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On July 10, the FT reported that Theresa May might be left “with no choice other than to apply to extend the Article 50 exit process while she holds a general election to try to break the [Brexit] impasse”.
“In 1940, at a moment of supreme national peril, the Labour party took the decision to allow its leaders Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood to sit down around the cabinet table with the leaders of the Conservative party to face the challenge from Hitler.
“Five years later in 1945, after showing its mettle in running the Home Front during the war, Labour gained its reward with a landslide victory in the general election that allowed it to transform the country.
Today, at another moment of national peril, a similar opportunity beckons — to help form a national government to resolve Britain’s relations with the EU”. And ends:
“Will Labour earn the gratitude of the nation by seizing this new opportunity like its predecessors did in 1940?”
Kevin Pringle, former strategic communications director for the SNP, opens his latest Times article:
“Here are words I never thought I’d write: Jeremy Corbyn could save the country. But only if he wants to.
“Brexit is an Anglo-Saxon farce, revealing a depth of incompetence, division and utter lack of preparedness on the part of the UK government that has plumbed even my low expectations. The antics of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis are about as funny as a Carry On film long after the franchise went stale. The issues at stake are too serious”.
Pringle continues with a summary of recent cabinet discussions and warnings from big business of the risks of relocation, withdrawal of investment and job losses.
He describes the prospect of Britain’s alignment to EU regulations in some sectors as a ludicrous mishmash that should be unacceptable to remainers and leavers alike – a ‘dud destination’, adding:
“Corbyn needs to take a long view of the country’s best interests and act accordingly. He should commit Labour to backing a fresh referendum so that people have an opportunity to exit Brexit when its final form is known. In these circumstances, the SNP would come on board alongside the Lib Dems and others. Such a bold move could attract the relatively small number of Tory MPs needed to deliver a House of Commons majority for a people’s vote.
“I’m no fan of Labour but I recognise that in times of need it has been the agent of Britain’s deliverance.
“One of the best-ever Commons speeches was by Michael Foot at the end of the no-confidence debate in March 1979, which the Labour government lost by a single vote. Foot argued that Labour had “come to the rescue of the country” on at least two occasions: “It is in the most difficult and painful moments of our history sometimes that this country of ours has turned to the Labour Party for salvation, and they’ve never turned in vain so far. We saved the country in 1940; we saved the country again in 1945.”
“He was right.
“It was Labour that forced a vote in the House of Commons in May 1940 after the debate on the military fiasco of the Norway campaign. The result precipitated the fall of Chamberlain as prime minister, and creation of the wartime coalition under Churchill’s leadership that was an essential element of victory.
“And in 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party had the ideas and determination to rebuild an exhausted Britain, including creating the NHS 70 years ago.
“This is another historic moment, and once again only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”.
The greatest tribute our movement can pay to the brave men and women who had a dream for universal health care and the courage to set up the NHS 70 years ago is for our next government to step up to the challenge they set us, and to end the growing and tragic consequences of health inequalities.
Our austerity economic model – purposely designed to exacerbate division and inequality rather than heal – is now having tragic consequences. There is mounting evidence that austerity and inequality are killing people and reversing generations of falling life expectancy.
This is an abomination to be happening anywhere, let alone in the one of the richest countries in the world.
Labour will transform the Tory free market approach into one that genuinely works for the majority of people and makes sure the riches we have in this country are used for the health and wellbeing for everyone.
We will take action across government to halt the fall in life expectancy and narrow the shocking inequality gap in health.
Men in the most deprived parts of England today will have nearly 20 fewer years of their lives in good health. And this isn’t about rich London and the South East versus the rest of Britain.
There is massive inequality in even the wealthiest parts of our country. Take Kensington and Chelsea, the site of the Grenfell Tower tragedy a year ago: there, life expectancy is 14 years lower for the poorest residents.
People living in the most deprived areas are five times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and 70% more lung and cervical cancers are diagnosed in those same areas. It’s a long-accepted truth that prevention is better than cure. The NHS treats illness but the growing inequalities in our society cause so much of it.
