Category Archives: Event
Activists plan ‘rave’: Conservative answer to Glastonbury, designed to provide a cool gloss to Theresa May’s party
Henry Mance, FT’s Political Correspondent writes: “Camping. Slow food. Inspirational speakers. A Pyramid stage. It could be Glastonbury, except for one feature: Tory activists . . . The festival will be invitation-only with between 150 and 200 attendees, some of whom will camp”.
Mr Freeman said he hoped the event would become an annual fixture, adding that this year’s festival would be like a “first rave, you’ll remember who you brought” – unlikely!
Organisers of a new “Conservative Ideas Festival” are hoping to revive the spirit and popular appeal of Theresa May’s party after its battering in June’s general election. The party’s membership has fallen to somewhere below 150,000 — less than one-third that of Labour’s and not far ahead of the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats.
The party has fallen behind Labour in opinion polls, while Mrs May’s personal ratings are below those of Mr Corbyn, who was once seen as unelectable.
George Freeman, the Norfolk MP who chairs Mrs May’s policy board, came up with the idea after Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn took the Glastonbury Festival by storm this summer. “Why is it just the left who have all the fun in politics?” he said after Mr Corbyn’s appearance. saying his idea for a rightwing festival “seems to have struck a chord” and that he had “some wonderful offers of help of sponsorship and venues”. He told the Financial Times this week that he had raised £25,000 for a one-day event to be held in September.
The Conservatives will also hold their annual party conference in Manchester at the start of October, charging companies £32,500 for a 6m by 6m exhibition stand. Can’t wait!
- Angela Smith – noted for her place in the 2009 expenses scandal – backed the vote of no confidence in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn which led to the leadership election, in which Corbyn was re-elected as leader
- Graham Jones on record as saying he could not serve under Mr Corbyn as he was from the “extreme left” and did not hold Labour’s “true values”
As the Times and some Labour MPs try to provoke Jeremy Corbyn over the situation in Venezuela – ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’ – it must be galling for them to see that public favour has never been higher.
Right wing media grudgingly acknowledges Corbyn’s power to draw huge crowds and hundreds of website readers from 36 other countries visited (left – a record number): “Jeremy Corbyn rocks Glastonbury’ – Murdoch resumes the ‘bashathon’ “
Crowds again turned out in Hastings, Southampton ( below), Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, the Durham Miners Gala and London.
And even more striking because less transient, news forwarded by Felicity Arbuthnot, that an 8ft-tall artwork depicting North Islington MP and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been unveiled on the side of a pub in Archway. The artist, Sam Collins, spent a month on the mural, crafted by putting together A3 plywood squares painted at his studio.
Tony Cullen, the owner said “I’ve never seen someone so honest and willing to be accountable. I love that he’s changing the political landscape, moving it to ordinary people away from elites . . . Jeremy seemed very embarrassed, but he said [he] appreciates the quality of the art – it really captured him.”
Too much saccharine? Turn to the readers of the Times, who say that JC draws ‘Fake crowds’, is a cult leader, IRA-lover and supporter of Islamofascist terrorist murderers.
A more understated reaction: ‘The face of honest politics’.
Felicity Arbuthnot sent a link to a video showing Jeremy Corbyn – after addressing a rally of 5000 on the seafront in West Kirby in Merseyside – appearing in front of a reported 16-20,000 people at the festival who were waiting for a performance by The Libertines.
Corbyn made ‘a rousing speech’ (Metro) at Tranmere Rovers’ ground Prenton Park, in which he reiterated the policy of making Premier League clubs invest 5% of their income to grassroots football.
The Labour leader asked the Merseyside crowd: “do you want health, do you want housing, do you want care, do you want a society coming together or do you want selective education and fox hunting?” The crowd booed and Corbyn replied: “that’s absolutely the right answer leave the foxes alone.” He said he was “fed up with the nurses, the doctors, the care workers paying the price of austerity – let’s share it out in the future.”
Laura Cullen from the crowd tweeted “actual Jeremy Corbyn has just rocked up on stage. Now that’s how you do politics”.
