Tag Archives: jeremy corbyn

Could Labour back May’s deal?

Jeremy Corbyn is about to run out of road. He has to pick a side now. Does he go with the majority of his party and back a People’s Vote or does he enable a Tory Prime Minister to inflict a hard Brexit on the country by backing her deal.

Theresa May’s tweet about her meeting with Corbyn yesterday was interesting:

The 29th March date now looks to be a bit fluid as senior Conservatives seem to be coalescing around a delay of a couple of weeks. But if May doesn’t deliver Brexit in short order, she’s toast. And Corbyn wants it over as quickly as possible so his party stops banging on about a People’s Vote.

And when May met Lib Dems, it was Vince, Tom Brake and Alistair Carmichael who were in those meetings. Because it makes sense to have your Brexit spokesperson involved.

But Corbyn didn’t take Kier Starmer for his meeting with the PM. He took two members of his inner circle. HIs direction of travel is clear – out of the EU. And his mindset in not punishing those who voted with the Government when pro single market shadow ministers had to resign in earlier votes shows where his heart lies.

Robert Peston seems to think Corbyn could whip Labour MPs into backing a Brexit deal:

For what it’s worth, my understanding is that Corbyn sees the failure to secure a majority yesterday of the Cooper and Grieve motions – and Labour’s own one, which explicitly mentions the possibility of a referendum – as proof that MPs really don’t want a People’s Vote.

Even more striking is that those close to Labour’s leader tell me they can indeed envisage a moment in the coming weeks when it will be official Labour policy to vote for a Brexit plan.

Those at the top of Labour, and in the grassroots, who want a referendum should fear they are being properly outmanoeuvred.

If Theresa May can’t get the ERG onside, she will need more than the 14 Labour MPs who voted with her on Tuesday night. The hard core of Corbyn loyalists might just pull her through, even if the moderate Labour MPs defied the whip.

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Another day’s Labour for the Government

Hot on the heels of failing to kill the Government’s truly egregious Immigration Bill, which rolls out the Hostile Environment on an industrial scale, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party approaches the Brexit votes tonight in disarray.

But first, a reminder of last night.

I mean, really. A reminder of that happened. Labour were originally down to abstain but after cries of disbelief from senior Labour figures on Twitter, they decided to make it a one-line whip on Twitter. Hardly a face-saving exercise.

You might remember that Mr Corbyn has been loudly refusing to meet Theresa May unless she takes No Deal off the table.

So, when one of his own side comes up with an idea that would prevent us from leaving without a deal on 29th March, you would think he would support it. That was certainly the mood music over the weekend.

But no. The Guardian reports this morning that they are growing cold on that idea.

Opposition? Not so much. 

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“Pathetic”

It’s not often you get a one-word quote from a politician.

“Pathetic.”

This was Ed Davey’s reaction to the news that Labour were to abstain on the Government’s Immigration Bill.

This Bill ends freedom of movement, rolling out the Hostile Environment on an industrial scale to EU nationals, not just those who are already here but those we desperately need to come here and work in the future.

A £30,000 salary requirement to take up a job here will obliterate our health and social care services. It is so short sighted.

This Bill is brutal, inhumane and exactly what you would expect from the Tories. It is to be opposed with passion.

We’re obviously voting against it. Labour initially said they were going to abstain. When a number of Labour MPs said that they would vote against, this was revised to a one-line whip. A one-line Whip is pretty much “turn up if you feel like it.”

This does not save Labour’s face.

Part of the reason we are in this mess is because people didn’t robustly stand up to the Daily Mail and UKIP and their revolting prejudice against immigrants. Nobody was making the positive argument for immigration and challenging the awful stuff in the media. Labour’s equivocation is disgraceful.

This Bill needs to be opposed. The Immigration Rules as they are are horrific. They need to be ripped up and we need to start again and build a system that has fairness and dignity and respect at its heart. It needs to welcome the fact that people fall across with people from the other side of the world and celebrate the fact that they want to live together in this country. It needs to enthusiastically welcome the workers we desperately need to keep our farms, hospitals and care homes, our universities, our businesses and our hotels and restaurants.

This government gets away with such egregious things because Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party lets it. On Brexit, on immigration, on everything, Labour should be piling on the pressure. Tory Whips should be tearing their hair out on every vote. They shouldn’t be putting their feet up knowing that they are not seriously under threat. No minority government should ever feel so comfortable.

You can certainly see where Mitch Benn is coming from.

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What did you think of the Jeremy Corbyn’s backbone meme?

Over the weekend, some imaginative people from our campaigns Department wandered around with a replica of a spine, with a label on it saying “property of J Corbyn” on it and took photos of it on a bus (where it actually got a seat) in a bookshop, in a cafe and having a lovely greasy vegetarian breakfast (only one egg – surely some mistake).

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they did that. They surely must have got some really weird looks. And if they didn’t there is something a bit wrong with the world.

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How does Jeremy Corbyn compare to past Labour leaders?

Embed from Getty Images

One of the frustrating things about the current Brexit episode is watching Jeremy Corbyn perform in the Commons. The other day, on the Twitterdome, I compared Mr Corbyn unfavourably with past Labour leader, John Smith. I think it is fair to say that if John Smith were currently Labour leader he would, by now, have delivered a rhetorical blow to Theresa May comparable to that which he dealt to John Major with this passage of one of his Commons’ speeches:

In response to the plummeting popularity of the Administration itself, revealed at Newbury and in the shire county elections, we have the Prime Minister’s botched reshuffle. If we were to offer that tale of events to the BBC light entertainment department as a script for a programme, I think that the producers of “Yes, Minister” would have turned it down as hopelessly over the top. It might have even been too much for “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them”.

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21 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Some good news today, as the Government has withdrawn the £65 charge for EU citizens to register for settled status. Admittedly though, they’re still at the mercy of a Home Office not necessarily recognised for its compassion or competence, but it is at least a start…

And with that, here are today’s press releases…

  • Home Office settled status scheme risks new Windrush scandal
  • Swinson: Govt Chief Whip must resign if he is blocking proxy voting
  • New laws only help domestic abuse victims if there’s cash to enforce them
  • Lib Dems: Will Corbyn agree with Gardiner and vote for a People’s Vote?
  • Government cave on unfair EU

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17 January 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: UK facing energy crunch
  • Cable: Corbyn determined to play party political games
  • Lib Dems: Outrageous that army reserves are on standby due to Tory Brexit mess
  • Lib Dems: Only way forward is through a People’s Vote
  • Govt back-payment for modern slavery victims is too little too late
  • Cable: Government wrong on People’s Vote timetable

Davey: UK facing energy crunch

Responding to the news that Hitachi have stopped work on the Wylfa plant, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey said:

Japanese businesses have warned about Brexit’s economic consequences since the 2016 referendum, so this latest set back to the Conservatives’ energy policy is

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16 January 2019 – today’s press release

Cable: Either Corbyn backs Brexit or he backs the people

Responding to the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence in the Conservative Government by 325 votes to 306 votes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party cannot procrastinate any longer. Either he backs Brexit or he backs the people.

He has a responsibility, to get off the fence and provide some effective opposition.

The only serious option is what the Liberal Democrats have been calling for since the 24th June 2016, a people’s vote with the option to remain in the

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12-13 January 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

There haven’t been that many days of such high drama in Parliament to compare to the next few. How badly will Theresa May lose in the Commons? Will it be enough to force a change of policy? Can the Conservative Party cling together?

We’ll see soon enough but, in the meantime, here are the weekend’s press releases…

  • Grayling has lost the plot
  • Short-term sentences of 12 months or less must be scrapped now
  • Corbyn has failed the test of leadership
  • Cable: No-deal is a choice and the Govt can stop it

Grayling has lost the plot

Responding to claims from Chris Grayling that blocking Brexit could lead …

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Lib Dems want a People’s Vote to stop Brexit. Corbyn can’t say what Labour would do

The Sunday morning political programmes can be summarised as follows: Tory psychodrama (Sophy Ridge had three rounds of it), Labour obfuscation and Lib Dem consistency and clarity.

