Jeremy Corbyn addresses a Labour leadership campaign rally in Hull. It was a miracle photographer Danny Lawson (for PA) could get close to him…
These promises are a clear response to Owen Smith’s policies on pay negotiation and zero-hours contracts.
Is the collective bargaining plan any good? This Writer doesn’t know. If any experts on employment law are among our readership, feel free to debate the proposal – and Owen Smith’s alternatives – here.
His plan to eradicate zero-hours contracts seems streets ahead of Mr Smith’s ‘single-hour contracts’ idea, though.
… This was the size of the crowd Mr Corbyn was addressing. [Image: From Twitter].
Jeremy Corbyn would require companies with more than 250 employees to accept new industrial laws under which they would have to recognise a specific union with which to bargain over pay.
Aides to the Labour leader said a Corbyn government would “repeal” 1999 union legislation that was passed by a Labour government to introduce a new French-style framework of union rights.
Writing in the Observer, Corbyn said change was made urgent by the corporate governance scandals involving Mike Ashley at Sports Direct and Philip Green at BHS, and the row over the decision by the Byron hamburger chain to help immigration officials arrest 35 of its staff who were working illegally in the country. “Even Theresa May understands she has to pay lip service to change in the workplace and the boardroom …,” writes Corbyn.
“But the best way to guarantee fair pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively – giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work,” he writes.
“That’s why it should be mandatory for all large employers, with over 250 staff, to bargain collectively with recognised trade unions.”
Currently a union seeking recognition must show that 10% of employees are members and 50% want them to lead on pay bargaining. If that is not the case, a secret ballot is held and union recognition requires a majority of those voting and at least 40% of those eligible to vote to support recognition.
Corbyn also proposes that all employees be given guaranteed hours which must be specified and written into a contract – bringing an end to zero-hour contracts. If an employer wants workers to work beyond those hours, they must specify the length of additional work along with a reason for asking.
An employer will also have to give reasonable compensation, akin to an “on-call” payment to an employee, for agreeing to make themselves available for additional work, whether they are ultimately asked to do so or not.
Theresa May has launched a campaign against slavery, without acknowledging that her government actively supports other forms of bondage [Image: AFP].
The launch of Theresa May’s campaign against modern slavery is laudable – until you realise there is one form of slavery she actively promotes.
You might say that wage slavery does not involve anything like the kind of abuse that is associated with the other forced workers – but you’d probably be wrong.
As Mrs May said herself, “People are enduring experiences that are simply horrifying in their inhumanity” – and that goes for people who are forced to seek paid work of the most demeaning kinds, simply to make ends meet.
Employers will force pay and conditions down, exploit their workers brutally, inflict psychological torture on them, just to keep them docile. This Writer has seen it – perhaps you have too.
That’s just fine by Theresa May.
Look at today’s (July 31) report about student debt – released concurrently with the launch of Mrs May’s campaign.
It says, “Having to pay back student debts will wipe out any graduate premium for most professions, claims the Intergenerational Foundation in a report.”
Meanwhile the government is still telling us higher education boosts employability and earnings.
So the cream of UK academia is lured into huge debts that will hang over them for most, if not all, of their working life.
Meanwhile the rest of us – those who can find work in the first place – are already under the cosh because employers know their only restriction is the ‘National Living Wage’ – which doesn’t pay enough for anyone to survive without benefits.
And the benefit system is deliberately skewed to withhold payments from claimants.
That’s just fine by Theresa May.
Look at Mandatory Work Activity. The DWP has been forced to reveal the names of employers taking part in this form of modern slavery (although it has restricted the details to those that were part of the scheme when a Freedom of Information request was made in 2012). Ministers had spent four years fighting court battles to assure anonymity to their accomplices because they knew the British public would be horrified.
Mandatory Work Activity takes people who have lost their jobs and sends them back to work – in some cases, doing exactly the same job – with their salary replaced by rock-bottom state benefits.
That’s just fine by Theresa May.
Don’t get me wrong – modern slavery is evil; it should be wiped off of British shores.
But the campaign simply exposes Conservative double-standards that allow a different kind of slavery because it has a different name.
And that’s just fine by Theresa May.
Britain will lead the fight against modern slavery, Theresa May has said, vowing to make it her mission to help rid the world of the “barbaric evil”.