Tom Colclough has insisted that despite portrayals of Corbynistas as reckless ideologues, and yes, despite a flurry of bad polls, it is clear to him why Corbyn and most importantly, his vision, must win.
He adds that Labour under Corbyn’s stewardship hasn’t been the catastrophe that many in the parliamentary Labour party wished it to be, no matter how hard they tried to make it so.
Stopping the Tories and their myriad of welfare cuts during this parliament, or forcing the U-turn on a forced academisation programme (Ed: and forensic questioning on PMQs) has been opposition worthy of the name.
Corbyn and to a large part his shadow chancellor John McDonnell have turned the tanker around to face these issues head on. Before Corbyn’s election Harriet Harman was dancing on the pinhead of the welfare bill whilst Chris Leslie was an impotent shadow chancellor.
Corbyn successfully reclaimed Labour’s voice and begun reupholstering the party, from top to bottom. Turning a party around in the aftermath of an election that haemorrhaged votes nationwide takes time and support. Labour’s resounding victories in several Parliamentary by-elections and mayoralties since were bitter pills to swallow for Corbyn’s enemies, inside and outside the PLP.
Undeterred, Jeremy Corbyn continued to inspire thousands into becoming Labour members. It is now the largest party in Europe. Of course this is no arbiter of governing ability, but it is a mass resource that tapped into, can help the party reach into corners that others simply cannot.
Now, here is the important bit. Derailing this progress now – which is what removing Corbyn would do – would see the air in the chests of thousands of new members sucked out and their potential contributions curtailed. All that will be left would be a vacuum.
Those who would fill it are those still wanting to walk down the middle of a road that has long since been diverted.
The dynamic of politics as we know it is changing. Labour under Corbyn can make progress, but he needs time, and the support from the PLP that he deserves.
Just noted on this site’s stats: on Sunday and Monday alone, nearly 4000 people found our brief post, quoting John Pilger’s view of Jeremy Corbyn – unprecedented for this uncontroversial portal.
Labour membership is said to be on course to hit 600,000, after a second successive day in which more than 100,000 people have applied to become party members, reports Stephen Bush (New Statesman).
Local parties – who are responsible for vetting new members in the first instance – report that the bulk of joiners who have responded to welcome emails or messages from MPs are strongly opposed to any attempt to remove Corbyn, who was elected by 60% of Labour members and supporters nine months ago.
On Friday hundreds gathered in the centre of Birmingham to show support for Jeremy Corbyn.
On Saturday 9th, without warning, Tom Watson announced that a Sunday meeting arranged with trade union leaders, representatives of the PLP and the party leader, at the request of Watson and his colleagues, would not go ahead. McCluskey said, “Extraordinarily, I received no notice of this statement before it was issued. I had made arrangements for specifically for Mr Watson’s convenience”.
Watson’s misrepresentation exposed
McCluskey continued: “I must clarify one point in Tom Watson’s statement – I made it absolutely clear from the outset of these discussions that Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation as the leader was not on the agenda. Watson knew that, and it is entirely wrong to suggest that any public statement by Jeremy represented any change in the situation. This is a deeply disingenuous manoeuvre.
Len McCluskey of Unite and the general secretaries of unions Unison and the GMB pledged their support to Jeremy Corbyn at the Durham Miner’s Gala.
Those Labour MPs who refused to support Jeremy Corbyn in the recent vote of confidence had their invitations to stand on the balcony of the County Hotel and the platform on the racecourse at the Durham Miners’ Gala rescinded.
DMA general secretary Dave Hopper said: “We will not allow those who have sought to humiliate him and undermine the democratic process in the Labour Party the honour of taking part in the aforementioned gala traditions.”
A Daniel come to judgment? Felicity Arbuthnot draws our attention to an article by Tess Finch-Lees, who believes that the Corbyn coup wasn’t staged because Blairites don’t think Jeremy Corbyn could win the next election – it was because they fear he could. She continues:
“A Corbyn win would be an unequivocal endorsement of his progressive Labour and yet another outright rejection of Blair’s right wing New Labour/Thatcherite agenda.
“As chair of the Labour In campaign, Alan Johnson’s line up of pale, male and stale spokespeople failed to inspire.
