Harriet Harman: She says she didn’t talk with Jo Swinson.
Here’s a fascinating piece of information from Skwawkbox.
We already know that novice Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson claimed she had spoken to both Kenneth Clarke and Harriet Harman about one of them leading an interim government following a vote of “no confidence” in Boris Johnson’s administration.
This Site quoted her comment when challenged on this: “I have been in touch with them because obviously you don’t just mention people’s names without checking that they’re OK with that.”
That quote was in my article showing that Mr Clarke had not been in contact with Ms Swinson. He said: “I’ve been on holiday for two weeks and missed all this. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
Now it seems Ms Harman has said she never spoke to Ms Swinson either.
In an email to members of her Camberwell & Peckham constituency party, according to Skwawkbox, Mr Harman wrote: “I can reassure you that I have not been involved in any closed door, cross-party talks between Labour and Conservative backbenchers and the Leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
“I support Jeremy Corbyn going for a vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson. And will, of course, vote for it.
“It is… the clear constitutional right of the Leader of the Opposition to have the first attempt to form an administration if the Government fails.
“I back Jeremy Corbyn’s determination to do everything possible to prevent the terrible damage to our country that will be caused if the Government stampedes into a No Deal Brexit.”
Now I hear that opposition leaders including Ms Swinson have signed a declaration to do “whatever is necessary” to stop a “no deal” Brexit.
But discussions centred on ways of using the law to prevent such an event, with minimal talk about the “no confidence” vote.
Was this because of Ms Swinson’s reluctance to support Mr Corbyn? If so, shouldn’t the clear evidence of dishonesty mitigate against her?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Luciana Berger: “No confidence” motions against her were about her attempts to undermine the Labour leadership. Why is the Labour leadership trying to defend her?
Labour’s leadership shot itself in the foot yet again at the end of a disastrous week for relations between the executive and rank-and-file members.
Earlier in the week, general secretary Jennie Formby’s refusal to suspend Wes Streeting and investigate his behaviour after he launched a despicable attack on a 70-year-old female member, using faked evidence and publicising her true identity which she keeps hidden, put her in hot water – with members telling her in no uncertain terms that the complaints system was not fit for purpose, prioritising representatives over the people who put them there.
Then Wavertree CLP cancelled two ‘no confidence’ votes about the behaviour of that constituency’s MP, Luciana Berger. The first was withdrawn by its proposer, and the second by the CLP itself after it emerged that the member proposing the motion will be out of the UK on the day planned for the debate. This Writer’s understanding is that both motions referred to the actions of the MP, whose false claims of anti-Semitism within the party have caused deep offence.
Yet some within the party hierarchy have made reference to abuse that the MP receives (Ms Formby), to the fact that she is eight months pregnant (Harriet Harman – and what does that have to do with anything?)…
We criticise Berger for being anti-Labour. She's Jewish so we must all be antisemitic, she's a woman so we're all misogynists, now she's up the duff so we're all anti equality. What's she going to bring up next? Maybe she has a secret disability and we're all disablist too? YAWN https://t.co/YR1VhLlD0J
… and to racism/anti-Semitism within the CLP (Tom Watson – who should know that it has a large Jewish contingent and is chaired by a Jewish person; Wes Streeting (again) – who accused the people of Liverpool of being anti-Semitic en masse in yet another ill-advised tweet;
The attempted bullying by the members named above incensed party members across the UK – many of whom are now threatening to burn their membership cards in protest at what they see as clearly prejudicial behaviour – in favour of MPs who are spreading lies, and against members who are the victims of those lies.
Mr Watson’s comments in particular – as a non-Jew potentially implying the “wrong kind of Jew” argument against Jewish party members – disgraced the Labour Party. Wavertree CLP’s executive has released a statement to “strongly reject the media inaccuracies and the accusations of political bullying, for simply adhering to Party rules and doing our jobs” and asserting that “the suggestion that the CLP Executive is in any way a party to bullying and antisemitism is a false and slanderous accusation”.
Kate Hoey. Not Jewish. Chris Leslie. Not Jewish. Joan Ryan. Not Jewish.
