Posts Tagged ‘Atul Hatwal’

Ed Miliband knew Livingstone was an anti-Semitic conspiracy nutter FOUR YEARS ago but STILL backed him for London Mayor

01/05/2016, 09:21:31 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Revelations on Ken Livingstone’s anti-Semitic views might have led the news in recent days, but Ed Miliband was fully aware of them in 2012.

Despite this, he still gave Livingstone his full backing at the last London Mayoral election.

The evidence that Labour’s leadership understood the detail of Livingstone’s opinions came yesterday in two devastating tweets from Miliband’s top spinner and consigliere, Tom Baldwin.

The purpose behind Tom Baldwin’s tweets was to highlight the anti-racist bona fides of his old boss but inadvertently he made the classic PR’s mistake: to confuse presentation and substance.

Before the 2012 Mayoral election, when Ed Miliband was on the stump for Livingstone, he knew exactly what Livingstone thought about Hitler, Zionism and the Jewish people.

He knew enough to force Livingstone to excise the relevant passages from his memoirs but did not feel sufficiently strongly to take action against the candidate for the substance of his anti-Semitic views.

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The inside story of why Corbyn forgot to mention IDS when responding to THAT Cameron statement

07/04/2016, 10:31:00 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Wondering how things could possibly get worse for Labour? Ponder no more. Here’s a mess involving Damian McBride, Jeremy Corbyn, splits in the leader’s office and quiet preparations for a move from the left to replace Corbyn.

Uncut has learned that Damian McBride is back, secretly working for the Labour leader.

Although he is nominally employed by Emily Thornberry as a political adviser covering the defence brief, a significant part of his work has been for the leader’s office, writing briefings and speaking notes for the Labour leader.

Uncut understands that McBride was asked to prepare Jeremy Corbyn’s response to David Cameron’s EU statement before Easter – a statement that fell the day after Iain Duncan Smith’s explosive appearance on Marr where the former Cabinet minister excoriated the government for deepening division in the country.

By all accounts, Damian McBride prepared a robust and effective rejoinder for Labour’s leader with Iain Duncan Smith’s barbed words at the heart of the brief.

Jeremy Corbyn had the notes with him before he entered the chamber. He’d read them and his office expected him to use them.

But he didn’t.

Instead, Labour’s leader freelanced. He made his response up as he went along and the rest is history.

No mention of Iain Duncan Smith. Cameron off the hook. Ridicule, bafflement and defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The episode is illustrative of the deepening dysfunction within Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle and his own increasingly uncomfortable position.

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Remain will win easily. Boris will be irrelevant and immigration will barely register in voters’ choice

23/02/2016, 12:47:38 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last year, in the aftermath of the general election it looked like Westminster had learnt that the economy and leadership are central to determining the public’s voting intention at the big electoral tests.

Now we have an EU referendum looming and there’s been a bout of collective amnesia.

Yes, I know this is not a general election but the same formula of economy and leadership is relevant for largely the same reasons as last year.

Immigration is the issue that many Brexiteers think will tip the balance their way. But just as Ukip found last year, they’re misreading the polls.

There is a very familiar gap between the number who view immigration as the most important issue facing the country and those who view it as important to their household’s well-being.

At the general election, 51% thought immigration was the key issue facing Britain but only 21% believed it mattered most to their lives.

Unsurprisingly, immigration was not a major factor in the contest.

In the last poll to ask the relevant questions, by YouGov, from last September – following a summer of daily coverage of refugees travelling to Europe – the number citing immigration as the most important national issue was the highest on record at 71%. But the number who thought it most important for their family was 24% – a gap of 47%.

Think about that for a moment.

Even after a summer of non-stop reporting of fleeing refugees entering Europe, lurid stories from the Calais “jungle” and hyperbolic headlines, the proportion thinking that immigration mattered most for their lives rose by just 3% from 21% at the election to 24% at the start of September.

In comparison, in the same poll, the number saying the economy was the most important issue for their household was 40%. That’s 16% ahead of immigration.

In every single poll conducted by YouGov in the five and half years that they’ve been asking these questions, this gap has never been less than 16%.

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The sale of the ‘i’ tells us the Indy’s owners aren’t serious about its online future

15/02/2016, 08:00:58 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Grim news last week with the closure of the Independent. Yes, I know it’s going to be continuing online and there will be some sort of future but not one that’s recongnisable to any regular reader of the Indy.

The sale of the ‘i’ tells us all we need to know about what happens next.

The print run of the Independent was always going to end. Last year I wrote a piece predicting its likely print demise in 2016 (along with that of the Guardian, the FT and Star by 2020). The long term sales trends were and are painfully clear.

Dailies cease print 2020

However, contrary to the plan outlined by the Independent’s owners, scrapping the daily and Sunday newspaper needn’t have been the end of print for the Indy.