“Producing the toxic trio though (Blair, Brown and Campbell), was the final nail in the coffin”.
Ten thousand people gathered in Parliament Square last Monday to show Corbyn their support. Amongst them were junior doctors, there to reciprocate the unequivocal support Corbyn showed them during their months of bullying by Jeremy Hunt.
The Blairites determined to oust Corbyn from the outset, even though:
- he won the leadership with a landslide victory;
- the membership rejected their right wing austerity agenda, which lost Labour the last election;
- and rejected the “Tory light” leadership candidates, who failed to vote against proposals to abolish binding child poverty targets, cutting child tax credits, employment allowance and housing benefit for young people.
Tess ends by saying: “When all Labour’s guns should be pointing at the industrial incompetence of the Tory wreckers, the Blairites are plotting to oust their own leader. Someone whom even they agree is an honourable, decent man. They want to replace him with a Teflon Tony or a PR Dave . . . If ever there was a time for principled leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn, it’s now”.
Read the whole article here:
The Mail, The Independent and Sky News websites report that yesterday Jeremy Corbyn was given a standing ovation as he broke with tradition and became the first political leader in living memory to address the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) conference.
“George Osborne used the Budget to announce the forced academisation of all schools”.
The Labour leader brought the packed conference hall in Brighton to its feet as he took to the stage to accuse Tories of presiding over a “crisis in our schools”:
“Let’s be clear – this is an ideological attack on teachers and on local and parental accountability – it was nowhere in Tory manifesto, it’s something that’s just been dreamt up at the last minute and stuck into the Budget.I want schools accountable to their parents and their communities – not as a process of asset-stripping our facilities to be handed over to somebody else. There is not a shred of evidence that academies improve standards.”
The FT adds that he argued that ministers’ plans would lead to the “asset-stripping of our education system”.
Nick Gibb, schools minister, came under fire from his own side on Friday as Conservative councillors spoke out against compulsory academisation (FT).
Ben Harris-Quinney, a district councillor in East Hertfordshire, said turning all schools into academies “represents not only one of the largest education reforms in British history, but also one of the largest shifts of power from local to central government”. He said the chancellor and Nicky Morgan, education secretary, needed to explain why such a significant policy move had not been included in the manifesto “and acknowledge that it marks a clear break with the Conservative party’s previous commitment to localism”. It was “not what the British public voted for, and I don’t believe what either local authorities or schools want,” added Mr Quinney, who chairs the Bow Group, a centre right think-tank within the party.
Melinda Tilley, the cabinet member for education at Oxfordshire county council which includes David Cameron’s Witney seat — also weighed in, highlighting the risks to small village schools. They could be in danger if academy chains decided they were no longer viable, she told the Today programme. “I’m fed up with diktats from above saying you will do this and you won’t do that. This is not why I became a Conservative,” Ms Tilley said. “I’m fed up with diktats from above saying you will do this and you won’t do that. This is not why I became a Conservative”.
The Tory priorities are spending money on a reorganisation nobody wants, to reduce the influence and control of local authorities in order to bring in unaccountable academies.
Mr Corbyn told the conference his late mother was a maths teacher and NUT member, and drew laughs when he identified someone who he said would benefit from her teachings. He said: “There’s one or two pupils around the country who need extra tuition – one of those is George Osborne. “Having just presented a Budget to Parliament that doesn’t add up – in fact it has a massive black hole in it – I think maybe a little extra tuition would be useful to him. “Is anybody offering? Please, somebody!”
“There is a crisis in our schools now. “Children are facing rising class sizes; there is a shortage of teachers, and parents already face a crisis in school places. Forced academisation will do nothing to address any of those problems . . . Yet, in Osborne’s Budget, over £600 million has been allocated to needless reorganisation that has addressed not a single issue that matters to teachers, parents or pupils. Those are the Tory priorities – they’re absolutely not ours.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT said that Mr Corbyn asked if he could come and speak to delegates because the approach of the Labour leadership now is to talk to people and have engagement about the policies: “We’ve never actually been approached by anyone else, any politician, who’s wanted to come. So when you get a party leader who’s clearly very interested in doing things differently asking to come, it seemed wise to accede to that”.