The most recent Home Office estimates suggest there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, with 45 million estimated victims across the world.
Victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.
Supporters who attended a Jeremy Corbyn rally in Hull yesterday (July 30) [Image: From Twitter].
This is a weird one.
It seems that Labour Party officials have been trying to dictate to Jeremy Corbyn when he can campaign and when he must pander to the TV media – and he’s not playing their game.
He has agreed to several televised hustings events but has turned down others because he has other events planned – for example he is due to speak in Liverpool on Monday when Channel 4 wanted to screen a debate.
Channel 4 News seems completely unperturbed about Mr Corbyn’s refusal to attend on Monday. The organisation has announced that talks with Mr Corbyn, regarding another date, are ongoing.
Owen Smith has, of course, leapt on the bandwagon, telling The Guardian: “I will debate with Jeremy, any time, anywhere. But it takes two to tango. It would be a tragedy for members and the labour movement if they were not given the chance to see how the two candidates compare.”
But it seems this tragedy has already been averted because at least seven other televised hustings events are scheduled, although some have yet to be accepted by Mr Corbyn’s team.
We are more likely to become sick of the sight of both candidates than unable to see how they compare!
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “bottling” the first head-to-head hustings with Owen Smith after it emerged that he has rejected a Channel 4 News debate organised by the Labour party that was due to be held on Monday evening.
Labour party officials asked the two candidates last Tuesday to keep the date free for the debate but the Corbyn campaign informed Channel 4 News on Thursday that he would not be attending.
A source close to the Labour leader said that, while Corbyn would attend all the official events organised by Labour’s governing body, the NEC, they would not be dictated to by Labour party HQ on attending hustings being set up by media organisations.
“The exact role of the Labour party organisation in how they have played it since the coup has been a controversial one,” the source said. “Jeremy will do some media hustings but that has to be in agreement with Jeremy’s campaign team. The Labour party can facilitate but not dictate.”
The source added that Corbyn was in Liverpool on Monday night but that he also had the right to turn down hustings if he felt that the media organisation sponsoring it was hostile to his leadership.
A spokesman for Channel 4 News said that Smith had confirmed that he was willing to attend the hustings on Monday night or later this week but that they were still in talks with those acting for the Labour leader.
The Labour party website lists upcoming hustings as being in Cardiff on Thursday; Nottinghamshire on Wednesday at an event hosted by the BBC; Birmingham on 18 August; Glasgow on 25 August; and an event organised by the Guardian on 1 September in London. In addition, the Labour party has also proposed events with ITV in August and Sky in September. However, the Corbyn campaign has yet to agree to a number of those events.
Jeremy Corbyn is being challenged by Owen Smith for the leadership of the Labour Party [Composite: The Guardian].
This is an update to a report earlier that Labour rebels were considering launching a ‘party-within-a-party’, denying Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and mounting legal action to take the party’s name and financial assets.
Mr Corbyn has responded as follows:
[Jeremy] Corbyn [has] warned rebel MPs they will never be able to take the Labour party’s name if they force a split.
Responding to reports in the Daily Telegraph that dissenting MPs are preparing to elect their own leader and launch a legal challenge for the party’s name and assets if Smith fails to win the battle for the leadership, Corbyn branded the situation “bizarre”.
He said: “We are getting into some fairly bizarre territory here where unnamed MPs, funded from unnamed sources, are apparently trying to challenge – via the Daily Telegraph, very interesting – the very existence of this party.
“I say to them: ‘think on, and think again’. This party was founded by brave people, pioneers who achieved a great deal, and this party has a huge membership and under the Registration of Parties Act we are the Labour party.
“There’s no alternative, there’s no other party, we are the Labour party, and I’m very proud to be the leader of the Labour party.”
Corbyn denied his leadership could trigger a split, adding: “Sorry, this is nonsense, whoever is saying my leadership is leading to a break-up of the party? Since I became leader membership has doubled, activity has increased.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged Smith to condemn “the minority of MPs supporting his campaign who are threatening to subvert the outcome of this election and cause enormous damage to the Labour party”. Smith responded by saying he would not “indulge in gossip”.
Sharon Hodgson is the latest in the line of former shadow ministers to provide an unconvincing explanation for her resignation – more than a month after she handed in her notice.
