Tag Archives: shadow

More Tory than the Tories: that’s Labour’s new shadow chancellor

Keir Starmer must be really desperate to divert blame for Labour’s diabolical performance in the English local elections off himself.

He has launched a shadow cabinet reshuffle that has already been dubbed a right-turn so hard it would give you whiplash.

Nowhere is this clearer than in his appointment of Rachel (more Tory than the Tories) Reeves as shadow chancellor.

Ms Reeves is the Labour politician (never forget) who, as shadow Work and Pensions Secretary back in 2013, vowed to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefit claimants.

The former banker said a Labour government with her as Work and Pensions Secretary would be tougher than the Tories on benefit claimants, in order to reduce the national benefits bill – a bill which, by the way, has always been entirely affordable.

Two years later, in 2015, she unilaterally cut millions of UK citizens and voters from Labour’s target electorate by saying the party did not want to represent people who don’t have a job.

“We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she said.

“Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

So, according to Ms Reeves, nobody currently claiming Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis should expect help from Labour. Have I got that right?

I’ll admit, that’s an extreme conclusion to draw, but it is clear that, as Labour MPs go, Reeves is an extreme right-winger.

Don’t forget that the Tories have modelled themselves as “the party of the workers” in recent years. They love working people because working people generate the profits their donors send to their offshore bank accounts.

In promoting Reeves, Starmer has sent a very clear message to the electorate – that we can all go to hell as far as he cares. He’s in politics for himself and nobody else.

Why do I say this? Simple.

Commentators are going to be so horrified that Reeves is now in one of Labour’s top jobs that they’ll forget about Starmer’s abysmal election. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping, I reckon.

It mustn’t work. Labour’s election campaign was run from Starmer’s office and as leader he is ultimately responsible for it. The buck stops with him and he should not be trying to pass it onto those he has sacked already or will sack in the immediate future.

And Reeves will be a terrible shadow chancellor. Critics may have attacked former shadow chancellor Annaliese Dodds for failing to challenge the Tories adequately – but, again, it is likely that she was hamstrung by Starmer.

Reeves is likely to agree with every single penny-pinching policy the Tories produce for the purposes of garotting us.

Finally, let’s not forget that by promoting Reeves, Starmer is contradicting his own policy on anti-Semitism because – as we all know – Reeves is a supporter of anti-Semites.

She infamously praised Nancy Astor who, besides being the first female MP, was a notorious anti-Semite, Nazi idealogue and supporter of Hitler.

That’s the extent of Rachel Reeves’s right-wing tendencies. Starmer should be expelling, not promoting her.

Source: Labour reshuffle: Anneliese Dodds out in Starmer’s post-election reshuffle – BBC News

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Keir Starmer was part of an attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. Now he’s whining about Shadow Cabinet backstabbers

Keir Starmer was happy to resign as a shadow cabinet minister in order to push Jeremy Corbyn out of the Labour leadership in 2016 – but now he thinks his critics in the current shadow cabinet should go instead of him.

Keir Starmer. What a piece of… work.

Five years ago he was among a group of right-wingers in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet who took part in a co-ordinated series of resignations intended to cause a leadership election in what became known as the “chicken coup”.

As the name suggests, this behaviour was considered to be cowardly and underhanded.

Now, Starmer has thrown his toys out of his pram after hearing that some of his own, predominantly right-wing, shadow cabinet have been briefing against his aides and some of their colleagues:

Unnamed shadow ministers have in recent weeks criticised Starmer’s aides, including his chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, policy chief Claire Ainsley and political director Jenny Chapman, blaming them for Labour’s caution or its reliance on focus groups of former “Red Wall” voters.

Starmer is also understood to be furious at recent briefings against frontbenchers Anneliese Dodds and Rachel Reeves.

I can’t discuss the briefings against Starmer’s aides because I don’t know enough about it, but it was claimed that Dodds would be sacked for failing to communicate Labour’s vision – which is Starmer’s job.

And Reeves was criticised for appearing in media interviews instead of Starmer, after he made a video praising a church that preaches homophobia.

According to the Huffington Post,

The Labour leader told the weekly meeting of Labour’s shadow cabinet that he was appalled by recent criticism of his aides, saying those responsible should “either stop now or have the guts to get out” of his frontbench team.

Why would these critics want to resign?

