Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Reed’

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.


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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.


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It’s Christmas and family comes first – even for MPs

21/12/2016, 07:23:26 PM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s easy enough to see Jamie Reed’s decision to quit as Member of Parliament for Copeland as an “up yours” to Jeremy Corbyn.

Reed has been a constant – and often humorous – thorn in the Labour Leader’s flesh. His resignation letter, courteous and charitable to Corbyn, should probably be read for what it says, rather than be pored over for coded meaning.

His move to take up a role with his old employer, BNFL, seems an obvious fit given he is born and bred in the area and his family are settled there.

Reed is part of a generation of MPs who are also young dads (Reed is father of four) and miss their kids during the week in Westminster.

He told The Guardian that he was finding it “increasingly difficult” to balance home/work and although the decision to leave Parliament was “the hardest one I’ve ever made” it was “undoubtedly the best thing for me to do for my family.”

Resigning to spend more time with my family is the famously trite excuse for a political resignation, but just occasionally it happens to be true.

Made all the harder by the fact Reed’s West Cumbrian seat is simply miles from anywhere.

Of course ‘picturesque’ does not do the area justice – it is magnificent – but the travel to and fro from Westminster each week must have taken a toll.

As Parliament’s pre-eminent Star Wars aficionado, he will have learned the hard way that you can’t do the Copeland run in twelve parsecs.

I remember driving up from Warrington for a meeting with Jamie when he was first elected in 2005. It took about four hours, with half of it spent negotiating small roads around the Lake District.

I did so much clutch control that I must have worn five years off my knee joints.

Let that be a lesson for his would-be replacements.

The smart move for Labour in a seat with a 2,564 majority would be to pick a local and play that advantage hard.

For those London-types eyeing up the opportunity, just bear in mind that you can get a train to Paris faster than you can to Keswick.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut and author of ‘A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable and how it will come about’, published by Biteback


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How loud will Jamie Reed’s ‘quiet crisis’ get?

24/05/2016, 09:33:03 PM

In a series of posts, Uncut writers look at the constituencies featured in Labour’s Identity Crisis, England and the Politics of Patriotism. Here, Jonathan Todd gives his perspective on Copeland.

“Under leaden skies and beneath the ground a culture of solidarity, independence, community self-reliance and ambition was forged,” writes Jamie Reed of his constituency, Copeland, where I grew up.

Whitehaven, the town where I was born, Reed notes, “was north west England’s most important centre of early Methodism as John Wesley used the town as the starting point for his travels to Ireland and the Isle of Man.” While Whitehaven is a rugby league town, I was more football than rugby league as a child, watching matches both at Holker Street, home of Barrow AFC, a non-league club since the 1970s, and Brunton Park, Carlisle United’s ground, a lower league club for much of its history.

Nowhere does Labour more need to listen and change, according to Reed, than, “in our rugby league towns and lower league football cities, in the places most people have heard of, but never been to.” In places, in other words, like Whitehaven, Barrow and Carlisle.

“Daily life looks and feels very different in our de-industrialised towns, struggling rural villages and smaller cities and these communities are now engulfed in a quiet crisis – not just in the north of England, but in every part of our country.”

We picketed a County Council meeting when I was at primary school to keep the school open. While tiny, the school remains. Two pubs, two banks, and two petrol stations have departed the village or thereabouts in the intervening period. “These jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back,” as Springsteen sings in My Hometown.

In the sense that the primary school was threatened 30 years ago, we might react to Reed’s ‘quiet crisis’ by asking, if localities are perennially threatened, is it a new crisis so much as an ongoing, inevitable way of life in an ever more urban country?


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Big tent Labour is underpinned by liberal Labour

14/05/2015, 09:34:32 AM

by Jonathan Todd

The Miliband years were rich in intellectual touchstones, including Blue Labour’s social conservatism and economic statism. As much as improving Labour’s polling on economics and leadership is the absolute precondition of Labour government, Miliband is right that ideas matter.

Just saying aspiration is not an alternative idea to animate the post-Miliband era. There are some terms, like aspiration, with New Labour associations: effective communication, solid economic policy. These are not ideas as much as truisms of political success.

Labour must urgently re-imbibe these truisms. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition of the strongest possible Labour recovery. Sufficiency entails a deeper reassessment of Labour’s ideas. Jeremy Cliffe, one time Chuka Umunna intern and now a writer at The Economist, and Jamie Reed, MP for England’s most remotely accessible constituency from Westminster, which I born and raised in, are making relevant interventions.

Reed is threatening to run for the leadership unless a Blue Labour tinged theme is absorbed by contenders. “The next Labour leader,” argues Reed, “needs to listen to the marginalised, peripheral communities of our country as the United Kingdom ‘balkanises’ in front of us”.

On Thursday at Policy Network, Cliffe, according to the invitation email, “will argue that though UKIP’s rise might suggest otherwise, the electorate is becoming more urban, more educated, more ethnically diverse and (through travel, work and immigration) more used to contact with the outside world”. Winning majorities for Labour, he argues, will be best sought by building “‘cosmopolitan coalitions’ of support”.


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Hands off Progress

15/06/2012, 03:31:17 PM

by Jamie Reed

As a GMB sponsored Member of Parliament, I’m proud of the achievements of my trade union. I don’t only have good working relationships with GMB officials at a local and national level – where I watch them undertake incredibly valuable work for their members, day in, day out – but I enjoy strong friendships too, in some cases, stretching back decades.

