Wednesday, 22 January 2020

'Continuity Corbyn'

Politics Home has an excellent editorial on the hypocrisy of Corbyn supporters, in particular Labour chairman Ian Lavery, who is calling for Keir Starmer (the bookies favourite in the Labour leadership race) to 'stand aside' in favour of a female party leader.

Now, as Kevin Schofield points out, Ian Lavery was not such a big fan of gender equality when he backed Andy Burnham to be leader in 2015, or when Jeremy Corbyn stood for the second time in 2017, or when Ian Lavery considered standing himself in 2020.

Yet all these 'killer facts' seem to have been conveniently brushed aside in the effort to try and deliver a result for the 'Continuity Corbyn' candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey.


Politics Home Editorial

Good morning,

All of a sudden, the Corbynites believe it’s time for Labour to have a female leader. Momentum has even produced one of its flashy videos declaring that in 120 years, it was a disgrace that the party had never been led by a woman.

Ian Lavery was the latest to jump on the bandwagon last night, calling on Sir Keir Starmer - who just so happens to be the main rival to his favourite, Rebecca Long-Bailey - to “stand aside”.

Funnily, I don’t remember Ian being such a big fan of gender equality in 2015, when he backed Andy Burnham to be leader rather than Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall. And maybe it was a different Ian Lavery who considered standing this time round, when he already knew that there were female candidates in the race.

Happily for Lavery, a Channel 4 focus group of traditional Labour voters who backed the Tories at the election last night showed that they definitely want Jeremy Corbyn’s successor to be a woman. Sadly for him, though, they think it should be either Lisa Nandy or Emily Thornberry. Not a single person in the room put up their hand when asked if Long-Bailey could win them back, and only two backed Sir Keir. Nandy got a clean sweep of support, with Thornberry not far behind. Something for Labour members to chew over.

Nandy will look to build on the momentum her campaign is enjoying following the GMB's endorsement in a major speech in London this morning, while Thornberry will become the latest candidate to be grilled by Andrew Neil tonight.

Corbyn will continue to keep the leader’s seat warm by facing Boris Johnson at PMQs later, and Labour MPs will be hoping he puts a bit more energy into it than last week’s rather half-hearted affair. Mind you, we all take our foot off the gas a bit when we’re working our notice.

Meanwhile, MPs are sure to overturn the four amendments that peers made to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it returns to the Commons this afternoon. Some minor ping-pong will then ensue before the new law is ready for Royal Assent later in the week.

Enjoy your day.

Kevin Schofield, @PolHomeEditor

Ian Lavery tells Keir Starmer to quit Labour leadership race to make way for a woman

By Matt Honeycombe-Foster - Politics Home

Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer should "stand side" to make way for a woman, the party's chairman has declared.
The Labour chairman urged Sir Keir to 'stand aside' - Photo Credit: PA

Ian Lavery, who is backing Sir Keir's main rival Rebecca Long-Bailey, called on the Shadow Brexit Secretary to quit the race so the party can pick its first-ever female leader.

The comments from the key ally of Jeremy Corbyn came at an official campaign event for Ms Long-Bailey, who is one of three women left in the contest.

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Mr Lavery - who considered running for the leadership himself - said: "We need a female leader of the Labour Party. Stand aside Keir."

He added: "If we stand with Rebecca Long-Bailey, Baileyism, we'll have a leader who can take the fight to the Tories not in 2024 but in 2020. We've got a woman who is as strong as anyone within the party.

"She's got fantastic vision, she's got a fantastic history and a fantastic background, and she isn't frightened of anybody - she's not even frightened of me. And she is the right person for the job."

The comments come after Mr Lavery drew anger from some Labour MPs for staunchly defending the party's election campaign, which saw it plunge to its lowest number of Commons seats since the 1930s.

But the former president of the National Union of Mineworkers once again urged the party to stick to the course set by Jeremy Corbyn by backing Ms Long-Bailey.

Mr Lavery said: "I’m a bit bruised, battered, disappointed. But you know what, the only way is up. The only way is to continue with the socialist revolution. The only way is to continue to build on what we promised the British people. Comrades, there’s no going back.”

And, taking a swipe at Labour MPs hostile to Mr Corbyn, he added: "I’ll tell you something else: I’m not taking any lectures from some of the people in the party who are now saying we need to draw a line under it and we need to focus on the future when they’ve undermined Jeremy Corbyn."

The fiery comments from the party chairman came as Ms Long-Bailey confirmed that Labour MPs will have to face automatic reselection - a key demand of left-wing activists - before every general election if she becomes leader.

