Diary of a Corbynista

Thumbnail Don Urquhart Red Sky Lenin Cast of Play Red Dawn

7 March 2024

Diary of a Corbynista

Commons in Chaos

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

6 February 2024

Government frontbenchers are keen to tell us how much they want a ceasefire in Gaza, citing diplomatic initiatives they are undertaking with great energy and commitment.  What they will not discuss is the only measure that will deter the Israeli government, namely an embargo on arms supplies.  The Opposition front bench supports government policy in this respect.

Yesterday Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Defence came to the House to explain why we are still dropping bombs on Yemen. He refused to countenance any connection between the Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping and the Gaza conflict.  Nevertheless the intervention of East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill disturbed the narrative both front benches were clinging to:

It is not simply the Houthis who say that this issue is inextricably linked to Gaza; the embassy of Yemen has made that clear in paragraph 4 of its letter to all MPs, and Brigadier Deverell, the former British military attaché in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, has said that it is linked. He has gone on to add that these strikes will fail and will not resolve the situation. So rather than lurching towards world war three, and rather than an escalation of the conflict, widening it beyond countries and this limited territory,  is it not time to ensure that Israel is called to heel, that its genocide ceases and that we get an immediate ceasefire?

Shapps accused him of repeating Houthi propaganda.  However to many this makes more sense than our Government’s jingoism.

8 February 2024

On Politics Live yesterday Fred Fleitz, Chief of Staff, National Security Council in the Trump administration explained why the former President was encouraging Republican senators to block a bill that included continuing aid to the Ukrainian war effort.  Trump sees ceasefire talks as the way forward thus cementing an unlikely alliance with the UK Stop the War Coalition.

9 February 2024

The BBC’s lunchtime Politics Live programme includes Tory and Labour backbenchers, two journalists, one each from left and right of centre.  I was pleased on Wednesday to see Rebecca Long-Bailey filling the Labour politician slot.   True she followed the Starmer line on most things, but when presented with the “How is Labour going to pay for it?” question she mentioned almost sotto voce the notion of a Wealth Tax, being promoted by a group calling itself The Patriotic Millionaires.  Rebecca’s plug might be the only mention they get in the media.

On Thursday’s programme there was much discussion of Starmer rowing back on his $28 billion green revolution.  The Labour MP was a minister who gave us “fiscal rules”.  Activist Peter Tatchell weighed in with his version of a Wealth Tax.  The UK has 171 billionaires.  Let’s take 1% off each of them.  Much smirking and head shaking from the Labour minister but his party is hopefully running Wealth Tax past its focus groups. 

Even if it survives the focus groups, Wealth Tax will cause too much gnashing of teeth in establishment circles including the ownership of the Mail, Sun and Telegraph for Starmer to adopt it.

13 February 2024

Peter Oborne in Middle East Eye:

Margaret Thatcher was probably the most pro-Israel British prime minister of the 20th century. Yet, Thatcher did not hesitate to denounce the Israeli bombing of Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in June 1981. And during the Lebanon War in 1982, Thatcher imposed an arms embargo on Israel that lasted 12 years, until 1994.

She certainly admired Israel, but she believed that the country should adhere to basic moral standards and international law.

15 February 2024

Nick Glynne is the CEO of Buyer Direct Limited.  On Radio 4’s Today programme he described the impact on his business of the Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping.  It’s worth listening to as a factual explanation of the increased shipping costs from the Far East.  He told us that the costs were starting to come down and referenced 2 Chinese companies who could safely use the Suez Canal having committed to avoid stopping at Israeli ports. 

So much for the insistence of Grant Shapps and others that the Houthi attacks are not related to the Gaza conflict.

17 February 2024

The Labour Party won the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections on Thursday.  In the media there was much talk of swings to Labour but little mention of the poor turnout.  Labour ploughed considerable resources into the contests and in the face of a deeply unpopular Tory government the wins were not unexpected.