My grandfather was a GMB trade union official – and without him and his commitment to the trade union movement, the political world would never have held any interest for me. The point is, my association with the GMB trade union is long, deep and personal.

That’s why I cannot understand the decision of the GMB conference to seek to ‘outlaw’ Progress from the Labour Party. Let’s be clear: Progress is one of the most important, active, hard-working parts of our party. In helping to deliver an unprecedented three general election victories, Progress holds an important position in the most successful period of our past and it must play an equally important role now and in our future if we are ever to form another government. Progress is part of our future. Progress is here to stay.


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The prime minister’s human shield – William Hague – is going nowhere.

11/03/2011, 08:07:50 AM

by Jamie Reed

As speculation intensifies in westminster-media circles about the future of foreign secretary, William Hague, a reality check is called for. For now, at least, William Hague is unsackable.

To be clear, experts in the field and foreign office officials must cringe in times of international crisis as Westminster politicians and commentators alike become lay-experts in diplomacy and the detailed realities of any given troubled region. This in mind, it doesn’t stop the often ugly truth from emerging.

Gordon Brown was rarely more prophetic than when he declared of our vainglorious prime minister that this is “no time for a novice”. But a novice is what the country has been landed with and what the rest of the international community now has been burdened with as well.

A laconic Hague has been blamed for the shambolic, shameful and humiliating response from Britain to the crisis in Libya – yet Hague’s performance illustrates the behaviour of a man not in control of Britain’s response. Not because he lacks the ability, but because an undeserving prime minister – driven by domestic political considerations instead of international policy objectives – is desperate to cast himself as a world leader and take control of affairs of which he has little understanding. As a result, his diplomatic ineptitude has been laid bare.

Cameron’s late response to the crisis (despite being in neighbouring Egypt at the onset) led to the bellowing of naive threats which were as excruciating in their delivery as they were destructive in their consequence. It was left to the foreign secretary to attempt to clean up after this intemperate and ill-advised outburst, with the US also slapping down the would-be world leader. It was No.10, too, who authorised the recent ludicrous deployment of the SAS, again to counter-productive and even humiliating effect. Little wonder that President Obama believes our dear Prime Minister to be a “light weight”.

It is painful for MPs on all sides of the House to watch Britain’s diplomatic standing cheapened in the way in which it has been in recent weeks. In his increasingly embarassing attempts to emulate Tony Blair, Cameron has exposed himself as a third division Anthony Eden. Hague is Cameron’s first and last line of defence in foreign affairs. His removal would expose the prime ministers naked incompetence. This latest human shield will be around for a while yet.

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland and a shadow environment minister.

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Cameron’s Blair delusion

24/01/2011, 04:15:22 PM

by Jamie Reed

Among the attributes any politician might both posess and publicly display, delusion is perhaps the worst. A product of vanity and arrogance, delusion is an attribute immediately detectable to the public. More importantly, public displays of political delusion mark the point where the voter and the politician part company; it is the point where the voter separates rhetoric from reality and where political language becomes hollowed of all meaning. Essentially, it is the point where the voter acknowledges that the politician in question sees himself, and the world, very differently.

The principal delusion which afflicts David Cameron is his conviction that he is “the heir to Blair”. This delusion is so deep seated that its effects are visible across the government’s entire programme – from Europe to the NHS and beyond.

LIke all delusions, it bears no serious analysis. Tony Blair (alongside Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson) transformed the Labour party politically, intellectually and culturally. This was a hard, painful process but it was done in the public glare and was very real. In contrast, David Cameron hasn’t changed the Tories at all; a largely unimpressive Parliamentary party is held together through inexperience and necessity, not conviction and belief. Even now, the old fissures are real and threaten, at any point, to erupt on issues like Europe, immigration and gay marriage. As a result, Cameron doesn’t have the authority he craves within his own party, let alone among the country at large. For at least his first two terms, the same could not be said of Blair. (more…)

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Jamie Reed calls for an all party commission on the social compact

11/10/2010, 12:30:15 PM

The British social compact, underpined by a progressive welfare state, is the glue which binds us as a society. The compact transcends race, class, gender and religion. On the factory floor and at the pit top, in classrooms and in pulpits, the creation of a good society became the cause to which millions of people devoted their energy and their lives. A society in which the individual, the community and the state shared a common interest in the well being of the national community and of all those within it.

The creation of the welfare state breathed life into this massive civic movement and for decades – across the right, left and centre of British politics – commitment to this social compact was demonstrably real. The needs of the ‘real society’ were understood and acted upon. Differing governments brought changes of many kinds, but the social compact remained despite often incredible domestic tensions. (more…)

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We must look beyond London for the shadow cabinet, says Jamie Reed

30/09/2010, 03:39:01 PM

As the Parliamentary Labour party elects the new shadow cabinet, Ed Miliband has some difficult choices to make. An overly crowded field will probably deliver some surprises, but Labour’s big guns deserve to be given the chance to take on the government, build their shadow teams and prosecute Labour’s cause.

Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have strong claims to whichever briefs they would most like as former leadership contenders. Alan Johnson remains one of the party’s best assets. Yvette Cooper is a formidable and essential component of Labour’s future. Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward remain popular, well known in the country, experienced and heavyweight. The shadow cabinet would be poorer without them.

49 candidates is too many, but there is some real quality on the slate. John Healey and Vernon Coaker are ‘must-haves’: strong intellects with good communication skills. Stephen Timms, Ivan Lewis and Iain Wright have a great deal to offer and despite his alter ego as an internet celebrity, Tom Harris has a unique understanding of some of the dragons progressive politics must confront. (more…)

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