The right wing incontinence of the Progress plotters

IT is more than 30 years since former Labour leader Neil Kinnock began his attack on Militant – as a left wing ‘Party within a Party’ seeking to undermine core Labour values.

Within six years Militant had been proscribed by Mr Kinnock and banned from ever being part of the Labour Party.

Now in 2016, his son Stephen Kinnock is part of a sinister group known as Progress – a right wing ‘Party within a Party’.

More sinister and undermining than Militant ever was.

And Mr Kinnock Junior is now talking openly about a right wing breakaway from the Labour Party – working title: Continuity Labour (or should it be Incontinence Labour?) if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected Leader in September.

Progress is the Blairite power behind the core group of MPs plotting, since last year, to oust Mr Corbyn.

Progress runs on £260,000-a-year funding from Lord Sainsbury.

He used to fund the Labour Party, giving over £6.3 million between 2005 and 2010. But he stopped funding Labour when Ed Miliband got elected. Angry at Miliband’s shuffle to the left, Sainsbury went on a rich man’s strike.

But he didn’t just take his money and go home. Instead of funding Labour, he funds Progress, whose job is to keep Labour right wing and Blairite. Its income since 2010 is about £1.5 million.

Progress, through its website, its weekend school, its meetings at Labour’s conference and its activist network push the candidates and policies Sainsbury likes.

Tristram Hunt is a particular Sainsbury favourite — he was Lord Sainsbury’s personal spokesman before he became a Labour MP.

Hunt was working for Sainsbury when Progress was formed out of the money left over from the original campaign to make Tony Blair leader of the party.

Sainsbury originally got Derek Draper to run Progress.

He soon disgraced himself and Labour by claiming he could get influence with the New Labour government for corporate lobbyists.

Despite this early link to a lobbying scandal, Progress still relies on money and contacts from lobbyists, alongside Sainsbury’s cash. In fairness, Progress is more open about its income than it used to be. Its website advises that in 2014 it relied on money and support from Bellenden Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that represents privatisers like Serco and NHS outsourcer Care UK.

Progress also took money from Lexington, another lobbying firm whose clients include Interserve, another major privatiser, and the “Giant Vampire Squid” of banking, Goldman Sachs. The City of London Corporation put some cash into the Progress operation as well.

Progress is deeply committed to pro-privatisation and pro-corporate policies. It has also campaigned to reduce trade union influence in the Labour Party.

During last year’s Labour leadership election Progress supported Liz Kendall for Labour leader and Tessa Jowell for mayor of London.

Progress could not pick a candidate for deputy leader — which shows how deeply Progress is embedded in the parliamentary party. The three deputy leader candidates — Caroline Flint, Ben Bradshaw and Stella Creasy — are all Progress members, so they couldn’t choose which one to back.

Progress’s attempts to shift the party towards privatisation and other business-friendly policies favoured by their funders aren’t hard to find.

But they don’t get reported that much because most national journalists both rely on Progress members for their stories and agree with their Blairite arguments.

Only now are people waking up to the sinister nature of Progress’s coup attempt to unseat Jeremy Corbyn.

Paul Flynn MP (Newport) condemned the plotters as:

“Orchestrated treachery. Resignations on the hour by the future Blair Tribute Party. Self-indulgent party games as steel jobs are in new peril.”

Even former SNP leader Alex Salmond – a politician I know personally and someone steeped in honesty – called out the Progress plotters.

The mass resignation of senior Labour MPs over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party is a “disgusting, organised coup”, he said.

But their plotting has been an open secret.

An article in the Telegraph dated the 16 June detailed that the Progress led

“Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum.”

Further evidence that these Labour MPs have been plotting against Mr Corbyn and would have assailed his leadership regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell described the MPs in Progress as a “narrow right-wing clique”, “conservative” and “hard right”.

“They all come from a sort of a narrow right-wing clique within the Labour Party based around the Progress organisation,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve really ever accepted Jeremy’s mandate. I’m afraid they have to recognise that Jeremy got elected with the largest mandate of any political leader from any political party in our history.

“I’m afraid they haven’t respected that leadership election result.”

In 2012 the GMB openly accused Progress of being a “party within a party”.

It unsuccessfully submitted a resolution to Labour’s annual conference in September that year to try to “outlaw” the group.

The Labour Party said it would consider the GMB motion but stressed that it was “not in the business of excluding people”. A cruel irony considering what it is now doing to supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

“We are a party that is reaching out to people, gaining new supporters and offering real change for the country in these tough times. The Labour Party is a broad church and we are not in the business of excluding people,” said a party spokesman at the time.

