Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

Split by Brexit, riven with anti-Semitism, Labour is hanging by a thread

21/03/2019, 10:58:51 PM

by Rob Marchant

Recent days have surely seen more political turmoil and uncertainty than has been seen in a generation; perhaps even in the whole postwar period. It is certainly extraordinary that, two weeks out from an enormous political event, no-one can really say with any certainty how things will turn out, or even what the plan of action is.

But what of Labour? Jeremy Corbyn, in present circumstances, is surely the luckiest leader of all: the strange return of a sovereign Parliament and the disarray of Theresa May’s Tories has helped camouflage Labour’s violent, internal convulsions, albeit temporarily.

For the past few months, Labour has been being riven by two potent forces at the same time.

First, the Leader’s disingenuous position on Brexit being finally laid bare for all to see: the Emperor never had any clothes. it was only ever a matter of time before his attempt to ride two horses at once ended in Labour doing the splits, and not far off literally so.

All Shadow Cabinet members can do is go on the media and mouth platitudes, while Corbyn refuses to answer a straight question. No-one believes them any more, except the Corbyn cult itself, within the party. Labour’s surviving frontbenchers have become a standing joke, as Emily Maitlis’ open exasperation with Barry Gardiner on Newsnight showed.

The second blow has been the gradual implosion of the party over anti-Semitism, for the simple reason that it refuses to pay anything more than lip-service to the problem.

Of the two, it seems clear that the second is the real killer: the most pernicious and long-lasting.

Labour could yet, if Corbyn became irreparably damaged for whatever reason, replace him with someone willing to bow to the majority view of the party membership: that they do not want Brexit. Although there might be a group who would never forgive Labour for the damage done already, that applies equally to both major parties at the moment and, chances are, they would give a new leader the benefit of the doubt.

The same is not, sadly, true of anti-Semitism. It is now at the point where it is genuinely doubtful whether or not the party can actually recover, because the rot has already gone so deep into the membership. In any event, it would really require a turnaround in both the NEC and the party machine, neither of which are going to happen until Corbyn goes, and possibly not after that, either.

Political resignations over the last few weeks are starting to grow from a trickle to a flood. The other week, as reported here at Uncut, a group of experienced, moderate councillors resigned, following the TIG defections. Key councils are now in the hands of the Corbynite clowns, including Haringey and Brighton. Liverpool is, once again, crumbling.

For those seeing echoes in this “councils going bad” back to the 80s days of Militant, there are clear parallels, yes – not least the return of Derek Hatton – but it is not the same.

It is not comparable because, for all the organisation came close to strangling the party, parasite-like, the leadership never fell to the far left. It has now.

The leadership has now been in the hands of the far left for three-and-a-half years (if you do not recognise Corbyn as “far left”, then you have simply been putting your fingers in your ears to the mountains of information on his past – for example the excellent Corbyn in The Times Twitter feed.

If you do recognise that it is in the hands of the far left, you see how much danger the party is now in, because – among many disastrous effects – there is no end in sight for its cancerous anti-Semitism problem, worsening day by day.

This week, the party readmits the wag who thought that “Jew process” was an acceptable joke to make in a party meeting. Suspended MP Chris Williamson is patted on the back by his old pal Corbyn in the Commons. A headline in the New York Times, not constrained by the niceties of the British press, openly describes our beloved party as “Jeremy Corbyn’s Anti-Semitic Labour Party. That is, the stench has even crossed the Atlantic.

In case it were not blindingly obvious, the people in charge of the party are not remotely serious in tackling the problem.

Worse, the message anti-Semites within are seeing from the top is still, in Tracey Ullman’s immortal words, “tone it down a bit, lads”. Not that the current Zeitgeist is repugnant apologism, which must be stamped out.

It is useful to read, if you have not already, this heartfelt piece in the Jewish Chronicle by one of Corbyn’s own foot-soldiers, resigning from the party in Islington North. The weary directness with which someone who had lived close to Corbyn for years, physically and politically, was devastating:

“And I wonder why we took no notice of this behaviour at that time. I can only conclude that we saw you as an irrelevance and your activities anachronistic.

