10 thoughts on “Retired British miner banned from Labour for criticizing Owen Smith

  1. Thursday 1st Serptember 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    by Conrad Landin

    ONLY 12 per cent of Labour members think Owen Smith could win a general election, figures published yesterday showed.

    A YouGov survey put Jeremy Corbyn in pole position to retake the party leadership with an increased mandate, with 62 per cent favouring the incumbent and just 38 per cent supporting challenger Mr Smith.

    Mr Corbyn enjoys the support of 52 per cent of members, 70 per cent of registered supporters who paid a one-off £25 fee, and 54 per cent of supporters who have “opted in” from affiliated trade unions.

    Mr Smith has the backing of 40 per cent of full members, 25 per cent of registered supporters and 33 per cent of trade unionists.

    The survey, commissioned by the Times, also asked voters which candidate would be best placed to take on the Tories in 2020.

    Thirty-three per cent — and 56 per cent of his supporters — felt Mr Corbyn could win the election. Mr Smith only had the confidence of 12 per cent of members, and 33 per cent of his supporters.

    The poll also showed that a plurality — 48 per cent — of Labour members favour reintroducing mandatory reselection of sitting MPs.

    Forty-three per cent said only unpopular MPs should face a reselection process.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-b6b3-12-of-members-think-Smith-would-win-general-election#.V8f9djWZ0dU

  2. Thursday 1st September 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    A number of Labour rightwingers insist they did oppose the Tories’ infamous programme of welfare cuts – but where does the truth lie? IAN SINCLAIR investigates