The GMB expressed concerns that Progress was operating to undermine the party, accusing it of attempting to sabotage Labour’s London mayoral campaign.

A motion passed at the union’s congress in 2012 accused “prominent members” of Progress briefing against Ed Miliband and said was responsible for persuading Labour’s front bench “to support cuts and wage restraint”.

It went on to say: “Congress notes that Progress advances the strategy of accepting the Tory arguments for public spending cuts.

“Congress believes that such factional campaigns to undermine Labour candidates, and to soften opposition to Tory policies, endanger the unity of the party and the movement in our fight against the coalition government.”

Progress hit back claiming there was “no evidence whatsoever” of its members briefing against the Labour leader, and that any attempt to suggest it had not backed Ken Livingstone for London mayor was “uncomradely”.

Detailed research carried out by Walking The Breadline adds more detail to just who is who within Progress:

Progress is chaired by Alison McGovern. Its vice-chairs are fellow Labour MPs Jenny Chapman, Stephen Doughty, Julie Elliott, Tristram Hunt, Dan Jarvis, Liz Kendall, Seema Malhotra, Toby Perkins, Lucy Powell, Steve Reed, Jonathan Reynolds and Nick Smith. Its honorary president is former Minister Stephen Twigg.

Progress is constituted as a private company limited by guarantee, with a legal board of directors in 2012 consisting of Jennifer Gerber, Jonathan Mendelsohn, Robert Philpot and Stephen Twigg.

Prior to 2015, Progress was chaired by John Woodcock – the same MP who viciously attacked Jeremy Corbyn during the Trident debate last week.

Prior to 2012, Progress was chaired by MP and former Minister Stephen Twigg, and the honorary president was Alan Milburn, the former Secretary of State for Health. Jonathan Mendelsohn was its treasurer.

Current members of the Progress strategy board include: Baroness King of Bow, Gloria De Piero MP, Nick Smith MP, Phil Wilson MP, Cllr Florence Nosegbe (Lambeth), Cllr Claire Reynolds (Tameside), Cllr Rachel Hodson (Doncaster), Cllr Paul Brant (Liverpool) Cllr Mandy Telford (Cumbria), Hopi Sen, Joan Ryan and Joe Mann.

Since its inception Progress has had a number of operational directors: Derek Draper (former aide to Peter Mandelson), Darren Murphy (former Special Adviser), Patrick Diamond (former Special Adviser), Jennifer Gerber, Jessica Asato (acting director), Richard Angell (acting director), Robert Philpot (retired October 2014) and Richard Angell.

Progress donations and sponsorship since 2001:

Lord Sainsbury – £2,022,500

Lord Montague (trust) – £875,500

Pfizer/Pharmacia – £52,287.50 (Owen Smith’s former employer)

Sir Frank Lowe – £49,999.98

Lord Bhattacharyya – £20,000

John Mendelsohn – £10,000

Sovereign Strategy – £12,000

Network Rail Infrastructure – £5,875

Total donations – £3,059,673.16

It is also worth noting that Conor McGinn MP who alleged bullying against Jeremy Corbyn might have overlooked mentioning this fact.

Kate is Chair of the Young Fabians, the under-31s section of the Fabian Society and Political Adviser to leadership contender Owen Smith MP.

Seema Malhotra who last week accused aides of Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell of violating her security and effectively breaking into her office after her resignation, is also a member of Progress, as is Ruth Smeeth who accused Mr Corbyn of  anti-semitism three weeks ago.

To sum up, these right wing Blairite plotters, who undermine democracy at every turn, must now be put on notice: We are watching you, have noted your actions and your time as a Labour MP is numbered:

  • Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
  • Alison McGovern (Wirral South)
  • Angela Eagle (Wallasey)
  • Ann Coffey (Stockport)
  • Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)
  • Caroline Flint (Don Valley)
  • Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)
  • Chuka Umunna (Streatham)
  • Conor McGinn (St Helens North)
  • Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)
  • Frank Field (Birkenhead)
  • Gloria de Piero (Ashfield)
  • Hilary Benn (Leeds Central)
  • Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East)
  • Jamie Reed (Copeland)
  • Jenny Chapman (Darlington)
  • Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley)
  • John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)
  • Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge)
  • Julie Elliot (Sunderland Central)
  • Keir Starmer (Holborn & St Pancras)
  • Kevan Jones (North Durham)
  • Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill)
  • Liz Kendall (Leicester West)
  • Lucy Powell (Manchester Central)
  • Margaret Hodge (Barking)
  • Maria Eagle (Garston)
  • Michael Dugher (Barnsley East)
  • Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent)
  • Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East)
  • Phil Wilson (Sedgefield)
  • Ruth Smeeth (Stoke on Trent North)
  • Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston)
  • Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
  • Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South)
  • Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)
  • Stephen Twigg (West Derby)
  • Steve Reed (Croydon North)
  • Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)
  • Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central)
  •  

Legal view in favour of Jeremy Corbyn

I have been friends with Gordon Dangerfield for more than 25 years. In case you don’t know him, Gordon is one of Scotland’s top lawyers and for the past few years has been handling the Tommy Sheridan v Murdoch case.