Their entire point is that it is the aides and Starmer who have behaved inappropriately – Starmer in the cases of Dodds and Reeves because he had (allegedly) put them in the line of fire that he should have taken.

And by actually putting forward an argument, it seems to This Writer that they have behaved much more honourably than Starmer did in 2016, when he resigned because he didn’t like the leader the Labour Party had democratically elected (and who was elected again as a result of the coup, with a bigger majority than before – despite (again, alleged) attempts to rig the vote).

I notice that Starmer himself seems far less inclined, himself, to resign, even though that action seems far more appropriate now than it was in 2016.

Perhaps next month’s local elections will change his mind.

Source: Keir Starmer Blasts Shadow Cabinet ‘Cowards’ Who Brief Against His Staff | HuffPost UK

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Will Starmer really sack Annaliese Dodds because he won’t take responsibility for his own record?

Fake: Keir Starmer seems keen to pretend that Annaliese Dodds is responsible for the poor position Labour has taken in the polls since HE became the party’s figurehead. Or is he faking it, and will deny any truth to it if the suggestion backfires?

It’s being mooted that Keir Starmer is set to sack Annaliese Dodds as Shadow Chancellor because Labour has plummeted in the polls. Isn’t that his fault?

Apparently it will be claimed that Dodds – who has been nigh-on invisible for the last year or so, unlike Starmer – has failed to effectively communicate Labour’s “vision”.

That would be a fair comment if Labour currently had a “vision” to communicate – but Starmer has stamped on all attempts to signpost where Labour is going, instead pursuing a policy of jumping on every bandwagon he can find.

It is Starmer’s Labour that has dropped in the polls; and Starmer himself has also plummeted.

So it is Starmer who should accept the roasting that has been dealt out to him on the social media since the alleged sacking-to-be seeped into public knowledge yesterday (March 28). Here’s a sample:

What’s the betting that this doesn’t happen now, and that Starmer had leaked it just to see whether it would take some of the heat off of him?

It wouldn’t be the first time he has adopted a Tory tactic!

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‘Shadow’ Labour Party is a good idea – IF it can avoid the stigma that will be thrown at it for obvious reasons

Perhaps this is the moment for people who have been smeared for political reasons to form their own party.

Alex Salmond has formed Alba – a new Scottish nationalist party – after SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was found to have misled Parliament (albeit unintentionally) in evidence about accusations against him – and already one SNP MP has quit that party to join him.

Before Salmond made his announcement, suspended and expelled Labour Party members were already planning to create a ‘shadow’ Labour Party to fight back against the purge of left-wing members instigated by Keir Starmer and his unelected general secretary, David Evans.

The ‘shadow’ party is the brainchild of Labour In Exile Network (LIEN), a national organisation of members who have been unfairly suspended or expelled from the party headed by Starmer.

It is holding its first meeting today (March 27) at 6pm – and as an unfairly-expelled Labour member, This Writer did seriously consider attending.

But my problem is that I come with the kind of baggage that opponents in Labour and the other mainstream political parties could exploit.

And I’m not alone. Most, if not all, of the members of LIEN will have been removed from Labour accused of anti-Semitism or of supporting anti-Semitism by backing Jeremy Corbyn after Starmer (or was it really Evans?) suspended him.

I have no doubt that such accusations are false. They were in my case. But that won’t matter to seasoned politicians who will merrily manipulate a lie if it means keeping their privileged position.

So I hope one of the topics of tonight’s inaugural meeting will be a discussion of how to sideline such accusations and make the accusers look ridiculous.

LIEN has said this about the event:

How do we fight back against the ongoing onslaught against the left in the Labour Party? That’s the theme of LIEN’s first Fightback Meeting at 6pm on Saturday 27 March on Zoom – open to all members and supporters of LIEN (and no, you don’t have to have been expelled or suspended from the Labour Party to get involved!)

SHADOW CLPS: One key way is the building of shadow structures, “ghost” CLPs which enable members to continue debating how we advance the cause of the left. People will share their experience of setting up such structures and possibilities of national cooperation will be discussed.

