Trident

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…)

‘London’s shop steward’

First published in Progress magazine

The soon-to-be mayor of London Sadiq Khan talks to Richard Angell and Adam Harrison, and he is hungry for new powers

We lost to everyone, everywhere’, says Sadiq Khan, quoting his friend and colleague Jon Cruddas, Labour’s former policy chief speaking on the party’s defeat last May. Scotland was a wipeout, few marginal seats were won, and the Tories even took the constituency of Gower for the first time ever. In another first, Labour lost to the Tories among Sikh and Hindu communities, and in every age category over 44. There is one exception: the capital city. In London, Labour polled 300,000 more votes than the Tories. This should be more than enough to propel the son of a bus driver into city hall this May.

Khan, however, is not complacent. His office is a hive of activity. We struggle to find a quiet spot to huddle as meeting rooms are filled with campaigning briefings and organiser training, and the phones are ringing off the hook. Karen Buck, a long-time ally of Khan and winner against the odds in hyper-marginal Westminster North, is meeting with councillor and housing lead James Murray, who splits his time between Islington town hall, the leader’s office and the mayoral campaign. The staff make up the rich diversity of Labour’s political family – everyone from ardent Corbynista to ‘redeployed’ former Michael Dugher adviser. The whole Labour family has jumped behind the member of parliament for Tooting. (more…)

Livingstone appointment will backfire

First published on the Times Redbox

Putting aside all the usual criticism of his past, and acknowledging Ken Livingstone’s positives as a campaigner and a politician – not least his response to the 7/7 attacks in London – still does not explain his latest appointment to Labour’s defence review. At last night’s Left Book Club relaunch, he announced himself as co-convenor alongside Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary of state.

Of all the people Jeremy Corbyn could have appointed – for those not versed in Labour internal workings, most commissions have a National Executive Committee member as a co-convenor –  he definitely has not gone for a representative of one the unions whose members’ jobs depend on the defence industry. He has even snubbed Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, who nominated him in June and sits on Labour’s management committee. (more…)

Keep asking till you get the ‘right answer’

First published on Progressonline

We need to talk to about what happened with Trident this week at Labour party conference. Before we do, it is worth remembering the reccurring horror show that this debate has long been for Labour.

The last time Labour was in the wilderness, its unilateral disarmament stance was cited regularly by voters as a reason to not even consider Labour a party fit to govern. Margaret Thatcher was considered strong on defence while Labour was described by would-be voters as ‘lunatics on defence’ according to Philip Gould in his book the Unfinished Revolution. As part of a long and painful march back to respectability, Labour party conference in 1988 voted down a motion backing unilateral nuclear disarmament. By 1992, Gould who worked for Neil Kinnock, was able to report that, ‘Gerald Kaufman [had] brilliantly abandoned unilateralism’. While 1992 was not the result we wanted, Labour was at least respectable to voters again. Winning would only come later and after further modernisation. (more…)

What will happen at the Labour party conference?

Iimaget’s now Labour’s turn in party conference season, and they will be in Brighton from Sunday 27 to Wednesday 30 September.

What’s particularly interesting about this year’s conference is it’s, of course, Jeremy Corbyn’s first as Leader of the party. Despite winning around 60 per cent of the vote in the leadership race, some key party figures haven’t yet united behind him – will it happen at conference?

To find out we spoke to Richard Angell the director of Progress, and PLMR’s Danny Wilding.