Unfortunately you are no longer an irrelevance. You are leader of the Labour party. You and your coterie of ideologues and aristo-Stalinists have created an institutional culture where anti-Semitism thrives. It has been brought from the fringe of the party to the forefront of the party.”

It is masked by the current Westminster shenanigans over Brexit, but the party is currently hanging by a thread. Even with a general election, which could happen and would most likely be lost, the Augean stables would be little cleaner on the other side, and possibly worse, as new Corbynite MPs would replace retiring or deselected ones.

Something, somewhere, soon has to give.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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Exclusive: Why I left the Labour party

02/03/2019, 09:28:13 AM

by Mike Gapes

On February 18 I resigned from the Labour Party and joined The Independent Group of Members of Parliament. This was the most difficult decision of my life. I never ever thought I would leave the Party I joined as a 16 year old when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. For over 50 years I was an active member. I held office at all levels, local and national. I spent fifteen years at Labour Party Head Office in Transport House and Walworth Road working in the Organisation, Research and Policy departments. I was a Labour and Co-operative MP for twenty seven years.

I decided early last year that I could not in all conscience stand again as a Labour candidate and support the prospect of a Corbyn led government. But it took me months of agonising to finally make the break. I have been Labour to my core. I have many good Labour friends. I care passionately about Labour values.

I never followed a leader blindly and have had differences with every leader in the past. It is no secret that I had long been unhappy with the direction of the Labour Party under the Corbyn leadership. I did not support Corbyn as leader in 2015. I also made clear that I had no confidence in him in 2016. When the unexpected early election was called in 2017 I sent my activists to help Wes Streeting in neighbouring Ilford North. I bit my tongue and did no media appearances. I based my election campaign on my record as a hard working local constituency MP.

I made no mention of Corbyn or the National Labour Manifesto in my election address which was delivered to every single voter. I pledged to be a strong pro-European voice and to campaign to stay in the Customs Union and Single Market. It was always clear to me that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be Prime Minister. When I stood for re-election in 2017 I could honestly tell my constituents that there was no prospect of that. The priority was to stop Theresa May getting a landslide for her hard Brexit.

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Corbyn moved on a second referendum because of TIG

25/02/2019, 10:39:16 PM

by Jonathan Todd

After a week, the Independent Group (TIG) can claim some successes: more Twitter followers than Momentum, higher opinion poll scores than the Liberal Democrats, and now a significant Labour move towards a second referendum.

From “funny tinge” to weak rebuttals to by-elections calls, jarring with their People’s Vote push, there have been less auspicious moments.

More fundamentally, these MPs remain trapped between the rock of being unable to advocate either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May for prime minister and the hard place of an electoral system that makes it a political reality that the prime minister will be either the leader of Labour or the Tories.

They are challenging this reality and in doing so, making a pitch for Corbyn’s brand: insurgent.

We can judge insurgency in different ways. If it means adopting the most traditionally left-wing and statist policies, it is likely that, while TIG are yet to outline a policy programme, Corbyn will win this contest. If it means taking the biggest personal risks, and positioning most defiantly against political convention, TIG trump Corbyn.

In running against convention, TIG are changing the weather, most of all in the Labour party. Over the weekend, it was understood that Corbyn was under pressure to respond to TIG by:

  • Reviewing Labour’s approach to anti-Semitism
  • Heading off attempts to trigger the deselection of MPs
  • Backing a second referendum

On the last of these, after months of reluctance, Corbyn has moved. It will be worth reading the small print but the advocates of a People’s Vote are clear: this is a big deal.

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Exclusive: “Hard left takeover,” “Bullying, “Hostility to Jewish people” Full text of Labour councillors’ resignation letter

25/02/2019, 02:15:08 PM

Yesterday, 15 Labour councillors and former councillors left the party. Published for the first time here is the full text of their letter, leaving the party

Dear Sir,

We are Labour councillors and former Labour councillors. We have, after many years of dedicated membership, resigned from the Labour Party. We are writing to express our support for the former Labour MPs over their decision to resign and establish the Independent Group.  Having witnessed up close the hard-left takeover of Labour, we believe that their harsh, uncompromising and dogmatic approach to politics poses a genuine threat.

