Got something to say? Contribute content to editorial@labour-uncut.co.uk

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.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Big Pharma lobbyist at the heart of Owen Smith’s campaign team

22/07/2016, 02:05:36 PM

Today Owen Smith announced his campaign team and one of his appointments jumped out at Uncut: John Lehal who is chief of campaign operations.

John Lehal is a well respected party insider and was Andy Burnham’s campaign director last year for his leadership bid.

He is also a lobbyist. For big pharmaceutical companies and commercial providers of healthcare services.

Lehal hit the headlines last summer because of his links to firms like Pfizer (who, lest we forget, Owen Smith also worked) and Novartis as well as Look Ahead Care and Support Ltd that provides services for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

For Uncut, there is nothing wrong with working for the companies that are responsible for life-saving drugs and providing services upon which the NHS rely. However, if Owen Smith is under attack as a lobbyist for Big Pharma, no matter how spurious the charge, this appointment hands his opponents ammunition.

It seems his campaign understood that the appointment would likely generate some negative publicity because the press release makes clear that John Lehal will have no role in policy, stating specifically that his accountability is, “operations oversight, no policy development”.

As if that will stop Momentum and the hard left hammering Smith for it.

The question here is about Owen Smith’s political judgement. Opening himself up to further attack from the Corbynistas in this way, hardly demonstrates the sure-footed decision-making he is going to need to triumph over Jeremy Corbyn.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

John Whittingdale, allegations of a relationship with a dominatrix and Leveson. What on earth is going on?

02/04/2016, 10:45:16 PM

John Whittingdale has apparently not decided whether or not to issue a ‘commencement order’, which is a formality within the provision of the Crime and Courts Act.

The Act will allow judges to impose costs on newspapers who force plaintiffs to go through expensive court actions because they have not signed up to a recognized independent regulator providing a low cost arbitration service.

Many acts of parliament require commencement orders to bring them into force, just to give the bureaucracy a chance to prepare. Parliament passed the act, with cross-party support, and it did not intend for the Secretary of State to be given the authority to unilaterally repeal it.

Whittingdale apparently mutters something about how Parliament and Leveson had envisaged a situation where one or two newspapers were resisting joining a recognized regulator, rather than where all of the major newspapers have refused point blank.

Whatever Leveson intended, it surely wasn’t the situation we are in now.

Whittingdale not only has to decide the future of the BBC, but also has his finger hovering over a button that newspapers desperately do not want him to press.

The whole argument of those who opposed Leveson’s reforms, an argument that Leveson himself carefully tried to address and design his system around, was that they did not want the government to have the power to interfere in the freedom of the press.

And yet here Whittingdale is claiming that he is hesitating because he himself is worried about that very thing, while he knows that the press must be careful not to upset him in case he decides to push his button.

Meanwhile rumours abound that the papers have some lurid scandal up their sleeve and are holding him to ransom.

This story on Byline.com on the culture secretary, with allegations of a relationship with a dominatrix, has been widely shared on social media. If true, it raises questions about Whittingdale’s judgement and whether he is escaping media exposure because of his position on Leveson. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Brightside and Hillsborough race hots up, amid charges of early campaigning

24/02/2016, 03:04:04 PM

The race to succeed the late Harry Harpham as MP for Brightside and Hillsborough has begun in earnest.

His widow, Gill Furniss, herself a respected local councillor in the constituency, has confirmed she is seeking the nomination and has already secured the support of a number of local councillors and officials.

She is also backed by Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield’s cabinet member for children’s services and the runner-up to Harpham in the previous selection contest.

Other declared contenders include former Hallam parliamentary candidate, Oliver Coppard and former aid worker, Mike Buckley, who came third in the race to succeed David Blunkett for the seat back in 2014.

Given Harpham’s near impregnable 13,807 majority last May, there are no shortage of other aspirant hat-tossers.

These include Chesterfield councillor and A&E doctor, Stephen Hitchen and former teenage parliamentary candidate, Solomon Curtis, who stood for Labour in the East Sussex Tory stronghold of Wealdon at the last general election.

However, there have been serious allegations that at least one hopeful was campaigning for the nomination while Harpham was still battling cancer. Even in the torrid world of Labour selections this is a new low.

Uncut also understands there are complaints about a Young Labour nomination for Coppard which has been referred to the party’s Yorkshire and Humber regional office. No vote of actual young members appears to have been taken.

Although a classic ‘safe’ Labour seat, UKIP has steadily made inroads into Labour’s share of the vote in the constituency in recent elections, coming second to Harpham in last year’s general election with nearly nine thousand votes.