His brilliant blog piece re-blogged here sets out why his legal opinion is that JC does NOT need nominations to stand as leader. I find his opinion and words refreshing:

NOW THEY WANT CORBYN TO CHALLENGE HIMSELF

By Gordon Dangerfield

As everyone with a functioning brain knows, the Chicken Coup plotters against Jeremy Corbyn — and against democracy — have been coming out with outrageous whopper after whopper ever since the man was elected in a landslide, each one reported faithfully as gospel truth by our utterly corrupt and craven media.

One of the best whoppers, which according to the Herald  will give rise to “intense legal argument”, is that the Labour Party Rules prevent Corbyn from even standing for his own job — the job he was democratically elected to do in a landslide less than a year ago.

Of course, in a functioning democracy, with a media willing to engage in — and intellectually capable of engaging in — independent thought and research, this whopper would be instantly exposed as such.

But then, if we had a functioning democracy, with an independent and competent media, all of the treachery and lies of the Chicken Coup plotters would have been nailed long since.

So let me do here what any journalist capable of actual journalism would have done for you the moment this ridiculous lie was first floated by the plotters.

Let me just quickly show you why the notion of Jeremy Corbyn having to challenge himself for the leadership of the Labour Party is utter bollocks.

You can find the current version of the Labour Party Rules here:

Paragraph 2 of clause II of Chapter 4 of the Rules  deals with the election of the party leader and deputy leader. Part B of paragraph 2 says this:

Nomination

  1. In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be supported by 15 per cent of the combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP.

Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.

  1. Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case, any nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP.

Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.

So there are two situations covered by the Rules.

In the first one, the leader has resigned, and there is a vacancy. In that case, every candidate for the leadership needs the support of 15 per cent of the Commons members of Parliament and of the European Parliament  (let’s just call them MPs) before (s)he can stand.

In other words, in the first one, there’s no sitting leader, and no challenger, and every candidate is a nominee of equal standing, each requiring 15 per cent support of MPs.

In the second one, things are very different.

In the second one, there is a sitting leader who has not resigned but who is open to challenge at any time. In that case, every potential challenger to the leader needs the support of 20 per cent of MPs before (s)he can stand.

Yep, that’s right. It’s only the challenger who needs the support.

And the support needed to mount a challenge is higher than in the first case — 20 per cent instead of 15.

The reasons for the differences between the first and second cases are blindingly obvious to anyone capable of actual thought.

The Rules are different in the second case precisely to discourage the inevitable turmoil caused by stupid and malicious challenges to sitting leaders (even ones not elected in a landslide less than a year before).

If you need any evidence for that proposition, well, just read the papers or watch the TV news.

But still, don’t take my word for this.

Scroll back up and check the actual wording of the Rules themselves.

See it?

…potential challengers…

Only a potential challenger to a sitting leader needs the 20 per cent support of MPs to be nominated.

The sitting leader doesn’t need any nomination or support because he’s the one being challenged.

There can only be a challenger where there is a sitting leader in place who is not that challenger and to whom the the requirements for challengers do not, by definition, apply.

That’s precisely the difference between the first and second cases.

So this is what the “intense legal argument” comes down to.

The Chicken Coup plotters and all their media pals say that Jeremy Corbyn  must now challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the job of leader of the Labour Party.     

And if Jeremy Corbyn the challenger can’t muster up enough support to challenge Jeremy Corbyn the leader, then…

Well, what exactly?

It’s all bollocks, pure and simple.

Only our brain-dead and hegemonic media could even repeat it with a straight face.

If the plotters are stupid enough to take their “argument” to court, they’ll be laughed out of it right quick.

When that happens, please remember to have another good laugh at our ridiculous media too.

Love lived here… in a Hove cinema

It’s hard to believe

That this is the place

Where we were so happy all our lives

Now so empty inside

And feeling no pain

Waiting for a hammer, and a big ball and chain

They can tear it all down

And build something new

But only I remember what was here

(Rod Stewart)

Gala

WHILE doing a bit of online research for a larger project, I stumbled upon a picture which brought some long forgotten memories tumbling back into my consciousness.

