Posts Tagged ‘ian austin’

What became of Gordon Brown’s likely lads?

12/11/2019, 08:31:11 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Gordon Brown, then chancellor, was travelling on an RAF flight when he found out that Ed Miliband had been selected as Labour’s candidate in Doncaster, according to Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s biography of Jeremy Corbyn’s predecessor as Labour leader.

“Brown was seen in a rare moment of real joy, punching the air as if his local football team had just won the FA Cup, and punching it so hard that his hand hit the luggage compartment above his head with a crunch.”

Brown was also pleased when Ian Austin and John Woodcock, like Miliband ex Brown aides, were selected as Labour candidates. Now, after the Tories have reversed the public spending that Brown increased, deepened the poverty that Brown tackled, and sought a Brexit that Brown resisted, Austin and Woodcock advise voting Tory.

After all that the Tories have done, to return them to Downing Street would not just rub salt in the wounds, it would invite their deepening.

Nothing about Boris Johnson’s campaign launch made sense. We were meant to believe that it was in a crowded hall in Birmingham; it was in a half-full one in Solihull. He insists he wants to get Brexit “done”; he will have it drag on, pulling the UK apart, country-by-country, business-by-business, family-by-family. He wants to unleash the UK’s potential; that will be forestalled by the monstrous distraction that he wants to get “done”.

Of course, it is not reverence for Johnson that drives Austin and Woodcock but deep suspicion of Corbyn. Phil Collins, writing speeches for Tony Blair when Brown was punching luggage compartments, last week categorised Labour MPs in The Times based upon their feelings towards Corbyn.


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How does this stupid attack on Tom Watson help Corbyn?

06/08/2018, 07:52:15 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Of all the miscues, own goals and careless steps onto garden rakes in recent Labour Party history, last night’s Twitter campaign under the hashtag #ResignWatson is the most senseless and ludicrous so far.

What’s the message? Well, it’s pretty unequivocal: Tom Watson should resign for warning in an interview with The Observer, that there is an urgent need to address the anti-Semitism row engulfing Labour in order to ever win a general election, ‘or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment.’

His critics – the trolls and fruitcakes of social media – logically believe that a) Labour should not address the problem or that b) There is no problem to address.

Clearly, both points are delusional. What’s more, Jeremy Corbyn thinks there’s a problem with anti-Semitism that needs fixing.

‘People who dish out antisemitic poison need to understand: you do not do it in my name. You are not my supporters and have no place in our movement,’ he wrote in The Guardian as recently as last Friday.

Surely all Watson has done is echo Corbyn?

Yes, the party risks being scarred by the taint of anti-Semitism after months of agonising coverage – courtesy of a Jew-hating lunatic fringe that has attached itself to the party – and something needs doing about it.

This has culminated in two former Labour ministers – both with deep ties to the Jewish community – facing disciplinary action for giving vent to their frustrations about the weakness of dealing with the problem that Jeremy Corbyn fully accepts exists. Indeed, Watson’s remedy is modest enough:

‘I think it is very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement,’ Watson said ‘and I think it starts with dropping the investigations into Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin.’

‘Ah, but Tom’s not really talking about anti-Semitism – he’s making a coded attack on Jeremy,’ goes for what passes as a thought process on the hard left.

Surely the smart move from those Corbynistas who felt Watson was in some way being disloyal would have been to chide him for stating the bleeding obvious?

Instead, we get a high-profile, well-organised campaign to undermine the party’s Deputy Leader.

Exactly how does any of this help Jeremy Corbyn?


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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?”


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Labour should bin the expensive overseas consultants and just talk to the British people

12/05/2015, 02:47:13 PM

by Rhiannon Hughes

Since Thursday’s crushing election defeat for Labour, we’ve seen no end of analysis from figures from Labour’s past and present, giving their take on where the party went so desperately wrong, and what needs to happen next.

And rightly so – it’s a time to re-focus, re-group and learn from our mistakes. Senior figures are talking about direction, approach and policy development, and these are all important elements in moving towards the future.

But we also need to have an honest – and perhaps difficult -conversation about our party’s purpose.

