UNCUT: Labour must fight the right-wing agenda for Brexit

20/01/2017, 07:10:07 PM

by Samuel Dale

The UK is on the brink of a right-wing revolution much bigger than anything Margaret Thatcher managed to achieve. And Labour is simply a bystander.

Labour has yet to find its feet on the Brexit debate and it is being regularly and comprehensively outmaneuvered by the Tory right-wing and Ukip.

There is no Donald Trump protectionist right in the UK, only the libertarian tax and regulation slashers. And they are in the driving seat.

It is a relief that Theresa May has stated the obvious truth about Brexit that we are leaving the single market and customs union.

Labour has to concentrate on two big, incredibly concerning policy areas and shift the debate.

Firstly, it was obvious on 24 June 2016 that we were leaving the single market as it is no way to square the circle of leaving the EU, cutting immigration and staying in the single market. May has accepted reality.

In addition, if we are not part of the EU infrastructure than remaining in the single market would be destructive. Rules would be made and we would have to obey them without any say.

It’s gone. Instead of waffling on about single market access, Labour should focus on being a counterpoint to the intense lobbying operation that is building up in London and Brussels.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: The government has given Labour enough rope. Corbyn’s using it

19/01/2017, 11:00:40 PM

by Greig Baker

Too few people understand that the easiest way to get something done in politics is to let someone else take the credit. That’s as true for political parties as it is for individual politicians, and it holds whether you’re trying to deliver your own agenda or hobble your opponents’ plans. It should be slowly dawning on Labour that they are being given plenty of rope to hang themselves by this Conservative government – and Jeremy Corbyn seems to be quite happy to pick up the noose.

I’d cite three examples of this approach in practice.

First, it has been widely recognised that Tristram Hunt’s move to the V&A had to be explicitly approved by the government. In other words, Theresa May knew about a Labour MP’s resignation before Jeremy Corbyn did – and she was quite happy to facilitate it. If you listen carefully to Labour MPs being asked for comment on Mr Hunt’s move, it is clear the Opposition is braced to lose yet more high profile (and capable) MPs to tempting jobs outside Parliament over the coming months.

All the Tories have to do is let the Labour leadership keep hammering moderates’ morale and then give resignation-minded MPs a worthy and salary-plated parachute. Long term, this trend could pose problems for the centre-right: Conservative voices have long bemoaned the fact that public bodies are often led by people who have an active and left leaning political agenda of their own. But in the short term, it just helps roll the pitch for polling day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: The by-election boom is a flashing red light for Labour

19/01/2017, 05:55:20 PM

by Rob Marchant

Coming hot on the heels of that of Jamie Reed, the resignation of Tristram Hunt may not be a huge surprise to many. A decent and politically-sensible member of the House, if not the obvious next leader he was sometimes billed as. In the end, it is perhaps inevitably those who least see politics as their true vocation, who soonest see more attractive things on the horizon.

But there’s an important take-away here. It’s simply not normal to have three MPs resign their seats in a month. Unless they are pushed, seriously ill or are going for another political job*, it’s really, really unusual for them to “just resign”.

The fact that three by-elections have been caused in the last month through MPs “just resigning” – two Labour, one Tory – is not just unusual, it’s unprecedented in recent political history.

First let’s deal with the Tory MP, Stephen Philips. His party is certainly in turmoil; over Europe, as it always is. The marginalisation of pro-Europe Tory MPs within their own party is a phenomenon which has gradually been developing over more than twenty years, since the days of John Major’s Cabinet “bastards” and before.

Even so: Brexit, let’s face it, is not exactly politics as usual. Philips was a man at his limit: a man who, as the saying goes, was mad as hell and decided he wasn’t going to take it any more. But it took a tumultuous, once-in-a-generation event to make it happen, and the current state of Labour makes Tory frictions look like a Conservative garden fête.