WORKING GROUPS: From fighting the witch-hunt, racism and disability discrimination, to how we engage with the media and transform the Labour Party — LIEN is setting up a series of working groups to enable grassroots members to take their struggle forward. This meeting is your chance to get involved in an existing group or make the case for a new group. If you have an idea for a working group, please draw up a proposal of around 200 words and send it to [email protected] There are a few working groups already running/in preparation – see here: https://www.labour-in-exile.org/working-groups/

Please consider joining LIEN – annual minimum fee of£5 unwaged/£10 waged: https://membermojo.co.uk/lien

I have no doubt that this organisation will develop into a political party of its own, rather than concentrating on trying to save the original Labour Party; many are likely to believe this is a lost cause after more than 40 years of pollution by right-wingers, starting in earnest with Neil Kinnock but expanded hugely by Tony Blair. After that amount of time, the corruption runs deep.

I wish it the best in its inaugural meeting – and may apply to join later. I want to be sure it will be able to deal with the smears first. If you want to sign up for the meeting, you can do so here.

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Nandy appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary: Labour has no plans to regain Scottish seats

Nandy: anti-Scottish?

It’s the only conclusion one can infer from Keir Starmer’s decision to give Lisa Nandy a Shadow Cabinet post: that he has absolutely no intention to even try to regain Labour’s dominance in Scotland.

Nandy infamously said that the UK should “look to Catalonia” for lessons on how to defeat Scottish nationalism.

She was referring to the Spanish government’s use of force to try to stop a disputed independence referendum in Catalonia, in 2017.

Starmer’s decision to put her in the Shadow Cabinet is certain to infuriate voters in Scotland, who now see her as hate-filled and violent. Who can blame them?

And it indicates that left-wing fears are correct: Starmer is jerking Labour rightward once again – and he knows that a right-wing Labour Party cannot hope to retake Scotland from the SNP.

It also indicates that he knows his place. Without Scottish seats, Labour cannot hope to win a general election. He stands confirmed as the Labour leader who’ll keep the party in opposition to keep a socialist out of Downing Street.

Source: Scottish independence: Labour candidate Lisa Nandy criticised for Catalonia remarks – BBC News

Outcry as Starmer promotes anti-Semite supporter Rachel Reeves into Shadow Cabinet

What a charmer: Rachel Reeves hates people who don’t have a job – and loves a historic anti-Semite.

Keir Starmer seems to be sending mixed messages at the moment.

After practically prostituting himself to the witch-hunters of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust, Jewish Labour Movement and so on – who are keen to see him expel previous leader Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, he has made Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Ms Reeves is currently infamous for praising Nancy Astor who, besides being the first female MP, was a notorious anti-Semite.

Previously, Ms Reeves was unpopular because she said Labour should be “tougher than the Tories” on people claiming social security benefits. How was she going to manage that – by lining them up against a wall and shooting them?

If this is the quality of Starmer’s ShadCab choices, he can take his new New Labour and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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Resignations from Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet – but look at the different attitudes of the leaders!

Sam Gyimah (left) and Kate Osamor.

Prime Minister Theresa May might not have the integrity to say she’ll resign if her Brexit deal is voted down by Parliament – and her attitude to those in her party who do is tragically revealing.

Universities and Science Minister Sam Gyimah found this out when he became the seventh member of Mrs May’s government to resign in protest at the deal.

He said he supported a second referendum, as “the public will not forgive us if we don’t level with them about the difficult choices”.

Mrs May never even bothered to comment about this latest loss. Instead, according to Robert Peston, a spokesman who had been asked if Downing Street had anything to say responded: “Nah.

“The PM thanks him for his service.”

Contrast this with Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the loss of Kate Osamor, who resigned as Shadow International Development Secretary after her son was convicted on drugs charges.

It was the right decision. When the right-wing media get hold of a story that is potentially damaging to the Labour Party, they tend to go big.

In this case, Ms Osamor’s son Ishmael had been convicted of possessing £2,500 worth of drugs when he was at Bestival in 2017, with intent to supply. Apparently he was looking after the drugs for friends and the “supply” part of his conviction referred to his intention to hand them back.

The Times published a story claiming that Ms Osamor had lied that she did not know anything about the conviction when she employed her son in her Parliamentary office – as she had apparently written to the court, pleading for clemency. It also reported that she had thrown a bucket of water over the newspaper reporter who doorstepped her about the matter.

So, all things considered, it seems wise for her to take herself out of public view. Here’s her statement:

https://twitter.com/KateOsamor/status/1068889478905892866

“I am resigning my position as Shadow International Development Secretary to concentrate on supporting my family through the difficult time we have been experiencing.