Members of the audience shouted: “We love you Jeremy” as he left the stage.
Today, Jeremy Corbyn faced what Matthew Norman called “the scariest ordeal in domestic politics, an instant, semi-off-the-cuff response to the Budget” – for all opposition leaders, a nightmare.
In his favour: since Corbyn became Labour leader, throughout a period of barely broken turmoil, Norman describes his calm as supernatural: “No sporting analogy properly conveys the leap in class from irrelevant back-bencher to alternative PM; Rocky Balboa’s rise comes close. But Rocky at least had the passionate support of his Philadelphia home town crowd when he fought Apollo Creed”.
Norman refers to the ill wishing ‘supposedly home-town crowd on the Labour benches’, 95% of whom will “fidget on their arses, waiting for the debate to end so they can resume huddling in alcoves and scheming about ousting him”.
Driven by the toddler’s sense of entitlement denied, ‘cabals of New Labour recidivists inside and outside the Commons have been up to their familiar tricks’ three of which he details. Norman’s treatment of the last will amuse some readers – the touting of ‘a ready-made replacement in the square-jawed form of former paratrooper Dan Jarvis’:
“With soldierly courage, Jarvis has overcome his objections to leading Labour. Last summer, he refused to run because his children were too young. My, my, but how quickly they’ve grown. Jarvis, who is hoovering money from previous Labour donors, auditioned for Corbyn’s job on the weekend by repositioning himself a few inches to the left, criticising New Labour’s failure to recognise the pressure on workers’ pay exerted by globalisation. Whether that suggests Jarvis is a trade isolationist, or a fan of restoring lost trade union powers, or both, no one could know. Least of all, you suspect, Jarvis himself”.
Norman points out that almost a year after the election calamity, there is no sign of Corbyn’s detractors developing any coherent alternative philosophy to the neo-Thatcherite Conservatives or to Corbyn himself.
He sees no tactical opportunity for the detractors: by keeping Corbyn off a leadership ballot “they would unleash a tidal wave of fury that would wash the party away”.
As Andrew Whittaker in the Scotsman says: “Corbyn’s most virulent critics will know that if Jarvis was to move against Corbyn when the party leader remains overwhelmingly popular among the rank and file membership and registered supporters, such a bid would be doomed to failure”.
Norman ends: “If the last election taught us anything, it is that the Labour movement is on the verge of extinction. And if the subsequent Corbyn landslide taught us anything, it is that its long-term survival depends on reigniting and harnessing passions rendered moribund by two decades of anodyne cynics whose paramount concern was assuaging the Daily Mail”.
Crispin Flintoff is encouraging people to support the first #JC4PM tour event at the O2 Kentish Town on Thursday.
Dozens of musicians, comedians, poets and people from the political world are coming to show support for Jeremy Corbyn – including Billy Bragg, Charlotte Church, Brian Eno, Ken Loach, Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy, Francesca Martinez, Grace Petrie, Arthur Smith, Sara Pascoe, Lindsey German, John Rees, Mark Serwotka, John McDonnell and Ken Livingstone.
It will be moving on to Bristol, Edinburgh, Croydon and Newcastle in February and March. More dates are being organised in May. To book tickets go to http://www.jc4pmtour.com/.
As yet, only Andrew Whitaker in the Scotsman found the events ‘newsworthy’. Flintoff asks if this is because a story about big names supporting Jeremy Corbyn does not fit in with the narrative that he is losing support or is not credible, and comments, “The range of names backing the Labour leader despite all the media attacks on him undermines the media itself”.
Flintoff (right) continues: “The second reason that the tour is not being reported is that the media want it to fail. If it does not receive publicity then it is harder to sell tickets and fill out the venues. Then they could possibly write a negative story about it!”
Later, in the Independent, he wrote: “The response has taken me by surprise. I have had 7,000 hits in under two days. And since people began discussing it, stories about the tour seem to have begun to appear in newspapers that previously reacted with disinterest” and we note that a day later the Telegraph covered the tour handsomely!