John McDonnell and Hilary Benn together at an event supporting the remain campaign in June [Image: Dylan Martinez/Reuters].
It’s bizarre to have to point this out – especially in response to reports by newspaper journalists who should know this – but John McDonnell has NOT refused to intervene over Hilary Benn’s future as a Labour MP.
The Shadow Chancellor simply has no power to do so. As he made perfectly clear in his Radio 5 Live interview, Parliamentary candidates are chosen by Constituency Labour Parties.
So Rajeev Syal’s article in The Grauniad, for example, is misleading. I’d like to say I hope this is not deliberate, but it still reflects on the professionalism of the author.
It doesn’t matter whether close allies of Jeremy Corbyn remain angry with Mr Benn after he sided with the Conservative Government over air strikes and Syria, or any involvement of his in the attempted ‘Chicken Coup’ over the summer.
If it is true that supporters of Mr Corbyn have been elected as officers in Mr Benn’s constituency party, Leeds Central, then they can propose any action they see fit – within party rules.
That includes deselection of the incumbent MP, so he may not stand as a candidate in a future election (it would not affect his position as an MP in the current Parliament).
And it is important to clarify that, if anyone has “taken over” positions in Leeds Central CLP, they would have done so by democratic means.
I question why Rajeev Syal mentions that Patrick Hall, a vice-chair of Leeds Central CLP who has spoken against Mr Benn, is a national executive member of the Labour Representation Committee, described as “a radical grouping” chaired by McDonnell.
What’s the implication?
Mr McDonnell will not influence any decision on Mr Benn’s future in any way. If Leeds Central CLP deselects Mr Benn, it will be because Leeds Central Labour members wish it.
Fancy meeting you here! Dean Balboa Farley gets up close and personal with David Cameron while a security guard tries to break up the touching scene.
Do we believe the jogger who collided with David Cameron in Leeds today?
Most of us would relish the chance to make a short, hard, physical comment on the quality of Cameron’s leadership, but Dean Balboa Farley – for it was he – claims it happened by accident.
In fact Mr Farley – who should be reckoned a hero of the people simply for reminding the comedy prime minister what a member of the public looks like – made matters worse for the PM when he recalled the incident, saying he only “brushed into someone”.
It’s fun to compare the different account of this event. Police Chief Inspector Derek Hughes said: ”Around midday, a 28-year-old local man was briefly arrested after he came close to the prime minister’s group who had just left the civic hall in Leeds.
”No threats were made, and after the man’s details were checked, he was de-arrested and allowed on his way.” The police said they believed he had been jogging to a nearby gym.
Mr Farley, on the other hand, wrote on Facebook: “So I’m all over the news as ‘the protester that attacked david cameron in leeds’ yeah if you call brushing into someone while running then getting assault[…]”
Cameron probably deserved no better. He now has a personal collision to add to the battering he is taking from the public over the state of the English NHS and the failures of his European adventures.
Considering the way he has used his premiership, not to improve the nation’s finances and sort out any imagined mess caused by the previous administration but to advance the business interests of the Conservative Party and its backers, with no concern about the consequences for the State he was supposed to be defending, he probably deserved much worse.
Perhaps next time someone could engineer it so that a piano falls on him?
So let’s be honest – do we really believe that Mr Farley had so little spatial awareness that he didn’t know he was on a collision course with the face most Vox Political readers want to slap?
If he lived up to the fictional character who shares his middle name* – and considering he was on his way to the gym, this seems possible – then spatial awareness should be one of his skills!
So let’s not bother whether it’s true or not; let’s all just enjoy the fact that one person managed to do what we’ve all envisioned. Not only did he give Cameron a hiding…
He also got away with it.
*Rocky. The one who’s nothing to do with Bullwinkle.
Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].
David Cameron has no strategy to protect Christians who are threatened by violent religious groups like IS, and his policy is determined by the “loudest media voice”, according to the Church of England.
There’s no arguing with it. A letter from the Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, points out that Cameron’s UK has turned its back on the suffering of tens of thousands of Christians fleeing IS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, while the government responded promptly to reports of Yazidis trapped on Mt Sinjar.
The letter also condemns Cameron’s failure to offer sanctuary to Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes, when the French and Germans have already done so. Parliamentary questions tabled last month to find out whether the UK intends to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians have lain unanswered. Perhaps this is a political decision as Cameron thinks more foreigners coming here will push up support for UKIP; if so, that would support the Church’s view that he is reacting to the media, rather than following his own policy.
In fact, Cameron’s approach is becoming clearer. He wants to involve us in another war.
But, burned by his defeat in Parliament last year over Syria, he is taking a ‘softly, softly’ approach.
“He warns that Britain will have to use its ‘military prowess’ to help defeat ‘this exceptionally dangerous’ movement, or else terrorists with ‘murderous intent’ will target people in Britain,” the Telegraph report states.
Didn’t Tony Blair also use the possibility of a threat to the UK to cajole Britain into supporting the last round of wars in the Middle East? The antagonist may change but it seems the script does not.
In fact it is true that something must be done about IS. A lawless gang of murderers is setting up a lawless state in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been weakened by wars we either fought or did nothing to prevent – and fears that they could radicalise gullible Brits and send them home to carry out terrorist acts on our soil are real.
What is needed is a co-ordinated response from all law-abiding powers – not just in the west but Middle-Eastern countries and others. IS is the political equivalent of a rabid animal; its members don’t care who they attack, as long as they cause maximum harm, and every country in the world should be aware of this.
Cameron potters around the edges instead, following the same plan the UK always uses.
We could have sorted out these problems before withdrawing from Iraq a few years ago. We could have done it in the 1990s, after the first Gulf War. We could have sorted them out at any time before then – and with greater ease, but that does not suit a western industrial complex that is geared towards perpetuating warfare.
Cameron’s attitude is media-driven. His defeat over Syria has led him to revise his strategy, waiting for public opinion to be swayed by media reports of the bloodshed taking place abroad, stoked by fears that it could happen here in Blighty. When the public is supportive again, he can announce action – but only just enough action to keep the Middle Eastern countries at odds with each other, making further military conflicts inevitable.
Today, it seems he has decided he can act, if comments like “we need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home” are to be believed.
Cameron also wrote that this is a “struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology, which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime.”
His political lifetime will end in May 2015, so he’s right about that.
It seems his evil strategy for the Middle East will continue to affect the region long after the end of his physical lifetime, too.
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