Keeping the “i” as a print outlet would have retained a physical presence for the brand and the lucrative print advertising revenue stream. The website could have been refocused, extending its long reads and deeper analysis along-side the inevitable clickbait and hourly reportage of whatever is trending on social media.

The combination of tabloid print with a website that had greater in-depth coverage would have been a genuinely interesting model, bringing together the strengths of both formats – print prestige, influence and revenue with mass online views and deeper pockets of analysis.

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The Tories are about to swiftboat Sadiq on terror. How he responds will determine the Mayoral result

27/01/2016, 10:16:23 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The conventional Westminster wisdom is that this is Labour’s year in London. Labour thrashed the Tories in the capital at last year’s general election by 44% to 35% and in a recent poll, Sadiq led Goldsmith by seven points.

However, the conventional wisdom is about to be tested.

In the next few weeks, the Tories are going to roll out their main attack on Sadiq Khan: terror.

Lynton Crosby is running Zac Goldsmith’s campaign and he is nothing if not politically obvious.

The Mayoralty is not a role where conventional attacks over economic issues will resonate.

The public, and Crosby, know that the Mayor cannot crash the economy so the Tory line on what Corbyn’s Labour would do to jobs, growth and taxes, will not be effective.

Neither is the Mayor going to make a profound difference to the state of London transport – no-one can wave a wand and create the extra tube lines or rail services that the capital desperately needs.

Identity and personality not policy will determine voters’ choice.

The Mayoralty is overwhelmingly a symbolic and representative role. Who sits in City Hall says something about how Londoners’ see themselves.

As the son of a migrant, from a working class family, who rose to run a high profile legal firm, Sadiq Khan’s biography is London’s story told best.

Sadiq has also moved deftly to buttress the independence of his brand by pitching himself against Jeremy Corbyn with a range of centrist, business-friendly positions.

He is doing all that’s required to pass the Mayoral threshold in an increasingly Labour city.

The Tories need a game-changer. Something that irrevocably redefines Sadiq in the eyes of Londoners and casts him as Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate.

Cue the impending attack over terror.

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The Beckett report reminds us of the utter uselessness of Labour’s establishment

20/01/2016, 10:25:50 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The Beckett report is a woeful reminder of the paucity of insight that characterised Labour’s pre-Corbyn establishment.

Commissioned by Harriet Harman in her second stint as acting leader, with Margaret Beckett -the only MP to have served in every Labour government since Wilson’s in the 1970s – leading the drafting team, this report is steeped in the mores and perspectives of Labour’s old guard.

The resulting analysis manages to be both asinine and anodyne in equal measure

Meaningless blandishments that would be laughed at if written in a GCSE essay are proffered as pearls of wisdom. For example, on communications, this is Beckett’s recommendation,

“We need a comprehensive media strategy, which includes local, regional and national media, print, broadcasting and social media. “

Yes, really.

On Labour’s vision for the country, the report says,

“We must set out a vision for the country’s future, which shows both what we believe the country needs and what we will contribute to its achievement.”

Who would set out a vision based on what the country didn’t need and how Labour wouldn’t contribute to things getting better? Was the team writing this report ill?

Simultaneously, fundamental reasons for defeat such as Ed Miliband’s leadership are glossed over.

“Over the period 2010 – 15, what the polls did consistently show was that, when asked if ‘this man could be Prime Minister’, David Cameron was rated above Ed Miliband. Since he actually was Prime Minister, this response was perhaps less than surprising.

It is the fate of every Labour Leader of the Opposition to be the target of ferocious attack from partisan sections of our media. Tony Blair was called ‘Bambi’, and described as too young and inexperienced to be up to doing the job.”

This glib statement is tossed in without the salient qualification that Ed Miliband trailed David Cameron on preference for Prime Minister by double digits while Tony Blair led John Major by a similar margin.

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Three reasons for Labour moderates to stay and be confident the fever will eventually break

14/01/2016, 07:44:33 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Optimism has been in short supply for Labour moderates. Ed Miliband, general election disaster and now Jeremy Corbyn. What a time.

But in the gloom of Labour’s long winter, all is not lost.

It will take patience. Years, maybe. But as George RR Martin might not say, summer is coming. Perhaps at the same pace as Martin’s next novel, but nevertheless, come it will.

Here are three reasons to be confident that these hard times will pass.

1. The soft left will switch

A common thread in the interviews and analysis of Labour’s massive influx of new members and supporters is that while the overwhelming majority supported Corbyn, they are not from the hard left.

Over the past three months I’ve spoken to CLP officers from over 30 constituencies on the make-up of the new membership and the response of Jane Middleton, chair of Bath CLP, in the Guardian’s recent survey of 100 CLPs exemplified what I’ve been hearing,

“They are mainly Corbyn supporters, some of them enthusiastic Corbyn supporters, who joined specifically because of him…A number of them had left during the Blair years and the Iraq war. What they are not is members of the far left. These people are in no way like the radicals of the 70s and 80s.”