It's disgraceful of Tom Watson to intervene in CLP business. I think all the treacherous Blairites can feel the cold wind of deselection coming so expect some more desperate measures as they try to bring back Toryism to @UKLabour Party.#iStandWithWavertree#JC4PM2019#Brexit
And Mr Streeting’s tweet – following Ms Formby’s call for no more “trial by Twitter”, this indicates he believes she was lecturing rank-and-file members, not him – will undoubtedly have led to more calls for his Labour membership to be suspended and an investigation into his behaviour held. See this article for further details.
Ordinary Labour Party members took offence at the glib way so-called leaders of the party tried to pretend that the “no confidence” motion was an attack on Ms Berger as a person, rather than as a representative of the party. Ms Formby came in for particularly strong criticism. See:
I agree with abuse & antisemitism being abhorrent but that’s not what the motions were about, it was on basis that she would do everything in her power to stop a Labour govt from delivering its manifesto. Which is why this disappoints me, but I’m glad you didn’t suspend CLP tho.
Donahue Rogers tweeted: “Gen Sec should not be voicing an opinion about this – especially as you’re asking members to show solidarity with someone who refuses to show support for a Labour government and also refuses to dismiss rumours that she is about to join another party #iStandWithWavertree”
Here’s the ever-controversial George Galloway – with an opinion that, for once, wasn’t:
It was an error of judgement, especially as it allowed party members to compare support for an MP who consistently undermines her party with the lack of it for the MP who has endured more abuse than all the others put together. As “Audrey” put it: “I didn’t see that many ppl falling over each other publicly to defend Diane when she is abused permanently even by tv journos. Guess some ppl are just not worth standing in solidarity with…Planning to do something about Watson or aren’t the members worthy of solidarity either?”
Albert Trigg also took issue with Ms Formby’s claim that party members should stand in solidarity with Ms Berger: “‘Solidarity’? The same kind of solidarity she shows Corbyn and the membership? She could not even bring herself to say she wanted a Corbyn Government. Abuse is wrong but it works both ways. False accusations of racism from Labour MPs is not on.”
It was withdrawn. Rightly or wrongly that’s the decision of the CLP. However, to suggest this is AS is crazy. She was Jewish when she was voted into office by her CLP who has a large Jewish representation. If Wavertree pushes a VONC then it would go ahead.
Totally agree, she not shown solidarity towards the party or @jeremycorbyn or the members. I give up. Np point in standing by them, when at first opportunity they won't stand up for us, in fact they attack us. Disgusting, thats not socialism.
Carla Marx added: “More disappointing responses from our leaders. This isn’t enough from Jennie. The online abuse has nothing to with Wavertree activists – they have a perfect right to hold their MP to account for her signal lack of respect to them and the Party she’s meant to represent.”
Some suggested that the Labour leadership had lost focus and needed to concentrate on the real troublemakers in the party:
I agree when good grassroots socialists are being labelled as AS with no evidence it's time to move and get rid of those MPs and others who use anything to further their own advantage They must be removed from the party so we can move on @JennieGenSec #IStandWithWavertree
Labour’s national leadership has already confirmed that there will be no action taken against Wavertree.
Then came the threats to quit:
I am definintely planning to quit my membership. If the Gen Sec is saying that Luciana Berger deserves solidarity, when she has shown none towards the party, the leader or the members, it's time I went. #Solidarity
Fortunately other members took a more rounded view: “There is a greater need than us,” tweeted Teri_Card007. “The 14 million in poverty, 1.5 million in destitution, 330,000 homeless and the disabled who are dying every month because of Tory policy. We stand together, support each other. Labour is Socialist and there are many of us and they’re the few.”
Here are a few more such opinions:
All those good folk in despair over events of the last 24 hours, stay strong.
The Blatcherites want you to give up. The tories want you to give up.
Invoke the spirit of Liverpool and stay strong. Now, more than ever we need you to believe. #iStandWithWavertree
It may feel like the attacks on our party have mounted again in the face of what seems a defeat for socialism in recent days. You may feel deflated, beaten, angry. That's how they want you to feel, That's how they regain control of our movement if we let them. Not on my watch. pic.twitter.com/PSHiObGCVF
Perhaps the best reflection of the way Labour members feel came from a former 2017 general election candidate going under the handle @DisIdealist, who wrote: “Where members tend to draw the line, in my experience, is when a representative is seen as both politically unsympathetic and not helping to obtain a Labour government. If an MP ever crosses a line to be seen as actively helping to prevent a Labour government, then members will almost always move against them. If one looks at those Labour MPs who have faced motions of no confidence – and it is a relatively small number – one finds that it is inevitably the case that they not only have serious political differences with the leadership, but they are seen by members as making a Labour government less likely through their public provision of ammunition to the hostile media and the Tories.”
