6 June 2019
Diary of a Corbynista
Trump or Corbyn to run Britain?
by Don Urquhart
On last night’s programme Robert Peston decided to go on Labour anti-Semitism as one of the nation’s key issues. He probed Len McCluskey on this occasion. James Cleverly, Tory leadership candidate was on and was asked about Islamophobia in his party, but Robert somehow forgot to ask why, for many months, they had refused to publish the numbers of complaints and suspensions.
Delight to have you on says Robert.
This from yesterday’s Guardian:
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has demanded the UK’s human rights watchdog launches an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party.
The Conservatives are under pressure to suspend two serving councillors who made anti-Islam comments, including one alleging all 11-year-old girls should be frightened of Islam.
Mohammed Amin, chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said he had “lost confidence in the Conservative party’s disciplinary processes when the promotion of anti-Muslim hatred is the subject,” after the party said it was investigating John Moss and Nick Coultish.
Yesterday I heard comedian Jo Caulfield maintain that the less a man knows about a subject, the more authoritatively he will discuss it.
A kind way of saying the same thing is that we are comfortable with simple ideas. Hence the success of Dominic Cummings with “Take Back Control” at the time of the EU referendum, and the good showing of the Brexit Party and the LibDems in the EU elections a week ago. The two major parties had more nuanced messages and lost votes as a result.
But while we want simple messages to believe in, it is reassuring that we do not stick with them when they are vacuous. Take “strong and stable” in 2017. To begin with it was a winner. The vox pops were bursting with people eager to parrot it until the reality of the Prime Minister’s feeble delivery turned it into a liability.
So if you are going to reduce politics to sloganeering take great care that you can make it stick.
On Any Questions last night the first question in these troubled times dealt with the Labour Party’s double standards in expelling Alastair Campbell while keeping anti-Semites clutched to the bosom. It was the BBC shouting the slogan “Corbyn is an anti-Semite” on behalf of the Tories and the Blairites, one of whom, Lord Falconer was on hand to lead the virtue signalling.
History will tell us whether Corbyn’s enemies can make it stick.
According to Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times, Donald Trump is a big fan of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage but not of Jeremy Corbyn. Just saying. Draw your own conclusions.
Mike Greene is a local man so that works in his favour. It seems that he will win the Peterborough by election and give the Brexit Party its first MP. I wonder if he will sit with the Tory ERG headbangers.
The Labour Party is putting in a lot of effort but I suspect it is too little too late. My local party is very active with regular stalls in public places and effective campaigns. I am reminded of the campaigning technique of Hamas in Gaza. In 2007 there were many detractors who were outraged at a bunch of terrorists winning an election, but it turned out they were the only people supplying food and essential services when the going was tough.
Let’s hope the Labour activists in Peterborough have built a fund of goodwill among the populace. Alternatively when they get into the privacy of the polling booth will the voters wonder why they are putting their cross against someone who is basically a Tory?
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1.5m people experienced destitution in 2017 – meaning they had less than £10 a day after housing costs, or had to go without at least two essentials such as shelter, food, heat, light, clothing or toiletries during a one-month period.
The UN Rapporteur cites the Social Metrics Commission saying that 14m people in the UK – a fifth of the population – live in poverty, according to a new measure that takes into account costs such as housing and childcare.
- 2 million people in the UK population live in poverty: 8.4 million working-age adults; 4.5 million children; and 1.4 million pension age adults.
- Over half of those in poverty (58.2%) also live in persistent poverty. This means that more than one in ten (7.7 million) of the total UK population are in poverty now and have been in poverty for at least two of the previous three years. Persistent poverty is highest in families more than 10% below the poverty line, in workless families and families where someone is disabled.
- People with a disability are much more likely to be living in poverty. Nearly half of the 14.2 million people in poverty live in families with a disabled person (6.9 million people equal to 48.3% of those in poverty). The SMC metric recognises the inescapable costs of disability, accounting for them alongside the value of disability benefits, to reflect the lived experience of living with a disability.
- Far fewer pensioners are living in poverty than previously thought, with a significant fall in pensioner poverty over the last 15 years. Poverty rates amongst pension-age adults have nearly halved since 2001, and have fallen to one in ten, a drop from 17% of the total population in poverty in 2001 to 11% in 2017. There are, however some pensioner groups still experiencing high levels of poverty. For example, the poverty rate for pensioners who do not own their own home is 34.2%.
But on Newsnight last night Chancellor Philip Hammond was not having it:
I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire poverty in this country.
I don’t accept the UN rapporteur’s report at all. I think that’s a nonsense. Look around you, that’s not what we see in this country.
And to a certain extent this is true. When Mr Hammond looks around him in his leafy Surrey constituency he sees nothing but affluence.
Newsnight was at its schizophrenic best last night. It was dominated by the Trump visit yet Emily Maitlis chose to give Dawn Butler MP a hard time about Labour anti-Semitism. Then later to review the papers she had Katy Balls, Spectator Political Editor, who by a marvellous stroke of luck had come from chairing a hustings of Tory MPs and so was able to talk up the chances of Boris Johnson.
The other side of Newsnight was a remarkable piece on the Vertex company cashing in on its patent of a life saving cystic fibrosis drug the NHS could not afford. A group of parents were about to import the drug from Argentina where the patent did not apply. There was also footage of Trump claiming that foreigners were not paying enough for American drugs.
Corbyn had asked for a meeting with Trump and been turned down. The fact that he had addressed an anti-Trump rally was portrayed as him refusing to engage with the American leader and therefore queering his pitch as a potential Prime Minister.
I’m not sure what to make of Newsnight. Can we look forward to the programme supporting the government in prosecuting the parents of children with cystic fibrosis for smuggling in life-saving drugs and thereby offending the leader of our great ally?