byelection

Jeremy Corbyn’s shambolic power grab in Copeland would put New Labour to shame

First published on Telegraph Comment

It is amazing how quickly the Jeremy Corbyn project has emulated everything it says it hates. The Labour leader does not have just one senior spin doctor, but three, and is advertising for yet another. Last week they tried to u-turn on Corbyn’s lifelong position on free movement because focus groups and polling tell them they have little option – and then did not quite manage it.

Last night Labour selected its candidate in Copeland. The tactics used by Corbyn’s inner circle – not least the reported involvement of leader’s office staff David Prescott and James Schneider – would make Millbank Tower in the heady days of New Labour blush. Reports have circulated that membership lists were made available to preferred candidates well in advance, that canvassing calls were made from within the leader’s office and that national trade union political officers were picked off and put behind one candidate. (more…)

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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…)

Jim McMahon is a man to watch

Council leader and Labour’s byelection candidate

First published on the Times Redbox

“Labour’s recovery will come through local government,” remarked Liam Byrne in his speech to Policy Network on Tuesday, predicting a 1930s return to “municipal socialism” and the days when Herbert Morrison clawed Labour back to credibility as leader of the London county council.

For those despondent about a Labour recovery, there is good news. We do not need to wait. Since Labour left the Whitehall stage, a generation of exceptional local government leaders have come to the fore. They are dynamic, innovative and charting an exceptional path for Labour. In the most challenging fiscal environment they are creating jobs, transforming services and winning powers from central government. However, the parliamentary party has yet to find a way to harness this energy. (more…)