This is the soft left. The Labour party is currently softer and lefter than it’s ever been.

The soft left view at the leadership election can be characterised as apathy at Yvette’s establishment, Brownite grind; an allergic reaction to Liz’s late-Blair confrontation and scepticism at Andy’s reprise of Ed Miliband’s muddled equivocation.

In the absence of an alternative, Labour’s largest grouping opted for the only choice before them not to have demonstrably failed in the past twenty years – Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left dreaming.

The trouble with dreams is that they rarely come true and sometimes turn into nightmares.

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This is now Corbyn’s front bench. Good. He’ll be solely responsible for the failure to come

06/01/2016, 12:43:17 PM

by Atul Hatwal

This is now Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench. Hilary Benn might still be in post but he’s been politically emasculated and the sackings of Michael Dugher and McFadden along with the demotion of Maria Eagle have delivered a clear message: deviate from leadership orthodoxy and you’ll be next against the wall.

We won’t be hearing any more from Hilary Benn on Syria. Little from anyone in the shadow cabinet on Trident. Talented shadow ministers such as Kevan Jones, Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty have already walked the plank. The Corbyn line has become the Labour line.

Good.

Clarity was needed. Since Labour’s leader was elected, large numbers of moderate Labour party members have been engaged in a collective act of self-delusion: that Labour can present itself as a centrist, electable party with Corbyn at the helm.

The attempts of several members of the shadow cabinet to rein in Corbyn’s exigencies on foreign affairs, defence and the economy are laudable but futile and ultimately counter-productive.

The Syria vote was regarded by moderates within the PLP as some sort of triumph but while parliament ultimately voted the right way to take on the fascists in Isis, it was a political disaster for Labour.

Here was the main opposition party so riven that it had to opt for a free vote on the most important decision a country faces – whether or not to go to war. What does that say to the voters of Britain about Labour’s capacity to lead?

Trident has been another red line for many front-benchers but in the end it’s another pointless fight.

Moderate PLP-ers can talk about Labour’s policy being settled in favour of Trident at conference last year, but what will happen after conference this year, or next?

Within this parliament, party policy will be changed at conference to oppose Trident.

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Bored of the reshuffle? You should be. It’s already occupied more news cycles than any in history

05/01/2016, 03:19:56 PM

by Atul Hatwal

It’s the never-ending reshuffle. This farrago started yesterday morning and is still going over a day later. Current estimates are that it will run past tomorrow and end as a four day marathon by the time the junior posts are announced.

Journalists have been moaning about the length of time its taken and they’re right.

More than they know.

In the old days, Before Twitter (BT), the news cycle used to last 24 hours. Now its shorter, much shorter. According to this academic study of the 2012 US Presidential election, by Professor Daniel Kreiss, it’s gone down from 24 hours to 2 hours.

This means a single day, After Twitter (AT), is now equivalent to 12 days of BT news cycles.

If the Corbyn reshuffle goes on for four days that will be 48 news days in old money – almost 10 working weeks worth of stories.

No wonder people are moaning.

Obviously the elapsed time will remain 4 days, but the frustration and ennui of journalists (and many of their readers) is a vivid illustration of just how news has changed.

And as for Jeremy Corbyn’s team, allowing a negative Labour story like this to dominate double digits of news cycles, it is wholly unprecedented.

Another first to chalk up for the Labour leader.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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Kennite vs Corbynite split in the leader’s office reruns eternal hard left divisions

29/12/2015, 01:29:18 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut hears that simmering differences in the leader’s team have become deep divisions as they grapple with the looming reshuffle.

At the heart of the split is a long-running tension between two factions of the hard left: Socialist Action and the Labour Representation Committee.

In the corner on the left is Socialist Action – a Trotskyist group most closely associated with Ken Livingstone with several of his advisers from his time as Mayor, either members or supporters. As Livingstone himself said,

“Almost all of my advisers had been involved in Socialist Action,”

“It was the only rational left-wing group you could engage with. They used to produce my socialist economic policies. It was not a secret group.”

Socialist Action’s modus operandi is to achieve a socialist nirvana by boiling the capitalist frog slowly. During their tenure at City Hall, the priority was not to promise wholesale revolutionary change but take incremental steps towards socialism where possible.

In practice this led to bizarre and seemingly random policies such as pursuing the American embassy over parking fines (fair enough) but going easy on the Russian embassy over the same issue (wtf) while happily doing deals with London property developers to underpin the expansion of the City.

Prominent Livingstone City Hall alumni, Simon Fletcher and Neale Coleman, now occupy central roles in Jeremy Corbyn’s office as chief of staff and head of policy and rebuttal while the former Mayor is co-chair of Labour’s defence review.

In the corner even further to the left is the Labour Representation Committee. (LRC) Founded in 2004 (lifting the name of Labour’s original founding committee from 1900) by John McDonnell, the LRC has a more doctrinaire and unbending view of the path to socialism.

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