In the last three years, we have seen hard-left campaigns destroy efforts by Labour councils to help our communities. Local authorities have faced impossible financial pressure and a growing demand for social care and housing.  Many Labour councillors have been prepared  to look beyond the state for solutions.   All too often, this has resulted in them being subjected to fierce and dishonest campaigns from within the Labour Party membership.  This leads us to believe a hard-left Labour government would severely harm the economy, threatening local services.

In the last three and a half years, the atmosphere within the Labour Party has changed beyond all recognition.   A culture of bullying, intimidation and hostility towards Jewish people becoming common-place. Having seen this unfold locally we now believe Labour, in its current form, poses a direct threat, economically, socially, and culturally, should it ever come to power. Britain is facing huge challenges in the months and years ahead, not least due to Brexit. To have any chance of meeting those challenges, politics need to change. We therefore welcome the new Independent Group.’

Yours,

Cllr Warren Morgan, Former Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council

Cllr Rowan Draper, Stafford Borough Council

Cllr Dany Louise, Hastings Borough Council

Cllr Frances Weetman, North Tyneside Council

Cllr Jess Brayne, London Borough of Barnet

Cllr Danny Hackett, London Borough of Bexley

Cllr John Ferrett, Portsmouth City Council

Jon Clempner, former Leader of Labour Group, Harlow District Council

David Sullivan, former Leader, Lewisham Borough Council

Ken Ferrett, former Councillor, Portsmouth City Council

Aiden Gray, former Councillor, Portsmouth City Council

Stephen Brimble, former Councillor, Exeter City Council

Adam Langleben, former Councillor, London Borough of Barnet

James Patterson, former Councillor, London Borough of Haringey

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Can the Labour breakaway escape our General Melchett leadership?

18/02/2019, 10:57:03 PM

By Jonathan Todd

“If nothing else works,” General Melchett (Stephen Fry) insisted in Blackadder Goes Forth, “a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.”

Donkeys again lead lions. Theresa May won’t face facts about parliamentary arithmetic. Jeremy Corbyn won’t face the facts raised by 7 ex-Labour MPs.

For Melchett “seeing things through” came at tremendous human cost. As business investment plummets and the UK’s international reputation degrades to the shambolically pitiable, May and Corbyn are also callously aloof.

Brexit does nothing to solve the problems of the UK, while creating many new problems. At a minimum, a “good Brexit” would avoid these new problems. More ambitiously, it would somehow address the problems that the UK harboured in June 2016. No such Brexit exists.

We might choose to minimise the scale of economic damage caused by Brexit (by staying in the single market and customs union) but this comes at the price of being rule takers to the EU. Since June 2016, Labour has never confronted this trade-off.

The Irish backstop features in debate in the UK as if the border issue is a potentially temporary challenge, but any future divergence between Northern Ireland and the EU customs union and single market likely necessitates a hard border.

If the UK were, for example, to have lower tariffs than the EU customs union, a Northern Ireland with an open border to the Republic would create a way to avoid tariffs when bringing goods in to the EU. If these goods were to fall below EU regulatory standards, this EU backdoor would undermine the single market, as well as the customs union.

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Wavertree CLP’s rotten leadership shines a light on the party’s

15/02/2019, 07:39:55 AM

by Rob Marchant

It has been said during the last week, and not by Labour-watchers accustomed to hyperbole, that this might have been the week when a party’s split became irrevocable.

While that may or may not be true, it is difficult to remember a time when the parliamentary party was in such disarray, even in the mad 1980s, or the late 1950s’ nadir.

Perhaps this is partly because of Jeremy Corbyn’s true, Eurosceptic colours on Europe finally becoming clear, to all but the most avid Kool-Aid drinkers in the strange party that is now Labour.

The Labour leadership’s Janus-faced position on Brexit is both embarrassing and terrible for the country, particularly if it leads, as seems quite possible, to a hard Brexit, which will undoubtedly hurt the country for years, perhaps decades. But that is a situation which can, in some sense, be rectified. It is a function of the leadership, not local parties.