The photo was of an old building – the Gala Bingo Hall in Portland Road, Hove. A gorgeous art deco structure which is now sadly demolished.

Plans to turn the former bingo hall site in Portland Road, Hove, into 35 flats and a doctor’s surgery were approved in October 2010.

The bulldozers moved in, in April 2013 and the new development work was completed last year (2015).

So why should I care?

After all I have never played bingo or had any fascination with bingo halls.

It is something much deeper.

The reason why I care is simple… before the building became a bingo hall it was an amazing cinema – the ABC Capitol.

ABC

And that cinema was a key part of my childhood.

Not only does it hold fond memories of my late father taking me to watch blockbuster movies such as Tarzan’s Three Challenges and Robinson Crusoe, but something much more.

From about the age of eight-years I would meet my best friends Mark and Michael Newlove at the end of our road at 9am every Saturday morning. Together, as loud primary school kids we would catch the number 26 bus from Mile Oak – our village tucked away on the South Downs – to a bus stop next to the cinema in downtown Hove.

Then, in a childish rite passed down by older peers, we would cross the road and enter a small joke shop. With a few pence clenched in our sweaty palms we would buy a box of small stink bombs or a cache of itching powder before crossing back to queue at the ABC Capitol.

We were fully fledged, excited and paid-up Minors of the ABC!

With bubbling anticipation we would make our way to our usual seats in the cinema’s upper circle and lose our imaginations for two hours in fun cartoon features and a kids’ adventure movie – either a sci-fi romp or a swashbuckling battle between pirates or medieval knights.

This Saturday ritual was of its time and now quite timeless – the magic of a childhood gone forever.

Oh, the stink bombs and itching powder… they were for throwing over the balcony onto the poor souls below sat in the stalls!

Sadly, according to archive records, the conversion from cinema to bingo hall in the 1980s ripped any soul, or semblance of cinema’s heyday, out of it. The interiors that had once been quite grand, had been replaced by tacky stucco and a suspended ceiling.

And now it is no more.

 

Will the real Citizen Smith please stand up

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact – Arthur Conan Doyle

owen smith

Citizen Smith’s Background

Owen Smith, 46, has been the Member of Parliament for Pontypridd since the 2010 General Election.

Mr Smith was born in Morecambe, Lancashire and raised in Barry, South Wales.

Before being elected to Parliament he worked as a radio and television producer for the BBC, as a special adviser for Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, and as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

In 2006, while still head of policy and government relations for Pfizer, Smith fought the 2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election.

He lost to independent candidate Dai Davies. During the by-election campaign, Smith expressed his support for removing foreign dictators, the private sector playing a supportive role in the NHS, and private finance initiative (PFI) schemes.

Until 2003, Smith says he was an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Subsequently he was appointed as the candidate for the Labour safe seat of Pontypridd and won it by a margin of 2,785 votes in the 2010 general election.

Following his election Smith went on to serve as Shadow Welsh Secretary under Ed Miliband from 2012 until 2015, and then as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn from 2015 until he resigned in June 2016.

Smith resigned over concerns about Mr Corbyn’s leadership, saying “It breaks my heart to say I cannot see how he can continue as leader.”

He has been described as being on the ‘soft left’ of the Labour Party, by most tabloid political commentators.

Citizen Smith’s Voting Record

Owen Smith’s voting record since becoming a Labour MP makes very interesting reading. He has a history of ‘flip-flopping’ on key issues. Most noticeably this one time CND activist is now staunch supporter of the Trident nuclear option. And despite defining himself as a strong supporter of the EU Remain campaign, he has in the past voted for an EU referendum.

Thanks to the parliamentary website They Work For You his broader voting on key issues bares closer scrutiny:

Mr Smith has:

  • Voted a mixture of for and against use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU
  • Consistently voted for strengthening the Military Covenant
  • Voted a mixture of for and against higher taxes on banks
  • Almost always voted against local councils keeping money raised from taxes on business premises in their areas

 

Citizen Smith’s Leadership Campaign

Owen Smith’s leadership campaign is only 48 hours old, but already it has been hit by innuendo and misinformation.

Even the mainstream media feel compelled to drop hints that Smith is not what he is being promoted as.

The Guardian reported: “The former shadow work and pensions secretary plans to pitch himself as the soft-left option.”

For PR professional Smith, political stance is nothing to do with personal belief, it is to do with brand positioning.

On Channel 4 News, Michael Crick pointed out that the “soft left” Smith had previously given interviews supporting PFI and privatisation in the health service. He also strongly supported Blair’s city academies.

As chief lobbyist for Pfizer, Smith actively pushed for privatisation of NHS services. In one press release at the time Mr Smith says of a Pfizer funded focus group study: “We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda.”