    IN THE ongoing struggle for the future of the Labour Party, many anti-Corbyn Labour MPs have positioned themselves as having opposed the Tories’ Welfare Bill.
    The legislation enacts measures, including many welfare cuts, set out in the government’s 2015 summer Budget.
    “We did oppose the Welfare Bill,” Stella Creasy told a challenger on Twitter recently.
    Ditto West Ham’s Lyn Brown, who argued that “contrary to misleading claims,” the Labour Party voted against the Bill.
    When Momentum’s Emma Rees raised the fact Jess Phillips abstained on the Bill’s second reading, the member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley argued that Rees was continuing “to peddle the line about the Welfare Bill,” before noting: “I did vote against the third reading” of the Bill.
    Is this the whole story? Did the Labour members, concerned citizens, press and other political parties who all lambasted Labour for its confused stance on the Bill simply not understand what happened?
    And why was the Bill a game-changing moment in the Labour leadership contest if all Labour MPs were opposed, as Brown asserts?
    To get to the bottom of the story, it is important to understand the political context surrounding the second reading of the Bill — the first time it was debated in Parliament — on July 20 2015.
    Labour had been defeated in the general election a couple of months earlier and was now in the middle of choosing its next leader.
    The acting Labour leader Harriet Harman argued the party was out of touch with the public opinion on welfare.
    “What we’ve got to do is listen to what people around the country said to us and recognise that we didn’t get elected again,” she told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show before the vote. Therefore, Harman said that Labour would not oppose the Bill.
    Her instruction to abstain on the Bill caused a revolt in the party. A back-bench amendment opposing the whole Bill was put forward by Helen Goodman and supported by left Labour MPs.
    With leadership candidate Andy Burnham and others pushing for the party to take a stronger line, Harman attempted to diffuse the split in the party with a “reasoned amendment.”
    This amendment stated it “declines to give a second reading to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill,” before setting out which parts of the Bill it supported and which parts it opposed.
    The reasoned amendment was chosen — Goodman’s amendment was discarded — voted on and defeated.
    However, even though their amendment was rejected, 184 Labour MPs chose to abstain in the subsequent vote, including the leadership contenders Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
    In contrast, 48 Labour MPs defied the party whip and voted against the Bill — including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott — as did the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.
    “I would swim through vomit to vote against this Welfare Bill,” McDonnell memorably told Parliament.
    The absolutely key bit of information conveniently missing from the accounts of the Bill’s passage peddled by Creasy, Phillips and Brown is the actual content of the reasoned amendment.
    The text noted: “A benefits cap and loans for mortgage interest support are necessary changes to the welfare system.”
    The benefits cap proposed reduced the maximum benefits per household to £20,000 a year nationally, and £23,000 in London.
    Quoting research from the housing charity Shelter, on the day of the vote, the Guardian reported that “unemployed families will not be able to afford to live in large parts of England” if the cap was introduced, with over 100,000 households threatened with homelessness and poverty.
    “It’s not complicated,” Corbyn told Iain Dale shortly after the vote. “It’s social cleansing of constituencies like mine because the rents are too high and the benefits too low.”
    According to Shelter, the proposed change to mortgage interest support meant it would move from being a benefit to a loan that had to be paid back, and likely increase the waiting time to receive assistance.
    Moreover, the reasoned amendment failed to mention the Bill’s proposal to limit the child element of tax credits to two children.
    The government’s own figures estimated 640,000 families will lose support by 2020-1 because of this policy. According to the United Nations committee on the rights of the child, this proposal, along with other austerity measures, undermines children’s rights in Britain.
    So, to be clear, those Labour MPs supporting Harman’s reasoned amendment were not opposing the Welfare Bill outright, as Corbyn did, but chose to support proposals that have been condemned by the UN and would mean hundreds of thousands of low-income families became poorer.
    Backed by a Tory majority, in October 2015 the Welfare Bill passed its third reading. With Corbyn installed as leader, all the Labour MPs voted against the Bill.
    However, despite the protestations of many anti-Corbyn MPs, it is the second reading that was the crucial moment in the passage of the Bill.
    With the press, Labour members and public focused on the deliberations in Parliament, Labour’s actions would send a clear message about its politics when it came to welfare, whichever way they voted.
    Unfortunately, 184 MPs decided to follow the whip, rather than make a strong and principled stand against the government, a position that may well have played a part in shifting the debate on welfare in a positive, more humane direction.
    Furthermore, if a successful resistance campaign to the Bill was going to be mounted, tactically it made sense to fight fiercely right out of the gate, in the hope of gaining momentum and defections from the government’s side, as happened over tax credits a few months later.
    Finally, the Bill did not substantially change between the second and third readings, as Creasy recently admitted to me on Twitter.
    So why didn’t she oppose the Bill at its second reading? She voted against after trying to amend the Bill at the committee stage, she replied. This was “#howstuffworks,” she explained.
    If this is “#howstuffworks,” I asked, then why have Owen Smith, Burnham and Harman all subsequently said they regret abstaining on the Welfare Bill in July 2015? I’ve yet to receive an answer from Creasy.

    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-4981-Labour-and-the-Welfare-Bill-Myth-and-reality#.V8iOEjWZ0dU

  3. Friday 2nd September 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    From funding the SDP, to promoting Tony Blair, to creating a variety of pro-market ‘parties within the Labour Party,’ the supermarket baron’s fingerprints are all over the New Labour project, writes SOLOMON HUGHES