Labour will join the NHS with other parts of government and communities to fight the causes of ill health, which are too often determined by the accident of a person’s background and where they live.
Poor housing is a major factor in ill health and deprivation. I am delighted that Jon Ashworth and John Healey are today announcing plans to bring health housing together to form Healthy Homes Zones. These zones will target areas with the poorest quality housing with new funding and tougher powers to crack down on poor quality rented housing.
Improving early years provision for children to give them the best possible chances in the future is also a key factor in tackling health inequality. The Sure Start programme was a huge achievement of the last Labour government and we should pay tribute to Tessa Jowell for setting it up.
Unfortunately, over a third of Sure Start centres in England have been closed since the Tories came to power in 2010. Labour will halt the closures and give new funding to Sure Start.
Labour’s National Education Service will provide universal education for those who want it, in the way of Nye Bevan’s realised dream for health. It will provide a range of education that is free at the point of use up to and including degree level, as well as allowing for the extension of free childcare to all two-year olds which we know can have significant effect on a child’s life.
Not only has life expectancy fallen and inequality risen under the last eight years of Tory austerity, there has been a very substantial drop in the share of national income going into the NHS.
I pay tribute to the work of the last Labour government in giving the NHS the funding it needed. I pledge that Labour will once again raise the share of national income going into the NHS and we are targeting a 5% rise, as opposed to the totally inadequate 3% the Tories are now belatedly talking about.
We also need to radically change the way our economy is run. If we are serious about improving the nation’s health, then we have to improve people’s pay and living conditions, slash poverty and reduce inequality. If we are serious about fulfilling Bevan’s dream of building a society that looks after everybody, we need to transform our economy so that it doesn’t just work in the interests of the few.
Attacking the causes of health inequality is Labour’s next great mission, both within communities and across our regions and nations. As a country, we cannot tolerate a situation where one citizen or one community is denied the chance of life and health of another. That can and must change.
2nd July, 2018
‘For the many, not the few’: American socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, unseats the chair of the Democratic Caucus
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), was elected in a New York primary, becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate for Congress and unseating Joseph Crowley, chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House.
Shelly Asquith describes this as “an election result that sent shock waves through the US political system . . . “
She adds that Crowley’s campaign outspent Ocasio’s 18-1, with donations from corporations including Google, Facebook, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.
Max Crema, a Labour Party member, commented: “Most people in his extremely diverse district have no idea who he [Crowley] is — he doesn’t even live there. He’s just like the rest of the party’s elites … Democratic voters are sick of being taken for granted.”
Running on a platform of free healthcare and university education for all and the abolition of the immigration enforcement department, Ocasio refused corporate funding, instead relying on small donations and a community organising operation.
She will now stand for Congress in Queens and the Bronx, a district that is considered safe for the Democrats. Her win against Crowley will have given fresh hope to Bernie Sanders supporters who hope that he will stand in 2020.
Shelly is reminded of Jeremy Corbyn’s first leadership election: “The role of getting students and young people involved couldn’t have been easier: the policies were enough. “The campaign’s energy was wild! Driven almost entirely by young people, the campaign brought together seasoned activists, many of them DSA members, with people newly energised by Alexandria’s passionate championing of progressive ideals: universal healthcare, abolishing ICE and taxing the rich.”
In Ocasio’s viral campaign video she used the slogan “for the many”. Max Crema confirmed that the campaign did look to the Labour Party:
“Jeremy Corbyn’s repeated victories as Labour leader have been an inspiration to the American left. As much of our country descends into xenophobia and racism, his bold vision for the future has been taken up as a rallying cry.”
Elsewhere in New York, another socialist candidate is vying to unseat another sitting Democrat. Cynthia Nixon is standing for Governor on a similar platform to Ocasio. Labour’s manifesto slogan ‘For the many, not the few’ has been used in her campaign -see her website.