In the footnotes that ‘choice’ was defined:

“The focus groups also explored areas of choice that do not yet exist in the UK – most specifically the use of direct payments and the ability to choose to go directly to a specialist without first having to see the GP.”

That is: direct payments from the public to doctors replacing current NHS services. Smith was promoting straight privatisation.

As Head of Policy and Government Relations for Pfizer, Owen Smith was also directly involved in Pfizer’s funding of right wing Labour Party entryist group Progress. Pfizer gave Progress £53,000. Progress has actively pursued the agenda of PFI and privatisation of NHS services.

Progress is the Blairite power behind the core group of MPs who sought the vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn three weeks ago.

Read more about this shadowy group in Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant.

Owen Smith went to Pfizer from a Labour Party job, while Labour was in government, and there is no doubt that his hiring was an example of the corrupt relationship between New Labour and big business which is why the Blairites are so hated by the public.

It is also beyond any argument that if Pfizer had any doubts about Smith’s willingness to promote the Big Pharma and NHS Privatisation agenda, they would never have hired him.

Smith is also a strong supporter of Trident and assiduously courts the arms industry. He is a regular at defence industry events.

Last month this supposed former CND activist stated that he would vote to renew Trident, saying: “I want a world without nuclear weapons altogether, but I don’t think we hasten that by divesting.”

Perhaps most crucially of all, Owen Smith joined fellow Blarites in abstaining on the Tory welfare benefit cuts.

So there is no evidence whatsoever that Smith is a left winger. There is every evidence that he is another New Labour unprincipled and immoral careerist, adopting a left wing pose that he thinks will win him votes.

This goes against the rumours that this had been his strategy all along, to position himself as the left wing alternative who might just win over the grassroots, who might otherwise vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw since 2001, and a constant critic of Mr Corbyn, tweeted that he was asked if he would support Smith six months ago: “What he thinks is, Wales is a good backdrop, tie up Wales, get the Welsh loyalty and you’ve got a key base, and you’re not London.”

Mann continues:

“It was a fairly simple strategy, but the weakness of it was: who the hell’s Owen Smith?”

He entered parliament as the MP for his home constituency of Pontypridd in 2010, long enough ago not to be disqualified as a novice but recent enough not to have been tarnished by the Blair years and the vote on the Iraq war.

“His allies were elusive; or rather, they were for a day – for 18 hours, all I had was the one source who knew his dad (off the record!) and then suddenly they were everywhere.”

He already has more than 100 nominations, and looks, suddenly, to be in a much stronger position than Eagle, which would account for the rumours cranking up against him – including an accusation of sexism and incompetence.

One of the most damning pieces of evidence of incompetence is that by a former UKIP candidate who had first-hand experience Owen Smith at work:

“Owen Smith made a complete fool of himself with his media pronouncements during the EU elections in Wales and during the referendum. If it’s possible to misread or fail to analyse correctly anything to do with the political world then Owen’s your man,” he says.

“One of the funniest things that I’ve ever witnessed during campaigning for UKIP was at the EU elections in 2014 when Owen masterminded and headed up the Labour Party’s anti UKIP campaign.

“He pitched up on the TV in front of an advertising van in Barry with a massive picture of Nigel Farage and a huge UKIP motif carrying a message slagging off UKIP.

“As I watched, I thought ‘How fantastic, an ad van with a ten foot picture of Nigel Farage and a massive UKIP logo, I’ve never been able to afford one of those in nine years of campaigning for UKIP’.

“And this idiot is going to send this van all over my constituency and Wales in general. Knowing how generally unobservant of the finer details the general public are when glancing at ads how thick must he be? Thanks very much Owen’

“As expected my phone rang off the hook for the next three days with people saying “I’ve just seen your van in Barry. Can you tell me more about UKIP and how can we join”

“UKIP came first in the Vale of Glamorgan and UKIP finished just 4,500 votes behind the giant Labour machine in Wales. Cheers Owen, who needs a campaign with electoral dimwits like you as the opposition,” he added.

  • One final detail… last week Owen Smith promised to hold a second referendum on any Brexit deal if he is elected leader of the Labour Party. He seems to have not realised that if he becomes leader and if Labour wins the General Election in 2020, Brexit will have concluded and Britain will be out of Europe for good!

