Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn would be right to be exasperated by the determination of the mainstream media to misinterpret his words, and his party’s policy.
“Corbyn backs referendum on Brexit deal after EU election exodus” trumpeted The Guardian this morning (May 28), implying that he has changed his view and reneged on agreed Labour Party policy.
He hasn’t. It is not true.
But you had to read three paragraphs into the story to get the facts. Here they are:
Labour’s preference would be a general election but any Brexit deal “has to be put to a public vote”, he said.
That is party policy as decided at the Labour conference last year. Mr Corbyn hasn’t changed his position one iota.
Labour’s position is that Parliament has voted down the Brexit deal negotiated by the Conservatives; this constitutes a “no confidence” vote in the government and there should be a general election. This isn’t likely to happen because the Conservatives are holding a leadership election of their own, then they’ll claim that the new leader should have a chance to renegotiate with the EU27. But that is none of Labour’s concern.
Labour’s view is that, if a general election doesn’t happen, there must be a public vote. Mr Corbyn re-stated that; he hasn’t unilaterally changed it.
It is disingenuous of newspapers like The Guardian to suggest that he has. And the Labour sources it claims said “this was a shift from his previous position that a second referendum was being kept as an option on the table to stop a damaging Tory Brexit” probably don’t exist.
If a “source” isn’t named by a national paper, they’re probably not real.
We’re going to see a lot of this deception over the next few weeks and months. After all, we’ve had a lot of it over the last few!
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.
Witch-hunters: I still like this image because it paints the Labour Party anti-Semitism fakers as cartoon characters.
As a victim of the witch-hunt, I am delighted to see that people aren’t meekly accepting the mainstream interpretation of it any more.
We’re currently seeing a backlash against the ‘establishment’ view that anybody accused of anti-Semitism must be guilty, with three notable contributions in the last few days:
More than 200 Jewish women, incensed by The Guardian‘s insistence on assuming that MPs like Margaret Hodge must be telling the whole truth about the situation, wrote to the newspaper to point out that this Dame’s claims fall far short of journalistic standards of accuracy.
They pointed out that Margaret Hodge had claimed to have submitted 200 complaints of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to general secretary Jennie Formby – but on investigation, those complaints concerned 111 individuals of whom only 20 were party members. Those involving the other 91 people were nothing to do with the Labour Party’s disciplinary procedure and her submission of those complaints was a waste of the party’s time.
Having established that Margaret Hodge’s grasp of the facts is not what it should be, the letter’s signatories went on to suggest that her latest claims – that Labour branches should be shut down, for supporting Chris Williamson against those who want him removed from the party over his own stance on the issue, or for refusing to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition and examples of anti-Semitism over Labour’s own version – should be treated as similarly suspect.
The Guardian refused to publish the letter on the grounds that it said nothing new, which is bitterly funny in hindsight as the criticism is more appropriately attached to the words of the MP than to her critics.
The ensuing coverage of the letter in the social media has made fools of Margaret Hodge and The Guardian – and may have reached more people as a result of the newspaper’s decision not to publish it.
Not only that, but 12 Holocaust survivors wrote a letter, published by The Sunday Times, stating that they “do not believe that any prejudice against or hostility towards Jews is being perpetrated by Labour; and if any exists within the party, it is minimal and no more prevalent than in any other political party… Jeremy Corbyn has in fact bent over backwards to help Jewish people”.
The letter continued: “Media attention on the Labour Party in general, and on Corbyn in particular, is being generated by anti-Labour and anti-Corbyn mischief makers, who unfortunately are over-represented within the so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership — a leadership whose legitimacy is not recognised by the mainstream Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews.”
The letter has been criticised by the Jewish Chronicle – but readers of This Site will know that the JC has a distant relationship with the facts, as far as the anti-Semitism row is concerned, and it has been suggested that it used false information – fake news – to trash the claims of these Holocaust survivors. Just read this Skwawkbox article for an explanation.
Finally, we have seen the online launch of the documentary film WitchHunt, by John Pullman, which examines the attack on innocent Labour Party members by those who corruptly accuse them of anti-Semitism.
I haven’t seen it yet. I wonder how closely it will mirror my own experiences. But I would certainly encourage you to watch it.