The Labour party needs to exist to serve the people. Our direction should be dictated by the values and philosophy which we all hold dear, but we also need to recognise that Labour should evolve – as it did in 1997 – to best serve the interests of the British people, including those who didn’t vote Labour on Thursday.

Of course, the members, affiliated union colleagues, supporters and party staff who work tirelessly, stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors and travelling the length and breadth of the country to campaign (not just at general election time but year-round) are important. I am a member of both the party and a trade union, and I definitely want a say in the party’s future.

But our numbers alone are not enough to win an election and our priorities aren’t always reflective of the general public’s. We need to accept this and change to win.

Already it looks like this could be something of a stumbling block for the members, activists and even some members of the PLP, who still seem unable to accept that Labour lost the election because too many people at the ballot box simply did not feel that a Labour government would be in their interest.


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Politicians in the Westminster bubble don’t understand how real people feel

03/01/2013, 07:00:01 AM

by Peter Watt

There are a lot of clever people who have recently been analysing the relative merits of the political parties and their respective political fortunes.  Over the Christmas and new-year period pundits have written article after article about the ramifications of the latest polls, changes in demography and so on.  I even penned a piece myself although I certainly wouldn’t put myself in the “clever” bracket!

The consensus seems to be that the Tories are very unlikely to form a majority after 2015 and that the most likely outcome is the formation of a government of some sort lead by Ed Miliband.  There have though been one or two siren voices.  These are saying that Labours position is less certain and that it needs to watch its economic polling numbers which appear to be going in the wrong direction following the chancellor’s autumn statement.

Just before new year I tweeted that:

“@PeterWatt123 I always hate the last few days of the year. Makes me feel sad.”

It was meant as a slightly maudlin reflection on the emotional highs and lows of the festive period.  But in response, Ian Austin MP, who I respect and occasionally joust with on Twitter, quipped that:

“@IanAustinMP Surely you could write piece for Labour Uncut about how end of year is all Labour’s fault, proof of unfitness to govern etc.”

It was a good riposte and I guess indicates that Ian is not a fan of my blogs!  But Ian does make a fair point that on the whole I am not comfortable with some of the direction of travel of the Labour party at the moment.

I worry that most of our poll lead is solely down to current government unpopularity, that Ed is still not seen as prime ministerial and that our stock with the electorate is dangerously low when it comes to the economy, welfare reform and immigration.  And I honestly think that our economic message is disingenuously trying to look both ways on the central issue of deficit reduction and the scale of cuts required whoever wins next time, regardless of whether we have economic growth.

But most of all I worry that no political party is seen by voters as having the answers to their worries and concerns.  Because at its heart, current political discourse is still being conducted between the political parties inside the rarefied world of the political bubble.  It certainly isn’t being conducted with voters.


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Labour, like Britain, must look to the future

14/07/2011, 11:30:09 AM

by Ian Austin

I’ve been really worried these past few months. People kept asking me what I thought of “all this Blue Labour stuff”.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew it must be significant because it was creating such a buzz.

You can imagine my relief when they put together an “e-book” setting out the details.

It explained that a series of seminars had been held in London and Oxford to “open up the Labour tradition to new syntheses of meaning, and so to originality and transformation.”

The introduction said it would discuss the “relationship with tradition and modernity, nation and class, labour and capital, community and the individual, society and the market, the state and mutualism, and between belief and empiricism, romanticism and rationality, obligation and entitlement.”

Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of an interview a week or so ago with Lord Glasman, the leading figure behind our new approach.

“There are three poles,” he said, when asked to explain Blue Labour. ‘”First: a conception of the common good. That comes from Aristotle. Second: an impulse to organise labour. That comes from Minsky and Alinsky. And third: decommodification. That means stopping things that were not produced for sale being sold. That comes from Polanyi.”’

Of course we need seminars as well as conversations on doorsteps, but it’s where the theory takes us that worries me, not the inaccessibility of the language.

Elsewhere we’ve been told the new big idea is based on the insight that New Labour’s response to globalisation failed to value and protect local and community services like post offices and pubs and the traditional high street, or failed to recognise the value of the human relationships that underpin our communities.

