The Uncuts: 2019 Political awards (pt II)

Labour politician of the year – Anna Turley

It’s not been a great year for Labour. A crushing electoral defeat, the party’s policy and organisational platform shattered and a shell-shocked frontbench lacking any collective sense of where to go next. It is to the backbenches the Uncut has looked for a Labour politician to inspire a fightback and there is one stand out candidate: Anna Turley.

Few will have had as difficult a year as Anna Turley but she has distinguished herself as being the epitome of the fighting spirit Labour now needs to show.

On the biggest political issue of the past few years, Brexit, the easy choice would have been to fold in behind the Leave vote in her constituency. But standing up for what’s right is part of her political DNA as it should be part of Labour’s and the manner in which she fought for a People’s Vote as the best way to protect her constituents’ jobs and services is a testament to her commitment to doing right by her constituents, even when steering into a fierce headwind.

It was the same fight she displayed when dealing with the aftermath of the closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar.

And it’s the fight she showed when taking on the bully boys of Unite and Skwakbox in a court case that exemplifies the internecine bitterness and malice which now permeates the Labour party.

They libelled her and rather than accepting their mistake early, escalated the action through the courts, raising the stakes by running up huge legal costs, a well-known tactic to discourage plaintiffs from pursuing their case. Unite and Skwakbox’s actions ultimately compelled a Labour MP to take time out from the general election campaign to give evidence at the High Court.

The scathing judgement on Unite and Skwakbox is a salutary indictment of the surfeit of money and spite on their side. That Unite are reportedly footing the legal bill for Skwakbox, which apparently runs to £1.5m-£2m, is an extraordinary use of member subscriptions that will have long term internal ramifications within the union.

Fortunately, the bullies picked the wrong person in Anna Turley.

The party will need people like Anna Turley and her courage under fire, if it is have any chance of returning to power in the coming years.

Reminder of harsh political realities: Change UK and Liberal Democrats

When Luciana Berger called Labour “institutionally antisemitic” at the launch of Change UK, the charge stung, appallingly, because of the extent of truth that attaches to it. Of all the political casualties of the Corbyn years, perhaps none is as regrettable as Berger – who, when she was still a Labour MP, could only attend party conference with a police escort.

If politics in the UK were purely a game of moral justice, Berger would certainly still be an MP. Indeed, a world in which she was somehow in the cabinet would doubtless be a better one than that which we find ourselves in.      

But politics, sadly, is about harsh realities, as well as much moral justice as we can bring about in the context of such. The failure of Change UK and the lack of Liberal Democrat breakthrough at the general election, both projects that Berger contributed towards, seems to confirm that one of these realities remains the persistence of the duopoly of UK politics – even if one is “institutionally antisemitic” and the other might be deemed institutionally Islamophobic.

We need to do better. Within constraints of political reality, including, for better or worse, our duopoly. Which, for those of us in Labour, means insisting upon a new leadership determined and able to take the steps necessary to ensure that the conditions that drove Berger from our party are eradicated and never allowed to return.  

One to watch: Pete Buttigieg

Everyone who cares for liberal democracy wants Donald Trump’s term as US president to end by the presidential election in November 2020 at the latest. Five Democrats have so far qualified to participate in the next debate to determine who will face Trump (or probably Mike Pence in the unlikely event that Trump is removed by impeachment): Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

The case for Biden is best made by this excellent campaign video. He offers a restoration of the American values and global leadership besmirched by Trump. But the involvement of his son in the issues that have led to Trump’s impeachment mean that this topic will likely remain central to a Trump v Biden campaign – allowing Trump to present Biden to his still devoted supporters as an agent of “the deep state”. A charge which the gaffe-prone, 77-year-old may not respond to with agility.

Trump’s election perhaps also indicated a learning for change that might not best be satisfied by reverting to a leader closely associated with what came before Trump. In contrast, Sanders and Warren certainly embody change – but maybe of a form too left-wing to win the presidency. Buttigieg and Klobuchar offer more centrist platforms and claims that they can win in the kind of mid-western states that the Democrats require to recover the White House.

While Klobuchar, having demonstrated more staying power in the presidential race than might have previously been presumed, should not be dismissed, more stardust attaches to Buttigieg. He combines brains (Harvard, Oxford, McKinsey) with brawn (a medal for military service in Afghanistan). And the familiar (as mayor of South Bend, Indiana his political base exists in exactly the kind of place that Democrats need to win) and the new (an energetic 37-year-old in a gay marriage). Packaged with the kind of eloquence not seen in American politics since Barack Obama.

It was not until Obama beat Hilary Clinton in the Iowa caucus that he was given much chance of securing the 2008 nomination. If Buttigieg can repeat this feat on 3 February, we will need to take more seriously his chances of usurping the much more experienced and nationally prominent Biden, Sanders and Warren.