The mainstream – the ‘establishment’ – will try hard to regain the initiative; we have seen one attempt already in the response of the Jewish Chronicle. The best advice you can take is to use your own intelligence and make up your own mind, based on the evidence available and the reliability of those providing it.
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How to attack Labour under Corbyn was the top item at a meeting of the political cabinet on Tuesday.
David Cameron and George Osborne know that, despite the temptation to lampoon him, they must play the ball, not the man, at least in the short term.
Corbyn won a mandate from an electorate of more than 550,000 Labour members and supporters. In the Tory high command, they suspect that the forces that delivered him as Labour leader may not be confined entirely to the left but could be part of a wider questioning of politics and politicians that is happening on sections of the middle ground, too.
“We will have to beat him with clear intellectual arguments, not personal abuse” says Alan Duncan, a former party vice-chairman. “It is a chance for us to discredit socialist thinking for good.”
It seems Jeremy Corbyn decided to run for the Labour leadership only after LBC Radio’s Iain Dale suggested it, Vox Political can reveal in the second part of its media roundup of Mr Corbyn’s victory.
The station’s website proclaimed: “Iain suggested he should run, saying: ‘In all seriousness, someone from your side of the party – John McDonnell has done this before.
“‘Someone who is not seen as New Labour or anything like it. I think it would actually enhance the debate.
“‘I don’t know who it would be apart from yourself – we’ll put the thought in your mind, and take full credit if you do decide to run.’
“And speaking a month later, Mr Corbyn gave Iain full credit for putting the idea in his mind.”
But The Independent chose to highlight the abuse thrown at Mr Corbyn, his family and friends, by the media. He alluded to this in his acceptance speech, and the newspaper stated: “He has been accused of being an anti-Semite, a racist and was also accused of failing to act on child abuse allegations in his Islington constituency.
“Those are just some of the allegations that have been levelled against him in the media and even by some of his fellow Labour MPs, who have attempted to persuade people against voting for the far-left MP in a bitter, three-month leadership contest.”
Speaking the day before his historic victory, Mr Corbyn was reported to have said: “As nasty and unpleasant [as] much of the stuff printed is and remains and is deeply hurtful to my wife, family and close friends, we’re not responding in any way; we don’t do that kind of politics.”
In The Guardian, Labour MP John Woodcock said the time had now come for supporters of Labour’s various factions to stop infighting and get behind the new leader.
“If we are to move on from here, then we must recognise how damaging it has been for Labour people, who have all basically wanted the same thing, to have knocked lumps out of each other for 20 years,” he wrote.
Ironically, at the time of writing, those words appear right next to a box declaring: “Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson suggests he’ll oppose Jeremy Corbyn over scrapping Trident.”
Gordon Brown during his speech at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Image: John Stillwell/PA
At first, it seemed that Gorden Brown had agreed with Tony Blair for the first time in more than a decade – over the threat to neoliberal New Labour Blairites posed by Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course the other architect of New Labour was going to speak up against Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature to lead the Labour Party. Brown is almost as right-wing as Blair.
It doesn’t stop them both being on the wrong side of history.
The joy of Brown’s speech is that much of it was non-specific. He didn’t refer to any of the candidates by name, and advised that Labour must be “credible, radical, sustainable and electable to help people out of poverty, and that anger was not enough” (according to The Guardian).
Nobody would disagree with that, and Corbyn supporters would argue that the only candidate endorsed by such a statement was theirs; Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – by embracing the nonsense of austerity economics – will only make poverty worse while enriching those who already have enough.
The Guardian article continues: “In a clear reference to Corbyn, he said there was one camp whose own supporters even did not believe their candidate would win the next election” – but this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the others, whose policies (along with Brown’s own) have already lost not just one election but two.
“Brown said he was heartbroken and the party grieving after the general election defeat in May, but that it would be ‘even worse if we leave ourselves powerless to do anything about it’” – powerless as the party would be under a Burnham, a Cooper or a Kendall, whose policies would be so close to those of the Conservatives that the electorate would give up on any possibility of opposition and leave the Tories to it?