That is the real spirit of Labour. Not the fake-Tory divide-and-rule we’re seeing from the likes of Berger, Harman, Watson, Streeting, Umunna (always the same names, aren’t they?) and (I’m sorry to say) Formby.
But those are just six voices – loud voices, maybe, but not many – among more than half a million. They want to deceive the rest into thinking that their few voices matter more than those of the rest of us – and they hope that their lies will convince people of good conscience to quit the party, so they can have their cosy little club back; never challenging the Tories enough to make a difference, just making sure they take their ministerial salaries home.
To the mass of Labour members: Don’t let them win. Force the issue. Make them defend themselves – and prove that they can’t.
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Flint: Resigned her place in the shadow cabinet and is now complaining that women have not been given top jobs.
Some of Labour’s right-wing women seem to be agitating against Jeremy Corbyn – unwisely, perhaps, considering their previously-stated positions.
The Graun quoted Caroline Flint and Lisa Nandy, both complaining that women have not been appointed to top jobs in the shadow cabinet, in line with comments by Harriet Harman at Labour’s women’s conference.
Ms Flint said: “We haven’t got women in the top jobs in our party. That includes the major offices of state. I think that is a missed opportunity.”
Maybe it is, Caroline – but you missed it! Ms Flint, lest anyone forget, announced her refusal to accept any position in the shadow cabinet two days after Mr Corbyn was elected leader. She said she could “best support the Labour party and the leadership from outside the shadow cabinet.”
Now she’s complaining about the lack of women in top positions? Let’s have some consistency, please, Caroline!
Worse still, Lisa Nandy told Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan she was “uncomfortable” that Labour’s leader and deputy leader were both men. This is bizarre. She saw that women and men were on the ballot papers for both positions. The Labour Party chose the people who most members considered were best for the roles. That’s democracy.
Is Lisa Nandy opposed to democracy now?
Furthermore, Ms Nandy is the new shadow energy secretary, meaning she has accepted a job in the shadow cabinet – but is still content to snipe at the leaders, and the system that put them on top – a system in which she participated.
Ms Nandy said she supports a long-standing proposal that either the leader or deputy leader should be a woman. In the name of gender equality, this is all well and good. But Labour relies on the principle that a job should be done by the best person for it, regardless of background, privileges, sex, religion or any other possible reason for division.
Demanding that possible candidates be disqualified because of their sex is an act of negative discrimination (is there any other kind?) and should not be allowed.
The simple fact is that the Labour Party did not support the female candidates for leader or deputy leader – not because they were female, but because of their policy proposals.
Regarding the shadow cabinet appointments, This Writer does not have inside information about the deliberations that took place. However, considering the complaints about those appointments are coming from two people who have deliberately left Labour’s front bench, it is clear that they should not be taken seriously.
Let’s not have any more of this.
Additional: It seems John Prescott agrees with me. Not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing… He said: “I think that’s their right, of course, [not to serve in the shadow cabinet] but then don’t complain if the cabinet’s not of your own making. I mean, we’ve just seen that with Harriet, about five or six of their leading women refused to stand, and then complained about the make up of the cabinet. Look, that’s just not on. It’s each individual’s right to do that but don’t criticise a cabinet when it’s made up from 45% of the women members in the PLP and more women than men in his cabinet. So why the hell are you moaning?”
Tory Tim Loughton probably thought it was a terrific wheeze, signing up as a Labour supporter to expose the party’s poor vetting methods and show it up as a “farce”.
Instead, he ended up falling flat on his face when Labour weeded out his application, thanked him for his “generous” donation (the party will be keeping his money) and told him he would not be asked to vote.
It’s no more than he deserves.
A far greater concern for Labour supporters should be Harriet Harman’s message to Labour MPs, calling for them to vet (there’s that word again) new party members, in order to stymie those who have joined to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election.
If they’re not Tories, and they’re joining because they genuinely believe Corbyn is the best choice as Labour leader, it is their democratic right to do so.
As Vox Political commenter ‘hstorm’ wrote yesterday:
“Labour’s attitude is so strange. They don’t want a leader who seems extremely popular among the public, and now they want to keep large numbers of potential supporters and even party workers from joining.
