Seumas Milne

You cannot win with the Corbyn coterie

First published on the Huffington Post

The first victim of the bullying that surrounds the Jeremy Corbyn leadership personality cult and the associated Momentum crew was not a former leadership candidate or a ‘red Tory’ who served under Gordon Brown – or, worse, Tony Blair’ – but a lovely woman who only joined the House of Commons in 2010. Pat Glass did not support Corbyn over the summer but both served and took promotions (not one, but two) when well-meaning colleagues resigned or were sacked. In January, after Pat McFadden was singled out for calling terrorists ‘adults’ in charge of their own actions, she was asked to replace him, and did. When Lucy Powell resigned, she stepped up to be the shadow education secretary. None of this stopped her local Momentum group standing against and defeating her husband as campaign coordinator of the local party and threatening her with deselection. After two days shadowing Nicky Morgan, she resigned the frontbench and said she will stand down from parliament at the next election. The referendum campaign had been ‘bruising’ and taken too much of a toll. (more…)

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Concrete action needed

Time for the hedging on antisemitism in Labour to end

2016-03-14-merkel-antisemmitismuskonferenz

First published in Progress magazine

Following the 2012 presidential election in the United States, I attended an event on the result. Impressive speakers talked about their experiences of the campaigns and what would come next. Only one comment sticks in my mind. It was in response to a question about a ‘rape apologist’ Republican Senate candidate. The panellist replied saying: ‘What has the country I love come to when someone asks about the “rape apologist” candidate and you have to ask “Which one?”’ It describes much of what I feel like about the party I love and the issue of antisemitism. There is now a suite of people who have been suspended from the party, and at least one expelled, for antisemitism. We have a senior member of the House of Lords investigating the behaviour of Oxford University Labour club. Watching a particularly vile Gerry Downing talk about ‘the Jewish problem’ on the Daily Politics with a byline saying he was a member of my party was shameful. (more…)

Five reasons Labour won’t come third in Scotland this May

First published on LabourList

The team of spin doctors around Seumas Milne are colluding with Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories in the expectations game for Jeremy Corbyn’s first real electoral test in May. Both of them want people and the media to think that Scottish Labour might come third in the coming Scottish parliament elections. Davidson because it makes it more likely her party will come in second. However, for the Labour leader’s office it seems that they are prepared to throw hard-working members of the Scottish parliament under a bus just so expectations are exceeded in a few months’ time.

Those campaigning for a Corbyn leadership last summer told the wider party that an anti-austerity leader would turn around Labour’s fortunes in Scotland. The rhetoric and the party policy has changed north of the border: a top rate of tax to pay for a fair start fund for the poorest kids, 1p on income tax to reverse local government and education cuts. Scottish Labour has even junked its historic support for Trident to align itself with the new leadership, and voted in Holyrood accordingly.

Having spent this time last week on the doorstep in six very different Scottish constituencies, I know our party colleagues there need our help with one-to-one chats with voters, not journalists. (more…)