 

Song for Jeremy

Go ahead and smear him because he makes you doubt

Because he has denied himself the things you can’t live without

Laugh at him behind his back just like the others do

Remind him of what he could have been when he comes walking through

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

Stop your conversation when he passes on the stairs

Hope he falls upon himself, no-one really cares

Because he can’t be exploited by media moguls anymore

Because he can’t be bribed or bought by the things that you adore

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

When the whip that’s keeping you in line doesn’t make him jump

Say he’s hard-of-hearing, as ridiculous as Donald Trump

Say he’s out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve

Because he doesn’t pay tribute to the Queen that you serve

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

Say that he’s a loser because he uses common sense

Because he doesn’t increase his worth at someone else’s expense

Because he’s not afraid of trying, he embraces others with a smile

Because he doesn’t threaten foreigners, say he’s got no style

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

You can laugh at austerity, you can play your nuclear games

You think that when you rest at last you’ll go back from where you came

But you’ve pocketed your bonuses and you’ve changed since the womb

What happened to the real you, you’ve been captured but by whom?

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

(with thanks to Bob Dylan for the inspiration)

Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner share my badge of honour

TO me this means more than any press award I have won, any degree I have worked for and more than any story or book I have ever published.

It is simply a Motion in the House of Commons signed jointly by five of my political heroes.

It stays with me and now as the Blairite knives are turned on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it becomes even more precious.

It goes back 22 years to when I was working as an unknown reporter on a weekly local newspaper in south west Scotland.

A year earlier in 1993 I began investigating a report into high levels of radiation in the local waters of the Solway Firth.

This in turn led to a huge investigation into the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) artillery shells (the same used by Allied forces in both Gulf Wars) at a nearby MoD proving ground and a link with  local clusters of childhood cancer.

The full story can be read here: Suppression of the Truth: Depleted Uranium – The Deadly Killer.

Then suddenly, and without any warning, in the late Spring of 1994 I was given two press awards for my newspaper investigations – the first was a Judges’ Special Award for Investigative Journalism.

I was gobsmacked!

But a second shock was in store… I was informed that 41 MPs had signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons praising my investigation (and that of a dear and late colleague at the Sunday Mail) into the link between DU shell firing and the serious risks to health – including cancer.

The EDM read: “That this House congratulates Nic Outterside, chief reporter of the Galloway Gazette, for his special award of the year ‘for his investigative journalism and individual tenacity’, and Angus Macleod of the Sunday Mail, for his ‘talent for disclosing stories in an aggressive and attacking writing style’ in winning the journalist and reporter of the year award in the Scottish Press Awards made on 26th April; notes that both reporters revealed the hidden dangers of depleted uranium shell tests at Ministry of Defence test ranges, and unveiled the links between vapourised depleted uranium dust and the Gulf War or Desert Storm syndrome; believes these Scottish reporters have properly publicised a problem of national and international importance as recognised by investigations in the United States Congress and the United Nations Compensation Committee; and reiterates its call for an urgent public inquiry.”

Some of my all-time political heroes signed that EDM: the late and great Tony Benn MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, the much missed Alan Simpson MP, Ken Livingstone MP and the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner MP.

These names next to mine remain a personal badge of honour. Now 22 years on, they are a vindication of our shared hatred of warfare, nuclear weapons and the military establishment.

Exposing the right angle on Angela Eagle

A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed  – Kahlil Gibran

Eagle

 Eagle’s Background

Angela Eagle, 55, has been the Member of Parliament for Wallasey since the 1992 General Election. She was born in Bridlington and studied PPE at Oxford University, before working for the CBI and the trade union COHSE.

She served as the Minister of State for Pensions from June 2009 until May 2010. She was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010 and was appointed by Ed Miliband to be Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

In October 2011, she was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when Miliband reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet. She was appointed as both Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in September 2015 in Jeremy Corbyn’s first Shadow Cabinet. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016.

As I reported in January, Angela Eagle is supported by the right wing Progress group.

Progress is the Blairite power behind the core group of MPs who sought a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn two weeks ago.

Progress runs on £260,000-a-year funding from Lord Sainsbury.

Read more about this shadowy cabal in Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant.

Eagle’s Selection as Parliamentary Candidate

Wallasey is now a solidly Labour-voting constituency, and Angela Eagle, who enjoyed a 16,348 majority in last year’s General Election, has been its MP since 1992.

Before that, by contrast, Wallasey had historically been a Conservative seat. It was represented by Tory MP Ernest Marples from 1945 to 1974, and then by his successor Lynda Chalker from 1974 to 1992.

In 1987, though, Chalker only narrowly held on to the seat, with her majority reduced from 6,708 to 279, in the face of a vigorous campaign by the local Labour party in support of its candidate Lol Duffy.

Duffy would very likely have won, had it not been for the intervention of Frank Field, the right wing Labour MP for the neighbouring Birkenhead constituency.