She follows several others, including Lilian Greenwood and Thangam Debbonaire, who have seen fit to tell us Jeremy Corbyn is a poor leader who did not listen to his shadow cabinet and announced policies without consulting them.
It isn’t convincing, because the overall effect is of a co-ordinated smear campaign, with statements released at intervals, all very similar in content.
So Ms Hodgson tells us she quit because she saw the ringleaders of the so-called ‘Chicken Coup’ quitting, and that was enough for her to decide it was time to hand in her notice too:
Unfortunately, I could not continue supporting Jeremy after the events that followed Hilary Benn’s sacking.
I was not part of any “Blairite coup” or orchestrated plan to damage Jeremy’s leadership. My decision was my own. On the Monday after the Shadow Cabinet resignations, I got on the train to London, as I do every week, and had no plan to resign. Yet, as Monday progressed, it became clear that Jeremy’s leadership could not go on.
As MPs such as Owen Smith, Kate Green, and Lisa Nandy left a meeting with Jeremy and resigned, it was clear that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. These MPs are not “Blairites”, and they resigned due to Jeremy’s inability to engage with his cabinet. Jeremy had lost the confidence of most of his Shadow Cabinet, and in turn lost my confidence in him as Leader. Instead of carrying on as if nothing was wrong, I stood up for what I believed and made the difficult decision to resign.
They all resigned because the sacking of Hilary Benn triggered their move – they were following his lead. That makes Ms Hodgson a follower of followers.
Let’s look at her little tale of trouble with the leader:
It has been clear from his lack of engagement with his Shadow Ministers and the wider Parliamentary Labour Party where our democratic policy development processes have been over-run by the leadership or ignored.
My office and I spent months preparing for a Labour Party review into special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to feed into Labour’s manifesto for the 2020 General Election. I identified the issues we needed to address; I raised questions in the chamber; I met stakeholders to discuss the review, and my staff put together a briefing for the wider PLP and the Leadership Office, and worked to get media coverage. Three days after the launch, I found out that my review had been completely undermined by our Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.
Without consulting me, John had announced his support for a Shadow Neurodiversity Minister and an autism manifesto. My office picked up John’s announcement on Twitter, and subsequently raised the issue with him, requesting an opportunity to meet to discuss the matter further. After receiving no response, my team made several more attempts to reach out to John’s office, which were all met with no answer.
The combination of silence from John’s office and the large number of inquiries from external bodies and the media, left me with no option but to contact Jeremy’s office directly. Instead of support and an offer to resolve the problem, we were simply acknowledged with the sentence, “I appreciate the point”, and then told to expect an apology and clarification later, which never arrived. Indeed, nobody ever reached out to discuss the matter with me.
In all my time in Parliament, I have never experienced such lack of communication or respect for a shadow minister’s work from a Leader. To form a credible and effective opposition, a Leader must work with the PLP and respect the opinions of their shadow ministers. Jeremy needs to lead his MPs as well as the membership. Sadly, Jeremy has failed to fulfil the parliamentary aspect of his role from day one.
As members of the public, we have no evidence of Labour’s internal affairs. We have no proof that Ms Hodgson was carrying out the work she described for the reasons she mentioned and no evidence that she contacted John McDonnell in the way she describes – if she hadn’t, that would explain his lack of a response.
And again, where she discusses correspondence with Mr Corbyn, we have no evidence to show that a dialogue happened in the way she described.
In the light of Mr McDonnell’s previous comments about Heidi Alexander, any such statement is questionable and it is important to learn the other side of the story before making any judgements.
In the case of Ms Alexander, it seemed to the Labour leadership that she was dragging her heels – failing to take appropriate action against the Conservatives in her policy area of health.
Perhaps the story with Ms Hodgson is similar.
She is right that Mr Corbyn needs to lead his MPs, but it is much easier to do so when one has MPs who accept their duty to follow their elected leader.
We have all seen far too much evidence to show that they were more interested in stabbing him in the back.
Additional: A Vox Political reader got in touch on Facebook to point out the following: “SEND can work alongside Neurodiversity and autism, since Neurodiversity and ASD are an aspect of special educational needs.” In other words, his support for a shadow neurodiversity minister and autism manifesto would not have interfered with Ms Hodgson’s work.
Theresa May. Your new prime minister used to be responsible for conditions at Yarl’s Wood.