No, checking back through by-elections since Labour left office in 2010, there are very few and largely exceptional instances. David Miliband was a pretty unusual situation (how many political fratricides can most of us remember?). David Cameron had to resign as PM. And, well, La Mensch is La Mensch. And in the previous two parliaments there were zero. Nada. Zip.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: Labour’s response to Brexit is cowardly and shameful. That’s why I’m resigning from the party

18/01/2017, 09:19:42 PM

Robert Williams was a member of the Labour party for over twenty years. He resigned this week over Labour’s response to Brexit. Here’s his letter to his MP, Barry Gardiner

Dear Barry

I write with regret, but much less than I would wish, to tell you that I am resigning from the Labour party with immediate effect.

I joined when I was 17, because I believed in social justice and internationalism. What I have seen over the last two years has been a descent into the most infantile student politics, with an utterly incompetent and inadequate leader standing on a platform of being friends with every terrorist group so long as they are anti-Western, being unable to state how he would defend the country or its people in a crisis, and supported by a pathetically untalented team of and an unpleasant network of people expelled from Labour, supporters of other parties, candidates for other parties and deluded members who no longer care about winning an election.

Corbyn’s utter incompetence and John McDonnell’s unpleasantness, leading to Labour’s total unelectability are not the main reasons for my resignation, however. I would have fought these unrepresentative dinosaurs and Corbyn’s total unfitness to lead from within the party.

It is on Europe, and our impending exit from the European Union that is the final straw for me. A turnout of 72% and a 52%-48% vote is not the overwhelmingly majority of people. The “people” did not vote for a Brexit that means economic catastrophe and political irrelevance. And they did not vote to diminish the opportunities membership of the EU offers all our citizens and to deny the rich cultural and social elements of our membership of a continent wide club.

And then Jeremy Corbyn decided to use his first speech of 2017 to claim that Britain can be better-off outside the EU.

The silence of Labour moderates, with the honourable exceptions of the 23 Labour MPs who voted for sanity on Europe in December, on the most important issue of our times, is deafening. Corbyn and his band of fools have shown no leadership, no principles and no morality. By their cowardice, they have left the way open to mendacious, toxic hard right Brexiteers in government to potentially damage the country beyond repair and that is unforgivable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: Theresa May’s big speech showcased her weaknesses as PM

18/01/2017, 11:49:16 AM

by David Talbot

When the new Prime Minister ascended to the highest office by default during last year’s tumultuous summer, her quiet authority seemingly reassured a buffeted nation. Whilst knowledge of her ideology, policy and vision for Britain was lacking, the assumption that she was competent, who, after all, survives six gruelling years in the Home Office without it, was overwhelming.

A carefully fostered reputation for toughness and competence emanated. But now, seven months on, the narrative needs to be revised and rewritten to reflect her record to date. The evidence for all the initial gushing was all rather thin: truth be told, her party, let alone the nation, hardly knew May. Her no-small-talk, reveal-nothing aloofness left a void in which anyone could characterise her as they chose.

Her speech at Lancaster House yesterday was due in part to quell the criticism that had amassed over her continued vow of silence over the most pressing political concern the nation will face in a generation. The Prime Minister’s twelve pillars, we were told, would detail her vision for a post Brexit Britain. Having obfuscated for months – beyond the meaningless regurgitation of “Brexit means Brexit” – May at last delivered a prolonged response to what the vote last June would actually mean in the years ahead.