Shelly continues: “What can we learn from this? Young, working-class, migrant communities in particular are leading a revitalisation of socialism in America, especially in the big cities. Like the Labour Party, the Democratic Party is changing. Proximity to the establishment and big money won’t wash, and people are calling out for candidates that cannot be accused of ‘you’re all the same’ “.
As a visit from Donald Trump on July 13th looms, she wonders if the next time a US President visits the UK it would be Bernie Sanders (or a Sanders-ite) visiting Corbyn at Number 10.
And ends: “What a very special relationship that would be”.
Jeremy Corbyn’s statement read out to those demonstrating at the Right of Return for the Palestinian people
Thousands demonstrated yesterday (June 5th) in Parliament Square, London, to support the Palestinian Right of Return. Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, sent the following message of solidarity:
I have asked for this statement to be read out at this evening’s Right of Return demonstration in London for justice for the Palestinian people:
In recent weeks, scores of unarmed Palestinian civilians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces. Hundreds have been wounded. Most are refugees or the families of refugees from what is now Israel, and they have been demonstrating for their right to return, week after week.
The killing of Razzan Najjar, the 22 year old medical volunteer shot by an Israeli sniper in Gaza on Friday, is the latest tragic reminder of the outrageous and indiscriminate brutality being meted out, under orders from the Netanyahu government.
The silence, or worse support, for this flagrant illegality, from many western governments, including our own, has been shameful.
Instead of standing by while these shocking killings and abuses take place, they should take a lead from Israeli peace and justice campaigners: to demand an end to the multiple abuses of human and political rights Palestinians face on a daily basis, the 11-year siege of Gaza, the continuing 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory and the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements.
President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, and move the US embassy there, in violation of international agreements, has demonstrated that the US has no claim to be any kind of honest broker for a political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
A sustainable, just peace between Israelis and Palestinians, that recognises the rights and security of all, and puts an end to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, is an interest we all share, in the Middle East and far beyond.
We cannot turn a blind eye to these repeated and dangerous breaches of international law. The security of one will never be achieved at the expense of the other. And that is why we are committed to reviewing UK arms sales to Israel while these violations continue.
The UK Government’s decision not to support either a UN Commission of Inquiry into the shocking scale of killings of civilian protesters in Gaza, or the more recent UN resolution condemning indiscriminate Israeli use of force – and calling for the protection of Palestinians – is morally indefensible.
Britain, which is a permanent UN security council member and has a particular responsibility for a peaceful and just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, should ensure there is a credible independent investigation, genuine accountability and effective international action to halt the killings – and bring Gaza’s ever-deepening humanitarian crisis to an end.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180606-jeremy-corbyns-solidarity-message-to-right-of-return-demonstration/, with thanks to Felicity Arbuthnot.
Sienna Rodgers writes about the new amendment Labour has tabled to the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill and Trade Bill, and as an amendment ‘in lieu’ of the European Economic Area amendment passed by the Lords, calling for “full access” to the EU’s internal market.
Tabled as a new clause Labour’s proposal would make “full access” to the single market a negotiating objective of the government.
It is not a change of direction but a clarification of Jeremy Corbyn’s Coventry University speech (February). In this he revealed that the party would back membership of a customs union. He also said: “Labour would negotiate a new and strong relationship with the single market that includes full tariff-free access and a floor under existing rights, standards and protections.”
Labour’s amendments specify:
- full access to the EU single market,
- common minimum standards, rights and protections,
- shared institutions with the EU
- and no new impediments to trade.
The Labour leadership maintains that joining the European Economic Area (EEA) – advocated by some Labour MPs – would make the UK a ‘rule-taker not a rule-maker’. These new amendments are designed to replace the EEA amendment passed by the Lords and the Labour leadership will whip MPs to abstain when it comes to the Commons on Tuesday.
Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, called Labour’s new amendment “a very strong and significant statement of policy” and said it was “essentially tying together the single market and customs union as a strong economic package, which I think will be welcomed by businesses and trade unions”.