“Do they really just not want to win?”
The Conservative former children’s minister Tim Loughton has been caught signing up as a registered supporter of Labour to be eligible to vote in the party’s leadership election.
Under new rules anyone can vote if they pay £3 and sign up as a registered supporter by midday on Wednesday 12 August, prompting concerns that the system could be gamed by Tory troublemakers.
Harriet Harman seems to have misunderstood part of her own offer to members of the public.
Labour – under her – has offered people a chance to register as ‘supporters’ of the party, in order to have a vote in the leadership election.
Jeremy Corbyn has huge support amongst the electorate and it follows that more people will be signing up to support him than the other candidates, whose supporters are more likely to be party members/supporters already.
That’s not “trying to skew” anything – that’s democracy!
If anybody is “trying to skew” the leadership election, it seems that person is Harriet Harman.
Labour MPs should write back, telling her to mind her own bloody business.
Harriet Harman has written to all Labour MPs asking them to check new members are not trying to skew the party’s leadership contest.
Each MP has been sent a list of new members from their constituency so they can check for suspicious names.
It follows claims, denied by the party, of non Labour supporters signing up to back left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn.
George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars – one only has to consider the UK’s secret bombing of Syria – after Parliament voted against it – to see the truth in that.
What an amazing piece in The Guardianabout George Osborne’s call for “progressive” Labour MPs to support his entirely regressive changes to social security (the only people who call it “welfare” are Tories)!
Will people believe this pack of lies?
The article starts by saying he has urged “progressive” MPs in the Labour party to back his cuts in a major Commons vote today (Monday) on the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
He wants Labour MPs – but more importantly, the electorate, to think that the plan to cut child tax credits (among other measures) is what the public wants, and also builds on “mainstream Labour thinking”.
This is moonshine.
Labour believes that the profits of all our work should be shared out to ensure a decent standard of living for everybody, including those who cannot work but contribute to society in other ways. For example, if you have children, then you get child tax credits because their contribution to society has yet to be made.
Removing the tax credits and lowering the standard of living – as the Conservative chancellor’s plans would do to many people – is therefore the opposite of “mainstream Labour thinking”.
Osborne also calls on Labour to “stop blaming the public for its defeat”. This is typical Tory gaslighting. As a party, Labour has not blamed the public. The prevailing mood in the party is that Labour needs to draw the correct conclusions from the election result and create policies that acknowledge what the public wants, while fitting Labour values.
That’s real Labour values – not George Osborne’s fantasy.
You can tell that Labour isn’t doing as Osborne claims. Nowhere in the Guardian article is any factual evidence provided to show Labour has blamed the electorate for its defeat. Harriet Harman is paraphrased as having said the party needed to recognise that the electorate had sent Labour a message – which is quite the opposite.
Osborne also fails to support his claim that the majority of the electorate support his cuts. The majority of the electorate voted against the Conservative Party on May 7, with the Tories managing to gain only a 24.3 per cent share of the possible vote and a tiny 12-seat advantage in Parliament. That does not indicate majority support for the cuts programme.
The article states: “Osborne sprung a surprise in the budget by proposing cuts to the level of tax credits, but balanced these in part by a rise in the minimum wage to more than £9 an hour by 2020 for those over 25.” Notice that the tax credit cut is immediate, but the minimum wage will only rise to more than £9 per hour in five years’ time. How are people supposed to survive in the years between?
Also, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the cut in tax credits, along with the other cuts that ‘Slasher’ Osborne wants to make, will remove £12 billion from the economy – but the minimum wage rise – when it finally happens – will only add £4 billion.
So the Conservatives want Labour to support an £8 billion cut in living standards for the people who can least accommodate it.
Osborne’s argument that the responsibility for ensuring decent living standards should be rebalanced, from the state handing out subsidies towards employers providing decent wages, falls because he has no intention of making employers pay decent wages.
Osborne also writes: “Three in four people – and a majority of Labour voters – think that Britain spends too much on welfare.”
Are these the same people who think 41 per cent of the entire social security budget goes on unemployment benefits, when the actual proportion is just three per cent?
Are these the same people who think 27 per cent of the entire social security budget is claimed fraudulently, when the actual proportion is just 0.7 per cent?
Are these the people who believe George Osborne’s lies, and the lies of the Conservative Government?
