First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’
Jamie Reed leaving parliament
I am personally extremely sad that Jamie Reed – and former author of this column – is leaving parliament in the near year but understand that he must put his family first. His new role people he might be able to get more done for the people of Copeland than he would in parliament in the short run but I know that will be no compensation for his desire to be a public servant. He has worked tirelessly for his community since being elected as the second youngest Labour MP in 2005. He is popular locally and an important working class English Labour voice on the green benches. We will miss his proximity but wish him luck as he pursuits a new challenge.
Before long focus will turn to the byelection that will come about. There will be no interest in giving either the Tories or Ukip a long campaign so expect a date to be set pretty quick.
Labour’s dire polling nationally and poor rating of the leader and economic team should not put the downers on our prospects. Copeland has been a Labour seat since 1935 and the Tories – as we are told so often from the shadow cabinet – are not good for the country and its public services. Governments invariably do not win byelections from the opposition. We can all do our bit to make that hold true.
Finally, those despairing about Labour’s performance should not see Reed’s leaving parliament as reason to leave the party. His reasons are more personal than political and I know he is willing us well in our internal quest to keep Labour as a party of government. We can do if we continue to work together.
Shallow, petty and pointless
The fact that Theresa May’s No 10 are serving out punishment to Deloitte over a two page document saying what most people were thinking exposes how shallow, petty and pointless the government currently is. In fact it confirms, as the report says, that May and her colleagues are ‘struggling to come up to speed on the potential Brexit effects’. Her new position of ‘negotiations are negotiations’ is going wear thinner than its predecessor ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
The impertinence she shows toward select committee chairs for daring to ask for detail is bizarre. Britain negotiating hand will be leaked by the Europeans as soon as formal proceeding start, so she might as well invite in the British public and their parliament to ensure the country gets the best deal. The only reasonable conclusion to come to, as Deloitte already has, is that ‘no common strategy has emerged’.
Corbyn wades in
If the factionalism in Momentum was not a sight to behold, the fact Jeremy Corbyn has jumped in on one side is phenomenal. When Momentum was at the centre of controversy about deselections, coordinated abuse against Labour MPs and Jackie Walker’s various outrages, the leader’s office had a very clear ‘nothing to do with us, guv’ attitude.
Now the future of Momentum is on the rocks Corbyn has to wade in. Not like the teacher in the playground pulling them apart but picking his old friend Jon Lansman and those in Stop the War coalition over his old friends Walker, Matt Wrack, the Alliance of Workers Liberty and the Labour Representation Committee (sic). The latter group are key to John McDonnell power base on the left. I wonder if the email was run by the shadow chancellor?
Lansman clearly fears loss of control in the private company he founded to support the Labour leader. Corbyn’s top team must fear the same. However, leader’s should not have to get involved in this way. The danger for Corbyn is it begs the question: If he cannot unite Momentum what chance has he got of uniting the wider Labour party. To be fair, with the latter, he is still yet to try.
As the patron saint of all that has gone wrong in 2016, vile Nigel Farage has attacked Merkel – little surprise – and in turn, Brendan Cox and Hope Not Hate. Farage is a man demonised by his own victory where as Cox has handed the most terrible loss with love and a level of dignity the former United Kingdom Independence party leader will never know. His smear of HNH’s brilliant work has led to the organisation sending a letter from their laywers. I know what side I am on, donate £10 now.
While the rest of us are desperate to shut up shop and get round the shops to buy last minute gifts the shop workers union Usdaw is hard at it. Running recognition campaigns in Marks and Spencer – where the role of an independent trade union rather than internal staff association is still not recognised by management and the company rewards senior management with pay rises and their staff with uncertainty, Lidl and Aldi.
We wish them well. Never has the retail sector needed a voice for staff more. And Usdaw is a union that recruits solely in the private sector, is at the top of its game and working tireless for its member.
The worst year in politics is nearly at a close but it’s bad fortunes never seems to end. Fingers crossed that 2017 will be better. As my colleague Conor Pope argues the next 12 months ‘might not be the recovery progressives were hoping for but it could show a corner has been turned’.
In the mean time can I thanks all Progress members and supporters for their dedication to modernising politics in 2016. You are a source of support for what my amazing little team deliver and we hope we do you proud. To each of them and the Labour members who are yet to join Progress, we wish you a very merry Christmas, happy Chanukah and seasons greetings.
Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @