Sunday, 25 September 2016

Don't Mention The War

Image result for dont mention the war + images

Daniel Finkelstein writing in The Times captures brilliantly, if you ask me, the chaos of the Labour leadership in its efforts to deal with charges of antisemitism within the party's ranks.

As Daniel notes, there was a time when it was almost impossible to be expelled from the Labour Party:

"You could get a programme on Iranian state TV, vote against the party in parliament hundreds of times, and praise Hamas and they’d make you leader."

Not now, of course, and the truth of the matter is that while Comrade Corbyn was a serial Labour rebel for 32 years, the party leader is now much more intolerant of internal dissent than was ever the case under Tony Blair.

Which is very funny, whatever else. 

  
  
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/labour-chaos-would-be-funny-if-it-wasnt-tragic-w3rpkxrhx

Labour’s chaos over antisemitism is shameful

By Daniel Finkelstein - The Times

The arbitrary suspension of one of its most loyal supporters is a sign of the confusion at the heart of the party




Basil Fawlty: Is there something wrong?
German: Will you stop talking about the war?
Fawlty: Me? You started it.
German: We did not!
Fawlty: Yes you did. You invaded Poland.

When I heard last year that someone stood upon a chair in the middle of a Labour Friends of Israel reception and started shouting at the party leader, I immediately wondered if it might have been Michael. I didn’t even know whether he’d been there but it just sounded like the sort of thing he might do.

There are no half measures with Michael Foster, you see.

And now, his latest escapade has seen him suspended from the party and deprived of his right to vote in the leadership election and attend the party conference — a move that, as much as anything else in this past sorry year, shows that Labour has slipped anchor and is drifting, drifting, drifting.

About ten years ago I made a joke in one of my Times football columns about not having an agent, and I got an email from someone saying he represented Chris Evans and Trinny and Susannah and he’d like to represent me. We’d make a TV programme about the Fink Tank, he said, and he’d make me rich and famous.

We haven’t made a TV programme (yet) and I’m not rich and famous (yet) but I did become friends with the author of this unlikely email. Michael Foster is larger than life and always full of his latest charitable project to make life better for others.

He is also deeply political and deeply Labour. He’s always referred to as a Labour donor and so he is. Or was. But this description isn’t entirely fair to him. Before the last election, he gave up much of his entertainment work, moved to Cornwall and threw himself into the election campaign as a parliamentary candidate in a marginal seat. He’s much more than just a donor. He’s a proper Labour activist.

And when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader he did what activists do. He defended him, said things would turn out all right, believed the party would get by. And then came the Friends of Israel reception where the leader turned up but failed to mention either Jews or Israel. And Michael found himself standing on a chair, shouting.

Within a year he also found himself in court, contesting Corbyn’s ability to run for the leadership without proper parliamentary support.

It is this last act that has led, indirectly, to his suspension. While advancing his case in the media he wrote of “Corbyn and his Sturm Abteilung”. In the headline, the newspaper talked of “Jeremy Corbyn and his Nazi stormtroopers”. And that was it. Out he went. Suspended.

And this is an absurd, indeed outrageous, decision.

It is, just to begin with, entirely arbitrary. There was a time when it was almost impossible to be expelled from the Labour Party. You could get a programme on Iranian state TV, vote against the party in parliament hundreds of times, and praise Hamas and they’d make you leader.

Nowadays it seems hard to avoid being excluded. You might have purchased your membership on the wrong date, for instance. Or, like Michael, said the wrong thing without any clear rules about what the right thing is.

Yet even though it’s not remotely apparent what rule Michael broke, I think I can guess what it was that did it. It was the word Nazi. And this would be funny if the whole thing wasn’t so tragic.

When Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party there was a lot of comment about his inability to avoid mentioning Hitler every time he appeared on television. But this is what I call the Fawlty Towers Fallacy. The problem isn’t that he mentioned the war. It’s what he said about Jews.

Livingstone claimed that “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” Hitler supported Zionism. He continues to claim that this is true (which, just to be clear, it is not). With this statement he joined other Corbyn supporters who regularly make comparisons between Israel and Nazism.

The problem is not with mentioning Hitler, or generally using Hitler analogies, or loosely making Hitler comparisons. The problem isn’t being abusive or silly or hyperbolic. The problem is deliberately and systematically equating the Jews with their exterminators. The problem is with implying the Jews are authors of their own misfortune and as bad as their killers.

Israel isn’t being compared to the Nazis because of a want of tact. These people don’t compare Israel to Stalin, or to Pol Pot, or to Kim Il Sung. It is a deliberate and grossly offensive attack tailored specially for the Jews.

