Issue 190: 2019 02 21: Diary of a Corbynista

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21 February 2019

Diary of a Corbynista

Thoughts about Think Tanks

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart14 February

The Big Issue highlights approaches to homelessness in Finland and Hungary.

Juha Kaakinen runs the Housing First project in Finland which has all but eradicated rough sleeping in Helsinki.  He says:

The UK is very special for me because when I was a very young civil servant in Helsinki’s homelessness services I visited London with a couple of my colleagues to learn how you deal with homelessness. There are some things that we took with us. For example, one was that we needed to have a day centre for homeless people.

But now when I come to the UK it is very difficult for me because it has been a place I have learnt to look up to as a model and now it’s a completely different situation. It’s really saddening to see how the situation has become so much worse.

15 February

On Politics Live CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn characterised No Deal as a disaster for British business.  Leavers of Britain lobbyist Lucy Harris put her straight:

The Mayor of Calais has already told us there won’t be friction at the border – he won’t allow it.  So I think that’s really debunked. 

The Mayor of Calais is a lady – Mme Natacha Bouchart.  According to the Daily Express here’s her view of a no deal Brexit:

We could have traffic jams up to 27km long on both sides of the Channel – that is the catastrophe scenario.

16 February

More lobbyist fun on Newsnight.  A discussion of Climate Change hosted by Katie Razzell.  Ed Davey, former Climate Change Minister, had plenty to say about LibDem achievements.  There was also Anna Taylor a 17 year old who had attended the Schoolchildren’s Demo.  Rebecca Lowe’s caption said she was from an organisation called Freer, but Katie introduced her as representing the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and asked her who was funding her.  Two questions:

Why was Ms Lowe on the programme?

And why was Katie Razzell so off message as to raise the embarrassing funding issue?

17 February

Sophy Ridge managed to get through a whole programme without raising Corbynist anti-Semitism with anyone, even though she interviewed two party big beasts not known as fans of the party leader.  Andy Burnham and Margaret Beckett both expressed support for the front bench Brexit policy and she, astonishingly, reported that Jeremy Corbyn had grown into the job.  So perhaps the tide is turning on several shores.

18 February

Bumping into my son on the way to coffee I hear that a new Centrist Party will be announced this morning.  On balance I am happy about this.  I am tired of Labour MPs who rubbish the leadership.  It’s like a broad church including the Pope and Martin Luther.  However, they might well have a following.  The other day I noticed that a Chris Leslie tweet attacking John McDonnell had attracted 3,000 likes.  I would love to think that this is just some Tory or Putin social media operation but who knows?  The upside is that Theresa May might see this as an ideal springboard for a General Election where she will be vindicated.

19 February

It’s no secret that the PLP has very different views from the Constituency Labour Parties.

In June 2016 Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey submitted a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.  Only 40 MPs supported Corbyn and 172 voted against him.

In September 2016 there was a second leadership election in which Corbyn received 62% of the vote – 50,000 more people voted for him than the year before.

It is surprising that it has taken nearly 3 years for 7 of the 172 to resign the whip.

Could it be that their move was determined by receding prospects of an imminent General Election which would have put them out of a job?

20 February

Mark Littlewood is the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs.  He was interviewed by Elizabeth Glinka for Politics Live. There and in the panel discussion he defended his right to keep the organisation’s funding confidential.  Jo Coburn challenged him repeatedly on the basis that the general public must suspect that the IEA’s opinions were influenced by the people giving them money.

Surely a more relevant question is why the BBC gives so much air time to lobbyists whose funding is not transparent.  Perhaps that is all about to change.


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