Jeremy Corbyn will purge Labour of troublesome MPs – without getting blood on his hands

Henry II was a complicated chap. His anger at the disloyal behaviour of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, was all the more painful because of the close friendship they had once shared. But that was before Henry decided it would be a wheeze to make Thomas the most senior churchman in the kingdom. Did he get Beckett’s gratitude? Did he buggery.

And as we all know, there then followed history’s biggest “Who? Me?” claim of injured innocence. A group of knights, aware of how much a thorn in their king’s side Beckett had become, took matters into their own hands. After Beckett’s murder, Henry seems to have been genuinely grief-stricken by his former friend’s fate, but has never, in the intervening millennium, totally convinced historians that his hands were as clean as he claimed at the time.

The art of subtly encouraging your followers to carry out your bidding unasked has become one of politics’ darkest arts. Jeremy Corbyn genuinely seems to be uninterested in having his critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party deselected as Labour candidates; he’s said so repeatedly, so it must be true.

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Where is Corbyn’s anger at the Paris terrorist attacks?

Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn deserves some credit for resisting the most common response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

After all, it was perfectly natural, if not entirely rational, as news reports of the slaughter filtered through on Friday night, to channel one’s anger and horror into demands for retribution. At midnight on Friday, “Bomb them back into the stone age!” felt almost like a Carringtonesque foreign policy.

But not Corbynesque. His official statement, as you would expect of the Leader of the Opposition, expressed sympathy and sorrow. If he was seething with fury at the jihadist fascists who carried out these dreadful attacks, if he was biting his tongue to prevent himself demanding a full-scale military effort to wipe ISIS off the map, then he managed to hide it well.

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A beginner’s guide to the Labour Party rulebook

Social media has gone into one of its regular (daily) meltdowns, this time over the Labour Party’s decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn’s senior adviser, Andrew Fisher, from the party, pending an investigation by the National executive Committee (NEC).

Arguments and counter-arguments – many of them pointless, or at least missing the point – have exploded on Twitter as Fisher’s defenders and critics have put their side.

So as someone with a bit of experience in Labour Party disciplinary matters (I led an inquiry into infiltration by Militant in my Glasgow Cathcart constituency in 1989 which resulted, after various legal challenges, in the expulsion of eight members), I thought it would be useful to explain – as objectively as possible, given my opinions on Labour’s new leadership regime – the basis of when and why disciplinary action can be taken against Labour Party members.

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Labour MPs have just given Jeremy Corbyn a big ‘screw you’

Politics, eh? One minute you’re bemoaning how your party resembles a coma patient and you might as well pull the plug. The next, the patient is positively kicking the NHS blankets onto the floor and asking for a glass of water.

As a word of explanation, there now follows quite possibly the most boring sentence on the internet this year: the results of elections to the chairmanships of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) committees have been announced.

No, don’t click away! This is important. Each committee covers the remit of a Whitehall department, and the chair of each committee, in theory, at least, speaks for the PLP (note: not the front bench) on those subject areas.

PLP committees are an oft-overlooked institution, rarely meeting and never noticed – by Labour MPs, let alone the media. Continue reading

The Labour Party I love is in hock to Trots, Islamists and woman-hating Twitter trolls

What’s left to say?

After Labour’s summer of madness and the first bizarre, chaotic weeks of Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, it’s hard to feel anything more than numbness at the daily digest of political missteps and pratfalls that now define the party of which I’ve been a member for 31 years.

What’s left except perhaps to hide under the duvet and hope that you, or perhaps the country, will wake from this nightmare soon.

Then Catherine West prodded me out from under the duvet. The new Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister was reported as having told a meeting of Stop the War activists that Labour would consult them before deciding how it would vote on any future motion on military action in Syria.

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By hiring Seamus Milne, Jeremy Corbyn shows his utter contempt for real Labour voters

Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t make it easy for himself, does he?

He could have chosen as his new Director of Communications someone whose skills in media management were better known than his personal political views.

Instead he chose Seamus Milne, a hate figure on the right of the Labour Party and of pretty much everyone else to the right of that. A man whose strongly expressed views on terrorism, Israel and the United States align him precisely with the long-held views of the Labour leader.

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Renationalisation debate clouds a rail industry success story

It’s odd that nationalisation of the railways has become the totemic issue in this Labour leadership debate. Despite the swathe of privatisations that took place under Margaret Thatcher, it’s the one she never got round to – in fact, the one she positively rejected as too difficult – that Labour is obsessing about.

So what are the implications for the industry as a result of the current heated debate within the main opposition party?

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The only thing worse than Corbyn leading Labour to defeat…

There’s only one thing worse than Jeremy Corbyn losing the next general election, and that’s Jeremy Corbyn winning the next general election.

Those of us who opposed the Islington MP’s campaign for the leadership of my party weren’t just worried about the fact that he’s unelectable, although he is.

In fact, if he had a realistic chance of becoming Prime Minister, we would have opposed him even more strongly.

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Choice is the key if the NHS is to enjoy a healthy future

So frequently repeated has the phrase about the NHS being Britain’s national religion that is has become a cliché as well as an accurate observation.

And it’s the deference with which the health service is regarded by politicians, media and citizens that is its greatest strength and weakness. Strength because it is unassailable; no party would dare undermine or threaten the central concept of free health care at the point of use, paid for from general taxation and available to all irrespective of income.

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