UK Labour unity? Not so much

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On Monday Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn’s spin doctor, enraged a shadow minister by deliberately deleting part of his speech.

He must be wishing he’d deleted the whole of Tom Watson’s.

This afternoon, Labour members in Liverpool watched their deputy leader expertly undermine their leader – and then gave him a standing ovation. It was remarkable. And because Mr Corbyn was sitting at a platform on stage, mere feet from Mr Watson, you could watch his reaction. It wasn’t hard to guess what he thought.

The speech started harmlessly enough. Jokes about David Cameron, digs at Theresa May. But then Mr Watson praised Sadiq Khan. Earlier in the day, the Mayor of London had given a speech implying that, unlike him, Mr Corbyn was a vote-loser…

“What a champion Sadiq is,” beamed Mr Watson.

“Just like Jeremy Corbyn!” yelled a heckler protectively.

The hall murmured. Mr Watson carried on. The heckler had heard nothing yet.

Because what Mr Watson proceeded to do was something no other shadow minister, in Mr Corbyn’s Labour, would dare. He listed, at length, and with chest-thumping pride, the achievements of New Labour.

“The 11 years of Labour government between 1997 and 2008 were a completely unbroken period of economic growth,” he boomed. “We made the economy work like never before or since; we lifted half a million children out of poverty; lifted a million pensioners out of poverty; gave millions of low paid workers the decency of a national minimum wage; and…”

On and on he went, his voice growing louder and more defiant with every success he cited. “I could go on all afternoon,” he cried. Some people started applauding – and then more, and more, until most of the hall was at it.

One man, however, did not join in. The party leader. …

“I don’t know why we’ve been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments,” concluded Mr Watson, pointedly. “But trashing our own record is not the way to enhance our brand.”

Funnily enough, Mr Corbyn didn’t applaud that, either.

His devotees were now heckling Mr Watson in numbers. “What about Chilcot?” shouted one woman.

Mr Watson turned calmly to face his leader. “Jeremy,” he said, “I don’t think she got the unity memo.”

Most of the hall laughed. Mr Corbyn did not. His deputy had made a joke at the expense of both him and his supporter. He was conspicuously unamused. The tension was excruciating.

Just like NZ Labour, in the UK, Labour the party and Labour the membership are at odds.  And the result is that nobody wins.

 

– Telegraph


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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