Just imagine that you were the Leader of the Opposition. You’re supposed to be showing leadership on the most important issue of most of our lifetimes. You talk about how you want a General Election, though you haven’t actually bothered to do anything to make one happen.

Then you’re asked what your policy in that General Election would be on the said major issue. Surely to goodness you would have something to tell people. You wouldn’t go on about how it still had to be decided by some party meeting. Surely you would have done that preparatory work already.  I mean, you’ve been going on about this General Election for months.

At least, if you wanted to show that you had even basic competence to run the country, you would be able to say where your party stood. If your policy was coming from principle and value, it would be instinctive.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine any of this. It’s actually happening. The two paragraphs above is pretty much what Corbyn said on Marr this morning. And it’s pretty much what Rebecca Long-Bailey said on Sophy Ridge.

Corbyn did say, though, that if there was no General Election, he’d prefer a Brexit deal to a People’s Vote. He thinks he can go back to the EU and get what are essentially terms of full membership without being members. He said he wanted a customs union that enabled us to have a say in trade deals. And a unicorn that poos glittery rainbows. He didn’t say that last bit, but he might as well have done.

No wonder that Tom Brake tweeted:

Compare and contrast with a brilliant interview from Vince. He was incredibly clear and consistent.

  • Lib Dems want a People’s Vote because we oppose Brexit
  • Lib Dems oppose a Norway style compromise because we’d have all the expenses of EU membership but none of the say on policy
  • Cross-party working is happening and essential not just now but after this is all over to bring country together
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31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to …

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21-30 December 2018 – press release catch-up

You’d been wondering where I’d gotten to, hadn’t you? Well, following some consideration of how this regular feature works, I’ve decided to change it a bit. From now on, I’ll publish on Monday to Thursday inclusive, and on Sunday evening. My thinking is that politics goes a bit quiet when Parliament isn’t sitting, and one can develop a false expectation as to the flow of press releases from that.

And now, a catch up of press releases you’ve probably missed…

  • Lib Dem call to scrap Vagrancy Act gets Labour backing
  • Cable: Corbyn offers no real alternative
  • Govt must take no deal off the table

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19 December 2018 – today’s press releases

As displacement activity, as opposed to actually doing something practical as the country careers towards a cliff-edge Brexit, arguing about whether or not Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May “stupid woman”, or said “stupid Tories” or “stupid people” seems to hit the spot.

* deep sigh *

It’s so much more courteous down the corridor in the House of Lords…

And the Press Team are still hard at work…

  • Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control
  • Corbyn must apologise for PMQs remarks
  • Cable: EU planning reinforces PM must rule out no-deal

Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control

Responding to the Government’s immigration white paper, Liberal Democrat …

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Of course Jeremy Corbyn should apologise

I first met Jeremy Corbyn back in, I think, 1985. He came to Aberdeen University to speak in a debate in Women’s Week in favour of the motion “This House should ban Page 3.”

Jeremy Corbyn genuinely gets feminism more than most men, to be honest, so I find it hard to believe that he would deliberately make a sexist comment. I do think that there is an issue with misogyny in left wing politics and I think he could do more to tackle it in his party, so this isn’t an entirely clean bill of health, but there are a lot worse than he is.

When I first saw the video of him speaking in Parliament today, it did look like he had said “stupid woman” but I’ve wasted more time than it merited watching it several times since and I think he probably did say “stupid people.”

Most of us have probably found our colleagues irritating at times, even in the best and most mature of office environments. Most of us at least have the sense to express that irritation in private and away from prying cameras. The House of Commons at PMQs is about the most childish and boorish workplace on the entire planet.

In that febrile atmosphere, even the calmest of personalities can forget themselves and say things they shouldn’t. I believe Corbyn and I’ll forgive him his little lapse today.