In case anybody is wondering, the figures quoted above are from a TUC poll that was carried out a couple of years ago. It seems that, with the help of compliant media (such as The Guardian?) the Conservatives have succeeded in continuing to mislead the general public.
Osborne continued: “For our social contract to work, we need to retain the consent of the taxpayer, not just the welfare recipient.”
The lies keep coming: “For those that can work, I believe it is better to earn a higher income from your work than receive a higher income from welfare.” If this was true, then he would have forced the minimum wage up to a point at which people would no longer need to claim tax credits in order to receive the same amount. He didn’t; he lied.
Osborne goes on to praise interim Labour leader Harriet Harman for capitulating to the Conservatives over child tax credits. There is only one reason he would do this – to undermine support for the Labour Party by suggesting that it really is ‘Tory-Lite’. Shame on Ms Harman for allowing this to happen!
His claim, “She recognised that oppositions only advance when they … recognise that some of the arguments made by political opponents should be listened to,” would be reasonable if the argument for cutting tax credits was sound, but it isn’t – people will be worse-off in this instance. If people were to become better-off afterwards, he might have a point. As it is, it is drivel.
His very next point confirms this: “A previous Conservative opposition realised [this] 15 years ago when it accepted the case for a minimum wage.” The Conservative Party only accepted this case in 2008, under David Cameron – a Tory leader who, when campaigning unsuccessfully for the Stafford constituency seat in 1996, had said it would “send unemployment straight back up” (The Chronicle (Stafford), February 21 1996). Even now, many Tory supporters despise the minimum wage.
Osborne ended with an appeal for “moderate” Labour MPs to vote with his party.
That would be the end of any credibility Labour has remaining, as a party of Opposition.
According to The Guardian, Osborne said: “The proposals are part of a common endeavour by Labour and the Conservatives to implement difficult welfare reforms.” Again, he is trying to make the public think Labour and the Tories are the same. Labour MPs would have to be complete idiots to help him.
Some of the complete idiots in Labour who have already helped him are, according to Osborne, “New Labour work and pensions secretaries such as John Hutton, David Blunkett and James Purnell [who] all tried to reform the welfare system… Alistair Darling [who] says tax credits are ‘subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended’ [and] Frank Field… [who] agrees the system as it stands is simply ‘not sustainable’ and the budget represents a ‘game-changer’.”
Wouldn’t social security be a little more sustainable if George Osborne spent less time obsessing about wringing more money from those who can least afford to lose it, and more time getting his extremely rich corporate friend to pay up more of the £120 billion a year they are believed to owe in unpaid taxes?
Why isn’t Labour making this point, whenever Tories like Osborne start bleating that anything is “unsustainable”?
Helen Goodman: Her amendment of the Conservative Government’s ‘Welfare’ Bill is a better choice for Labour MPs than that which was tabled by the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman.
The news media are working hard to believe Labour has changed tack over the Government’s latest ‘Welfare’ Bill, after a rebellion by MPs – but has it?
It seems the party’s leaders have tabled an amendment to the Bill, saying what Labour will support and what it won’t – but child tax credits, the issue on which Parliamentary Labour Party members rebelled, is not mentioned at all.
Instead, it opposes the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to Employment and Support Allowance.
Meanwhile, shadow ‘welfare’ minister Helen Goodman has tabled an amendment of her own, supported by more than 40 of her fellow Labour MPs, calling for the Conservative Welfare Bill to be rejected in its entirety.
Vox Political urges Labour MPs to support Ms Goodman’s amendment, rather than Ms Harman’s.
Interim leader Harriet Harman had initially proposed that Labour should abstain, rather than voting on the ‘Welfare’ Bill. This would ensure that the Conservative cuts are passed in their entirety.
Defending this proposal, she said on Sunday that, having been defeated in two general elections, Labour could not adopt “blanket opposition” to the proposed changes. This is a false argument. It assumes that the voting public avidly supports the removal of public money from people who need it. When was this proved?
Only 23 per cent of the electorate supported the Conservative Party at the election; 76 per cent opposed its policies. The vast majority of the UK population is against the Tory proposals. Labour MPs should bear that in mind – constantly.
Look at the words Harriet Harman used to justify her abstention call: “We’re not going to do blanket opposition because we’ve heard all around the country that whilst people have got concerns, particularly about the standard of living for low income families in work, they don’t want just… blanket opposition to what the government are proposing on welfare.”