Delivering a veiled threat to European allies, offering her first pillar as ‘providing greater clarity’, confirming years of angst for UK business with the long-expected withdrawal from the single market and customs union, whilst her Ministers travel the globe in search of fantasy free market trade deals, hardly screamed of a Prime Minster well ahead of events. Details were left for another day. By trying to simultaneously avoid spelling out her Brexit intentions and please her hard-line Brexiteers, May has chosen the riskiest course of all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

GRASSROOTS: Labour must steer clear of the type of two tier immigration system proposed by Stephen Kinnock and Emma Reynolds

16/01/2017, 06:33:51 PM

by Adam Peggs

Anti-immigration politics has been an ever growing threat for the British left for more than a decade. Over the last few years its threat to the left, and to the Labour Party specifically, has rapidly grown with virtually no-one in Labour denying that it presents an electoral problem to the party. Firstly as an inclusive party with egalitarian ideals it is Labour’s duty to fight xenophobia. But secondly the party represents constituencies like Bristol West and Streatham which voted to remain by huge margins as well as seats like Burnley and Hartlepool which overwhelmingly voted the other way.

In order to win (or even to retain its 232 seats) Labour will have to appeal to both ends of the Brexit spectrum, acknowledging that skepticism and disapproval over freedom of movement and “mass” migration were pivotal reasons for Brexit.

Labour’s left is understandably concerned with defending free movement and the rights of migrants. The more difficult question will no doubt be how Labour can regain the confidence of voters who backed Brexit whilst avoiding (and actively fighting against) xenophobia.

Recently Stephen Kinnock and Emma Reynolds came up with a proposal which they described as a ‘fair and managed two-tier migration system’, in which higher-skilled migrants would be given priority and less skilled migrants would be classified in the lower tier. It was echoed today in the Brexit Together proposals supported by Caroline Flint. These will have close to zero appeal to Labour’s liberally-inclined voters, to the young or to the children and families of migrants.

What Labour desperately needs is an immigration policy which respects both the EU referendum result and the rights and interests of migrants in Britain.

Labour should be staunchly opposing quotas for immigration, two tier systems which favour richer migrants, attempts by the Tories to erode migrant rights or attempts by UKIP and the Tories to pull up the drawbridge.

However we will need to offer concrete policies on immigration which will make leave voters feel as though Labour is listening to them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: The by-elections in this Parliament are four or five party contests

15/01/2017, 10:46:35 PM

by Trevor Fisher

Late last year I argued on this site that the progressive alliance strategy favoured by Compass might work in by elections, but not in general elections. Afterwards I suggested that Brexit dominates British politics. Poll data is starting to indicate people vote for their Referendum position – and a recent poll suggested only 15% of Leavers were prepared to vote Labour. Put these two factors together with recent by-elections and the run up to the Copeland by election becomes a tale of five parties.

Tim Farron argued after the Witney by election on October 20th  that the Liberals were back, restoring three party politics.

The Richmond by-election seemed to back this but as UKIP stood down and backed the Tory Candidate, Goldsmith only nominally being independent, as the Greens stood down and backed the Lib Dems, this was three party politics by proxy. In the event the progressives backed the Lib Dems, Labour voters also went with the Lib Dems, and the reactionaries showed they could form their own tactical alliances

Witney offered more pointers to the new world of five party politics in England though as turnout dropped from 73.3% to 46.8% there has to be caution. But with the Greens and UKIP doing badly on October 20th – factors which may have helped the Richmond decisions – and losing their deposits, Labour losing half its vote and the Lib Dems having a 23.4% swing, Farron looked to be correct, and to be reinforced by Richmond.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: Tristram Hunt is a disgrace

13/01/2017, 05:03:38 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Those Labour MPs on the Right of the party who stuck to their guns through the 1980s, seeing-off attempts to deselect them and fighting to keep the flame of  British social democracy burning,  eventually paved the way for the party’s renaissance.

They are the unsung heroes of Labour’s long and often turbulent history. Without them, there would, in all likelihood, not even be a party today.

Gerald Kaufman. Ann Taylor. John Smith. Members of the Solidarity Group of Labour MPs.

People of ability who saw their best years wasted during the party’s obsolescence in the 1980s.

But they didn’t give up.

Sensible, pragmatic politicians who stood their ground with dignity and defiance amid the lunacy of the time.

They could have flounced off to join the SDP with those egocentric traitors: Owen, Jenkins and Shirley Williams.