“I remain fully committed to our programme for creating a society that works for the many, not the privileged few, and will continue to campaign for this from the backbenches.”

Fair enough? Aaron Bastani seems to think so:

And so does Jeremy Corbyn. In a personal statement, he said he had accepted her resignation and would like to thank her for her work.

The same message – but hugely different attitudes.

Mrs May couldn’t be bothered to say anything at all; the statement was, as Mr Peston stated, “an automated message”.

Mr Corbyn responded personally.

Of course, the context is important. Ms Osamor quit to support her family – and to prevent criticism of the Labour Party; Mr Gyimah was leaving because he opposed Mrs May.

Perhaps it is understandable that she would take a less-than-kind view of him.

But whose fault is that?

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We must act to make sure that there are no more Daniel Blakes | Shadow Work & Pensions secretary

161104-daniel-blake-posterAn important commitment to benefit claimants from Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams.

Her use of the word “transform” may ring alarm bells, as it is the catchword used by private consultants when they change government systems without making them better.

I’ve known Ms Abrahams long enough to believe she means Labour will change the system for the better.

This is a promise to achieve that – and for government to stop letting UK citizens down. You can hold her to it.

To describe our current social security system, following six years of Conservative ‘reform’, as Kafkaesque sounds prosaic. Yet I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach shows us how in this case the description rings perfectly true. Despite having been employed as a carpenter his whole working life, Daniel faces a seemingly endless maze of barriers in making his claim for support after suffering a heart attack, with ‘advice’ delivered to him in rushed jobcentre interviews. He is told that he must sign a claimant commitment for jobseekers allowance and spend hours seeking work, despite his doctor stating he is unfit for work and still in recovery.

This is not news to those of us trying to support people through the system. In 2014, a constituent of mine suffered a heart attack midway through a DWP work capability assessment. He was rushed to hospital, only to find a letter telling him he had been sanctioned and his payments stopped for failing to complete the assessment when he arrived back home.

Sadly, his case is one of many thousands that I have received since being elected to Parliament. Loach’s depiction of the frustration caused by a social security system administered through faceless ‘decision-makers’ will be recognised by the many who have, through sickness or ill health, been forced to rely on it. The despair felt by many as their determination to fight the bureaucratic system ebbs away as ever greater hurdles are placed in their way is something I sadly see every day.

I believe there is a better way and a fairer way. I don’t want people who have paid into the system all their life, but then need support having become sick or disabled to be made to feel worthless and dehumanised by a state that should be there to support them.

Labour will transform the whole social security system. But fundamentally, I want to change how our social security system is perceived. The government has used the poisonous “shirker” and “scrounger” language to vilify people on social security as the new undeserving poor.

That’s why I used the trailer for I, Daniel Blake at the start of my Conference speech last month. The film brings the consequences of the Government’s current policies to full public attention. No longer should people who are ill and disabled be left to fight the system alone. We must all stand together to ensure that there are no more Daniel Blakes.

Source: We must act to make sure that there are no more Daniel Blakes

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Corbyn appoints his shadow cabinet

John McDonnell, the new Shadow Chancellor.

John McDonnell, the new Shadow Chancellor.

Congratulations to John McDonnell, in particular, on his appointment as Shadow Chancellor.

Mr McDonnell is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and a man who is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. Reports state that Angela Eagle could have been offered the job, but This Writer is glad that Mr McDonnell took it instead – even if it has led to gripes that nobody in the ‘top four’ jobs is a woman.

Instead, Ms Eagle has been named Shadow Business Secretary and Shadow First Secretary of State, meaning she will stand in for Mr Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions when David Cameron is away.

According to the BBC:

Defeated leadership rival Andy Burnham is shadow home secretary, while Hilary Benn remains shadow foreign secretary. Other confirmed appointments are:

  • Lucy Powell, who was Ed Miliband’s general election coordinator, will be shadow education secretary
  • Lewisham MP Heidi Alexander will take over from Mr Burnham as shadow health secretary
  • Lord Falconer, a former flat mate of ex-PM Tony Blair, will continue as shadow justice secretary
  • Seema Malhotra is shadow chief secretary to the Treasury
  • Diane Abbott is made shadow minister for international development
  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary is Vernon Coaker
  • Rosie Winterton to continue as chief whip
  • Ian Murray to continue as shadow Scottish secretary.

