Tag Archives: labour

Moving towards a progressive alliance

General Election campaigning has got off to a flying start across the country and it is exhilarating to be ‘back in the saddle’. Oxford West and Abingdon was hard fought at the last election and it looks like it will be again. Like many seats, the Tory incumbent increased her majority here in 2015, yet this still feels like a marginal, and we are campaigning to win.

We were knocking on doors yesterday and what struck me was just how different this election feels compared to 2015. The political sands continue to shift beneath our feet but the wind is very definitely no longer against us. This constituency voted strongly to remain, yet the local MP flip-flopped and is now totally behind a Hard Brexit. This, combined with a weak Labour party nationally, has meant that local Labour and Green voters are more open than ever to lending us their vote to beat the Tory this time. And we are going to need them to do it.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 33 Comments

Loyalty and respect

Politics in the UK seems to be in flux following the Brexit vote. With the Tories split between remain and leave and Labour too busy squabbling amongst themselves to be effective it ought to be a time for the Liberal Democrats. Yet, so far, although we have seen many individual members of both the Labour and Conservative parties switch to the Lib Dems, only a handful of councillors and no MPs or MEPs have done so. Why is this?

I want to suggest that in the case of the Labour Party there are two factors; loyalty and respect

We often accuse the Labour Party of being tribal. The reality is that loyalty is ingrained in the psyche of Labour Party supporters and even more so in MPs. The worst thing that you can do is be ‘disloyal’. Crossing the floor is unthinkable for almost all Labour MPs and we need to recognise that this is a real factor in preventing people from joining us. When you couple this with the attitude of Labour people to what they perceive as treachery – for example the Lib Dems joining with the Tories in government – you begin to see how difficult it is to get people to come across, even if they share our values to a much higher degree than the values of the Labour Party.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

So this is how Jeremy Corbyn will be holding May to account on Brexit….

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, any half decent opposition leader would have lined up his most ferocious MPs to go to town on the PM over Brexit. We’ll gloss over the fact that any decent Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have let the Article 50 Bill pass unamended in the first place.

But we don’t have a decent Leader of the Opposition. We have Jeremy Corbyn. You just get the feeling that if PMQs had been extended by a couple of hours, he wouldn’t have got round to asking a question on Brexit. No doubt he’d have asked about the weather and who the PM thought had done in Ken Barlow on Corrie.  He should have taken May apart on Brexit. He should have had half a dozen MPs lined up with killer questions.  But Labour MPs asked about anything but – until Tulip Siddiq came along. The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, a passionate and effective opponent of Brexit, asked about the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Later, in his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, rather than deliver a feisty riposte, he sounded like he was discussing the relative merits of different kinds of broad bean. There was no passion, no fire. “If she meets our tests, we’ll back her,” he said. Labour’s tests are meaningless anyway as they have failed them themselves. They had every opportunity to ensure that the Government’s strategy was changed to include membership of the single market, to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, and to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the deal. 

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Nick Clegg cheered by students

Six years ago, Nick Clegg was not the most popular politician amongst students. Now, things have changed as many young people find that he speaks for them as the Government hurtles towards a hard Brexit which will blight their future and opportunities. The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour watched him speak to a crowd of students last night:

In his Standard column this week, Nick described another student debate, in his Sheffield constituency, where he had a few words to say to the Labour MP on the panel:

I was on a platform with other politicians taking questions from a student audience. A local Labour MP was having the normal go at me about tuition fees. Fair enough — though I noticed he omitted to mention Labour’s own role in introducing tuition fees, and then trebling them on its own watch.

No, the moment Labour’s malaise really struck me was when this MP started speaking about the vote last week in the Commons on Article 50. He displayed none of the intelligence or humility of Keir Starmer, the shadow secretary for exiting the EU, who disarmingly confessed to the gathered MPs how difficult the issue is for Labour. Instead, in Sheffield this MP started to deliver a sanctimonious lecture to the Ukip and Conservative panellists, berating them for placing immigration above the economy in the Brexit talks.

I couldn’t contain myself. Irascibly, I interrupted his pro-European sermon to remind him that he’d just got off a train from London having voted with Douglas Carswell, Michael Gove, John Redwood and other zealous Brexiteers. How could he claim he was representing the interests of the youngsters in the audience having given his support to Theresa May’s uncompromisingly hard Brexit, yanking the UK out of the single market altogether?