But I think he has a hell of a lot to apologise for. Not to Theresa May but to the entire country.

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17 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Another week begins, and the Press Team are back on the frontline.

I am reminded that press releases are not all that our Press Team do, thus what you see here is not a full reflection of their work. There are specialist press releases not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience, and the team work with editors and journalists to gain better coverage, or to bring issues to their attention, and support our Parliamentarians when they interact with broadcast or print media too.

Anyway, on with today’s selection for you to enjoy…

  • Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very

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Wanted: A Leader of the Opposition who doesn’t help the Government wreck the country

It’s really hard to imagine an old revolutionary socialist keeping a right wing government in power, enabling them to take a destructive course virtually unhindered.

Really, at the moment, any decent opposition would be miles ahead in the polls. They would be taking advantage of every bit of parliamentary trickery they could to thwart the Government at every stage. Especially a government that doesn’t have a majority.

But, no. Everything Jeremy Corbyn does just helps out Theresa May.

Take his pretendy- No Confidence motion that he said he’s putting down today.. If you want to take down the Government, you do what it says in the Fixed Term Parliament Act and put down a motion of no confidence in the Government. The Commons Library has prepared a useful guide on how to do it. It’s not difficult.

He’s not done that. He’s done the equivalent of taking a marshmallow to a duel by making his motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. It might succeed but nobody will care.

Nobody knows whether a proper motion of no confidence would succeed. The DUP might well back Theresa May but the Tory MPs from the 17th century could decide to bring her government down so that they can pursue their goal of not very splendid isolation. We just don’t know until we try. I actually think it is unlikely that Tory turkeys would vote for Christmas. Mind you, Corbyn doesn’t actually want to be in a position where he has to sort this mess out because his chances of commanding a majority in the Commons are even less than May’s. If there was an election, what manifesto would Labour fight on?

So, if he put down a proper motion of no-confidence and it failed, he would then have to go to the next thing on the list – a People’s Vote, which is the last thing on earth that an old socialist brexiteer like him actually wants. 

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The hunt for certainty

Theresa May has been telling MPs that they need to vote for her deal to give certainty.

That has always been hogwash because the Withdrawal Agreement kicks so much about our future relationship with the EU down the road as to be virtually meaningless. In fact, the very existence of the much maligned backstop is proof that it resolves very little and leaves us worse off.

But now, Theresa May’s quest to get her deal through the Commons is even more blighted. When she told Conservative MPs that she intended to step down ahead of the next election, she was probably thinking maybe sometime in 2021. The way some of her MPs, even those who supported her, are talking tonight, she’s got until March.

That adds even more uncertainty into the mix. We have no idea who will lead the negotiations shaping our future relations with the EU. Just imagine that Tory members elect Boris who thinks the chaos of no deal is just what this country needs? At least now we can revert to our membership of the EU but after March 29th we won’t have that safety net.

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Vince tells PM: Brexit Deal is “pathetically weak”

Vince Cable questioned the Prime Minister yesterday when she made her statement on the political declaration of the EU withdrawal agreement. He highlighted one particularly worrying aspect of it:

This is essentially an agreement to have an agreement, and it is full of worryingly vague aspirations. How, for example, can the Prime Minister justify paragraph 24, which relates to medicines, chemicals and aviation safety, where we currently have strong agreed co-operative standards? She has managed to negotiate an agreement to

“explore the possibility of cooperation”.

That is pathetically weak, and it will cause great anxiety to millions of people who depend on high standards of safety.

Ultimately, this deal is a massive kicking of big issues into some very long grass. Nothing will be decided before we leave the EU. This makes it more important than ever that we stop Brexit.

May’s response just emphasised how uncertain this all is:

In relation to these negotiations, we are not able to put legal texts together until we have left the European Union and are no longer a member of the European Union—that, of course, is what we will be able to do when we leave on 29 March 2019.

Brexit is a leap into the fog. We owe future generations better than this.