This Writer – and no doubt readers of This Blog – will be particularly interested to see who is chosen as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

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It’s time for Labour to talk tough about the benefit-deniers

Rachel Reeves: The coalition has distorted the benefit debate so much that 64 per cent of Labour voters think benefits should be cut - and she doesn't have the backbone to correct them.

Rachel Reeves: The coalition has distorted the benefit debate so much that 64 per cent of Labour voters think benefits should be cut – and she doesn’t have the backbone to correct them.

Here’s a question that gets asked very often in any debate on state benefits: “Isn’t it right that the taxpayer should only support people who really need it?”

The implication is that the government of the day is right to restrict benefit provision.

The answer, of course, is to point at some of the cases we have known, in which benefits have been taken away from people; cases like that of David Clapson, an ex-soldier who was sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance and died of diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks into the sanction period. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach. Was the government right to restrict his benefits? Or was this state-sponsored murder?

How about severely bipolar Sheila Holt, who recently died after spending months in a coma caused by a heart attack she suffered after being pushed onto the government’s slave-labour Work Programme? Even while she was comatose, the work programme provider – Seetec – was sending her letters about her suitability for employment. There is no doubt that the stress of being forced onto the Work Programme led to her death – in fact the government has apologised for its actions. It therefore seems redundant to ask the question, “Was the government right to restrict her benefits?” as we already know the answer.

How about Karen Sherlock, who was suffering from kidney failure when her Employment and Support Allowance was cut off by Iain Duncan Smith’s minions. She died, apparently of a heart attack, after an operation was cancelled. Was the government right to restrict her benefits?

How about Stephanie Bottrill, who took her own life by walking in front of a lorry on the M6, just one month after the Bedroom Tax had been introduced by Iain Duncan Smith. Her rent at the time was £320 per month, some of which was subsidised by Housing Benefit – but the imposition of an extra £80 charge, to come from her own money, was too much for her finances to take. She left a note to relatives in which she made clear that she had taken her own life – and that she blamed the government. Was the government right to restrict her benefits?

According to the last figures available to us (from 2011 – and related to ESA alone), four more people die as a result of the government’s benefit regime every three hours – more than 200 every week. These figures are, however, more than three years old; they do not encompass the rise in suicides that takes place in the run-up to Christmas every year and they pre-date the effects of Iain Duncan Smith’s homicidal Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Meanwhile, as Polly Toynbee has pointed out in her latest Guardian article, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary puts her foot in her mouth every time she talks about benefits. “She has the hardest shadow post, reconciling the party’s mission to stand with the underdog while facing a public fed by a stream of statistics-free anecdotes about welfare cheats,” writes Ms Toynbee.

That’s as may be, but she should be challenging those preconceptions, not conforming to them. “When last in power Labour failed to shift the enemy’s terms of engagement, hiding its own good actions behind tough talk,” writes Ms Toynbee.

“This mirrors too much Labour policy, foggy messages hiding agonised ambivalence – and voters smell out that inauthentic verbal triangulation.”

How true those words are. This writer was recently attacked by the shadow Welsh secretary, Owen Smith, for pointing out that he had confirmed, in his own words, that Labour would not speak out against the work capability assessment (that is responsible for three of the four deaths mentioned above) for fear of the right-wing press. This effectively means that his party is asking the sick and disabled to die for Labour’s election hopes.

Mr Smith threatened me with legal action after this blog put his words into plain English. He has since gone quiet, which is just as well. Not only has there been a national debate on the subject (of which Ms Toynbee’s article is just the latest part) but at least one reader has been able to confirm that my words were accurate, after a doorstep conversation with his own Labour candidate. Other readers are encouraged to do the same.

“On benefits, most voters are conflicted,” Ms Toynbee continues. “No one, least of all those working hard for very little, wants people cheating.” That is true. But then, 99.3 per cent of benefit claimants aren’t cheating at all. This government just treats them as if they are.

“Labour can’t win this internalised tussle by replicating it, but could earn credit by encouraging the nation’s better instincts,” writes Ms Toynbee.

The shame is that all the words coming from Labour suggest it will do the former, rather than the latter.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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