There will be concerns that any attempt to take voters here for granted could backfire and make, what should be a relatively straight-forward by-election, more difficult than it needs to be.

Local party officials say they have been assured by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn there will be no attempt to parachute-in a leadership loyalist.

Harry Harpham was a popular and authentic choice to succeed Blunkett in this working class stronghold and the smart money is on Furniss to now succeed him.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

From big tent to bivouac?

06/01/2016, 07:49:39 AM

Yes, Michael Dugher is a gutsy street fighter (as many of his colleagues pointed out yesterday). Yes, too, he is a rare working-class presence at the top of Labour politics; but there is a deeper significance behind his dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet yesterday.

If such a standard bearer from the old right-wing of the party is surplus to requirements, then Jeremy Corbyn’s “big tent” has suddenly become a bivouac.

And given Corbyn’s serial rebelliousness for three decades, to level a charge of “disloyalty” against Dugher for three of four interviews where he has extemporised on the state of Labour politics is fairly astonishing.

To put it mildly, Jeremy Corbyn does not have an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

Fifty per cent of the current frontbench would never get near the dispatch box under normal circumstances. A tough and experienced operator like Dugher should have been viewed as an asset.

Why could Jeremy Corbyn not reach out to him if, indeed, he had crossed a line? Or did he intimidate Corbyn’s inexperienced back office team?

Whatever, it is a sad day – and a worrying development – if a scion of the old Labour right wing – the backbone of the party – is no longer welcome at the top table.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Will Corbyn show Danczuk mercy?

01/01/2016, 01:18:39 PM

There has been a phoney war going on in the Labour party for a few months now.

Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly stresses that he has no hidden agenda when it comes to the deselection of MPs on the right of the party.

To put it bluntly, no-one on the right of the party believes him for a minute.

Leopards do not change their spots, goes the theory, and the hard left is as obsessed about sectarianism and party control as it ever was.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell attended a meeting of the Momentum group last month where the deselection of Chuka Umunna was openly discussed.

Meanwhile, the clumsy briefing about a New Year shadow cabinet reshuffle, with the demotion or sacking of Corbyn’s critics, notably the widely-liked and respected Hilary Benn, has done little to assuage centrists that the leadership isn’t coming after them.

An act of magnanimity towards Danczuk, one of his most vocal foes, would be a visible manifestation that Corbyn actually means what he says about tolerating differences of opinion.

Needless to say, though, some leadership acolytes can’t disguise their jubilation at Danczuk’s predicament. Enter Ken Livingstone:

“I just find it so bizarre because he [Danczuk] put himself at the centre of the investigation into sex abuse of young girls and so on in his area, to have fallen into this, I find it hard to believe. I can’t say too much because I’m on Labour’s NEC and might have to take the final decision about whether he’s allowed to resume his party membership or whether we expel him.

“I don’t see how you can be sexually attracted to somebody that young, there’s something really disturbing [about it].”

Is he acting as an outrider for Corbyn? If so, the leadership should be careful about prurience being the reason for sacking one of their MPs.

Having threatened to stand against Corbyn as a stalking horse in the event of poor elections results in May’s Scottish, Welsh, London and local elections, Danczuk now finds himself at the mercy of his leader.

The smart move by Corbyn would be to admonish him for his recklessness and quietly drop the suspension and readmit him. He has broken no law and if sending a few racy tweets to a fellow consenting adult is now a capital offence in Labour politics, there will be plenty more MPs following Danczuk out of the exit door.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Corbyn set to U-turn on whipping for Syria vote

18/11/2015, 10:33:45 PM

Two days after suggesting that any vote on bombing Isis in Syria would be whipped, Jeremy Corbyn is about to be forced into yet another humiliating U-turn.

Uncut understands that soundings from the whips suggest over half of the backbench party would defy a three line whip instructing them to oppose action.

The number of shadow ministers and PPSs who would defy the whip stretches into double digits.

With 231 Labour MPs and a payroll vote (shadow ministers and PPSs) of 140 MPs, this means over half of the remaining 91 MPs are likely to rebel. Combined with the frontbenchers inclined to vote against, abstain or simply not vote, the revolt is projected to top over 60 MPs.

Such a loss of authority would be devastating to the Labour leader’s shaky grip on power.

Faced with this scale of opposition, Jeremy Corbyn is set to retreat again and give his colleagues a free vote on the issue.

One MP speaking to Uncut said,

“God knows why he talked about whipping the vote. This was always going to be a nightmare for him, now he’s made it much worse. Idiot.”

The MP went on to detail the deteriorating situation within the PLP,

“Corbyn’s writ doesn’t run, my whip laughs at what they’re being asked to do. Groups are organising, you could see it plain as day during the Paris statement.”