Field circulated a letter attacking Duffy, who at the time was associated with the Socialist Organiser group. He declared that he would not be supporting Duffy’s candidacy and would refuse to appear on any platform with him. The letter was published on the front page of a local newspaper, during the election campaign, under the headline Marxist Lol slammed by Frank Field.

No action was taken by the Labour Party against Frank Field over this political scabbing that ensured a Tory victory in Wallasey. Instead, in response to his denunciations of the role of Socialist Organiser activists in Wirral Labour Party, the Labour national executive committee (NEC) launched an investigation into the group. A report by the party’s director of organisation, Joyce Gould, led to the proscription of Socialist Organiser in 1990.

One result of the move against Socialist Organiser was to delay the parliamentary selection in Wallasey.

The Wallasey Labour party officers pressed for a prompt start to the selection procedure. After all, this was now a highly winnable seat and it made sense to have a candidate like Lol Duffy in place as early as possible. But the national Labour Party and the regional office prevaricated.

In December 1991 the regional office was forced at last to agree a selection timetable with the constituency officers.

Duffy received over 70% of the nominations including the support of five of the six local party branches, the women’s section and numerous trade unions.

His 24 nominations far exceeded the tally of five achieved by his nearest rival, Angela Eagle.

But in January 1992, in a move which now stinks of a rancid coup, the NEC decided that the imminence of a General Election demanded the intervention of an emergency ‘by-election panel’ to interview potential candidates and shortlist contenders in those constituencies without a Labour candidate already in place.

During the panel’s interviewing of Wallasey candidates, Roy Hattersley asked Lol Duffy how he would reconcile his personal beliefs – notably his support for unilateralism and repeal of all anti-union laws – with the party’s current policy. Duffy made it clear that he would have no problem with this. But Hattersley’s NEC panel then excluded Duffy from the Wallasey shortlist.

Under the rules of the Labour Party, if more than 50% of those who vote in a parliamentary selection return blank ballot papers the selection must start from scratch with new nominations.

Contrary to party rules, no independent scrutineer was allowed into the Wallasey count held at the regional office in Warrington. When pressed, Eileen Murfin (Labour Party regional organiser) admitted that the officials had not bothered to count the blank votes, again in contravention of the rules.

But sources leaked the total to the media, which reported that 163 blank papers had been returned by local members in protest at the exclusion of Lol Duffy. Only 57 votes had been cast for the ‘winning’ candidate, Angela Eagle. Under the party constitution the selection was null and void; but party officials glossed over this detail.

To add insult to injury, the NEC not only dismissed the complaints of party members but threatened to mount yet another ‘investigation’ of the constituency after the General Election.

Lol Duffy worked diligently for Angela Eagle during the General Election. And thanks to the years of hard work put in by himself and others in the constituency, the seat was taken from the Tories, and Eagle became the first Labour MP for Wallasey.

Given this record, it is hardly surprising that Angela Eagle has shown such contempt for the democratic decision made by party members last September, when they elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader with 59.5% of first-preference votes, and has joined his enemies in the parliamentary Labour party in a disgraceful attempt to overturn that decision.

She is firmly embedded in, and indeed owes her parliamentary career to, a political culture that accepts party democracy only when it produces the ‘right’ results.

Eagle’s Voting Record

Angela Eagle’s voting record since becoming a Labour MP makes very interesting reading. Most readers will be aware that she was one of the 66 Labour MPs, who last December, voted for bombing Syria, but thanks to the parliamentary website They Work For You her broader voting on key issues bares closer scrutiny.

Ms Eagle has:

  • Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Consistently voted FOR the Iraq war
  • Consistently voted AGAINST an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
  • Almost always voted for strengthening the Military Covenant
  • Almost always voted against local councils keeping money raised from taxes on business premises in their areas
  • Almost always voted for introducing ID cards
  • Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists

Eagle’s Leadership Campaign

Ms Eagle only launched her leadership campaign a few days ago, but it is already marred by murky accusations, duplicity and crocodile tears.

She resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet on 27 June in the wake of the Euro Referendum result and the sacking of Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Her letter of resignation as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, included these sentences:

“I was devastated by the result of the EU referendum. Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity.

“In such turbulent times, we need a Leader who can unite rather than divide the Labour Party. We need a Leader who can heal the deep divisions in our country, stand up for our communities, and ultimately to keep our United Kingdom together.”

But while heaping the blame for Brexit on Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Eagle failed to admit that just two weeks earlier she publicly said of Mr Corbyn campaigning for Remain:

“Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped.”

But that was only the beginning.

