WATCH: Jo Swinson argue with Labour’s Richard Burgon

It’s not the wisest thing in the world to take down someone who agrees with you and is instinctively going to do what you want.

Shadow Labour Justice Spokesperson Richard Burgon was excessively grumpy with Jo Swinson this evening.

Having gone on about how the big enemy was the Conservatives, he chose to then go on the attack about the Coalition. You’d never think that Labour had been propping up the Conservatives and enabling their Brexit shambles. Any half competent main opposition party would have made sure that Theresa May was coming back from Buckingham Palace in a taxi within an hour of tonight’s vote.

Jo handled it really well.

Jon Snow intervened to tell Richard hew as being “awfully beastly.”

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  • I saw the full thing as it went out live, and that clip flatters Burgon by cutting out so much of his fence-sitting, blustering, deflecting and hectoring.

    Jo did extremely well not to shout, use swear words or give him a shake.

    In that interview, Burgon displayed so much of what is wrong with British politics. The tribalism, the petty name calling and the unwillingness to take responsibility for your own actions. I know Labour party supporters who thought he was awful tonight, and a terrible representation of their party, not just because of the boorishness towards Jo, but because he wouldn’t answer any of Snow’s questions. But he gets away with it because he’s in a safe Labour seat and FPTP rewards pettiness.

    At one point, it seemed as if he didn’t realise that the LibDems had already pledged support for a motion of no confidence, and had in fact been urging Corbyn to lodge one. The idea that we were ‘finally coming around’ is fantasy, but I can well believe he believes it. He also seemed to think that we needed to come off the fence on Brexit – apparently under the impression we’re still making up our mind on what to do next.

    We need more cross-party working, not less. And if anyone in the Labour party thinks they are winning a majority any time soon, they are sorely mistaken. They need allies far more than they realise, and more to the point, the public deserves our MPs to work across party divides.

  • Very impressive response from Jo Swinson. Honest and articulate.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jan '19 - 12:41am

    Whether I agree with her always or not, the manner, voice, style and substance of Jo Swinson is ever one that makes for me, her worth listening to as a personality and politically.

    Reverse all that and you have my view of this man she is with, Richard Burgon, the most irritating , grating, mediocre member of the very mediocre shadow cabinet led by Corbyn.

    Well done Jo.

  • John Marriott 16th Jan '19 - 7:02am

    Mr Burgon is one of the Labour ‘let me make it perfectly clear’ brigade. If he really was being ‘perfectly clear’ after the vote, then we can expect a series of No Confidence Motions from his party. Is that really going to help?

  • Until the Corbynites and Hoeyites are expelled, Labour will simply behave in this awful manner.

  • Burgon’s endless repetition, “Do you promise never to go into coalition with the Tories”, is childish but typical. Generally I hold that you play the ball hit the man, but every time this fellow appears on our screen the level of debate plummets. When you look at some of the intellects that have graced the Labour Party in the past, Healy, Crossland, one weeps for the nation.

  • “Hit” should obviously read “not”. Clearly my predictive text has a mind of its own, and an disturbingly violent streak, of which I do not approve !

  • Jo is great, but I wish she wouldn’t apologise quite so much for the Liberal Democrats. She ought to have taken the opportunity to point out what we did manage to do in coalition and what we managed to prevent the Conservatives from doing: we brought in equal marriage, the pupil’s premium and took low-paid workers out of the tax system. She should also have pointed out that Labour originally brought in tuition fees and that the present system (which was a coalition compromise) at least means that this is a graduate tax rather than an upfront cost. The worst excesses of Tory policy have occurred since we lost our partnership with them.

  • Michael Cole 16th Jan '19 - 11:58am

    Fiona: You are absolutely right to point out that “FPTP rewards pettiness.”

    I know that there are certain other items on the agenda, but why has this party ceased to campaign for ‘fair votes’ ?

  • We may not like it but come a General Election Labour will throw the coalition at us. It is inevitable, people have long memories. Given the reverse what would we do? We have to be ready for it with a good answer.
    In the meantime I was quitre impressed with Lalya Moran on a lunchtime panel. Stood up well against a very boorish and aggresive Conservatuive MP, spoke clearly, concisely, no waffle and did not give way, ensuring she finished her comments. Looks telegenic.

  • @Michael, I absolutely agree that the party should be keeping fair votes as high profile objective, and IMO the unfair voting system, and inevitable regional divides it throws up was just as important to leading many to favour Brexit as recent austerity. I also reckon that anyone prevaricating on Brexit who throws austerity at us should be reminded of the austerity that Brexit will necessitate. If we are promoting a vote on the Brexit deal and intend to campaign to keep the deal we’ve got, we need to be able to give people a reason to believe that membership of the EU wasn’t the problem, but it was something else. Now, I’m always wary of anyone who claims there are simple solutions to complex problems, and there is a danger PR would fall into that category, if only we could convince people it were a simple solution. But it’s definitely part of the solution, and it’s a solution I think many more people are open to hearing about than ever before. I’m not saying we should obsess over it, but we shouldn’t be shy of bringing it up when it’s relevant.

    I think it is worth emphasising that the clip selected by C4 is just the bit at the end of a tetchy interview, with Burgon now answering the questions, and being badly behaved throughout. He spent a great deal of the time talking over Jo so he could bellow his pre-prepared script and avoid explaining anything. Jo had very clearly set out our position on giving the people the final say, and explained how it had been our position for some time, and that we weren’t quibbling about supporting the Labour confidence motion, but Burgon was obviously on a mission to treat Jo with contempt and push blame for the chaos onto anyone else.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Jan '19 - 7:51am

    @ Karen Pratt,

    The voting records of MPs can be found on the website of they work for you.

    If you read up on Jo Swinson’s full voting record, you might understand why she seemed so apologetic.

  • Michael Cole 17th Jan '19 - 12:31pm

    Yes Fiona, Brexit is a product of our archaic voting system. Of course there were other factors involved but many people voted ‘out’ in order to give the government a kicking.

    The people need to ask why we have been so badly governed for so many years. A fair voting system is not the elixir which will solve everything but it is the ‘sine qua non’ for rational government.

    By the way, Jo Swinson should have replied to bully Burgon that we entered the coalition to clear up the financial mess that the outgoing Labour government had bequeathed (“There is no money left”). But it is all too easy to think of a great answer after the event.

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