The current situation with anti-Semitism, however is not so easy. A stain on the party’s previous good name for anti-racism is a deep wound, one from which it is perfectly possible it will never recover. And it has by now infested many local parties, which are much more difficult to fix, as any witness to the party’s slow purge of Militant will tell you.

There have been many, many CLPs have been suspended over the years, mostly for subverting the party’s internal democracy, via fiddling votes or entryism. But never can one recall a local party having been suspended for rampant racism, as the party’s Deputy Leader and others have called for Liverpool Wavertree to be.

Luciana Berger, its decent and competent MP, has been targeted by her own local party in a vicious campaign of racial harassment. It is hard to overstate the freakishness and sickness of some of the comments to be found on Facebook and Twitter, many by people who are clearly party members, local and not. One Twitter account I reported on Monday was wishing her unborn baby dead. And there are many, many more.

Now, some say that Berger has not worked her local base hard enough and is now paying the price. There may even be some truth in it. But it’s hardly the point.

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The party needs to tread carefully replacing its estranged MPs

05/02/2019, 09:52:03 PM

How is Labour handling the tricky round of parliamentary selections in seats where a sitting MP has either quit or been expelled from the party?

This is always a tricky subject. Local parties can become deeply divided over the fate of their estranged MP (who can often be like family to long-serving members) while party chiefs need to make a careful judgement about the individual seat and whether claims of a personal following for the MP might translate into a personal vote if they were to stand as an independent.

The received wisdom, however, is that independents struggle, regardless of whether they are sitting MPs. In the 2017 election, Simon Danczuk received just 1.8% of the vote in his Rochdale seat, after he was expelled from the party.

Still, in a marginal seat the possibility that a former MP might stand, clattering into a new candidate and gifting the seat to another party, is very real. So how is Labour responding in those seats with MPs that have resigned or been forced out of the party?

In Sheffield Hallam, the deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, Olivia Blake, was recently selected as a replacement for the suspended Jared O’Mara from an all-women shortlist (AWS). This made sense, given the allegations against O’Mara for his juvenile sexist postings on social media. (A hipster university seat, Hallam is reputed to have the highest number of people with a Phd in the country).

However In Barrow and Furness, where John Woodcock resigned from the party following allegations – (and they are just allegations) of sexual misconduct – the party did not impose an AWS, selecting former soldier and Network Rail employee, Chris Altree, from an open shortlist on Saturday to defend Labour’s wafer-thin majority of just 209.

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The main party leaders are useless. We need a parliamentary League of Grown-Ups to tell the British public the truth on Brexit

16/01/2019, 10:28:02 PM

by Rob Marchant

What happens if normal party politics has broken down? One suspects this is the question most commentators have been asking themselves for the last several months, consciously or unwittingly, as British politics lurches from one unprecedented situation to another.

If we needed proof, it is surely in the bizarre events of the last couple of days.

First, Theresa May suffers the biggest parliamentary defeat since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s, on the deal that she has diligently shepherded through Parliament.

Then, miraculously, she survives a vote of No Confidence the following day, in a way that surely no other Prime Minister has ever done after even much lesser defeats.

Apart from the unlikeliness of these record-breaking feats being what any PM would like to be remembered for, this is clearly not parliamentary business as usual.

Most disastrously, we now have the leaders of both major parties entrenched in fantasy positions: May’s, that some kind of Brexit deal not unlike hers can still be salvaged, to save us from No Deal, and Corbyn’s that we can still negotiate something better with the EU in time for tea.

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With each passing week, McDonnell becomes more like Brown to Corbyn’s Blair

07/01/2019, 10:41:33 PM

by David Talbot

In September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party, was finishing his first speech to the party faithful. Embracing the mandate for change, Corbyn, with a wry nod halfway through, noted that “things can – and they will – change”. In the preceding three years, via an internal challenge and a general election, the nature of the Labour Party has been transformed in his image. Corbyn was of course in part elected, twice, as Labour leader precisely because he represented a riposte to the previous Labour governments and to, of course, the loathed Tony Blair. However, an aspect of the duopoly which so dominated the party throughout its years in government is set to be replicated, ironically, by those who have dedicated the most to repudiating him, his image and his governments.