“Analysing some of the reasons people may have turned to Corbyn’s left-wing politics, he said people were feeling insecure about globalisation, which had left people ‘uncertain and unmoored’ and turned people to nationalism in countries from Greece to Scotland”. This was a clear miss. People aren’t insecure about globalisation; they know for a fact that it represents an attack on their wealth, security and well-being.
Globalisation helps the rich to get richer and pushes the poor down – the behaviour of the European Union over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership tells us all we need to know about it.
Attacking Corbyn’s foreign policy, Brown said: “Don’t tell me that we can do much for the poor of the world if the alliances we favour most are with Hezbollah, Hamas, Chávez’s successor in Venezuela and Putin’s totalitarian Russia.”
This is a deliberate attempt at disinformation. Corbyn has not indicated agreement with the views of any of those people or organisations. Instead, Corbyn is far more likely to put forward policy agreeing with Brown’s claim that Labour should form progressive alliances, especially within Europe, against “illiberalism, totalitarianism, antisemitism, racism and the extremisms of prejudice”.
Brown’s claim that it is “not an abandonment of principles to seek power” and that Labour members should see their vote not as a protest but a “public duty and sacred trust” also chimes with the Corbyn campaign.
It is only Corbyn’s opponents who paint him and his policies as unelectable. The wider Labour Party clearly sees his policies as preferable by far to the watered-down Conservatism that people like Brown, Blair, and their supporters like Alastair Campbell, Simon Danczuk and John Mann have been peddling for the last 20 years.
Indeed, the idea that a Labour vote is a “public duty and sacred trust” merely highlights the growing belief among the Labour Party and the electorate at large that New Labour, and Labour under Ed Miliband, betrayed that trust, abandoning their sacred duty to the people in order to embrace the profanity that is neoliberalism.
“The best way of realising our high ideals is to show that we have an alternative in government that is credible, that is radical and is electable – is neither a pale imitation of what the Tories offer nor is it the route to being a party of permanent protest, rather than a party of government,” said Brown, not realising that he had just written off the chances of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in one sentence.
For those who do not understand: The three non-Corbyns don’t have any high ideals. Their alternative is not credible – otherwise Labour would not have lost the 2010 and 2015 elections. It is a pale imitation of the Conservatives and it has led Labour into the twilight of being a party of protest, rather than government.
Actually – are we sure Brown wasn’t supporting Corbyn? The Guardian continues: “People must vote not for the candidate they ‘like’ as they would on Facebook, but for the candidate who can make a difference, he added.” That’s resounding support for Corbyn.
In support of the policies Corbyn opposes, Brown quoted, among others, Gandhi asking: “Is what I am about to do going to help”, and Nelson Mandela saying the yardstick by which he would be measured was the ability to better the lives of all people. Against this, we need set only one of Brown’s policies: Employment and Support Allowance and its accompanying ‘work capability assessment’.
This single policy, begun by New Labour and continued by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition and now the Conservative Government, has led to more than 10,000 known deaths and possibly many tens of thousands that have been hidden from the public. Perhaps Mr Brown should be asking how that single policy was ever intended to help anybody in need.
In the end, Brown will probably be seen as having done more harm to the three stooges other candidates than to Jeremy Corbyn.
Brace yourself for a further surge in support – for the people’s candidate.
It continues: “The wholly unexpected obstacle to Cooper’s ambition to be Labour’s first female leader is the hard-left Jeremy ‘Jez We Can’ Corbyn.”
So Jeremy Corbyn is “extreme”, is he? He’s “hard-left”? When was that decided?
Most rational thinkers in the UK now accept that Corbyn is absolutely not “extreme” or “hard-left”. He’s left-wing in the classical Labour mould, in line with most of Labour’s loyal membership. If labels like “extreme”, or “hard” are to be applied anywhere, they would more properly belong with fellow candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and especially Liz Kendall, whose attitudes – in Labour terms – would be described most accurately as “hard-right“.
The text itself makes no mention of Corbyn – he’s just a handy peg on which the sub-editors have hung a headline. The author, Daniel Boffey, accepts that Labour could not be at full strength while the future leader is unnamed and shadow cabinet members have no idea whether they are likely to remain in their posts.
“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring clause IV as it was originally written or it’s a different one,” is what Corbyn actually said.