It is an attack that tells the survivors of the death camps that they should have learnt lessons from their suffering but haven’t. It is an attack that deliberately minimises Hitler’s genocide by comparing it to the conflict with the Palestinians. It is an attack that outrageously distorts Israeli policy and provides those who want it with a justification for the terrorist murder of Jews. It is shameful and has no place in a progressive party.
Nobody has a clue what they are doing or why they are doing it. The party is flailing

I thought, when suspending Mr Livingstone, that perhaps the Labour Party now appreciated this. Now it is clear they do not. In the grip of the Fawlty Towers Fallacy they haven’t decided to suspend antisemites, they had decided just to suspend anyone who mentions Hitler. Never mind if they are a Jew, whose grandparents were in Dachau concentration camp.

Instead of dealing with hatred of Jews, they are just running around in a panic. And when this leadership election is over, neither the panic nor the antisemitism will have gone away.

The Corbyn supporters who complain of a purge, the moderates who despair that there hasn’t been one, they are both correct. Maybe you are a member, maybe you aren’t; maybe that behaviour is OK, maybe it isn’t; maybe you will be out for ever, maybe we will let you back; maybe you can have a vote, maybe you can’t. Who knows?


Nobody has a clue what they are doing or why they are doing it. The party is flailing. Accuse someone of being a stormtrooper and goodbye, support the IRA and you can be shadow chancellor.

The only question I have for Michael now is an inversion of Groucho Marx’s famous quip. Why would he want to be part of a club that doesn’t want him as a member?

And if a party cannot retain someone like him — enterprising, full hearted, unpredictable, passionate, successful, excitable and exciting — it is doomed. Suspend Michael Foster and you are suspending the Labour Party on a rope.

Tom and Jerry



Peter Brookes has some fun in The Times with this cartoon in which he conflates the celebrity divorce of the year with the ongoing civil war within the Labour Party.

Tony Blair put it rather well the other day when he said that the opposing camps inside Labour is like two completely different cultures "trying to cohabit in the same organism"

Here's more of what Tony Blair had to say about "The guy on the placard" courtesy of John Rentals Facebook page.

“The guy on the placard”

Blair in conversation with Sir Harold Evans, Reuters, New York, yesterday. “There are two types of politics on the left – one is what I would call the culture of protest and the other is the culture of government. And I sometimes liken it to this situation. You’ve got a guy with a placard protesting and there’s a face on the placard, which is the person in government.

“My type of politics: I’m the face on the placard. I’m that bastard. ‘Let’s go get him.’ That’s what government’s about, so when you decide, you divide. You go into a position of authority, people dislike you and so on – but… you can get things done. We tried for a hundred years to have a minimum wage: we got one under my government. We only got it because we were in power.

“Now, the moment you’re in power, some people say it’s not enough, other people say you’ve left out this group… So I’m the face on the placard. The other culture is the guy holding the placard. They don’t really want to be in power; they want to make the people in power respond to their concerns. But it’s a different culture. And what’s happened with the left and not just in the British Labour Party but elsewhere is that these two different cultures are trying to cohabit in the same organism.

“And this is why I say that politics to coming to where certain things that have been building for a long period of time are now manifesting and what I wonder is what’s then going to happen, because I don’t see how those two cultures cohabit. Because the guy holding the placard hates the guy on the placard, and the guy whose face is on the placard is a bit irritated with him because he’s always telling him he wants more, he wants this, he wants that, and he’s saying, yeah, I’m trying to get this job done here.

It’s a big moment in politics. I just have this fear as to whether this populism is something we’re going to have to experience before we realise it’s not really sensible.”

For a full account of Tony Blair's interview visit: http://www.reuters.tv/l/6Yt


  

Image result for tom and jerry + images



Saturday, 24 September 2016

Spookily Accurate

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader

Michael Deacon writing in The Telegraph has penned a priceless piece about what George Orwell would think of Jeremy Corbyn - and why more people don't embrace his love of old-style, municipal socialism.

The answer apparently is that the working class is alienated by a certain type of socialist - 

This type of socialist, he (Orwell) complained bitterly, was “bearded”, “vegetarian”, “teetotal”, “prim”, “middle-class”, “a crank” and “a pacifist”.

Now that is funny - and spookily accurate into the bargain.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/09/24/what-would-george-orwell-think-of-jeremy-corbyn/

 

Leader's Double Standard


Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn  on his victory in the Labour leadership contest.

As happened in his first election in 2015, Jezza will find it difficult to explain how as a serial rebel for 32 years he can now demand 'loyalty' and 'discipline' from other Labour MPs who believe he is simply not up to the job.

The reality is that Labour these days is a much more intolerant party than it ever was under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband and this ugly political culture seems likely to result in those who not true believers in Project Corbyn being targeted for having the temerity for disagreeing with their Dear Leader.  

In Corbyn's world Labour members are either for the leader or against the leader, so it will be interesting to see whether the party remains a 'broad church' or turns itself into an increasingly leftist sect.   