The Shadow Business Secretary said she wanted to "throw open the door to a new generation" of Labour politicians.

Ms Long-Bailey's place in the final round of the contest is likely to be confirmed on Friday when Unite announces who it is endorsing.

Bookies' favourite Sir Keir is already on the ballot paper, while Lisa Nandy's hopes of joining him received a huge boost when the GMB said on Tuesday that it was backing her.

Continuity Corbyn (21/01/20)

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.”

The King Is Dead - Long Live The King (07/01/20

Ian Lavery is another Corbyn disciple who was in the running to become Labour's new leader until dropping out over the weekend in favour of Rebecca Long-Bailey, the continuity Corbyn candidate.  

Now Ian Lavery is a controversial figure in the Labour Party because this former general secretary of the NUM in Northumberland drew a salary worth ten of thousands of pounds - even though the union had just 10 members.

Lavery also had the brass neck to accept an eye-watering £72,500 redundancy payment despite leaving  his NUM job on a completely voluntary basis to take up another very well paid role at Westminster as a Labour MP.

Predictably, Lavery has rejected criticism of Labour's general election performance preferring instead to blame Brexit - rather than Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team of Milne, Murray, Murphy and McCluskey (Burgon didn't even make Jezza's A-Team - see post dated 06/01/2020)

Labour leadership: Lavery blames defeat on ‘bid to foist Remain on working classes’

By Chris Smyth - The Times

Ian Lavery urged his colleagues to “stop reinforcing press attacks on our own party”KEVIN HAYES/ALAMY

Labour’s chairman has dismissed “ridiculous” criticism of the party’s policies as he set out his pro-Brexit pitch to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Ian Lavery, one of Mr Corbyn’s chief allies on the left of the party, has blamed Labour’s attempt to “foist Remain” on working-class communities for its catastrophic election defeat last month, and warned against a return to “bland centrism”.

A former president of the National Union of Mineworkers, Mr Lavery is considering a leadership bid which would see him compete with Rebecca Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary, as the Corbynite candidate.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, he argued that Labour had to earn the right to continue as a political force, warning that “we don’t have the divine right to exist as a party”.

In a coded criticism of MPs who have attacked Mr Corbyn’s leadership in the aftermath of Labour’s worst loss in 80 years, Mr Lavery urges his colleagues to “stop reinforcing press attacks on our own party”.

Mr Lavery, who was Labour’s general election campaign co-ordinator, rebuts claims from “the architects of our defeat” that the party’s hugely ambitious manifesto was to blame for its loss.

“It seems ridiculous having to point out it was not our policies that led to defeat,” he writes.

“For some, that would be a neat conclusion allowing them to return to a bland centrism of 2015. But it isn’t true.”

He adds: “Labour lost because of our Brexit position, infighting, a collapse of industry in our communities and a lack of trust in our ability to deliver. Talk of a second referendum was seen by many as a way to foist Remain upon them. Communities represented by Labour for generations felt abandoned. It is time to outline a positive vision of the future outside of the EU.”

Mr Lavery is the only Brexiteer candidate for the Labour leadership and has criticised backers of a second referendum for condescending to “ordinary people”. He saw his majority in Wansbeck, Northumberland, cut to 814 at the election, down from over 10,000 in 2017, after a big swing to the Conservatives and Brexit parties.

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, who is the early favourite to succeed Mr Corbyn, and Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, who has already declared her candidacy, were both enthusiastic backers of remaining in the EU. Ms Long Bailey adopted a more ambiguous position, suggesting that Labour could campaign to leave if it negotiated a good enough Brexit deal.

Clive Lewis, the shadow Treasury minister, is also standing and will hope to appeal to Corbynite activists frustrated that Labour did not campaign more wholeheartedly to stay in the EU. The party’s preferential internal voting system means that the three left-wing candidates do not necessarily harm each other’s chances, but their competition could make it harder for them to secure the support needed to make it on to the ballot paper.

Jess Phillips, a moderate backbencher who is also considering standing, started the year in pugnacious mood, tweeting this morning: “I’ve woken up with an absolute cob on about the people who get to make decisions about our lives. 2020 starts with fire in my belly and I promise that won’t change.”

Separately, a survey suggests that Sir Keir is the candidate most feared by Conservatives, with 62 per cent of Tory members saying he would make the best Labour leader. The poll by the activists’ website ConservativeHome found just 10 per cent thinking Ms Long Bailey would be the most effective leader.

George Osborne, the former chancellor, tweeted: “One thing that every Conservative I know wants for 2020 is for Rebecca Long Bailey to become leader of the Labour Party.”