So her solution is to let the Conservative Government pass legislation that will reduce the standard of living for those families? It doesn’t make sense.
If Labour’s vote on the ‘Welfare’ Bill is divided, perhaps that is what the party needs. It will show a public that mostly despises the Conservatives and the selfish changes they have imposed – which divert money from the poor who need it to the rich who don’t – that there are some members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition who do still oppose Conservative neoliberalism.
It will also show the Labour Party that the way forward is to ditch the silly idea of ‘triangulation’ that suggests the Opposition party should support government policies, because making yourself like your opponent makes you more electable. This is silly, childish nonsense.
It also proves a well-used saying that it is madness to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Labour tried it in 2010 and again in 2015. It didn’t work.
Time to do what Labour’s supporters – especially those who have drifted away, thinking the party was too much like the Tories – want.
Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).
We’re told that Mhairi Black, the youngest new MP in Parliament at the age of 20, was still in college when she beat Labour’s Douglas Alexander in the General Election. Was she studying plagiarism?
Take a look at the following part of her maiden speech, made earlier today (Tuesday) and quoted in The Independent:
“After hearing the Labour leader’s intentions to support the changes to tax credits that the Chancellor has put forward, I must make this plea through the words of one of your own, and of a personal hero of mine.
“Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and signposts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they have to compromise.
“Then, there are signposts – signposts that stand true, and tall, and principles. They point in a direction and they say ‘this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why’.
“Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics are signposts.”
This Blog’s piece relies heavily on Tony Benn’s ‘weathercocks and signposts’ analogy to make its point about the interim Labour leader’s attitude to the proposed cut in tax credits. While Mhairi Black’s words weren’t exactly the same, it wouldn’t take a genius to read this piece and – if you’re an admirer of the great man, put together something similar using his words.
Is it really feasible that she could have come to this choice of material, in this context, independently? Nobody else has.
Such similarity – in subject matter, tone, and the material quoted – suggests a rip-off. If this is the case, Mhairi Black should be lucky to get off with a stern warning.
Instead she’s the toast of Twitter!
Of course, we’ll never know if she didn’t write her speech independently. If this is the case, she’s hardly going to admit it – and This Writer isn’t going to take any further action because it wouldn’t be worth it.
But This Blog is part of my livelihood and if it seems to me that someone is harming that livelihood, then I’ll call “foul” on it.
As for you Mhairi Black – if you did rip off This Blog, shame on you.
The Parliamentary Labour Party turned against interim leader Harriet Harman when she called on members to support her claim that they should not oppose the Conservative Government’s plan to cut tax credits, thereby increasing poverty – including child poverty.
At a PLP meeting yesterday, 20 members spoke against her call for the party to abstain on the government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill next week. Only five supported her refusal to table reasoned amendments.
And it seems likely that she was set to face more anger at a Shadow Cabinet meeting this morning.
Labour whips expect 60-80 MPs to vote against the welfare bill in defiance of Harman’s stance.
There was “no consensus on the child tax credit changes”.
Harman’s critics will be looking to her replacements for a clear commitment to pursue a different course.
The article states that rebel Andy MacDonald said the Tories’ proposed two-child limit on tax credits was a regression to the days of “Mao Tse-Tung and King Herod”.
And Frank Field, former welfare reform minister and current work and pensions select committee chair, shouted at Harman that Labour had to defend the “three million strivers” who faced losing £1,000 from tax credit cuts.
Harman is said to have warned the meeting that “If we oppose everything, people will not hear those things we are opposing and why”. Clearly, then, she is in favour of the kind of “triangulation” this blog was discussing yesterday. It represents an abandonment of principles – don’t forget that Labour introduced tax credits – that This Blog cannot support.
Harman is also said to have pointed out that Labour voted against 13 social security bills in the last Parliament but that only its rejection of the bedroom tax was noticed. In fact, this is probably over-optimistic. How many times have commenters to this blog and others claimed that Labour MPs sat on their thumbs throughout the whole of the Coalition Parliament and failed to oppose any of the changes? Those people were, of course, absolutely wrong – Vox Political has chronicled Labour’s opposition to the Tories’ dismantling of social security in considerable detail, but it seems the public prefer a juicy lie to the hard facts.