John McDonnell was not a universally welcomed appointment when Corbyn gave his longstanding comrade the position of Shadow Chancellor over three years ago. The antipathy reached its peak during the botched leadership challenge to Corbyn during 2016, when murmurs reached a crescendo that his departure was desperately needed to restore some semblance of party unity. The fiery, left-wing firebrand made enemies in his own party as easily as amongst the Conservatives, his reputation as a deeply divisive and electorally poisonous figure seemingly cemented.

The scepticism extended as far as Corbyn’s innermost circle, who grew to distrust the Shadow Chancellor – an opinion also widely held amongst the trade unions who had dealt with him for decades. In his early throes he actively coveted controversy and attrition, from his ‘communist salute’ at the 2015 party conference to labelling Labour moderates “fucking useless” in their cack-handed attempts to dispose the new Labour leader. Since then, a transition has begun as ambitious and calculated as the work of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to transform the electoral prospects of a moribund party in the mid-1990s.

And it is to these two towering figures of the last chapter of the Labour Party that is becoming ever more prevalent for the new, Corbyn-led, chapter. The rivalry and trench warfare, often for the sheer sake of it, that came to characterise the then Labour leader and his Chancellor is fracturing into the open between Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor. Over the summer, when Labour descended into a bitter dispute over anti-Semitism, it was the Shadow Chancellor, through the pages of the Times no less, that organ of the establishment, who made it known that he disapproved of Corbyn’s handling of the sorry saga. As to with the terrorist incident in Salisbury, where McDonnell, not Corbyn, voiced support for the security services and stated unequivocally it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible.

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The Uncuts: 2018 political awards (part II)

31/12/2018, 03:11:28 PM

Most Dearly Departed: Tessa Jowell

Tessa Jowell, according to her obituary in the Guardian, “exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends.” Uncut’s experience of Jowell chimed with this. In our age of division, Jowell’s relentless positivity and easy warmth is much missed.

The personal is political. The last time we felt like a country pulling together to reach for the stars was during 2012’s Olympic summer. An experience that we would not have known without Jowell’s personal qualities.

That Jowell persuaded an initially sceptical prime minister Tony Blair of the wisdom of an Olympic bid reminds us of the importance of leaders having confidants prepared to speak truth to power. Next to today’s shrivelled Downing Street bunker, the near past seems a distant universe.

Straight Talking, Honest Politics: Jeremy Corbyn and Wreathgate

In previous years, it has mostly been possible for observers and many party members to take Jeremy Corbyn’s words as misconstrued, misguided or mildly disingenuous. This year, however, the party’s own leader has been responsible for such blatant whoppers that he alone, astonishingly, bagged all nominations in this category.

Nominations came in for:

–    Claiming not to have called the prime minister a “stupid woman”, when he is actually caught on video mouthing those exact words and a team of lip-reading experts disagreed.

–    Claiming to be anti-Brexit, when in fact he has spent his entire political career being anti-EU. In particular, voting against Brexit in the September Commons vote, but only because he couldn’t get away with voting otherwise with the members, using the fig-leaf that the government’s resulting powers would be too strong. I mean, who could say that in Iran, Venezuela or Cuba the government’s powers are “too strong”, eh?

–    In close contention for the top spot, there was the Marr interview where he actually told three untruths in the space of twenty seconds.

But the ultimate prize in this prestigious award was given for the culmination of the “Wreathgate” saga, where our Dear Leader claimed not to have put a wreath on a terrorist’s grave, even though all evidence pointed to the fact that he had done just that. To round things off, in a brilliantly disingenuous move, his office then reported to the press regulator that the coverage had been unfair, only to drop the complaint again a few months later, claiming the process had been “compromised”. A well-deserved win.

the possibility for socialists to lead a political transformation

Most Forensically Persistent: Robert Mueller

Liberal America remains in therapy. Pod Save America helps. Slow Burn, telling the story of Watergate, is another wildly successful podcast. The resignation of president Richard Nixon did not happen overnight. It was a glacial journey into an unknown territory.

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