The MP was referring to scenes that shocked watching Tories yesterday, when the Prime Minister’s statement on the G20 and Paris attacks was used by a series of Labour’s most senior MPs to lambast Jeremy Corbyn.

Ian Austin led the charge, looking pointedly at Corbyn when asking the PM his question, saying,

“I agree with everything the Prime Minister said about Syria and terrorism. Does he agree with me that those who say that Paris is reaping the whirlwind of western policy or that Britain’s foreign policy has increased, not diminished, the threats to our national security not only absolve the terrorists of responsibility, but risk fuelling the sense of grievance and resentment that can develop into extremism and terrorism?”

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The A-Z of Corbsplaining

11/10/2015, 09:59:54 PM

There’s been a lot of change in the Labour party of late – new people joining, new faces at the top and new language being used.

To help readers, Uncut has produced this handy guide to Corbsplaining, keeping you up to date with the party’s exciting new vocabulary.

Print it out, take it to your local CLP meeting and dazzle Labour friends and colleagues with your Corbsplaining skills.

Next stop, the NEC!

A

Assist members making their voice heard – Use veteran hard left organisers to corral a herd of £3 hipsters to deselect troublesome MPs.

Austerity – Any cut to public spending, of any kind, at any point, by any level of government. Does not include cuts to military spending, which are completely different and fine.

B

Britain – Socialist utopia with a progressive majority that opposes all austerity*

*Apart from at general elections

Burnhamite – A malleable substance that can bend and merge to form any shape required of it before ultimately imploding.

C

Corbynite – A rare and abstruse substance that destroys the trust of voters.

Campaign Group – A group of MPs who do not campaign but do tweet a lot.

D

Democracy – A vital part of civilisation, to be protected and supported at all costs*.

*Not applicable to residents of Iran, Russia, Donbass, Gaza, Lebanon or Venezuela.

E (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Can everyone please put their spades down?

07/07/2015, 06:06:26 PM

Denis Healy’s droll advice to stop digging when you find yourself in a hole seems lost on the current Labour frontbench. Just when it appeared that the party had officially reached Peak Disaster in May’s general election, it seems there is always more that can be done to frighten away potential voters.

Let’s take just four interventions from last week.

On Wednesday, at Prime Minister’s Questions, acting leader Harriet Harman casually committed the Labour benches to supporting a third runway for Heathrow, the central recommendation of Sir Howard Davies’ long-anticipated Airports Commission.

This is slightly surprising because there is no such commitment in the recent Labour manifesto. Indeed, there has been no discussion in the party about the change in policy. If there had been, it might have been pointed out that without ameliorative measures, a third runway will lock-in, rather than reduce, regional economic imbalances between Greater London and the North and Midlands. But, hey, it was a good line for PMQs.

Next up was Gloria de Piero, the party’s shadow equalities minister. She announced that companies employing more than 250 people (note: not the public sector) will be subject to a new regulation compelling them to undergo an “annual equal pay check” and publish information on the pay gap between their male and female employees in order, it seems, to be publicly shamed for any disparity.

Labour’s charmless offensive with business continues unabated. If there is evidence that employers pay women less for working at the same level as men, in the same organisation, on the same hours, then it’s a simple matter of enforcing the 1970 Equal Pay Act, which has outlawed such practices for the past 45 years.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Burnham’s spin doctor is director at lobbyist firm that advises union-buster Ineos

13/06/2015, 07:00:00 AM

A lobbyist from the firm that advises energy firm Ineos, which was involved in a biter industrial dispute with Unite the Union, is now working as a key member of Andy Burnham’s leadership team.

Katie Myler, a former special adviser to Burnham when he was health secretary, now works for international lobbying company, Burson-Marsteller.

They claim on their website that their staff have provided “senior counsel” to the Ineos “CEO and management team” during “the Grangemouth industrial dispute.”

Back in 2013, 800 staff at the petrochemical plant in Falkirk threatened to go on strike after management brought forward a survival plan, which included a three-year pay freeze and changes to pensions.

Unite later relented in a bid to save jobs.

Myler was appointed as director of communications for Burnham’s campaign last week, after taking a sabbatical from Burson-Marsteller where she works as a managing director, according to a report in PR Week.

She joins fellow lobbyist, John Lehal, who is acting as campaign director.

His company, Insight Consulting Group, has worked for a string of private medical companies, according to reports in this morning’s Independent.

The revelations will come as a major embarrassment to Burnham, who has made much of his opposition to private sector involvement in the NHS.

He is also thought to have the active support of Unite and has pitched himself as the main centre-left challenger for the Labour leadership.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon