Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Continuity Corbyn

Morten Morland on Labour's leadership election which may not be going so well for the 'Continuity Corbyn' candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey.


The King Is Dead - Long Live The Queen! (08/01/20)

Rebecca Long-Bailey has joined the race to become the new Labour leader and is apparently part of a continuity Corbyn 'dream ticket' along with Richard Burgon who is standing for election as deputy leader.

In setting out her election stall Rebecca gave Jeremy Corbyn  '10 out of 10' for his leadership despite the fact that Jeremy generated the worst performance ratings of any leader in Labour's history.

Doubling down on her theme that the voters, rather than the party leadership were wrong, Rebecca added:

“I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them."

Now I don't know what's happened to Denis Healey's famous old maxim 'When you're in a hole, stop digging!', but Boris Johnson and the Conservatives must be rubbing their hands with glee.

Meanwhile Sadiq Khan the Labour Mayor of London says that voters 'got it right' in deciding to give Corbyn the thumbs down. 

Good for him - well said!



Sadiq Khan interview: voters right to shun Jeremy Corbyn

By Rosamund Urwin - The Sunday Times

Khan with Luna on Tooting CommonRAY WELLS

Sadiq Khan admits that he believes voters “got it right” on December 12. “Hand on heart, did we deserve to win the general election?” the Labour mayor of London asks. “Probably not, so the British public got it right.”

Khan, who is standing for re-election on May 7, calls the result “catastrophic”. He is at pains to reject Jeremy Corbyn’s claim Labour “won” the argument, stating baldly: “We lost the argument.”

I meet Khan and his labrador Luna on Tooting Common, south London. As Labour’s most popular serving politician, according to YouGov, his life is a stream of selfie requests: “Only twice have I said no. Once when I was rushing to catch a plane, the other when I was at A&E with a family member.”

In the 2016 mayoral election, Khan won the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history, and will be courted by all the leadership candidates. He will not reveal who he backs until later in the campaign, but friends expect him to support Sir Keir Starmer.

Khan, 49, does not want a “coronation”, but says there is one attribute the new leader must have: “I want a winner. The candidates need to persuade us members that they have the best analysis of why we lost, and to set out the path to victory.”

He rejects the idea that the next leader must be female. “It should be the best person for the job,” he says. “You shouldn’t be excluded because you’re a man, but I do find it disappointing that the Labour Party hasn’t had a woman leader.”

Starmer’s other problem is that his seat, Holborn and St Pancras, is in London. The capital has become a byword for privilege in Labour. 

“The prime minister is a Londoner who went to Eton,” Khan bats back. “The idea you can’t win an election because you’re a London MP is nonsense. And London is a tale of two cities: you’ve got areas with Michelin-starred restaurants and a proliferation of food banks.”

Khan was not consulted on holding a general election by the Labour leadership.

“Many of us thought it was a foolish thing to do, [as] it was an election chosen by Johnson to suit himself,” he says. “If your opponent thinks it is a good idea, why would you want to agree to it?”

He believes those advising Corbyn were “hoist with their own petard”: “They thought that the 2017 result was an aberration, that we should have won, and with one final heave, we would win in 2019,” he says. “Now we have at least five years of a Boris Johnson, hard-Brexit government. Those who were responsible for that decision need to put their hands up.”

Should Corbyn have accepted more of the blame? “What Jeremy and those around him should have the humility to recognise is [they] let Corbyn be Corbyn, and we got pasted,” he says.

Khan believes Labour needs deeper change than at the top. “It’s not just about changing the lead singer, it’s the whole band,” he says. “The music was wrong.”

He reels off reasons Labour lost. “I probably knocked on more doors than any candidate, and people didn’t have confidence in the party and our values,” he says. “They thought we were making promises just to win votes. And they thought we were a racist party because of our failure to tackle anti-semitism.”

It is the last part that pains Khan most. A Muslim, his first act as mayor was to attend a Holocaust memorial.

“We’re Labour, a party that’s about anti-racism,” he says. “For the leadership not to understand the impact of us being seen to condone anti-semitism is heartbreaking. We’ve demonstrated a breathtaking lack of emotional intelligence — or humanity.” 

He has Jewish friends who did not vote for Labour because they felt it was racist. “And you know what? If a dog barks, and a duck quacks . . .” He tails off and does not finish the analogy, but adds: “It’s a disqualification to be Labour leader if you don’t understand it and don’t have a clear plan to address it.” 

Does that mean throwing people out? “You’ve got to. If someone takes us to court, so be it. The ease with which Alastair Campbell was chucked out for talking about voting for another party, and yet you have anti-semites still in, beggars belief.”

He is tired of the “what-aboutery” deployed to defend Labour. “Sure, the Tories may be Islamophobic,” he says. “That doesn’t concern me. The standards I expect from Labour are higher than other parties.” 

He points to the case of the former Labour mayor, Ken Livingstone. “He said things that were clearly anti-semitic,” Khan says. “He remained a Labour member for two years until he quit. He wasn’t kicked out.”

Unless anti-semitism and racism are dealt with at their roots, they become “normalised”, he adds. “It is toxic. I met decent people who said, ‘It’s a bit smelly, this anti-semitism stuff,’ and they didn’t vote for us.”

The other problem on the doorstep was Labour’s muddled position on Brexit. “People who voted remain didn’t think we were authentically remain, and people who voted leave didn’t think we were credibly leave. It was the worst of both worlds.”

He believes Johnson has misled voters. “People think it will all be signed, sealed and delivered on January 31,” he says. “But then we have 11 months to sort out a deal with the EU, or else we fall off a cliff edge. All those problems in Operation Yellowhammer could still happen at the end of the year. That’s not gone away, it’s been put on pause.”

Khan opposed Brexit but sees it as an opportunity for greater devolution to the regions, including London. He would like more powers over education, business rates and house-building.

“There’s no point in taking back control if it means Brussels will go to Whitehall — Brussels should go to City Hall and town halls around the country,” he says. “I don’t argue for London to get more resources, what I argue is for us to be in charge of the resources we have.”

Khan took over from Johnson at City Hall in 2016. “Boris had checked out two years before,” he claims. “He got to cut the ribbons to the projects begun by Ken Livingstone, but there were no ribbons for me to cut. There were messes to clear up, and projects to begin.”

Victory in May is expected to come easily for Khan. YouGov has him 27 points ahead of the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey. His worry is voter complacency.

Khan frets that Labour is on a losing streak. “Elections can be habit-forming: you can be habitual winners or habitual losers,” he says. “And I want us to win.”