I don’t believe that it would have been a betrayal of democracy if MPs had voted against the Government last week. All that would have happened, once the splenetic outrage of the Brexit-supporting press had passed, is that the Government would have been forced to come back to MPs with a more moderate, workable approach to Brexit which would then have received their support. MPs would not have blocked Brexit but they would have blocked hard Brexit. So it is pretty rich for Labour MPs to deliver pious homilies to other parties about the dangers of hard Brexit.

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Labour lashes out at Lib Dems

Remember how, last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch was such a runaway success. Not even Tony Blair in the early years could gather such positive headlines.

Ok, so maybe that’s not quite how it happened. At least we’re now clear on their policy on freedom of movement. They love immigration and they hate it, depending on who they are talking to.

Labour has stepped up its attacks on the Lib Dems in the last couple of days, presumably because they have to fight two by-elections on 23rd February where the Leave vote will be split 3 ways and we are the only party offering any sort of opposition to the Tories.

But they couldn’t quite manage it competently. The International Business Times was none too chuffed to find its video being used by Jeremy Corbyn, uncredited, to attack Tim Farron.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

LibLink: Tom Brake: Why the Liberal Democrats won’t stand aside in Copeland

In an article for the New Statesman, Tom Brake explains why the Liberal Democrats will be fighting the Copeland candidate with our excellent candidate, Rebecca Hanson. The brief summary is that you can’t have a “Progressive Alliance” with a party that isn’t very progressive. Labour’s approach to Brexit is something that we could not support.

But ultimately we will not help progressive politics if we stand aside for Corbyn’s Labour, which would merely give the left false hope that someone of the hard left could become Prime Minister. To us, a Eurosceptic statist such as Corbyn is not even progressive. By doing well ourselves, the Lib Dems will strengthen the hand of Labour moderates to seize back control of their party, or else leave it entirely. Only then will re-alignment be back on the agenda.

Brexit changes everything. So, whatever you thought of the Coalition or the Lib Dems, think again: if you are a progressive, you need Europe – and the Lib Dems are the only party fighting for your European future.

He also reminds readers how Jeremy Corbyn refused to share a platform with Tim Farron during the referendum to highlight how the EU protects workers’ rights.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Trying (too hard) to curb EU free movement: A symptom of the EU-wide social democracy meltdown

Just as I was reading Nick Tyrone’s blog about Corbyn betraying the EU freedom of movement but wanting to have the EU cake nonetheless, another recently-elected Labour leader came on Dutch public radio. Note the date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017.

I’m talking about former Amsterdam alderman and present Dutch minister of Social Affairs, the ambitious lawyer Lodewijk Asscher of the “Partij van de Arbeid”/PvdA, literally: “Labour Party”.

In the 1980s, when Labour under Michael Foot was going through its “Militant Tendency” phase, the then PvdA leaders, ex-prime minister (1973-’77) Den Uyl and coming prime minister (1994-2002) Wim Kok deplored that leftist populism and leftist political correctness gone wild. So both criticised it: British Labour, come to your senses.

Not today.

In the Dutch campaign that just got started for the General Election on 15th March, Mr. Asscher, who just two weeks ago won a party leadership contest, just said that he counted on “European Leftist support” (PvdA jargon: from fellow Labour and social democratic parties) to pursue his top-profile policy: curbing free movement of labour through the EU. When the radio presenter quoted a phrase Gordon Brown grew to regret: “Jobs for our labourers first”, Mr. Asscher readily agreed. And who does he expect to get support from?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 21 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNicholas Cunningham 26th Apr - 10:38am
    It's no wonder many who could contribute so much in our political system keep well out of politics. Character assassination has long been a tool...
  • User AvatarKeith Sharp 26th Apr - 10:37am
    To Richard F's point, I have now complained to the C4 News website and asked them to publish the complaint. Fat lot of good it...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 26th Apr - 10:23am
    Hear, hear. It is depressing to think that a Tory government will get in with a mandate to do so many other things (e.g. grammar...
  • User AvatarSadie Smith 26th Apr - 10:18am
    Excellent reminder. It was once the case that I could meet folk in West Bromwich who would remind me of our helpfulness to Trade Unions,...
  • User Avatarexpats 26th Apr - 9:59am
    David Raw 25th Apr '17 - 9:59am..............@ expats Careful, expats, he’ll be telling you to calm down and to stand as a paper candidate to...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 26th Apr - 9:47am
    The intro to this story contains this : Tom Hunter-Watts @TomHunterWatts @caronmlindsay @AylesburyLibDem @timfarron Labor at its nastiest. No better than how Zac Goldsmith treated...