Appalling behaviour from the bulk of the Parliamentary Labour Party
I am not a socialist and I didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn. I am a Liberal Democrat , I believe in democracy and I want a strong opposition in Government because that is good for governance.I believe in voting and that people stand by the results of a vote , that’s democracy.
So I find the reaction of senior members of the parliamentary Labour party to the massive mandate given their new leader incomprehensible. The raw nerves displayed by those refusing to serve under Corbyn and the half hearted endorsements by the likes of Hilary Benn show a lack of nerve to the nation.
Corbyn has not appointed Angela Eagle but John McDonnell to be the shadow chancellor and he has done what he said he would. He was voted to his position to do this. The likes of Benn were voted to parliament as Labour candidates, not to further their careers as they best pleased.
Eagle has not thrown her toys out of the pram. She didn’t get the top job , but she has accepted the next best job with good grace. We pay leaders to lead, we don’t always get what we want but we stay calm and carry on
Those who have not should listen to her.
If there were more women of Angela Eagle’s calibre in the Parliamentary Labour Party, there would be more women in the shadow cabinet. I would have many more Angela Eagles in parliament (on whatever side of the dispatch box).
Corbynism and pensions
The appointment of Owen Smith as Shadow minister for the DWP is raising the heckles of the media and senior spokespeople in pensions. They cite as evidence
- On 28 Jun 2010:
Owen Smith voted to oppose measures intended to make workplace pensions more attractive. Show full debate
- On 18 Oct 2011:
Owen Smith voted against accelerating raising the state pension age to 66, against amending the rules on enrolment to occupational pensions and against taking a pension contribution from judges’ pay. Show full debate
I am pleased that Owen Smith is questioning the basis on which we are progressing pensions, not because I agree with him, but because I think much of what I do believe in needs challenge.
Those on the left in pensions, Bryn Davies, Tony Lines , Hilary Salt and Con Keating have long argued that there are other ways to provide pensions for people with little money than by getting them to save for one.
The system of SERPS designed by Labour , delivered good pensions to those who needed them most. It was cumbersome and did not engage people as it was impossible to explain, but it kept a lot of people out of poverty.
The abolition of what remains of SERPS (known as S2P) will happen in a few months. What will replace it , the single state pension , is a pale dilution of the vision of Barbara Castle and indeed of Bevan.
There is a strong tradition of positive state intervention in pensions that has led to the construction of the Financial Assistance Scheme, the Pension Protection Fund and most recently NEST (For whom congratulations are due).
For you , my friends, the war is over
If the labour lightweights who refuse to come in line with Corbyn (or their own paymasters- the unions) continue to hold out against the democratic change that has occurred , then they are worthy of ignominy and should retire to the back benches and resign in 2020.
For them, my friends, the war is over.
But I fear they will not go. They will fester and ferment dissent by talking to whatever journalist they can find, briefing against Corby, Corbynism and the new way of things.
The Fourth Estate are behaving in a typically destructive fashion – no surprise there
The press are already irritated that Corbyn isn’t talking to them. The Evening Standard ran a story “Reporters get the silent treatment as new leader shows his tetchy side”.
“Mr Corby stared straight ahead and kept walking, he also ignored questions about pulling out of a BBC radio interview…and why he picked John McDonnell as shadow chancellor”.
I don’t see that as tetchy, I don’t see that as a display of raw nerves. I see that as exemplary behaviour from a politician who is currently displaying absolute integrity. If the press expect spin , they are going to be disappointed. I suspect that Corbyn’s refusal to put his head in the media’s noose will endear him still further to a public fed up with spin.
You can value someone and not agree with them
I don’t agree with much of what Corbyn says and I don’t agree with the positions adopted by Owen Smith. Nor do I agree with much that many of my friends think. But I value my friends for their integrity and because they value me. I value Corbyn because he has integrity and he is showing steady nerves.
Which is more than can be said for the majority of Labour politicians.
Today Corbyn will address the TUC – I look forward to hearing a labour politician for the first time in a long time and I’ll be on you tube as soon as I knock off work tonight!