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Corbyn is right about inequality

Corbyn is clearly right to highlight the ‘grotesque inequality’ in our society. Wage growth has stagnated. Continued cuts are hitting the poorest hardest. And this generation is on set to be the first on living memory to be poorer than their parents.

Even if you try and ignore the unfairness, the evidence shows it harms productivity and creates the sort of ‘asset bubbles’ that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

But I have one question. Where are Labour’s answers?

At first glance the most radical is renationalisation. But this is nothing more than a recycled plan from the 1970s. It just tinkers at the edges of inequality, and carries significant risks for our future economic and energy security.

Next comes Labour’s big ticket spending item. Abolishing tuition fees. Our higher education system is far from perfect, but how many better ways could we spend £7.5 billion a year? What amounts to a tax cut for the middle classes does absolutely nothing to tackle inequality.

Most significantly, we have some Labour economic doublespeak –  ‘borrowing to invest’ in public services. While the NHS, for example, clearly does needs to be better funded, ‘invest’ falsely suggests that we get an economic return on borrowing for public services. That it will all be fine.

And this, maybe even more than Brexit, is the big danger of a Labour government. The government is already, as the Prime Minister admitted last week, spending more on paying interest alone than the entire schools’ budget. Labour’s borrowing plan would mean future generations would have to pay higher taxes and spend even less on public services.

We demand better. The Liberal Democrats have a genuine, radical plan to combat inequality.

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Tim Farron writes: Corbyn is handing the incompetent Tories the next election

The guilty pleasure of my political life is the years I spent involved in student politics. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I attended no fewer than 10 conferences of the National Union of Students – as a result I accidentally became a connoisseur of the various factions of theLabour party. Even as a Liberal, if one spends much time in student politics you are bound to make friends with folks in Labour. To me, Labour is like a fascinating enemy country. We are at conflict with them, but I am somehow fond of their natives and traditions.

Those who today are running Her Majesty’s Opposition, were – back then- selling newspapers outside the Student Union building. Who’d have thought it?

I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn very well but quite like him on a personal level having had the occasional chat over the years. WhenLabour were in power, he was always in the Lib Dem lobby…

Jeremy and his former newspaper selling mates have a problem. They don’t know how to talk to people who aren’t already converted. Jeremy Corbyn has a 40 year history of talking only to friendly audiences on left-leaning causes. He speaks in favour of Palestine to pro-Palestine meetings, speaking up for Irish Republicanism to pro-Republican audiences, promotes unilateral nuclear disarmament to crowds who already agree with him.

The Labour leader is a master of preaching to the converted. I’m not sure how principled this is, but it is neither brave nor wise. If all you do is to go with the grain of the earnest and like-minded people around you, you will ruffle no feathers, win no converts and never get to test the effectiveness of your arguments.

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The Tory-Labour Brexit bandwagon rolls on…time for us to shine

How do we get across to all those young people who voted Labour thinking that they were against Breixit on to our side?

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today brings Labour about a millimetre further away from the Tories than they were yesterday. Corbyn has been dragged kicking and screaming to support membership of “a” customs union but not the single market. That’s not a million miles from Theresa May’s bespoke arrangement where we will apparently be able to do what the hell we want without sticking to any of the EU’s rules.

Our digital people have put out a nifty little video linking May and Corbyn’s position and saying that the Liberal Democrats are the only party opposing Brexit.

The problem is that our capacity to reach the very people we need on side has been limited. The young people who voted Labour so enthusiastically have not yet forgiven us for the Coalition years. We have an awful lot to say to these young people, not just on Brexit but on housing, education, opportunities. We’ve actually got something hopeful to offer them. We’ll give more of them a say by letting them vote at 16, we’ll build more houses so that they somewhere decent to live, we’ll give them wider, more accessible and better choices when they leave school.

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Vince: Dear Jeremy, Stop supporting Tory Brexit and give the people a say

Vince Cable has written to Jeremy Corbyn to ask him to put the Labour party in line with its own supporters and support a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Here is the text n full:

Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of HM Opposition
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

2nd February 2018

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to you about Brexit, because I was dismayed by your interview with Andrew Marr last Sunday, when you reiterated your personal objection to letting the British people have their say on the Conservatives’ Brexit deal.

