Thursday, 21 February 2019

Labour - Bullying and Intimidation

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson tries to rise to the occasion with this measured response to the news that some Labour MPs are so disillusioned with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership that they have decided to resign.

"I love this party. But sometimes I no longer recognise it." 

Damning words from a politician who is a least prepared to face up to the scale of the problem facing Labour whose leader has allowed a young woman Jewish MP to be hounded out of the party after a vile a campaign of bullying and intimidation.

If Labour can't stand up against this kind of behaviour, I think it's fair to ask - what exactly does the party stand for?


Taking a Stand (19/02/19)

Liverpool MP Luciana Berger gives her reasons for concluding that under Jeremy Corbyn the Labour has become institutionally anti-Semitic. 

Corbyn and his allies have only harsh words for Luciana Berger and her colleagues, but the truth is that the Labour leader is responsible for creating the political conditions which left 7 of his MPs to conclude they had no option but to resign.


Jeremy the Jellyfish (14/02/19)

The Times carried a major report the other day on the latest allegations of bullying and anti-Semitism to engulf the Labour Party.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson spoke up and called for the Liverpool Wavertree constituency to be suspended, but as usual Jeremy Corbyn was nowhere to be seen.

Labour women accuse leadership of bullying pregnant Jewish MP Luciana Berger

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor | Kate Devlin | Oliver Wright | Francis Elliott - The Times
Ms Berger needed a police escort at last year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool, where activists in her Wavertree constituency have failed to oust her - IAIN WATTS, MERCURY PRESS

Jeremy Corbyn faces a backlash from Labour’s most prominent women after his top team were accused of bullying a heavily pregnant Jewish MP.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, caused outrage after suggesting that Luciana Berger should declare her loyalty to the party to see off a no-confidence vote tabled by local members a day after she challenged Mr Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism.

Harriet Harman, the former acting leader, Dame Margaret Hodge, a former select committee chairman, and Dame Louise Ellman, a former chairwoman of Jewish Labour, all called for Ms Berger, 37, not to be hounded out.

The emergency motion, due for discussion on February 17, two weeks before Ms Berger is due to go on maternity leave, was dropped yesterday.

Labour sources suggested that Mr Corbyn’s team feared a walkout by Labour MPs fed up with the leadership’s stance on Brexit and antisemitism.

MPs were angry that Mr McDonnell used a morning media round yesterday to call on Ms Berger to make it clear she was not planning to support a “breakaway party”. He told Sky News: “My advice really, on all of this, is for Luciana to just put this issue to bed. Say very clearly, ‘No, I’m not supporting another party, I’m not jumping ship’.”

He was criticised for appearing to blame the victim, especially one who is pregnant.
Ms Berger was told to pledge her loyalty to the party by John McDonnell - CAMERA PRESS

Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East, said: “John McDonnell was on the radio this morning basically demanding an oath of loyalty from her to those who are attacking her. I’ve never heard of such a ridiculous situation.”

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, offered Ms Berger her full support “in speaking out and stamping out the racism and antisemitism that’s in our party”.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, told MPs in the House of Commons that Ms Berger had his support as she battled “bullying and hatred” from her local party. He also said that local members “bring disgrace to the party that I love”.

In a letter to Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, Mr Watson asked her to suspend the Liverpool Wavertree party.

He wrote: “It is clear to me that Luciana Berger is being bullied. This behaviour by her local party is intolerable. The actions of her constituency are not only threatening towards Luciana personally but are bringing our party into disrepute.”

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, accused Mr McDonnell of giving “tacit approval” to antisemitic members of the local party.

On Monday Ms Berger challenged the Labour leadership over claims by Ms Formby that the party could not eradicate antisemitism entirely.

Ms Formby rejected MPs’ demands to reveal how many disciplinary cases were outstanding, when an antisemitism code of practice would be completed and how the party was engaging with victims. It is understood that she has now proposed to hand the information over.

Ms Berger, who has faced persistent antisemitic abuse for years, some of it from Labour Party members, was said to be “very deeply upset” after Monday’s meeting. The following morning Labour MPs were convinced that she was on the brink of resigning.

On Tuesday evening the executive committee of the Liverpool Wavertree Labour party took the decision to call a no-confidence vote.

The motion asked the local party to agree that “Wavertree CLP has no confidence in Luciana Berger as our representative in parliament”.

It added: “Instead of fighting for a Labour government, our MP is continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister.”

Kenneth Campbell described Luciana Berger in 2017 as “a disruptive Zionist” - MERCURY PRESS AND MEDIA

Kenneth Campbell, a party member, was behind one of the motions of no confidence in the MP. In 2017 he wrote on Facebook that it was “about time” that Ms Berger was “exposed for the disruptive Zionist she is” and should be deselected.

Mr Campbell, 81, also accused Ms Berger of crying wolf over the antisemitism allegations that have dogged the party for two years.

In one post he accused her of “spouting rubbish about antisemitism to take the heat [out] of her commitment to the murdering government of Israel”.

In another he said: “You can’t reason with a rabid dog the state of Israel is a false flag state”.

The term “false flag” is a description of a covert operation designed to deceive and has been used by conspiracy theorists.

After he withdrew the motion, Mr Campbell told The Times: “I have let it go. I have withdrawn the motion. I have had that much pressure put on me. It was something I felt strongly and I’ve withdrawn it. I am happy to withdraw it because it has caused that much of a commotion.”

Votes of no confidence carry no official force within the Labour Party, but could provoke a “trigger ballot”, a mechanism by which Labour MPs can be forced to compete for selection against anyone wishing to challenge them before a general election.

The attempt to censure Ms Berger was criticised by some of Labour’s most respected female MPs.

Ms Harman said: “She will be eight and a half months pregnant and we’ve got a proud record for fighting for pregnant women. The idea of a pregnant woman at bay in front of her local party will shame every woman in the party.”

Dame Margaret, who has clashed repeatedly with Mr Corbyn on antisemitism, said: “This woman is about to give birth. If it was anybody else the idea that when she is about to have a baby you threaten her with losing her job is a complete outrage.

“She is over eight months pregnant — it would be illegal in any other circumstances. Any competent leader would stop this from happening. But instead the current leadership of the Labour Party has encouraged punitive, aggressive, intolerant politics that has led to situations such as this.”

Dame Louise, MP for Liverpool Riverside and a former chairwoman of the Jewish Labour Movement, an officially affiliated party grouping which was founded in 2004, urged Mr McDonnell and Mr Corbyn to pick up the phone and speak to their contacts in the local party to get the motions withdrawn.

Ms Ellman said: “It’s time that Labour dealt with antisemitism properly”.

A source close to the Labour leadership said that the decision to pull the censure motion “was the right thing to do”.

Labour's Broad Church (09/07/17)

The BBC reports on a deselection row inside the Labour Party after its chairperson, Ian Lavery, claimed that  Labour had become "too broad a church".

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Mr Lavery said recently: 

"We are a broad church. Some might argue, and I would be one of them, that we might be too broad a church."

Now if you ask me, there is no room for doubt as to what these words mean but Mr Lavery has since rowed back on his call for a 'purge', perhaps in response to Labour MPs threatening to stand down from their seats and triggering a series of difficult by-elections.

Labour bids to defuse Luciana Berger de-selection row

By Iain Watson - BBC News
Image copyright - PA Image caption - Luciana Berger was re-elected with an increased majority

The new Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery has told the Daily Mirror that he doesn't see the "de-selection" of MPs critical of Jeremy Corbyn "as the way forward".

Chills had gone up some Blairite spines when Mr Lavery himself had suggested at the weekend the Labour "might be too broad a church".

But he sought to calm nerves which had been further put on edge by comments from Mr Corbyn's close ally Chris Williamson, recently re-elected as the MP for Derby North having been narrowly defeated at the 2015 election.

On Thursday, Mr Williamson said: "There are individual MPs in this party who think it's their God-given right to rule.

"No MP should be guaranteed a job for life. Labour is a big church, but we currently have a large bulk of MPs who represent one relatively small tendency in the congregation... it's unreasonable to think we as MPs can avoid any contest."

'Answerable to us'

His words didn't sound like empty rhetoric to the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Luciana Berger - seen as being on the moderate wing of the party.

She had resigned as a shadow minister when, a year ago, 80% of Jeremy Corbyn's MPs were expressing no confidence in his leadership.
Image copyright - EPA Image caption - Jeremy Corbyn has stressed his support for party democracy

A left-wing "slate" of candidates had succeeded in taking almost all of the key offices on her local party's executive.

And one of the winners - Roy Bentham - had shared his thoughts with the Liverpool Echo.

He suggested that Ms Berger, who was re-elected last month with an increased majority, publicly recant her criticism of the party leader and for the avoidance of doubt he declared: "She is answerable to us now."

The local party secretary Angela Kehoe-Jones distanced herself from the remarks and suggested the branch was "united" in fighting the Tories.

But there is little doubt that Ms Berger - who is on maternity leave - feels her job is under threat.

And she is not the only one.

'Rogues' gallery'

A Labour MP who held her seat against the odds at the election told me she was threatened with de-selection within 48 hours of the result.

And you only have to visit websites which purport to back the Labour leadership to view a "rogues' gallery" of MPs who are seen as disloyal. 

Image caption - Chuka Ummuna faced criticism over amendment to Queen's Speech

Featuring on most lists is Chuka Umunna, who upset those close to Mr Corbyn by pushing an amendment to the Queen's Speech to keep Britain in the EU single market - not official party policy.

This was seen as forcing the party leader in to sacking frontbenchers and was the first tangible sign of disunity following the euphoria of the election result.

And while he wouldn't want to see Mr Umunna unseated, even Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson regarded that amendment as bad politics.

But some left-wing activists don't need new offences to be taken in to account.

Mass purge?

Some see those MPs who distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn as saboteurs of Labour's success.

And they are building a narrative that had they been more loyal - and party officials more ambitious - they could have propelled the party from second to first place at the election.

But don't expect a mass purge of Labour MPs.

Indeed, some Corbyn critics are likely to be offered junior spokespeople roles in the autumn.

But not all of those who are seen as beyond the pale are likely to be unseated.

Mr Corbyn has time and again stressed how much he supports party democracy.

So unless a local party has been - as in Luciana Berger's case - taken over by members and supporters of Momentum (the group set up to keep the spirit of Mr Corbyn's leadership campaigns alive) it would be difficult to dislodge the sitting MP.

'Join the Liberals'

And it should be said, not all local Momentum groups favour de-selecting sitting MPs in any case.

They would point out that they have campaigned for the re-election of MPs who aren't ideological fellow travellers. 
Image copyright - LABOUR PARTY Image caption - Ian Lavery has spoken out against de-selection

Momentum nationally weren't chuffed with a Facebook post from the South Tyneside group suggesting MPs such as Chris Leslie and Jess Phillips should "join the Liberals".

Instead of pushing existing personalities out, largely beneath the political radar there are attempts to move Labour more solidly and permanently to the left and to ensure that, when the time comes, Jeremy Corbyn would be able to hand over the leadership to someone who largely shares his political outlook.

So at this year's Labour Party conference, there will be a move to shift the power in future leadership elections from MPs to party members.

This would mean just 5% of MPs - not the 15% of MPs and MEPs at present - would be needed to put a candidate on the ballot.

With a snap election, most anti-Corbyn MPs were returned to Parliament so while a left-wing candidate still might struggle to get 15% support, 5% is considered no barrier.

This move has already been reported extensively. 
'Quiet revolution'

Mr Corbyn's internal opponents call it "the McDonnell amendment" - as shadow chancellor John McDonnell is a red rag to any of the party's more moderate bulls.

Groups of what were called Blairites and Brownites - they would call themselves modernisers or moderates - in organisations such as Progress and Labour First have been working hard to secure enough delegates to the annual conference to defeat the leadership changes.

With the deadline for deciding delegates drawing to a close, it's not clear yet who has the upper hand.

But something of a quiet revolution could be under way that would see the power of Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters, entrenched.

Under Labour's rules, some topics need to be put on the table this year if they are decided next year.

So a slow burning fuse will be lit in the autumn that could blow up in to a more major row in 2018.

There are moves by those on the party's left to make it easier for local parties to oust sitting MPs in future.
Top official

This would involve party branches being encouraged to put forward alternative names for consideration, or for sitting MPs to be required to demonstrate they had 66% support locally to continue.

There will also be a move to increase the number members of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), who are elected not by MPs or the unions, but by the rank-and-file members.