Just about keeping the Scottish Labour show on the road: Ian Murray

With Brexit pending, there is a growing expectation that Scotland will soon enough leave the UK, but this is to underestimate:

  1. The strength of unionist feeling in Scotland – which has sustained some revival of Conservative fortunes over the past decade
  2. The complexity of disentangling Scotland from the UK – a task capable of making Brexit look like a tea party and with Brexit potentially having reduced the appetite for grand constitutional rearrangements
  3. The difficulties of having an independent Scotland join the EU – while some of the momentum behind independence is based upon a presumption that Scotland prefers membership of the EU to membership of the UK, it is not guaranteed that the EU will create a clear and easy pathway for Scotland to join and in doing so, create a threatening precedent for those members with separatist movements (e.g. Spain and Catalonia). Nor is it clear that the Scottish gains from pursuing whatever road the EU affords to it will outweigh its losses from disentangling from the UK

Scotland’s future, therefore, is not as clear cut as that anticipated by those who are now increasingly certain that it will transition out of the UK and into the EU. In contemplating this uncertain future, Labour should listen to our one remaining MP in Scotland, Ian Murray.

The UK is stronger with Scotland in it and Labour’s chances of forming a UK government are much improved with a revival in Scotland. Labour needs to take seriously the steps advocated by Murray to advance these arguments and put him into a position of with enough authority to adequately act upon these steps.

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5 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2019 Political awards (pt II)”

  1. Alf says:

    Anna Turley was the most useless Tory-lite Labour politician ever (with the possible exception of Hazel Blears). A wild-eyed Blair cultist if ever there was one. We are well rid of her.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Ok so Anna turkey sued Skwarkbox , same as Richard Burgon sure the sun and I hope Caroline Flint wins her court case with Lady a Nugee
    But Turkey was a joke parachuted into Redcar started slagging off blue labour and the Sun
    As if wotking class people in Wales snd the North East ,don’t feelit
    It wasn’t only Corbyns fail labour lose as she said it was her middle class lawyer metropolitan parties fault too

    Not sure about institutionalised Islamophobia even exists, yes there is anti Muslim prejudice, but I’d it any worse in the tory Party than elsewhere

    Agree Luciana Berger is a hero, and to have had so much fascism from the hard left, she’s very brave

  3. Tafia says:

    At this time of year we honour and applaud unsung heroes. This New Years Eve I should like to praise Gina Miller.

    Was she really a Remainer? Or was she a Leave fifth columnist? Or was she just a spoilt halfwit with too much money and too much time on her hands?

    Remember back in the days of Article 50 just being triggered. At that point in time, there was no further requirement for Parliamentary involvement. All that was required was Government negotiating then rubber-stamping. We were on-course at that point for a BRINO, with the UK probably being trapped as a rule-taker and inside the SM and CU for years to come. And then along came Gina Miller and her Supreme Court malarky. Oh how the Remain/Revoke/Peoples Vote (RRPV) naively cheered her on and celebrated her victory, seemingly clueless as to the impact it would have. Because of that ruling, Parliament became directly involved in the process – stupid Amendments, ridiculous blocking Acts etc. The whole process then ended up bringing down a Prime Minister, causing the 2019 General Election, destroying the Lib Dem leader and the Labour Party leader, making Boris PM probably for the next 10 years AND with the added bonus that not only will there be no BRINO or soft BREXIT, or Peoples Vote or any other clutter and garbage, but we will instead probably be leaving with something close to a hard BREXIT.

    Tonight, as a Leaver, I shall be toasting Gina Miller. If it hadn’t been for her, we would probably have left a year ago under BRINO and May would still be PM. Our gina couldn’t have done a better job if she’d been delivered in a wooden horse. And hats off to her legal team who apparently milked her for £1.5M in fees in the process, no doubt thinking “there’s one born every minute”.

  4. Anne says:

    Well done to Ian Murray – he will need all the help – an up hill struggle to keep Scotland in the UK.
    Regarding the Anna Turley case I do hope members from Unite who are responsible for this case are held to account – not only have they contributed to us loosing a Labour seat but costing Unite members over a million pounds. Time for Unite members to vote out those at the top – definitely time for a change. Unacceptable behaviour from this Union.
    I agree Saunders and Warren are too much to the left to be acceptable to the American palate.

  5. Stockport John says:

    Why is the left are always wrong?

    Pete Buttigieg is one for 2024. I’d actually say Tulsi Gabbard is more the one to watch for 2024. Trump will win by a landslide (aka BoJo).

    Biden is old news and old hat politics and also starting down the road to dementia. He’ll flop before Trump. I agree Buttigieg is probably the best hope at keeping the Dems on the road yet he won’t win either way. He may want to keep his powder dry for 2024.

    Scotland won’t vote for Independence for two reasons – a) the resentment about the English will evaporate when they realise that most Brits no longer care less and some secretly wish they’d go away with a Barnett formula bonus coming back to England (and Wales). b) the Barnett formula and the dire state of the Scottish budget along with the realisation they won’t be able to adopt the pound as a transitional arrangement AND that they’ll have to adopt the Euro while becoming the new `pet` of the EU (replacing Ireland in the process).

    What the SNP has done has made it MORE likely for a clean brexit or very tough negotiations with the EU – to give an example as to how the London Government will deal with the Scots!

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