If the Home Office is refusing to reveal the number of people who have been raped while waiting for a judgement on an asylum claim, we can conclude that it has definitely happened at least once.
Once is far too often.
Responsibility can only lie with the organisation running the centre; whether the perpetrator was a detainee or a member of staff, Serco should have prevented it.
But the Home Office refuses to answer the question, for fear of harming Serco’s “commercial interests”.
That is not acceptable.
As Home Secretary while this has been going on, new prime minister Theresa May will be responsible, overall, for events at Yarl’s Wood.
If she couldn’t safeguard the detainees there, why should we believe she’ll care any better for the citizens of the UK?
Let’s have a straight answer from her.
Perhaps it is time our so-called ‘honeymoon period’ with this person came to an abrupt end.
The Home Office is refusing to reveal how many detainees have been sexually assaulted or raped inside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire in case the information becoming public knowledge harms the “commercial interests” of private companies that are involved in running it.
Like all Government departments, the Home Office is subject to legislation that requires public bodies to disclose information that is in the public interest. However, since The Independent submitted a request for information about sexual violence against detainees in the centre in March, the Home Office has refused to disclose this information. A member of Home Office staff argued this was on the grounds that: “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests” of people involved with running Yarl’s Wood.
The controversial detention centre holds women who have entered the UK seeking asylum, often while fleeing war or sexual violence in their home country. They are held while their immigration/ asylum status is established by the Home Office, before being given leave to remain or removed from the UK. It is operated by private company Serco on behalf of the Home Office.
The concept of splitting the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as leader isn’t new.
It simply seems hopelessly naïve.
They make too many baseless assumptions.
Sure, the mutineers could elect their own leader and form their own party-within-a-party, if they really wanted to disrupt opposition to the Conservative Government.
Such a plan certainly would not strengthen opposition to the Tories, and would fuel claims that the so-called ‘moderates’ behind the plot against Corbyn really are ‘Red Tory’ infiltrators who had joined Labour to destroy it.
Sure, they could launch a legal challenge for the party’s name and assets – although this is unlikely to succeed because they would be trying to split off and form a party of their own, without the support of the majority of members.
Sure, they could ask John Bercow to name them as the official opposition – but this assumes that all the MPs who supported their ‘no confidence’ motion would stay with them.
Sarah Champion has already rejoined Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, and there is reason to believe others will follow her as disillusion with the rebels and their methods sets in.
None of those behind the idea have been named – it seems they are still too scared to admit their involvement, an attitude that has led to their efforts against Mr Corbyn gaining a derogatory nickname: ‘The Chicken Coup’.
For all we know, the suggestion might not be serious at all – with no names to add credibility, it may have been dreamed up by journalists at The Mirror and The Telegraph.
In fact, the most this plan is likely to achieve is an even greater undermining of Owen Smith’s leadership challenge.
It seems the Labour rebels have only one skill: Betrayal.
Labour rebels plan to elect their own leader and create an ‘alternative’ parliamentary group if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected, it was claimed last night.
Senior Labour rebels are so convinced that Jeremy Corbyn will win the leadership contest that they intend to launch a legal challenge for the party’s name.
The move would see them create their own shadow cabinet and even elect a leader within Parliament to rival Mr Corbyn’s front bench to take on the Tories.
They are considering going through the courts to get the right to use Labour’s name and assets including property owned by the party across the country.
They would also approach John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, and argue that having more MPs than Mr Corbyn means they should be named the official opposition.
Chuka Umunna: Members of the Labour Party in his Streatham constituency were blocked from voting for the leadership candidate of their choice.
We all know the campaign to elect Owen Smith as the new leader of the Labour Party isn’t going well – so his supporters are resorting to anti-democratic, dirty tricks to make it seem he is doing better.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has given each local party the option of nominating a candidate through a members’ vote or one by the party’s general committee.
So far, it seems 76 Constituency Labour Parties have held meetings and declared the results which are: Jeremy Corbyn – 57; Owen Smith – 15; Neutral – 4.
But it seems those declaring for Owen Smith may have done so by underhand means – locking out the wider membership and holding delegate-only meetings in order to control the result.
We know this happened in Conor McGinn’s St Helen’s North constituency.
And the Evening Standard is reporting that it has happened in Streatham. That’s one-fifth of all the constituencies that have supported Smith, and there’s no reason to believe they are the only ones.