Within days of her resignation, it was revealed that Ms Eagle’s leadership campaign website Angela4Leader was registered at 6pm on Saturday 25 June, hours before Hilary Benn was sacked and two whole days before she resigned.

The website was registered by Joe McCrea, a PR executive who served as a special adviser in Downing Street during Tony Blair’s tenure.

And there was more to come.

Earlier this week a window at the Wallasey Labour Party constituency office was smashed with a brick.

Ms Eagle was quick to blame the vandalism on supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that it was “bullying” against her that had “no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”.

The hypocrisy of this outburst beggars belief, as there was no evidence of any kind that supporters of Mr Corbyn had actioned this vandalism. Indeed there has been suggestions that it may have been broken by supporters of Ms Eagle to frighten members of her own CLP who had called for her resignation.

One Labour Party member Mike Sivier wrote a hard-hitting open letter to Ms Eagle on the back of her claims. Part of that letter says: “As a Labour voter of many years’ standing, and a member of the party for the last six, I am writing to express my outrage at your comments following the vandalism of the Wallasey Party office.

“We can agree that the damage to the window – like any crime – is unacceptable. However: How dare you claim that it was carried out by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, “in his name”? Do you have any evidence? Do the police already know who did it? I think not.

“Mr Corbyn has made it abundantly clear – many times over the past few weeks, that he finds such behaviour abhorrent and wants members of the party to discuss their differences in a cordial manner.

“How dare you try to pontificate to the rest of the party about “bullying”, after the behaviour you have forced Mr Corbyn to endure, together with the other 170+ PLP rebels?

“Look at the behaviour that has occurred in YOUR name:

  • Months of secret plotting against Mr Corbyn after he won the Labour leadership last year.
  • The intention to mislead the public into thinking the Labour ‘coup’ was prompted by Mr Corbyn’s performance in the EU referendum when it had been pre-planned over many months.
  • The co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members throughout June 26 in an effort to BULLY Mr Corbyn out of the Labour leadership.
  • The hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn in another attempt to BULLY him out of office.
  • The attempted BULLYING of Mr Corbyn himself at a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting.
  • The fabricated smear stories intended to undermine Mr Corbyn’s support among members and, again, BULLY him into resigning – including your claim about this broken office window.

“If you are serious in your claim that bullying “has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”, then perhaps the best way to start would be by ending your own challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, submitting yourself to the mercy of your constituents who are holding a ‘no confidence’ vote on your conduct later this month, and considering your own future in politics.”

Then yesterday the latest instalment of dirty tricks was opened amid claims that Ms Eagle (an open Lesbian) has been subjected to “homophobic slurs” from members of the Wallasey CLP.

But she did not count on local activist and fellow lesbian Emma Runswick who immediately hit back with another open letter exposing the duplicity of the Eagle campaign.

Part of Ms Runswick’s letter says: “I am a queer woman. My mother Kathy is the Chair of Wallasey constituency Labour party, and a Momentum supporter. An attempt has been made to paint Wallasey CLP and Momentum supporters as homophobic and violent, so I’d like to share some personal stories of my family.

“The allegations started when Baroness Tessa Jowell, a Labour peer, said on Daily Politics about the Wallasey CLP AGM: “I spoke to Angela about that meeting, she faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”.

“But Angela Eagle wasn’t at the meeting, and nor was any complaint of homophobia raised in her absence. Since then, accusations have been made, but I struggle to comprehend the abusive language alleged going unchallenged.

“I came out to my family aged 13. Throughout the abuse and ignorance from others, my parents were behind me. When my school banned me and my girlfriend from each other’s form rooms in response to a parent complaint, and I couldn’t face the fight, I had to stop them going in all guns blazing in my defence.

“When I wanted to support a transgender student, they helped me navigate the bullying report system, and held me when I cried in frustration.

“As trade union reps, my parents explained all the legislation, we talked about the Equality Act and the protection it gave me and other LGBTQ people. 

“There is zero tolerance of homophobia in Wallasey CLP. My mother would come down on it like a tonne of bricks. My dad, a branch delegate, would do the same.

“Kathy Miller, the Secretary and proud mother of a gay man, would do the same. Other Wallasey CLP members are LGBTQ themselves and would do the same.

“I don’t believe anybody in Wallasey CLP, Corbyn supporters or otherwise, would allow homophobic abuse or gesture to go unchallenged in any meeting.”

Now Ms Eagle is facing a no confidence vote from own Constituency Labour Party.

But even now, more dirty tricks are at work as Labour’s NEC yesterday announced that ALL Labour Party constituency and branch meetings have been suspended until the completion of the leadership election in September.

Time and the party members will wait for you Ms Eagle.

As Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed.”