In fact, this demonstrates very clearly that Labour should oppose more Tory policies. Yes, campaign against the lowering of Employment and Support Allowance, the scrapping of maintenance grants for poor students, the abolition of child poverty targets and tax credit cuts such as the reduction in the income threshold – but don’t abandon children to poverty and destitution; that is not the Labour way.
One thought that is of particular concern to This Writer concerns what will happen to young people who become impoverished as a result of the Tory plan. What will they have to do in order to survive? At a time when child abuse is high on the polical agenda – the inquiry into historical child sex crimes has only just opened – it seems this Conservative Government is opening the door for further such incidents – aided by an interim Labour leader who has faced accusations of her own in regard to such matters.
Open mouth, insert foot: Harriet Harman made her Tax Credits mistake on yesterday’s (July 12) Sunday Politics TV show.
Harriet Harman has softened her position on George Osborne’s ’emergency’ budget; while she still supports his tax credit cuts, she says she is “happy to be overruled” after a backlash from rank-and-file party members (including This Writer).
The statement follows another backlash against a local party official who wrote to others in an attempt to stop Constituency Labour Parties from giving their support to leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, who currently has the second-highest number of CLP nominations.
The person responsible for the latest attempt to rig the Labour leadership election (the first being the ridiculous ‘Tories for Corbyn’ campaign) – Luke Akehurst – was taken to task by fellow Labour members (including, again, This Writer) on Twitter. Pressed to explain his attitude, he referred us to a blog piece he wrote before the general election which appears to explain much that is wrong about the current attitude of some of Labour’s leading lights.
It’s all about ‘triangulation’, rather than ‘dividing lines’, Mr Akehurst reckons.
He writes: “It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one’s political opponent (or apparent opponent). The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent’s ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.”
In the words of the late – great – Tony Benn, Mr Akehurst is calling for Labour and its leaders to be ‘weathercocks’ (triangulators) rather than ‘signposts’ (adopting dividing lines against their main opposition). Mr Benn said some politicians are like signposts. They point in the direction they want to travel and say, “This is the way we must go!” And they are constant. Others are like weathercocks; they lick their fingers, find out which direction the political winds are blowing and follow.
Mr Benn would have been witheringly opposed to a weathercock like Luke Akehurst.
Triangulation leaves Labour without any principles of its own – the party ends up wasting time, chasing other people’s policies like (to stretch Mr Benn’s “weathercock” analogy) a headless chicken.
This brings us back to Harriet Harman. Instead of defending tax credits as a way of ensuring a certain standard of living and encouraging people to be good parents – the position of the Labour Party when it introduced tax credits a little over 10 years ago – she thought the wind was blowing in George Osborne’s direction and decided to let it blow her along with it. Big mistake.
Osborne’s tax credit raid will make working people and parents significantly poorer than they are now – and this is even after five years of being hammered by cut after Tory cut.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the rise in the minimum wage heralded by Osborne in his budget to offset his benefit cuts would raise £4 billion for families, while they would lose £12 billion in government help.
The freeze in working-age benefits, tax credits and local housing allowance will deprive 13 million households of £260 a year, on average.
And Harriet Harman supported it. That position does not correspond with Labour Party principles. It’s the position of a headless chicken.
Look at what has happened now: Harman has been forced to backtrack, with a spokesperson saying she had been “setting out an attitude that we are not going to oppose everything”. Headless chicken.
Sadly, Labour’s leadership candidates offered a mixed response. Liz Kendall fully supported Harriet Harman’s position – most probably because she is a closet Tory.
Andy Burnham’s spokesperson (!) said he did not support the tax credit cuts but added that he “will not offer blanket opposition and, where we agree with a government policy, we won’t oppose for the sake of it”. Headless chicken.
Yvette Cooper said she opposed the cuts because they would “hit working families, reduce work incentives and push more children into poverty”. On the fact of it, that’s good. However, she would be another extension of the New Labour disaster, which was all about ‘triangulation’, as Mr Akehurst’s article illustrates. Headless chicken.
The only ‘signpost’ among the lot of them – the only one with solid Labour principles – is Jeremy Corbyn. He said he was “not willing to vote for policies that will push more children into poverty” – and when he said it, he didn’t mean he might change his mind tomorrow, or whenever it becomes expedient. He means he is not willing to push more children into poverty – ever. Signpost.
We need more people like Jeremy Corbyn leading Labour – and fewer like Harriet Harman.
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