Hundreds of people proved that Corbyn-mania is still alive and well in Liverpool. This video – of the now iconic song using the Labour leader’s name – was taken as the popular Bongo’s Bingo event celebrated its third birthday at Bramley Moore-Dock this week.
Footage has emerged of the event in Liverpool as hundreds of players erupted into a spontaneous rendition of the now-famous ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ chant when the event’s DJ started to play the White Stripes’ tune to which it is set. Click here to see the video.
The song became popular during Labour’s General Election campaign last year and it believed to have originated in the region – coming to life as the Labour leader made a surprise appearance at the Wirral Live music festival at Tranmere’s Prenton Park last May (above).
The full text may be read here. Some points made follow:
Twenty years ago, this week, the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland voted in a referendum to accept the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. That vote changed the course of history on this island and represented the clearing of the final hurdle of a long and difficult process that opened the door to two decades of sustained peace.
Many young people across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain do not remember a time when the bloody hand of conflict held a grip on our respective lands. Communities from Derry to Omagh to Warrington were afflicted by the plague of violence for a generation, leaving deep and long-lasting scars for all those who lived through those troubled times.
All too often in that period, the willingness to use force and reach for weapons instead of dialogue and diplomacy inflicted unnecessary suffering on innocent people.
So as we rightly celebrate the anniversary of the end to those years of violence, it’s important we remember the effort and determination it took on all sides to get where we are today.
I stand here as leader of the British Labour Party, a party that is proud of the part it played in helping to bring peace and stability to this region. Something many believed could never be achieved.
The transformation we have seen in Belfast alone since 1998 is remarkable. I visited this city long before today’s peace became a reality and have witnessed the very visible and cultural transformation that has taken place here.
After paying tribute to Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, men who led the Republican movement from conflict to negotiation and diplomacy, arts they both mastered in the cause of peace, Corbyn added: “I can’t think of a greater sign of the progress made over the last two decades, when at Martin’s funeral last year, not only were there people in attendance from republican and nationalist communities, but also representatives of the loyalist and unionist side, including First Minister Arlene Foster. It is also right to recognise the work of the British and Irish government leaders of the time, whose determination made the impossible possible. For that, both Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair should both be given credit for their work.”
He also extolled the work of Mo Mowlam in negotiating the peace process, continuing: “I have always believed that to bring about real change, to end conflict, to bring communities together, you have to talk to people with whom you don’t agree. In 1998 we were fortunate to have leaders who were prepared to put that principle into practice . . .
“It was essential we recognised the traditions of each community and recognised and respected the identity of people on either side of the divide. This was and still is important for strong and healthy long-term relationships here, across communities and across borders. Perhaps where the agreement was at it boldest was in its radical reform of Northern Ireland’s political and institutional structures, as well as in creating a framework for North-South relations, and the relationship between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. That gave all parties a basis to find a route out of a generation of conflict together.
“For all the current problems and deadlock, there can be no doubt that devolution and power-sharing have given every community a voice and helped maintain the peace process.
He added that the move to establish the Northern Ireland Victims Commission helped both to promote reconciliation and preserve the memory of victims, bringing a new beginning and laying the ground for the vital work of decommissioning of arms and the removal of military infrastructure.
Looking at Stormont’s achievements, Corbyn noted that it had resisted many of the worst aspects of the government’s punitive social security policies using the powers provided by devolution.
His message to the people of this island: “Labour is as committed to the Good Friday Agreement as we have ever been. It has served us well for twenty years and, with commitment and determination, will provide us with the framework for the next 20. And with that in mind I want to make a plea to all parties and all sides. We must do all we can to make power sharing work again in Stormont. We need all sides to come together and make devolution work again. That means tough choices. It means compromise and give and take. But we owe it to the people of these islands not to allow political disagreements to open the way for any return to the grim days of the past”.
Stormont must be an example throughout the world of how dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy can defeat conflict. Now let’s show we can continue to build on that peace through democracy.
He called on the UK government to reconvene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference if the current stalemate in Stormont cannot be sorted out in Belfast and to find a creative solution in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement that avoids a return to direct Westminster rule, and lays the ground for further progress for all communities.
