This week in politics: Conference, Corbyn and Carswell
As the party conference season moves up a gear with the Labour conference starting on Saturday, Intelex will be producing a short daily conference bulletin, with key points from that day’s speeches and also our view on what’s happening on the ground as the Westminster politic decamps to cities around the UK. If you’d like sign up to this bulletin, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What the parties said
Speaking in front of the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Theresa May said Britain would make a success of Brexit, assuring world leaders that the country remains committed to the world stage. A group made up of members who supported Michael Gove’s various education reforms when Education Secretary have come out against Theresa May’s calls for an expansion of the grammar school programme, fuelling divides within the party. Elsewhere, Amber Rudd has been revealed of working for two firms based on offshore tax havens.
Following months of visible divides within the Labour Party, the leadership election ballot closed yesterday at midday. The winner will be announced this Saturday, but the infighting in Labour still persists with Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson, Rosie Winterton and PLP Chair John Cryer meeting to decide how involved the PLP should be on Shadow Cabinet elections. Corbyn is also under pressure from members of the party to put Labour staff on the National Executive Committee because, as a senior Labour source said, he ‘supports putting workers on company boards’.
The Lib Dem Conference took place this week. Leader Tim Farron received mixed reviews for his speech, and in particular, praise of Labour’s electoral success under Tony Blair. Little else was reported. They party did however win a by-election council seat in Wales.
What the papers said
David Miliband waded into Labour’s bitter internal debate this week with a much talked about article in The New Statesman. In an intervention which angered the left of the party he argued that Labour is fixated on presenting itself as ‘pre- New Labour’, when, Miliband argued, it must focus on the future in a ‘post New Labour’ political environment. He concludes by writing that if Labour is to become relevant again the party must put values above doctrines, must ensure it is not trapped by twentieth century dogma and return to the politics of pragmatism.
The Daily Mail this week serialised the updated and explosive ‘Call me Dave’ biography. Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott’s biography of the now ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been updated to include his downfall following his losing the EU referendum. The already agonisingly embarrassing account of Cameron’s life – from his perspective anyway – details how his political gamble over Europe ended in both spectacular and ignominious failure. Cameron desperately hopes the referendum won’t be his legacy – however it seems it is all anyone wants to write about when serialising his tenure.
In what should be sober reading for every Labour Party supporter and member, Nick Cohen didn’t hold back in a Spectator article this week about the travails of the Labour Party and, in his opinion, where it will end up if it follows Corbyn’s ‘vicious, vacuous creed’ – staring into the political abyss. Riddled with ideological zealotry, strangled by a lack of a coherent vision to win over swing voters and stuffed full of conspiracy theorists, Cohen says Labour’s days are numbered and concludes that this need not necessarily be a bad thing for those who occupy the moderate centre left.
On the benches
Corbyn fails to win the support of his first wife.
While Corbyn may have the overwhelming support of the Party’s supporters there is one vote in particular that he did not win this week. In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Corbyn’s ex-wife said that she voted for Owen Smith and that Corbyn’s politics had not changed since she first met him in the 1970’s.
Lib Dem Glee Club
The Lib Dem Glee Club – a staple of the party’s fringe conference – have added to their repertoire of satirical and obscene songs. This week they could be found mocking the former Prime Minister David Cameron with their version of Pulp’s Common People — “He went to Eton, he was slightly toffish/ He volunteered at Tory Central Office”. UKIP were another target. The Glee Club’s Ode to Brexit concluded with: “On the day the country voted/ Turnout it was very large. / Stupid b******* went and won and/ Now it’s springtime for Farage.”
The Wind that Shakes the Party
World renowned director Ken Loach has made another film about a social outcast, downtrodden, misunderstood and rejected by his peers. This time around his subject is none other than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who Loach has filmed meeting his supporters in Sheffield. The film which, to the great tragedy of all concerned is not called Jes, or My Name is Jeremy can be viewed here.
Good week/Bad week
Good week for William Hague. According to twitter, news of the Brangelina split will have been sweet music to the former Foreign Secretary. The Suffolk Gazette led on the story, reporting that Brad Pitt had flown into ‘jealous rages’ over the close relationship between Jolie and ‘dashing’ Hague. All we can say, however, is that Hague’s quietness on the subject is certainly significant. Bring on Haguelina.
Bad week for Kezia Dugdale. Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale was left red-faced this week after she failed to register a vital vote in the Scottish Parliament. A coalition of Greens, Liberals, Conservatives and Labour in Scotland had managed to secure a majority of one for the Tory amendment to increase tax reform powers – ironically something which Labour have pressed for for years – before Dugdale failed to properly register her vote. As a result, the Amendment was voted down and the Government avoided a defeat, with the Labour Leader left raging.
‘The Government is working towards an Article 50 letter which as you know will be produced, probably, in the early part of next year.’ – Boris Johnson speaking to BBC News this week
Treasury Select Committee member Jacob Rees Mogg on EU regulations.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has this week launched a select committee inquiry into the future of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following Brexit.
Tweet of the week
The sole Ukip MP Douglas Carswell this week decided to refute well established science when he started arguing with a scientist about whether it was the moon or the sun which causes the tide to come in and out. Carswell got drawn into this argument when disputing the analogy that size and distance matter in trade, with one twitter user saying that trade was like gravity: size and distance do matter.
The consensus on twitter seemed to side with the scientists who were adamant that it is the moon which causes the tide and not the sun. It looks like Carswell’s argument went out with the tide on this on.