He’s telling the country that, as Labour leader, he would listen to the wishes of his supporters and work to give them what they want.
That’s better than Burnham, Cooper and Kendall rolled together – and much more than the likes of David Cameron, Boris Johnson or George Osborne would ever willingly provide (although we know that their offers aren’t worth the air used to speak them or the paper on which they are written).
This Blog is happy to support Jeremy Corbyn – if only for one simple reason:
He is the only Labour leadership candidate to have shown any support for the Early Day Motion calling for the Conservative Government to publish statistics on the deaths of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants (EDM 285).
In fact, he co-sponsored it.
It was signed by 93 other MPs in the week or so between its creation and the day Parliament went into recess for the summer. I’ve been reminded that Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall cannot sign EDMs because they are members of the shadow cabinet and are barred from doing so. Why haven’t they spoken in favour of it, then? How many of their supporters have signed it?
What does that say about those other leadership candidates?
Does it not tell us that they are happy to collude with the Conservatives in keeping the casualties hidden?
And here’s another good question:
Why aren’t newspapers like The Guardian asking Burnham, Cooper and Kendall about that, rather than stirring up non-existent muck about Corbyn?
Look at this – The Guardian has had to respond to attacks from readers who claim it has been too critical of Jeremy Corbyn in its Labour leadership coverage.
Not surprisingly – given this newspaper’s history – the Labour leadership race, and in particular the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn, has generated powerful feelings among readers, not all in favour of the Guardian’s coverage. “Had enough of your paper,” said the subject line of an email from one reader, who went on to say: “I’ve been a regular reader of the Guardian (Manchester Guardian as was) since 1958. Despite the low point reached in the 60s when you supported the US war in Vietnam for a while, I still continued with it. But your sustained, arrogant, specious and just false reporting of Corbyn’s candidacy is too much. I am not a member or even supporter of the Labour party but your scurrilous coverage has convinced me that your paper no longer lives up to the label. I shall no longer … buy it nor view it online. Goodbye.”
Lost cause or no, I felt it only courteous to reply: “I’m sorry that you are leaving and I will be looking at the Guardian’s coverage of Jeremy Corbyn to test your theory, but I just wondered whether you’d read this [‘I don’t do personal’, 17 June], or this [No wonder Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents are so rattled, 8 July], or this [Jeremy Corbyn has the one Blairesque trait the Blairites don’t get, 20 July].” These were articles that could be described as showing a measure of support for Corbyn. There was also a piece by Seumas Milne with a sympathetic mention for the Labour leadership contender (There’s no reason to accept austerity. It can be defeated, 18 June).
The reader responded, putting me firmly in my place: “Yes, I’ve read the articles you refer to but they are outnumbered some five to one by the negative reports. Comment is perfectly legitimate, but the sneering, supercilious, specious and dismissive contributions masquerading as ‘commentary’ belittle the claims of a ‘quality’ paper.”
In the early days of Corbyn’s charge, the readers rightly got a sniff that on occasions we weren’t taking him seriously enough. That has changed, and there is still much coverage to go before the ballot closes on 10 September.
Considering today’s attack piece, quoting Chris Leslie, are we really to believe that closing comment?
Chris Leslie: Neoliberal, Blairite, behind the times – another closet Tory.
Today The Guardian wants to tell us the mainstream Labour Party thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s “starry-eyed, hard left” policies would keep the Conservatives in power for another 10 years at least. What a shame the paper is relying on the words of closet Tory Chris Leslie to make that point!
Leslie is the politician who, as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told the Huffington Post last year that a future Labour government would not undo the Coalition’s hugely unpopular cuts but would continue to impose the austerity that has kept our economy in crisis for the last five years.
In that case, as Vox Political argued at the time, why bother voting for Labour? We’ve already got one lot of Conservatives in power; there’s no need for any more.
Particularly galling is Leslie’s claim to represent the concerns of the “progressive left of centre” – a part of the political landscape he cannot ever claim to have inhabited. He’s a regressive member of the Uptight Right.
In the HuffPost interview, Leslie told us: “George Osborne has had his five years to eradicate the deficit. I am determined that we finish that task on which he has failed”. In response, This Blog asked how he proposes to achieve that aim, if his methods are the same?
Chris Leslie’s idea of socialism: Seems a lot like Toryism, doesn’t it?
The man just wasn’t making sense then – and he isn’t making sense now.
Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a hard-left politician; Leslie’s problem is that his politics is too far to the right of the political spectrum for him to belong in the same party – he isn’t a Labour politician at all. Austerity is not the answer to the UK’s woes – five years of insane Tory ideological policies have demonstrated that.
The people are crying out for a change – the overwhelming victory of the SNP, with it’s anti-austerity posture, at the general election demonstrates that – and claims that England is not the same as Scotland in this regard are groundless because many English people have been saying they would have voted SNP if they could.
Mr Leslie is wrong – in what he says, in what he has been doing, and in his choice of political party. Like Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall and certain other high-profile neoliberals, he should cross the floor and join the party he really represents.
His announcement that he would not work for Mr Corbyn is the best news we are likely to get all day – and he should keep his scaremongering to himself.
The “starry-eyed, hard left” economic strategy of Jeremy Corbyn would hand the Tories at least another decade in power and end up hurting poor people by leading to higher inflation and interest rates as well as cuts in public spending, the shadow chancellor has said.
As Corbyn outlines plans to end “the years of political and economic austerity” to help create a high-skilled workforce in Britain, Chris Leslie has become one of the most senior Labour figures to say he would decline to serve under the veteran leftwinger.
In a sign of the deep unease at senior levels of the Labour party that Corbyn could be on the verge of a historic breakthrough by the left to win the party’s leadership, Leslie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday: “This is a fork in the road for the Labour party. On 12 September we will know what the fate is of the progressive left of centre. There are millions of people whose living standards and working conditions depend on making sure we get this decision right, otherwise we face a decade or more of Conservative government.”
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”?
Ill-judged: Blue-scarved Chuka Umunna should remember that Michael Heseltine did much to destroy the UK’s communities as part of the Thatcher and Major governments.
After the story in The Guardianthere are only two things required of Chuka Umunna: Repudiation – or his resignation.
The article states that Blue Labour stalwart Umunna would call on Conservative heavyweight Michael Heseltine for advice if Labour wins the general election. If this is true, it is madness.
Heseltine was a leading member of the Thatcher and Major Conservative governments of the 1980s and 90s, pioneering the disastrous ‘Right to Buy’ initiative that sold off the majority of council houses without replacing them, leading to the current housing crisis and the Bedroom Tax.
More recently he authored the ‘No Stone Left Unturned’ plan which made 89 recommendations on ways of stimulating local growth – 81 of which were adopted by the Coalition Government, with little effect. The UK economy has been stagnant for many years, with productivity at around the same level as it was when the Coalition came into office; it seems any boost in GDP has come from other areas – possibly the reduction in wages brought about by the widespread abuse of zero-hours contracts to rob working people of their rights to a steady job and entitlements to holiday and sick pay.
Yet it is in this area – revitalising the cities and regions – that Umunna wants Heseltine to advise. It would be an utterly pointless exercise.
For any stimulation policy to work, it has to put money where it can be most effective – in the hands of the people who actually need it to pay for things they need. But Heseltine is a Tory – they take money away from the proles; they don’t hand it out to them. He’ll devise something that makes towns look very pretty in order to hide the rot inside as local businesses and residents go to the wall.
Not only that, but it seems Umunna has not learned the overriding lesson of the Scottish referendum campaign: Voters will not tolerate a Labour alliance with the Conservatives on any level at all.
One of the main reasons the SNP is polling so well north of the border is because of a myth propagated by its candidates and supporters, that Labour and the Conservatives are “in bed”, “in cahoots”, “in alliance” – choose the phrase you prefer. It isn’t true – Better Together was an alliance of convenience because both parties wanted Scotland to remain in the union; they have very little else in common (although the SNP has exploited the very few examples of common ground to great effect, also).
Now along comes Chuka, thinking he’s clever with a plan to be inclusive and revive the “big tent” policies of Tony Blair – another figure who is now widely reviled by the electorate – and confirming everything the SNP whisperers have been saying!
Is he trying to stab Ed Miliband in the back?
If not, then now is the time to deny the Guardian story and put Heseltine back in his box.
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