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…)
May’s weakness exposed, leadership in local government and an impressive start for Open Labour – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word
The Tories in 2015 told Britain not to vote Labour because Ed Miliband would be a disaster for the economy and he would be pushed around by Nicola Sturgeon. If it was not for the fact that the National Health Service was in crisis and the government’s only idea for improving schools is to bring back grammars, you might have to pinch yourself to remember who won.
The morning after Sturgeon ambushed the country and announced her intention to legislate for a second referendum on Scottish independence, the Times ran with a government source saying: ‘This timing is completely unacceptable … it would be irresponsible to agree to it and we won’t.’ If half of what the first minister said about being kept in the dark about how Brexit might proceed is true, the fault in many ways lies with Theresa May and her operation in No 10.
May likes to maintain that her ‘thoughtful’ style is a strength and shows that she is considered. It is anything but. The weakness of No 10 and her inability to know her own mind is why so much of Brexit is still unclear and why she cannot show her own colleagues, let alone parliament or the devolved administrations, the respect and consideration they deserve. (more…)
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…)
Guardian 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
Those of us in the Labour party who have been staunchly sceptical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the beginning often stand accused of not taking him or his supporters seriously enough. At Progress, we are keen to rectify this perception, and apply rigorous intellectual scrutiny to the Corbyn project.
Rather than the normal ‘it’s all going wrong’ type piece that some have come to expect from Progress – regardless of how fair or true that might be – historian Richard Carr of Anglia Ruskin University looks in depth at the Labour leader’s world view. What Corbyn really believes, who continues to inspire him – spoiler: Tony Benn – and what gets him out of bed in the morning – another spoiler: Stop the War rallies.
This proposal is the brainchild of Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, who twice failed to acquire the requisite number of nominations from fellow MPs. It is argued that, if this proposal were passed by Labour Party Conference in September, then it would be to the considerable advantage of the Labour left.
Article 50 has plunged Labour into the thick of the controversy of leaving the European Union this week. The very issue Labour could once use to divide the Tory party leaves Labour looking like they are all over the place. The vacuum in leadership allows a three line whip – aimed to indicate understanding of how 17 million people voted – to be characterised as a blank check for Theresa May’s hard Brexit.
The leadership of the party, has for once, recognised the important of being in touch with majority opinion in Britain. Yet it is Jeremy Corbyn’s close allies – both in parliament and outside – that seem to understand his position least. In fact, many of those who berated the ‘coupists’ last summer are now the ones walking off Corbyn’s frontbench or leaving the party all together. Labour members of parliament – from all wings – have got to do right my their conscience and their constituents. We should respect how they each vote, despite our deep felt feeling about how we wish the voted had gone last June. (more…)
Never has an opposition proved itself so unfit to meet the 12 months ahead of it. Just 12 days into 2017 and two policies have been proposed, critiqued and reversed by the Labour leader himself. In fact, both happened in the same 12 hours.
Whether you see Jeremy Corbyn’s new year relaunch as ‘let Bartlet be Bartlet’ or Trump-lite, it has been laid bare. More importantly it has been found wanting. We had five years with Ed Miliband as ‘his own outrider’. It resulted in him being out on his ear. This cannot last. I predict 2017 will see at least one, if not more, further Corbyn relaunches as the leadership struggles to do enough to show the party it can at least go through the motions.
To end 2017 stronger than it has started might not seem hard but it will require focus. All interventions should meet one of three tests: first, whether it makes the Tories feel the heat; second, whether it changes Labour in the eyes of the voters; or, third and even better, whether it gains Labour new levels of support. (more…)
Jon Ashworth MP (Leicester South & shadow health secretary) – 15.34mins
Kate Green MP (Stretford & Urmston & chair, Fabian Society) – 9.40mins
Richard Angell (director, Progress) – 3.38mins
Ellie Mae O’Hagan (freelance journalist) – 21.26mins
Chair: Cllr Sue MacMillan (cabinet member, Hammersmith & Fulham Council)
A new prime minister, a new president, a new relationship with Europe… and a divided Labour party. After a tumultuous 2016, our January conference looks ahead to a critical year for the UK and asks where next for Britain, and where next for the British left? The morning will focus on the big challenges facing the left: what we believe, who we speak to, and how we win. The afternoon sessions will examine the global dilemmas we face: populism, globalisation and the age of Brexit and Trump. The conference will feature keynote speeches, panel debates and interactive delegate discussions.