Peace can and must be extended through real social and economic advances for all communities, with the state at regional and national level prepared to act to bring about a full-scale upgrade of the economy.
A Labour government in Westminster would make sure that Northern Ireland has more money to invest in its people and its public services, though many economic decisions for Northern Ireland would rightly be decided in Stormont,
He gave a commitment to supporting manufacturing in Northern Ireland and to reverse the decision to put the £1 billion contract to build the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships out to international tender, in order to keep jobs and prosperity in Britain’s shipyards and benefit Belfast. Northern Ireland can have a high tech, high skilled and exciting future.
Brexit, and the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland must be discussed, in particular the securing of future prosperity and peace on these islands:
“Labour will not support any Brexit deal that includes the return of a hard border to this island . . . By negotiating a new and comprehensive customs union with the EU, which includes a British say in future trade deals, we can ensure trade on this island stays frictionless and free flowing and prevent communities being divided . . . Opposition to the idea of bringing back a hard border to this land isn’t just about avoiding paperwork or tariffs, important though that is. It’s about deep rooted cultural and community ties. An open border is a symbol of peace, two communities living and working together after years of conflict, communities who no longer feel that their traditions are under threat”.
He emphasised that, as we leave the European Union, it is essential to ensure our manufacturers have access to markets and on-time supply chains and the communities of Northern Ireland continue to have access to vital funding for energy, research, agriculture and cultural projects.
Powers returned from Brussels to intervene, upgrade and reshape our economy for the 21st century may be used to deliver real social and economic advances for all our communities.
I’m proud to be here in Belfast as leader of the Labour party, a party with a strong record in helping to deliver peace and greater prosperity. I hope to use this visit to talk to people from different communities and listen to their concerns and hopes for the future. We are here to celebrate twenty years of peace, twenty years as an example to the rest of the world of how communities can turn conflict into co-operation.
Let’s work together in the spirit of friendship, co-operation and hope for another twenty and beyond.
Who is to blame for Labour’s current problems? Not Jeremy Corbyn, but selfish, self-indulgent right-wing New Labour MPs refusing to do their handsomely paid jobs and continually undermining him – fuelling the flagrant press and TV who are biassed against him, serving a privileged Establishment terrified at the prospect of a Corbyn victory putting an end to their greedy, tax-evading ways.
Blair and right-wing Labour MPs ‘took over’ the party’ in the 1990s, eventually rendering it indistinguishable from the Tories. Labour lost five million core voters – a major reason for the 2010 and 2015 defeats.
Corbyn in York, May 2017
Many are now returning to Labour as they see Corbyn bringing Labour back to the Party’s original values, in a forward-looking way. Corbyn has attracted at least 350,000 new members, which at approaching 600,000 makes Labour Europe’s largest political party.
He has inspired many people, young and old – people with no previous interest in politics, to whom he relates, unlike previous Labour leaders. All are far more likely to vote for a Corbyn-led party.
Non-voters, mostly the poorest in our society, felt the previous Labour Party would be of no help to them. Corbyn is determined that everyone should have a better life.
In Corbyn’s first nine months as leader, Labour provided strong and effective opposition, forcing numerous embarrassing U-turns, defeating the Tories at least 22 times and preventing some of their worst excesses.
A Corbyn-led Labour Party represents ordinary people, ‘the many’, the 99% and won’t give tax breaks to multi-millionaires whilst children go hungry and ever-more working people have to resort to food banks.
Wanda urges all to get behind him with all the support we can muster, to help this good man deliver his vision for a better, kinder, fairer and more equal society, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke at Labour’s conference in Llandudno on 22nd April and received a huge standing ovation, in spite of the relentless media efforts to portray him negatively while often ignoring or even covering up the disarray on the government’s front benches.