The danger, as Mary Riddell pointed out recently, “lies in a neverland inhabited by superannuated pigeon-fanciers who like Woodbines and Watneys and don’t think much of foreigners.” She was absolutely right to warn that “Britain is not a museum of nostalgia but a forward-looking country.” (more…)

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The week Uncut

19/03/2011, 10:15:37 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Michael Dugher says the right posture can really help a squeezed middle

Tom Watson looks forward, and says winners don’t look back

Sally Bercow says ministers are all over the place – no grip, no delivery

Atul Hatwal thinks Ed Balls has a commitment problem

Victoria Williams wants more women in the government

… and in this weeks Half a minute Harris, Tom took on Polly over AV

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Austin v Khan: the Labour splits on multiculturalism.

15/02/2011, 03:00:58 PM

When Sadiq Khan accused David Cameron, in his “multiculturalism” speech in Berlin, of “writing propaganda for the English Defence League”, he did not get a lot of support from his own side.

None of his senior colleagues condemned him. But they were quick to be muted.

He did get backing from some quarters. Atul Hatwal, in Uncut, for instance, was unusually unstinting in his praise:

“While others were either hiding behind the sofa or couching their disapproval in the gentlest and most respectful of terms, only Khan called it as it was.

The Labour party lost its compass on this issue years ago. Under Blair and Brown the traffic was only ever one way. For years the right have been able to ritually burn multicultural straw men with impunity. The mark of Duffy has only made the party more timid.

But sometimes there are issues where it is simply a matter of right and wrong. No politics, no triangulation and no trading. These irreducible beliefs used to be what distinguished Labour and gave the party its moral centre”.

Khan’s shadow cabinet colleagues remained ominously, but tactfully, silent. The Labour default setting on race held firm: say nothing if you can help it.

Elsewhere on the front bench, though, some shadow ministerial colleagues were rather more boisterous in their pronouncements.

Step forward Ian Austin, shadow sports minister and MP for Dudley North, in which marginal seat the BNP looms large. Hewn from the illiberal granite of West Midlands Labour, Austin was clearly incensed at Khan’s intervention and not prepared to join former Brownite colleagues like Douglas Alexander and Yvette Cooper in taking it lying down.

At business questions that week, he told the House of Commons:

“May I add my voice to a call for a debate on the prime minister’s important speech at the weekend, so that we can discuss in the House how we can build a much stronger sense of what it means to be British, based on the contribution that people are prepared to make, whether they want to work hard, play by the rules, pay their way, whether they are prepared to speak English, because that is the only way to play a full role in British society, and their commitment to the great British values of democracy, equality, freedom, fairness and tolerance”?

“The prime minister’s important speech”. Not exactly “propaganda for the EDL”. Austin’s message is pretty plain. On this issue, for him, Cameron is on the side of the angels, Khan on the side of the others.

Speaking to the Express and Star, Austin warmed to his theme:

“Ever since I became an MP I have been campaigning to build a much stronger sense of what it means to be British. It is only by building a stronger sense of patriotism and national pride, that we can tackle extremism and build a stronger and more united society. If we don’t stand up and say Britain’s history and its values make this the greatest country in the world, how on earth can we expect anyone else to believe it? And if people do not learn to speak English how can they play a full role in society”?

Khan and Austin represent opposite extremes of a major divide within Labour. Neither is alone. While the likes of Atul Hatwal are trenchant in support of Khan, Britain’s longest serving Muslim MP, Khalid Mahmood, spent most of the day of Cameron’s speech telling any broadcaster who would listen that the PM’s central argument was right.

These divisions matter because opinions are very strongly held on either side. And because it is an issue which, directly, shifts votes.

It is surprising, in which case, that these splits are not receiving more attention.

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Dave, Boris and Parliament Square: Ian Austin seeks the truth

10/12/2010, 02:40:07 PM


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Ian Austin deplores Cameron’s double talk on Gaza

28/07/2010, 10:47:45 AM

“If I become Prime Minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on her” pledged David Cameron when speaking to Conservative Friends of Israel last year.

He used the same speech to argue against those who claim there is an equivalence between Israel and Hamas. “Israel is a democracy – Hamas want to create a theocracy. Israel strives to protect innocent life – Hamas target innocent life,” he said.

But for David Cameron talk is clearly cheap. (more…)

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