall, is pitching himself as the candidate with a clear plan and a record of delivery and job creation.

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