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Labour must hold Brexit Britain together

First published on Portland Communications for The Brexit Desk

Governments have limited bandwidth. Limits to how many priorities they can pursue. This Government has had its decided for it – by a referendum of the people – and it is dominating the agenda like nothing else.

Theresa May was hoping there would be a little capacity in the system for her pet projects – bringing back grammar schools, workers on boards – but alas. Nicola Sturgeon used the hiatus between the House of Commons and Lords on Monday to drive a coach and horses through the Prime Minister’s wishful thinking.

Downing Street has now got to manoeuvre Britain’s leaving the European Union and keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. This would be tough for a good Prime Minister. (more…)

Corbyn Appoints New Campaign Chief to Replace Simon Fletcher

First published on Labour Vision

Jeremy Corbyn has appointed a new campaign chief to replace former Ken Livingstone aide Simon Fletcher. Niall Sookoo who previously worked in Corbyn’s press team returns for another bite of the cherry. He takes on a tough task in the shadow of Labour’s disastrous loss in Copeland.

In Sookoo’s favour he inherits a blank piece of paper. Jon Trickett did so little as the shadow cabinet campaign coordinator that even Corbyn thought his performance was lacklustre. He then sacked him in the middle of two byelections – and nobody noticed. However, poor Sookoo now has two shadow cabinet bosses – and they could not be more different. Andrew Gwynne won the Oldham byeelection for Corbyn last year and ensured a top notch ground game in Copeland. Ian Lavery has never been involved in any kind of byelection, let alone general election, type operation and labours under the bizarre notion that Corbyn is ‘one of the most popular politicians in the country’.

Since Corbyn has put Labour on a ‘war footing’ he has shown a tendency to misfire. Rather than shooting at the government he seems to only be successful at finding his own foot. (more…)

How can Labour reunite?

170x170bbGuardian UK politics podcast: Anushka Asthana is joined by Paul Mason, Zoe Williams and Richard Angell to discuss whether Labour’s warring factions can put aside their differences and reconnect with lost voters. Plus John McDonnell on tackling tax avoidance

Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast & Stitcher and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter (more…)

May’s muddled thinking

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Theresa May had a pretty bad start to the year with resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the European Union. It was unfortunate for her that his email to all staff was leaked to the media. His warning about ‘muddled thinking’ should be a theme that the Labour leader – were he to comment on such matters – should pick up on and repeat over and over. May has now made Tim Barrow pretty much unsackable as he takes up his new post in Brussels. The prime minister is due to make a big speech on Brexit in the coming weeks. The Guardian’s cartoonist Ben Jennings sums up her known position extremely well. (more…)

Copeland challenge

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. (more…)

Hammond must face the future

First published on ProgressOnline

Tomorrow is the autumn statement. It is the first economic intervention by the new chancellor since Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. But this is not the statement of a new government. This is the sixth year of this Tory government. What is unclear is if it is George Osborne’s apprentice or outrider that will be delivering the statement in the House of Commons at 12.30pm. There is little now that Philip Hammond can blame on the last Labour government. What he inherits is from Osborne, not Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling.

The sad reality is Britain goes into Brexit in a less than perfect state. The shock still to come to the economy means the fiscal framework will not be met pre, during nor post Article 50 being concluded. Britain’s ability to weather the storm to come is not what it should be. It might not all be of the Tories making, but they have hardly left us in the best place to go it alone. (more…)

Modernising Modernisers

First published on the Huffington Post September 2015; updated 24 September 2016

The result of the Labour leadership election was hurtful – to pretend otherwise would be untrue. I think the candidate that I supported did a brilliant job – tough though her task was. As Jeremy Corbyn said, Liz Kendall ‘absolutely stands up for what she believes in’. Yvette Cooper came out and changed government policy on refugees. Andy Burnham showed he was one of the nicest guys in politics. Congratulations are due to Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

It is horrid losing elections. Internal ones are often more painful. While May’s general election result was hard to take, losing within the party for which you have worked your whole adult life is more personal, especially when your very motive for doing so has been brought so firmly into question. (more…)

Will Labour heal after leadership divisions? (Daily Politics, 23 September 2016)

Watch Andy McDonald, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, and Richard Angell from Labour’s centrist pressure group Progress, speak to Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil about the leadership campaign.

They looked at polling and how the party could come back together after Mr Corbyn or Owen Smith is named the new leader on Saturday lunchtime.

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Andy McDonald MP and Richard Angell discuss what happens after the Labour leadership announcement

Daily Politics with Andrew Neil
12.15pm, 23 September 2016