But they didn’t.

They kept their fury and despair inside the Labour family.

Eventually, the party pulled through. Equilibrium was restored. Sooner or later, enough people want to actually win elections.

Where are their successors today?

All of which is an around about way of saying Tristram Hunt is a disgrace.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

UNCUT: Uncut predictions for 2017 (and beyond): George Osborne is the next Prime Minister

08/01/2017, 10:06:14 PM

In the event of train wreck Brexit, or something near to it, the economic costs of Brexit are likely, unfortunately, to hit back pockets. This would have far more powerful political consequences than any slogan. But Osborne has put forward one of the best slogans since 23 June.

“Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not.”

This slogan, in itself, does not change reality – but it positions Osborne to benefit when reality changes. The steeper the costs of Brexit, the sharper the political price paid by Theresa May, and the more dramatically political reality will shift.

As Nigel Farage cedes notions of a Brexit betrayal, blaming immigrants and foreigners for the costs of the unravelling that he so vehemently pushed for, it is hard, sadly, to rule out British politics taking an even sharper turn to the right. As much as this would benefit UKIP, PM Farage remains implausible.

As much as President Trump was also not so long ago unthinkable, a perhaps more likely scenario is a PM Osborne. He will be untarnished by any Brexit costs experienced under May. His opposition to hard Brexit would allow him to personify a change of direction, a return to the management deemed competent enough only 18 months ago, to deliver the Conservatives their first majority in nearly a quarter of a century, and more smoothly and credibly reach compromise positions with EU partners.

Misjudged party management drove David Cameron to a referendum. Its loss sparked a revolution in his party, requiring that a quiet remainder, May, can only wear its crown as an ardent Brexiter. If the costs of Brexit are large enough, they may power a counter revolution, and resurrect Osborne.

This series of events would have dramatic consequences for the UK and the EU but to a significant extent, this revolution was about the internal dynamics of the Conservative Party. Any counter revolution would be too.

A natural party of government with somewhat bipolar tendencies. It is their country. We just live in it. Till we can offer a better party to govern it. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

GRASSROOTS: Smoke and mirrors are no panacea for populism

07/01/2017, 01:11:58 PM

by Julian Glassford

Breathtaking political plot-twists of recent months have left many onlookers decidedly discombobulated and key opinion formers remonstrating amongst themselves. So what do bellwether Brexit and US electoral outcomes indicate? Arguably, a repudiation of neoliberal globalism, elitism, and fear-based propaganda pitched at maintaining an awkward status quo. Hail, the temerarious new age of anti-expert ‘improvpolitik’!

The course runs deeper than our small pool of politically incorrect reductionists and the wave of discontent they ride, however. It flows beyond the poignant picture of inequality emblematised by the castaways “left behind” by USS Globalisation and HMS London: those financially “just about managing” to stay afloat (JAMs). Against a cold, unremitting tide of pervading progressivism and juxtaposed conspicuous consumption, folks feel all at sea. Communitarianism, constancy, and confidence in the system and its captains of change, have plunged to new depths. Old certainties languish on the seabed – hollowed out hulks, shrouded in the deep blue.

Bastions of the established order would love to wish away ‘shy’ (or sensibly silent) voters and the not so shy (if somewhat shadowy) ‘alt-right’. But what was a fanatical fringe has morphed into a formidable counter-cultural force clearly capable of swinging political events, bigly; hence the hasty repositioning of our Conservative incumbents.

If commentators are to remain politically literate they must engage with the unpalatable reality that contemporary social, gender, and intercultural dynamics do not universally translate as sources of profound strength and stability. Contentions ranging from mass immigration exacerbating economic disparity, through work-life imbalance representing a major social ill, to The Clash of Civilisations thesis, cannot be effortlessly extinguished. Contrary to historian Simon Schama’s prescription, the simple introduction of a broadsheet diet will hardly suffice!

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon