Monday, 6 February 2017

Rank Hypocrisy

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The Sunday Times reports that the knives are out for Diane Abbott, London Labour MP and big ally of Jeremy Corbyn.

I can't say I'm surprised because Diane has always struck me as a terrible hypocrite, especially after she criticised Tony Blair fiercely for sending one of his children to a Catholic school (outside the local Islington catchment area), but went to place her own son at a fee-paying private school.

Fellow Labour MPs must be aghast at her behaviour though not astonished given her brazen track record.

Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley who has been off work for a year having cancer treatment said:

 “I had a big operation just after New Year, I am getting over it and came back to work this week. I saw Diane Abbott in the tearoom before the vote - I held the door open for her.” 

Meanwhile some wag has opened a #PrayForDiane hashtag on Twitter.

MPs urge axe for Abbott over bottling Brexit

By James Lyons - The Sunday Times
Diane Abbott, second from left, at the Red Lion pub in Whitehall on Tuesday, the day before she missed the vote on article 50, blaming a ‘really bad migraine’

Jeremy Corbyn will come under pressure this week to sack Diane Abbott for missing a crucial vote on Brexit. Angry MPs are expected to raise the issue at a private meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party tomorrow night.

Corbyn is also expected to face questions about her future at a meeting of the parliamentary committee, which represents MPs and peers, later in the week. The shadow home secretary went home shortly before the vote last week on giving Theresa May the power to trigger article 50. Abbott had argued publicly that Labour MPs should have to vote in favour of the bill but her local party in London came within two votes of mandating her to vote against.

Dawn Butler, who resigned from Labour’s shadow cabinet before the vote, is said to have sought permission to abstain but was told she had to toe the line or quit.
Unless she was in bloody intensive care she should have been on the premises

Abbott was accused of “bottling” the crucial vote. There were also questions about the severity of the illness that she said had forced her to return home. The MP for Hackney North was seen enjoying a drink at the Red Lion pub in Whitehall on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the day of the vote, she spoke at a debate in Westminster Hall in the afternoon.

At least two seriously ill MPs were brought to the Commons to vote but Abbott went home after developing what friends described as a “really bad migraine” shortly before 5pm.

Labour MPs pointed out that if she had been on the premises at the time of the vote she could have been “nodded through” while remaining in her office rather than having to go into the division lobby.

“Unless she was in bloody intensive care she should have been on the premises,” a senior backbencher said. “It is an outrage. It is completely incompatible to be sacking other people and keep her.”

Abbott’s absence will fuel a rebellion when MPs vote on the bill again this week. The shadow cabinet will meet on Tuesday to agree whether to insist again that MPs must vote for the measure but a shadow cabinet source said it would be ridiculous for Corbyn to do a U-turn.

London Labour (19/12/15)

If anything, the term 'London Labour' is proving to be a much bigger problem for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the People's Party than was ever the case for three time election winner Tony Blair.

Because while New Labour always featured lots of prominent Scots, including Gordon Brown, John Reid, Robin Cook and Alistair Darling to balance the UK party leadership, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have gone native with a very London-centric team.

Jezza's key advisers and spokespeople are all London based and his kitchen cabinet boasts such luminaries as John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone, the former London Mayor.   

When you include others now on the party payroll such as the former Guardian columnist Seumas Milne and 'fellow travellers' like Lindsey German and Andrew Murray from Stop the War Coalition, Labour seems to be heading back to the bad old days of the 1980s when, for a time, London Labour Briefing threatened to rule the party's roost.

Labour's top-heavy London team is making the party look ridiculous as Jeremy Corbyn surrounds himself with like-minded people who may share his politics, but haven't a clue what they're doing.

Diane Abbott for example who said the other day that it was "too late now" for the party to recover in Scotland in time for next year's Scottish Parliament elections.

I imagine Labour in Scotland need that kind of comment like they need another hole in the head at the moment and the Scottish party hit back at Abbott by saying that "Nobody up here takes her seriously".  

As the old saying goes, with friends like these............


Leader's Double Standard (24/09/16)

Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn  on his victory in the Labour leadership contest.

As happened in his first election in 2015, Jezza will find it difficult to explain how as a serial rebel for 32 years he can now demand 'loyalty' and 'discipline' from other Labour MPs who believe he is simply not up to the job.

The reality is that Labour these days is a much more intolerant party than it ever was under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband and this ugly political culture seems likely to result in those who not true believers in Project Corbyn being targeted for having the temerity for disagreeing with their Dear Leader.  

In Corbyn's world Labour members are either for the leader or against the leader, so it will be interesting to see whether the party remains a 'broad church' or turns itself into an increasingly leftist sect.   

Can't Cut The Mustard (22/09/16)

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I listened to quite the most devastating assessment of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership abilities on Radio 5 Live, the other day, from his first wife Jane Chapman.

Now this was not the bitter rant of a woman scorned, not least because Jane voted for her former husband first time around when he won the Labour leadership in 2015.

Nor was this 'uninformed' opinion of someone with an axe to grind since Jane is now widely regarded Professor of Communications at the University of Lincoln and a visiting Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge.

Nonetheless Jane's view was that Jeremy had failed to mark his mark in any of the roles he has played throughout his life as a local government councillor, a trade union official and/or as a Labour MP, observing that:
  • as a local councillor Jeremy chaired nothing more important than a council sub-committee
  • Jeremy's trade union career never progressed beyond the 'entry level' rank
  • as Labour MP for 32 years Jeremy never took on any position of responsibility - not even that as the chair of a parliamentary select committee 
So without rancour or any hint of personal animosity, Professor Chapman essentially came to the same view as the vast majority of Labour MPs - that Jeremy Corbyn does not possess the skills for the job of Labour leader.

Which is, of course, my considered view as well.


'Bog Standard' Officials (24/06/16)

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on The Last Leg

I was unfazed one way or the other by Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on 'The Last Leg' TV programme which had the Labour leader arrive in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, dressed in a dinner suit and a full-length white fur coat.

After all if you have an image problem, then why not do something out of the ordinary to confound and confuse your political opponents.

But no, my real problem with Jeremy is that in answer to a 'dolly' question about how he would rank the importance of the next week's EU referendum on a scale of 1 to 10, Jezza responded with the unbelievably lame answer of "7 to 7 and a half".

Now when so much is at stake in next week's referendum, you would think a Labour leader worth his mettle would have emphasised, in the strongest possible terms, the very real threat to the UK economy, jobs and investment posed by the country's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

So Jeremy's a complete fool if you ask me, a political half-wit, but that's what you get if you elect as Labour leader a man who rose to the dizzying ranks of 'bog standard' union official before finding a niche as a backbench Labour MP in the House of Commons for the next 32 years.

And while there are some decent trade union officials around, believe me there are plenty of complete 'duds' in the ranks too, as the Labour party and the country is finding out to its cost.


Political Doldrums (29/06/15)

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As I arrived in London in 1983 to take up a post as a full-time official with NUPE (the National Union of Public Employees), Jeremy Corbyn was just taking his leave having been elected as the Labour MP for Islington North in May of that year.

None of my new NUPE colleagues had a good word to say about their ex-colleague, perhaps because no one shared Jeremy's fantasy brand of politics. 

Nothing I've heard since then has caused me to argue with my colleagues' opinion although I've never ceased to be amazed at the way in which trade unions often get rid of their least talented officials by packing them off to the House of Commons.

The only thing I would say about Jeremy is that he is a model of consistency: consistently wrong that is, as a backer of Michael Foot's election manifesto in 1983 (dubbed the longest suicide note in history) and Ed Miliband's doomed pitch to become Prime Minister in 2015.

But the fact that Jeremy Corbyn gets on the Labour leadership ballot paper while someone like Mary Creagh drops out (due to a lack of nominations from fellow MPs) tells you that the People's Party is set to remain in the political wilderness for some time to come.