A transcript is not available but his 2017 speech is well worth revisiting: http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/articles/jeremy-corbyns-speech-to-the-welsh-labour-conference/
What Labour in Wales has achieved:
A health service free from unnecessary top-down reorganisations and privatisation where your hospitals are not struggling with record deficits due to the legacy of PFI. The NHS in Wales is treating more people than ever before and 90% say they received good treatment
- Free prescriptions for all
- A new treatment fund setup for life threatening illnesses
- On cancer waiting times, Wales is doing better than England and cancer survival rates in Wales are improving faster than anywhere in Britain
- You’ve protected the social care budget which has been slashed in England
- and there are good industrial relations in Wales: no strikes provoked and no operations cancelled unnecessarily
We strongly support the doctors who don’t want patient safety to be put at risk. Last week I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a group of junior doctors. Let’s be clear, they are not “junior” they are dedicated, highly qualified people on whom we all depend. They are alarmed at the direction the NHS is taking.
As a parting gift they gave me this book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps” which starts with an internal market and ends with an aim of introducing universal private health insurance.
As Nye Bevan said: “Illness is a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community”.
In Wales you have built an education system that has just delivered the best ever GCSE results
- new schools are being built
- primary school pupils get a free breakfast
- the poorest college students still get the education maintenance allowance (EMA)
- And where Welsh students aren’t shackled by mountainous debt and where grants are being maintained.
English students leave university with an average £22,000 more in debt than Welsh students; that is a shocking burden that shackles young people as they start in life. It is no surprise that home ownership has collapsed.
Jobs Growth Wales has helped 15,000 young people into work
- The Young Entrepreneurs Bursary has helped young people to setup over 400 businesses in Wales and your plans to deliver 100,000 quality apprenticeships.
- the Bay Campus at Swansea is already reaping the benefits of high tech jobs in the area.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that tax and benefit changes in the last five years have left the average Welsh household £560 a year worse off.
Tax cuts for the few, the super-rich and big business public service cuts and welfare cuts for the many. We have gratuitous inequality in this country the average pay of the top chief executives compared with the average worker has risen from 47 times in 1998 to 183 times last year.
For too many people in the UK who aren’t the super-rich elite and there are quite a few of them, life is wracked by insecurity, at work and at home, Labour believes that we only succeed if we all succeed together.
The impact of this insecurity on people’s lives can be huge, it affects people’s physical and mental health.
The Tories have failed to invest in modernising the economy, we are way behind other countries on our digital infrastructure, our transport, our energy system and our housing.
70 Labour councils have committed to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 – including major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool and here in Wales in Swansea, Torfaen and Caerphilly. And Labour in Wales has set out a clear energy policy, Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition and is supporting decentralised energy production through the Local Energy Service.
The Conservative government continues to fail to invest in renewable energy cut subsidies for the nascent solar industry but increased them for fracking and for diesel generators.
If our investment in flood defences had been continued, retaining the senior staff employed to make decisions in these emergencies and protecting the emergency services who responded to save lives and homes during those difficult days and weeks, we would not have seen the level of destruction and flood damage that caused such anguish to so many people as their homes were damaged and their belongings ruined.
Transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to industrial development and growth. I praise the Welsh government in its support in re-opening and improving valley railway lines, the plans for the improved metro links in the south west of Wales and the crucial need to improve the North Wales line and road links.
We have already challenged the government and won on many important issues:
- We forced them to take a U-turn on cuts to working tax credits meaning 3 million families will no longer be hit this April with a £1,000 cut to their family income
- We made them backtrack on plans to further cut police numbers in their Autumn statement
- And we stood against the horrendous proposal that the UK would run Saudi Arabia’s prison system for them
Our party is one of social justice every child deserves a good education every student the option to study at college or university everyone deserves a decent and secure home to live in nobody should ever be left destitute the grotesque levels of inequality are unjustifiable and must go.
We are living through an era of the most grotesque deepening inequality in Britain and the West. The cynics say that inevitably the next generation will be worse of that this, I say this is not inevitable and not necessary as socialist our duty is to expand the wealth but crucially to share it so the next generation is better off than this one, and our grandchildren will be better off than our children.