The assumption is that they are more in tune with Mr Corbyn's agenda. 
Image caption - Iain McNicol (second right) sings The Red Flag at the 2015 Labour conference

The NEC approves party candidates for elections - and a panel of its members chooses by-election candidates.

There was an attempt to disbar the pro-nuclear and anti-Corbyn candidate John Woodcock at an NEC meeting just before the election.

That failed, but if the balance of power on the body were to change, so could the career prospects of the leadership's critics.

And indeed the career prospects of Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol would be called in to question by another proposed change.

There will be an attempt to give members the right to choose the party's top official in future.

Again, this can't be decided until next year but could put Mr McNicol on notice. 

Poll lead

He is blamed for trying to deny new (and, it was assumed, more radical) members the right to vote in last year's leadership contest and for not putting enough resources in to Labour/Tory marginals at the general election.

He would contend that the party HQ's strategy of defending vulnerable seats - as well as swiftly moving resources to seats which looked promising as the campaign progressed - was a success.

So by its actions in the coming months, Labour - 8 points ahead in one opinion poll today - could choose to remain a broad church.

Or further expose the fact that many of its MPs and grassroots members aren't really singing from the same hymn sheet. 

Jezza's Broad Church (30/12/17)

Image result for two man tent + images

The problem with Jeremy Corbyn's latest recruit to Labour's high command is not so much that Jayne Fisher once worked for Sinn Fein, but that the upper echelons of the party now are dominated by people whose unrepresentative political views are so far removed from those of ordinary Labour voters.

The Politics Home web site reports on the latest row to have broken out in Labour ranks, but  alongside Jayne Fisher key 'movers and shakers' in the Labour Party already include:
  • unreconstructed old 'Stalinists' like Seumas Milne (Jezza's official spokesperson) and Andrew Murray (Len McCluskey's chief of staff at Unite)
  • Karie Murphy a key figure in the Labour leader's office who is referred to in the media as a 'close friend' of Len McCluskey and who was once tipped to become the Labour candidate in Falkirk before the 'vote rigging' scandal and Ineos dispute blew up
In days gone by Labour liked to present itself as a broad church, where a wide variety of political views were welcome, whereas now it appears to be operating as a 'leftist' dominated Jeremy Corbyn fan club. 

Read the full story via this following link to Politics Home.


Jeremy Corbyn defends giving key role to former Sinn Fein staffer

By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

Jeremy Corbyn's office has defended his decision to hand a key job to the former head of Sinn Fein's London office after the move sparked fury among some Labour MPs.

Jeremy Corbyn with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the House of Commons in 1995
Credit: PA Images

Jayne Fisher will be in charge of "stakeholder engagement" for the Labour leader from next month.

Mr Corbyn confirmed the move at a meeting of the party's parliamentary committee in parliament yesterday afternoon.

Labour MPs' fury after Jeremy Corbyn hires senior Sinn Fein staffer to work in his office

Sinn Fein calls for referendum on a united Ireland after Brexit

Labour 'approached Sinn Fein' on hung parliament

One MP present told PoliticsHome: "It's fair to say that the general response was one of shock and anger. Obviously, we really need to annoy more people in the run-up to Christmas.

State of Labour (10/01/17)

Image result for state of corbyn's labour + images

I had a Twitter exchange with Jeremy Corbyn supporter, a chap who hides his real identity behind the silly moniker 'Cool Daddy' and describes himself as a London Corbynite.

Anyway, I had simply pointed out that the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn inside the Labour Party is much greater now than it was during the days when Jezza was a serial rebel and thorn in the side of every Labour leader since Neil Kinnock, i.e. going back to 1983.  

In his response this clown then described members of the party's National Executive Committee as 'fascists' which says a lot about Labour under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Jezza bangs on about tolerance and respect yet many of his fanatical supporters are out of control using language that has no place in civilised political debate. 

And you can be sure that the Labour leadership either know Cool Daddy's identity or could find this out easily, if Corbyn & Co really wanted their loony supporters to 'cool the beans'.


  1.  In reply to 
    Your use of the word 'fascist' to describe fellow Labour Party members is appalling, no wonder polls are so bad
  2.  In reply to 
    Opposition to JC is much greater now than Corbyn-led opposition to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Miliband
Cool Daddy


  1. The opposition to Corbyn is mainly from the PLP and the fascists in the NEC. Not to mention the RW MSM