There is now significant momentum behind demands for the people to have the final say. Repeated polls show a substantial majority of people are in favour of a public vote. The most recent ICM survey showed a 16-point lead in favour.

Moreover, the vast majority of your own supporters want this referendum – 78% according to an authoritative study by Queen Mary University, London. We know most of your Parliamentary party feel similarly. Surely it is time for Labour to join the campaign rather than continue to support Theresa May’s pursuit of a damaging hard Brexit.

As the leak of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s impact assessment shows, there is no form of Brexit that will see British workers and their families better off than if we remain within the EU.

You will have noted that Yanis Varoufakis – among many others from your own democratic socialist tradition – endorsing a similar conclusion this week, with strong support for the Single Market.

You have energised young people to get engaged in politics, which is a significant achievement. But with three quarters of young people under the age of 25 opposed to leaving the EU, they will be left disillusioned if you do not help the fight to secure them the option of an exit from Brexit.

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Labour “betraying members and parliamentary base” by opposing single market membership

Jeremy Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show this morning that Labour did not favour the UK staying in the single market. Will Labour members, who overwhelmingly want to do so now realise that Corbyn is not going to deliver what they want? A Queen Mary University study showed that 85% of Labour members want to stay in the single market. There is even higher support, 87% for staying in the customs union. 78% want the public to have a final say on the Brexit deal. Corbyn ruled that out too.

Vince Cable had this to say:

As has long been suspected,

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Jeremy Corbyn empty-chaired at single market summit

This morning a summit took place in Parliament to discuss ways of working together to make sure that the UK stays in the single market on which so many jobs depend.

Our Vince was there

But there was an empty chair:

Which was a real shame because most of the rest of the opposition parties showed up too.

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Liberal Democrats would end the benefits freeze – but Labour aren’t sure

As prices go up in a Brexit-induced inflationary spiral, spare a thought for the poorest in our society. People who are having to rely on state benefits don’t get any cushioning thanks to George Osborne’s benefit freeze. As prices go up, benefits, already at a meagre level, stay the same making it even harder for people to survive.

So, you’d think that Jeremy Corbyn’s lefty Labour Party would be all about ending the freeze. Well, that’s what they briefed reporters on Friday morning ahead of a Corbyn visit to Cambridge. Remember that until 2015, Cambridge was represented by a Liberal Democrat who voted against many of the most contentious elements of the Coalitions social security reforms.

Anyway, Jezza rolls up and, weirdly, gives a much more timid message than his advisers had briefed. From Politics Home:

Party officials briefed journalists that Mr Corbyn would make the promise during a visit to Coatbridge in Lanarkshire yesterday.

A trail of his speech quoted the Labour leader saying: “We will lift the freeze on social security, using part of the billions we set aside for reform in our costed manifesto, by recycling social security savings made by introducing a real Living Wage of £10 an hour, and by building the affordable homes we need.”

But when he came to make the address, Mr Corbyn only said: “We are confident that we will be able to end the benefits freeze.”

A Labour source told The Times: “In his campaign speeches… not everything is said, but the intention was to say that. It’s in line with our policy.”

A party spokesman said: “We are confident that we will be able to end the benefits freeze.”

It’s the sort of caution that strikes resignation and frustration into the heart of anyone that actually wants to sort stuff out.

Just as a matter of interest, what is the Liberal Democrats’ policy on this? Pretty unequivocal, from the 2017 manifesto

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Vince Cable, the next PM?

 

As a fan of Mrs Thatcher it might seem odd that I have just joined the Liberal Democrats. However times change, hard right policies are more likely to drive the large number of people depending on in-work benefits or working in the government into the hands of Mr Corbyn.  Labour, who shout loudly about democratic mandates, are likely to have another go at bankrupting the country as well as bring democracy into disrepute by promising endless giveaways.