    LEADING Labour donor Lord Sainsbury giving the Lib Dems £2 million as the Labour Party national executive committee simultaneously tried expelling new members because they might have supported other parties previously is a direct case of one rule for the rich, another rule for the rest.
    The outgoing national executive, many of whom lost their seats in recent elections, seem to be taking their revenge for losing by overseeing the expulsion or suspension of as many new — or even established — members as possible. Charges include having backed the Greens in 2015. It’s almost as if Labour’s old guard only wants converts from the right.
    Others are charged with using the word “traitor,” which is now forbidden. I’m not massively in favour of Labour members using the T-word about each other, but it does appear in the second line of the party’s official song. Presumably members can also be expelled for saying “cowards,” “flinch” or “sneer.”
    Lord Sainsbury’s £2m donation to the Lib Dems, made in June, looks like a much clearer breach of Labour’s rules than the trumped-up charges brought against, for example, Ronnie Draper, head of the Labour-affiliated Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union, who has been suspended.
    But already Alan Johnson, Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall are defending Sainsbury.
    Sainsbury says the money to the Lib Dems was only to help them to fight for Remain in the EU election.
    There doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to prove this. Even if true, his gift freed up other Lib Dem cash to fight Labour.
    The Greens and SNP were also fighting for a Remain vote, but imagine the outrage if Sainsbury gave £2m to them on the same terms.
    The backing for Sainsbury goes deep into New Labour’s financial roots. On the surface, we have Labour MPs who think a very rich donor should be welcomed, even if they fund other rival parties to Labour’s right.
    They also seem to think an elected trade union official who is fighting for workers’ rights in the exploited food industry should be viewed with suspicion.
    It shows how far New Labour values simply invert Labour values. Instead of trying to represent the workers’ interests over the rich, they want to make the workers love the rich.
    But dig deeper and you can see how Sainsbury’s money has been watering the roots of New Labour for years. Making Labour grow to be more like the Lib Dems was part of the plan.
    Lord Sainsbury’s life went something like this: Eton, Cambridge, job in the family supermarket, inherited billions.
    So he is unsurprisingly against Labour actually challenging power, wealth and privilege, or giving any real power to the kind of low-paid people who work in his family supermarket.
    Sainsbury has used much of the money he inherited — he never “earned” any of this money, his actual work for the family supermarket was not outstanding in any way — to promote a bland, pro-market, “centrist” politics for decades.
    First he was the biggest donor to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1980s. The SDP, a right-wing split from Labour, was unsuccessful. However, before it faded, the Sainsbury-funded SDP split the Labour vote and helped keep the Tories in power.
    Sainsbury then helped fund Tony Blair as he fought to be leader of the Labour Party in the late 1990s.
    Blair brought many ex-SDP people back into the party, making Labour a more pro-business party than it had ever been.
    When Blair won, Sainsbury funded Progress, a right-wing group inside Labour formed from the Blair election campaign.
    Since 1996 Sainsbury has given Progress millions, at a rate of around £260,000 a year. Progress defined itself a “New Labour pressure group which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics.”
    It publishes a magazine, holds conferences and rallies and helps favoured candidates become MPs — like a New Labour party-within-the-party.
    Its magazine said its aim is to “transform the public services, boost British industry, tackle anti-social behaviour, end welfare dependency and to see Britain play a progressive role in the world.”
    Which is a nice way of describing the Blairite agenda of privatisation, deregulation, authoritarianism, cuts and war.
    Tristram Hunt, a former assistant to Sainsbury-turned-MP joked at the Progress rally at the 2013 Labour conference that he was “delighted to be with Progress” because “you might be an unaccountable faction dominated by a secretive billionaire, but you are OUR unaccountable faction dominated by a secretive billionaire.”
    Here were some true words spoken in jest.
    You could see how Sainsbury is loyal to only one brand of Labour. When Ed Miliband, who was mildly critical of full-strength New Labour, became leader, Sainsbury went on strike.
    He only would fund Blairite Progress and stopped donating to the national party. Sainsbury has briefly resumed his national donations, giving £2m to Labour to balance his Lib Dem donation.
    Sainsbury’s millions also fund a host of political organisations all committed to different aspects of the same corporate-friendly politics.
    Many will appear at the Labour conference. They all share the same bland naming.
    The Policy Network is a Sainsbury-funded “think tank” promoting pro-corporate polices on a European level. It often offers a platform for Peter Mandelson.
    The Institute for Government is a Sainsbury-funded think tank aimed at civil servants and ministers of both parties. It promotes the “market-based transfer of public services into the private or voluntary sector.”
    Until recently Sainsbury funded the Movement for Change. Realising that his favourite Miliband, David, was finding it hard to become leader because he didn’t have any real grassroots, Sainsbury set out to buy him some.
    The Sainsbury-funded Movement for Change helped New Labour MPs run actual campaigns, like protests against payday loan firms. It was probably Sainsbury’s most benign group, but was closed down last year.
    Sainsbury has spent his cash wisely to promote his agenda. But his millions have cost Labour dearly, buying the party’s complicity in privatisation, deregulation and war.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-3eee-How-billionaire-Lord-Sainsbury-bankrolled-the-birth-of-New-Labour#.V8nH6jWAb6g

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