For me, most noticeable was how few people turned out to vote Labour.  In Wellingborough, Gen Kitchen achieved only 107 more votes than Andrea Watts in 2019 and 4,000 less than Ms Watts in 2017.

At Kingswood, Damien Egan was preferred by 4,000 fewer than Nicola Bowden-Jones in 2019 and 8,000 fewer than Mhairi Threlfall in 2017.

Both constituencies had a Labour surge in 2017 which was not sustained in 2019, although both years had more people voting Labour than in 2015.

People voting for Labour at parliamentary elections:


2024 Gen Kitchen              13844

2019 Andrea Watts           13737

2017 Andrea Watts           18119

2015 Richard Garvie            9839


2024 Damien Egan                     11176

2019 Nicola Bowden-Jones      16492

2017 Mhairi Threlfall                 19254

2015 Jo McCarron                      14246

It is a brave person who draws conclusions about future General Election results from such statistics but the picture might not be as rosy as some Labour-inclined commentators seem to think.

23 February 2024

Last Wednesday was an SNP opposition debate day.  The Scots elected to use the occasion to call for a Ceasefire in the Middle East conflict.  As it turned out the key phrase in the motion was “collective punishment” as meted out by Israel to the people in Gaza.  This was unacceptable to Sir Keir Starmer who manipulated the Speaker to avoid the House arguing over whether or not this was a correct description.

The debacle which followed in the House looked like a considerable waste of taxpayers’ money, especially since whatever the result of the debate the impact on the fate of Gaza’s citizens would be zero.

Now if the SNP had successfully proposed an embargo on military support to Israel, Netanyahu and Biden/Blixen might just have given their ambitions a rethink.

It probably shows my naivety that the UK imposing an arms embargo has not been suggested by anyone who gets reported in our media.

24 February 2024

The United Nations yesterday called for an embargo on arms sales to Israel:

Arms exports to Israel must stop immediately: UN experts

Any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately, UN experts warned today.

The experts welcomed the suspension of arms transfers to Israel by Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the Japanese company Itochu Corporation. The European Union also recently discouraged arms exports to Israel.

The United States and Germany are by far the largest arms exporters and shipments have increased since 7 October 2023. Other military exporters include France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

27 February 2024

Tory Vice Chairman Lee Anderson depicted the London Mayor Sadiq Khan as run by Islamists and as having surrendered the streets to Islamist hate marchers.  Rishi Sunak removed the whip, but fellow GB News presenter Richard Tice said he would be happy to have Anderson in the Reform UK party.

With Starmer hoovering up disaffected Tories and Sunak apparently unwilling to kowtow to his racist right wing it’s hard to see where the Tories will get votes at the General Election.

1 March 2024

Yesterday’s Question Time had Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas proposing massive investment in our crumbling public services.  Labour front bencher David Lammy scoffed – how would she pay for this? She responded with a Wealth Tax which left the “socialist” on the panel gibbering about some bits and pieces of tiny taxation and “fiscal rules”.

2 March 2024

The House of Commons is full of people that I disagree with to a greater or lesser extent.  Pretty soon George Galloway will be one of them.  What endears him to me however is that he has no fear of the Establishment.

Sky’s Sam Coates interviewed him after his Rochdale election victory and elicited the information that he despises the Prime Minister.  You could describe him as Corbyn without the kindness.

The media will seek to discredit him at every turn and might well serially doorstep him as they did Corbyn.

In the House some will try to get the better of him but they had better be sure of their facts, unlike the Senate hearing following the Iraq war.

3 March 2024

Yesterday we had a mini-binge on the 3 part ITV series “Breathtaking” based on Dr Rachel Clarke’s personal experience as an NHS Consultant during the COVID pandemic.  It brought it all back, most of all the disconnect between what we were being told and what the doctors, nurses and patients were experiencing.  All through the industrial disputes between the government and NHS staff I have recalled how the Government encouraged us to bang our pans for workers now characterised by these same people as unprincipled strikers.

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