Saturday, 11 April 2020

Death Rattles and Dinosaurs

The assistant general secretary of the RMT union, Steve Hedley, has made a complete fool of himself and the wider trade union movement with his ugly Facebook comments about Boris Johnson.

Hopefully this is just the death rattle of the dinosaurs in the Labour party who saw Jeremy Corbyn as some sort of Messiah.   

And whatever else you might say about Keir Starmer, I can't imagine the new Labour leader adopting such a laid back attitude to this kind of moronic behaviour in the labour movement's ranks.

 Steve Hedley (left), with RMT union boss Mick Cash and Jeremy Corbyn
Steve Hedley (left), with RMT union boss Mick Cash and Jeremy Corbyn
 Hedley said if Boris Johnson 'pops his clogs I'm throwing a party'
Hedley said if Boris Johnson 'pops his clogs I'm throwing a party'


Rail union chief suspended for saying he would ‘throw a party’ if Boris Johnson died from coronavirus

The RMT's assistant general secretary Steve Hedley has been suspended (PA)

By Alain Tolhurst - Politics Home

A senior union official has been suspended after saying he would be “throwing a party” if Boris Johnson died from coronavirus.

Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), made the remark on Facebook.

Replying to another user of the site, he said: "I don't want to offend you, but if Bojo pops his clogs, I'm throwing a party.”

Mr Hedley later added: "I hope the whole Cabinet and higher echelons of the Tory party have been touching various bits of him."

Following a backlash, the left-winger said on Wednesday that he "stood by every word".

In a joint statement, RMT president Michelle Rodgers and general secretary Mick Cash said: "Steve Hedley's comments do not represent the views of this trade union and are wholly unacceptable.”

On Friday, a spokesman for the RMT said: "Following a meeting of the union's National Executive a decision has been made to suspend senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley with immediate effect while a formal investigation takes place into his conduct."

The Prime Minister was admitted to St. Thomas's Hospital on Sunday night after his Covid-19 symptoms worsened.

He was taken into intensive care on Monday, but moved back to a general ward on Thursday night after his condition improved.

In a statement on Friday, a Number 10 spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery.

"He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received. His thoughts are with those affected by this terrible disease."

Earlier this week a Labour mayor had the whip withdrawn after she said Mr Johnson “completely deserves” to be in intensive care with coronavirus.

Councillor Sheila Oakes, the mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire, later apologised “unreservedly” for the comments, telling the BBC: "I said something when I was angry without thinking about the Prime Minister or his family.”

A spokesperson for the Amber Valley Labour Group said they “utterly condemn” the comments and confirmed Cllr Oakes could no longer represent the party in the wake of the post.

Deserves the Boot - And No Mistake! (08/04/20)

The Labour Mayor of Amber Valley Borough Council, Sheila Oakes, has been given the boot by her own party after welcoming Boris Johnson's admission to a hospital intensive care unit suffering from severe symptoms of Coronavirus.

Apparently, the mayor's remarks were a 'mistake' rather than a calculated, gratuitous and ill-judged insult.

But the local Labour Group has done the right thing and let's hope this is the last hurrah of the Corbynistas.

Coronavirus: Mayor apologises for PM 'deserves this' comments
Image copyright - AMBER VALLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL Image caption - Sheila Oakes admitted she "made a mistake"

A town mayor has apologised for saying Prime Minister Boris Johnson "completely deserves this" after he was admitted to intensive care.

Sheila Oakes, who is the mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire, made the comments below a Facebook post about the news.

The Amber Valley Labour Group said it had withdrawn the whip, meaning she is no longer a Labour councillor.

Ms Oakes has since apologised and accepted she "made a mistake".

In response to a post asking people to say a "little prayer" for the prime minister on Monday night, Ms Oakes had written: "Sorry, he completely deserves this and he is one of the worst PMs we've ever had."

Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - Boris Johnson is in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened

On Tuesday, Ms Oakes said she "apologised for upsetting people and saying it".

She told the BBC: "I didn't think what I said would upset so many people. It came across as not a nice thing to say.

"I'm concerned about nurses and doctors who don't have protective equipment. I said something when I was angry without thinking about the prime minister or his family."

Chris Emmas-Williams, the leader of Amber Valley Labour group, said there would be an investigation into Ms Oakes' conduct.

He said: "This behaviour is totally unacceptable and not what the Labour Party are about.

"I've not made the comments but I feel as leader of the Labour group I have to apologise as well to Boris Johnson and his family and we wish him well because we need everyone possible to fight this disease."


A New Day Has Dawned (08/04/20)

Given all the big breaking news stories over the weekend I didn't get round to saying much about the new Labour leader, Sir Keith Starmer.

I'll get round to this in the days ahead, but I do think Starmer made a good start with his passionate commitment to get tough with the antisemitism in Labour's ranks.

"Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it's brought to so many Jewish communities.

"On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.

"And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us."

The sad truth is that Jeremy Corbyn could never have spoken these words or been taken seriously if he had promised to take such action.


Keir Starmer elected as new Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

The 57-year old defeated Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy in a ballot of party members, trade unionists and registered supporters and will succeed Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader.

The lawyer, who became an MP in 2015, won on the first round of voting, with more than 50% of the vote.

He said his task was to "lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope".

In a video message released by the party, he said it was an "honour and privilege" to have been elected and he hoped Labour "when the time comes can serve our country again - in government". 

Live: Reaction to Starmer victory
Profile: Sir Keir Starmer

The full results of the leadership contest were:
Sir Keir Starmer - 275,780 votes (56.2%).
Rebecca Long-Bailey - 135,218 votes (27.6%)
Lisa Nandy - 79,597 votes (16.2%)

Meanwhile, shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has been elected deputy leader. She defeated four other candidates but the contest was much closer, going to a third round of voting.

Sir Keir, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, in London, had been the odds-on favourite to win the contest, having received the backing of more MPs and local Labour branches than his rivals as well as significant union support.

During the three month campaign, he argued he was best placed to unite the party and set it back on the road to power after its heavy defeat in December's general election - which prompted Mr Corbyn to say he would stand down.

Media caption - Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership in two minutes

He has described himself as a socialist but not a Corbynite, and vowed to keep key policies from the Corbyn era, such as nationalising rail, mail and water and repealing anti-union laws, in a 10-point plan.

But his first task will be to lead Labour's response to the coronavirus emergency, and he has been invited to take part in cross-party talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the government's top scientific advisers next week, to "work together" on the crisis.

'Constructive opposition'

Sir Keir said he had been elected "at a moment like no other" and promised to work "constructively" with the government to confront the pandemic and not engage in "opposition for opposition's sake".

But he added: "We will shine a torch on critical issues and where we see mistakes or faltering government or things not happening as quickly as they should we'll challenge that and call that out."

Sir Keir led the Crown Prosecution Service before entering frontline politics. He served in Mr Corbyn's top team for more than three years where he was responsible for the party's Brexit policy.

Saturday's result was announced by e-mail after plans for a public event were dropped due to the coronavirus crisis.

The outcome means that Labour's long wait for its first permanent female leader goes on - Harriet Harman and Margaret Beckett have both been interim leaders in the past.

In the deputy leadership contest, the 40-year old Ms Rayner beat Ian Murray, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan. The position has been vacant since Tom Watson stood down at the general election.

Jeremy the Jellyfish (08/11/19)

Things have come to a pretty pass when a lifelong party member and former Labour MP, Ian Austin, says that Jeremy Corbyn isn't fit to lead his party or the country.

"At every opportunity, he backs our country's enemies."

Former Labour Minister Ian Austin says he believes @JeremyCorbyn "isn't fit to lead" the Labour Party or to be PM, and urges voters to back the Tories instead.

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