The worst possible case for the UK is to have a Labour government and be outside the EU. Labour want out of EU because they can then rape and pillage the slightly rich – anyone who cannot bite back. Given the pasting that the EU gets from our press it is actually surprising that, as far as citizens’ rights go, it actually does work – and seems to be improving in many areas. It would be ironical if Brexit forces them to reform further in the interests of its citizens rather than its bureaucrats.

I would probably have not joined up had not Vince Cable become leader; he at least talks some reasonable sense – most of the time. Now he has the amusing task of saving the country from itself. The current fickleness of the British voting public means just about anything is possible but it will mean swallowing some liberal pride to get there. Looking from the outside, there is one little trick that might placate half the Brexiteers and that is a very strict residence test before there is any access to benefits, social housing, in-work benefits and possibly the personal tax allowance. By strict I mean at least five years…

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In the world of the Corbyn bounce

The unexpected is happening. In the wake of the late surge in support for Labour that wiped out Theresa May’s majority (and hit the Liberal Democrat vote), a new poll on 11 June shows Labour six points ahead of the Tories. Labour are reporting 15,000 new members in the first three days after the election.

On the doorsteps on polling day, and with friends since, the sense is that Labour under Corbyn have caught people’s imaginations. What does this mean for us?

My sense is that this is a problem because people’s imaginations have been caught by something unrealistic. If we now had a majority Labour government, disappointment would be around the corner, but for now, hopes are roused. There’s a parallel with Brexit being seen as a bright new future.

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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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Getting serious about defence

 

Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader much of the Liberal Democrat’s rhetoric has been aimed at portraying him as an extremist.  Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed that Labour had “left the field” in a party conference speech.  The implication of this claim is that Labour have left the centre ground to embark on a far leftist fellow-traveller path, seemingly ignoring the electoral success it gained from the dominating the centre ground in the New Labour years.  In this way the Liberal Democrat comeback seemingly relies on a message that it is the new party of the centre ground.  However doing this mean more than just gesture politics, it means not being afraid to tackle issues which are not commonly associated with liberalism, most notably defence.

Liberal Democrat manifestos in recent years have treated defence matters like an afterthought, an embarrassment almost, especially when it comes to questions of hard power.  When it comes to asking questions about our hard power capability our manifesto prefers to move toward the murky soft power where it seems we are more ideologically comfortable.  The 2016 manifesto talked about emphasising “a Single Security Budget, including not just conventional defence spending but the work of our security agencies, cyber defences and soft power interventions”.  This policy in itself provides opportunities and dangers.  While it is important to emphasise that multiple security threats require multiple solutions to tackle them, there can be no substitute for hard power.  Put simply; while it is arguable that the main security threat we face is from terrorism we can’t leave ourselves unprepared for future inter-state conflict.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 24 Comments

The irony behind tonight’s Corbyn media firestorm

By Jeremy Corbyn’s standards, it was actually quite a good speech. Pink News has the video here. He was engaged, clearly speaking from the heart. He talked about having saved a Gay Centre from attack by National Front types decades before gay rights became fashionable. And then, in true Corbyn fashion, he has to go and ruin it all by concluding:

Our defence of you is a defence of all of humanity and the right of people to practise the life they want to practise, rather than be criminalised, brutalised and murdered, simply because they chose to be gay, they chose to be lesbian, they were LGBT in any form

Obviously, being gay isn’t some kind of lifestyle choice. You don’t choose it any more than you choose your eye pr skin colour or whether you are right or left handed. It is how you are born. Everything about Jeremy Corbyn’s voting record on LGBT issues over the years suggests he knows that and that he genuinely mis-spoke tonight. Let’s face it, it’s not the first time he’s snatched disaster from the jaws of opportunity.

He should be aware that any inference that your sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice plays into the hands of those who wish to roll back the decades of progress. It is also deeply upsetting to LGBT people.

It’s even more upsetting when it’s being gleefully amplified all over the place by the right wing press and Tory LGBT groups.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments
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