According to the Standard, “a party source said the decision was taken on practical grounds as arranging a short-notice members’ vote for a party with such a large membership would have been too difficult”.
This is rubbish.
If the problem is notifying members, then haven’t they heard of email? If the problem is fitting them all in, then they should take a hint from Jeremy Corbyn, who said they should simply hire a bigger hall.
Perhaps the organisers of these ‘stitch-up’ meetings do not realise that they are storing up a huge amount of ill-feeling among members, who are likely to make their feelings – which is to say, demands – known as soon as possible. Then these operators will be out in the cold.
It is possible that this does not worry them, as it seems plans to split the party and steal its assets are well advanced (of which, more in another article).
In the meantime, anyone who feels mistreated by this attempt to sidestep democracy is entitled to express their displeasure to the NEC – perhaps in the form of a multiple-signature letter or petition; perhaps with a motion of no confidence in the nomination decision and the process by which it was made.
A row broke out today in the local party of one of Labour’s best-known MPs after it formally backed Owen Smith for leader over Jeremy Corbyn.
Grassroots members in Chuka Umunna’s Streatham seat claimed they were “locked out” of the vote to decide the nomination. The decision was instead taken by the party’s general committee, with Mr Smith winning the support of 44 delegates compared with 14 for Mr Corbyn.
Some accused local leaders, including Mr Umunna, of blocking them out of fear of a Corbyn surge.
Unison delegate to the party Dan Jeffries said: “The way they have done it is totally unfair. “Other constituency parties, including in Lambeth, have allowed members to vote.”
Katharine Birbalsingh gained notoriety after describing state schools as “utterly chaotic” at the Conservative Party conference in 2010 [Image: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian].
It is terrifying that our Conservative government supports a school system that allows teachers to behave in this way.
Michaela Free School in Wembley, London, has caused controversy by putting pupils into ‘lunch isolation’ if parents fail to pay for their children’s school meals.
According to the school, pupils in lunch isolation “will receive a sandwich and a piece of fruit only. They will spend the entire 60-minute period in lunch isolation. Only when the entire outstanding amount is paid in full will they be allowed into family lunch with their classmates.”
This seems like a form of psychological harm, inflicted on the pupils.
More controversial still – it seems to This Writer – is the attitude of the school’s head teacher, Katharine Birbalsingh.
“We’ve got three families in the whole of the school where this is the case. They are all families who are betraying their children. One we are reporting to social services,” Ms Birbalsingh told The Guardian.
“Betraying their children?”
That’s an extreme thing to say about people who haven’t been able to speak up for themselves.
And the mother who raised the issue in the first place – in theDaily Mail– claims she paid up the arrears before receiving Ms Birbalsingh’s letter demanding the money – but her child was put through the punishment anyway.
The pupil in question left Michaela at the end of the summer term.
Michaela School, which seems to revel in the motto ‘Knowledge is Power’, also seems to revel in the exercise of power over its pupils.
“Those children would leave school illiterate if they were at any other schools. At our school that is not the case,” said Ms Birbalsingh.
“Why? Because we force them to go to reading club after school, we force them to do their homework, and we also, during the time we take them out of family lunch, do extra work with them so that they are catching up.” [Bolding mine]
In this day and age, doesn’t that signify mistreatment by multiple means?
It seems clear that Ms Birbalsingh is forceful in defending her policy, but one has to wonder, if this is how her school uses its power over other people’s children…
What else might go on behind this school’s closed doors, if she is allowed to continue?
The head of a London secondary school that places pupils in “lunch isolation” if their parents don’t pay for school meals is unapologetic over the policy, arguing that parents who refuse to pay are betraying their children’s education.
Katharine Birbalsingh, the head of Michaela community school in north-west London who imposed the policy, argued that the children affected were from dysfunctional homes and needed the school’s support.
“Should we charge a poor single mum twice so she can pay for Jonny just because she has a sense of personal responsibility and Jonny’s mother doesn’t?” Birbalsingh said.
“Free school meals looks after the poorest. Even then we have all sorts of systems for people who really are in financial need, and I mean the real ones. I don’t mean the ones who are playing the system, trying to get other poor families to pay for their child’s food.”
The controversy surfaced after the Daily Mail reported that a parent of a pupil received a letter from the school’s deputy head saying: “You are currently £75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed in lunch isolation.”
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.