 

Can't Cut The Mustard (22/09/16)

Image result for cant cut the mustard

I listened to quite the most devastating assessment of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership abilities on Radio 5 Live, the other day, from his first wife Jane Chapman.

Now this was not the bitter rant of a woman scorned, not least because Jane voted for her former husband first time around when he won the Labour leadership in 2015.

Nor was this 'uninformed' opinion of someone with an axe to grind since Jane is now widely regarded Professor of Communications at the University of Lincoln and a visiting Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge.

Nonetheless Jane's view was that Jeremy had failed to mark his mark in any of the roles he has played throughout his life as a local government councillor, a trade union official and/or as a Labour MP, observing that:
  • as a local councillor Jeremy chaired nothing more important than a council sub-committee
  • Jeremy's trade union career never progressed beyond the 'entry level' rank
  • as Labour MP for 32 years Jeremy never took on any position of responsibility - not even that as the chair of a parliamentary select committee 
So without rancour or any hint of personal animosity, Professor Chapman essentially came to the same view as the vast majority of Labour MPs - that Jeremy Corbyn does not possess the skills for the job of Labour leader.

Which is, of course, my considered view as well.


 


'Bog Standard' Officials (24/06/16)

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on The Last Leg

I was unfazed one way or the other by Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on 'The Last Leg' TV programme which had the Labour leader arrive in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, dressed in a dinner suit and a full-length white fur coat.

After all if you have an image problem, then why not do something out of the ordinary to confound and confuse your political opponents.

But no, my real problem with Jeremy is that in answer to a 'dolly' question about how he would rank the importance of the next week's EU referendum on a scale of 1 to 10, Jezza responded with the unbelievably lame answer of "7 to 7 and a half".

Now when so much is at stake in next week's referendum, you would think a Labour leader worth his mettle would have emphasised, in the strongest possible terms, the very real threat to the UK economy, jobs and investment posed by the country's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

So Jeremy's a complete fool if you ask me, a political half-wit, but that's what you get if you elect as Labour leader a man who rose to the dizzying ranks of 'bog standard' union official before finding a niche as a backbench Labour MP in the House of Commons for the next 32 years.

And while there are some decent trade union officials around, believe me there are plenty of complete 'duds' in the ranks too, as the Labour party and the country is finding out to its cost.

  

Political Doldrums (29/06/15)

Image result for Labour's political doldrums + images

As I arrived in London in 1983 to take up a post as a full-time official with NUPE (the National Union of Public Employees), Jeremy Corbyn was just taking his leave having been elected as the Labour MP for Islington North in May of that year.

None of my new NUPE colleagues had a good word to say about their ex-colleague, perhaps because no one shared Jeremy's fantasy brand of politics. 

Nothing I've heard since then has caused me to argue with my colleagues' opinion although I've never ceased to be amazed at the way in which trade unions often get rid of their least talented officials by packing them off to the House of Commons.

The only thing I would say about Jeremy is that he is a model of consistency: consistently wrong that is, as a backer of Michael Foot's election manifesto in 1983 (dubbed the longest suicide note in history) and Ed Miliband's doomed pitch to become Prime Minister in 2015.

But the fact that Jeremy Corbyn gets on the Labour leadership ballot paper while someone like Mary Creagh drops out (due to a lack of nominations from fellow MPs) tells you that the People's Party is set to remain in the political wilderness for some time to come. 

 


Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn completes the line-up


null

Four candidates will compete to become Labour's new leader, after left-winger Jeremy Corbyn secured enough nominations to get on the ballot.

Mr Corbyn reached the 35 MP threshold just two minutes before the noon deadline, helped by colleagues wanting to widen the range of candidates.

He joins Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in the contest.

Ms Kendall's campaign team has complained to Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper about media briefings against her.

Labour MP Toby Perkins, who chairs Ms Kendall's campaign, wrote to the two candidates saying he was "sad" to see negative reports about her based on anonymous briefings.

He said a description of her supporters as "Taliban New Labour" reported in the Daily Telegraph was "inappropriate and offensive", adding: "It was particularly surprising that your campaigns have chosen to do something that, predictably, had the effect of taking precedence over the speeches that both of you were making today."

Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper's teams have distanced themselves from the "Taliban" quote, which was attributed to a source in one of their campaigns.
'Full debate'

The contest will involve a series of public and televised hustings over the coming weeks, with the winner announced before the party conference in September.

Mr Corbyn told BBC 2's Daily Politics he "fully acknowledged" that some of his nominations came from colleagues who did not support his candidacy, but who wanted to ensure a full debate.

"I will take part in that debate and hope that at the end of it the Labour Party emerges stronger and more resolute in opposing the principles behind austerity and impoverishment of the poorest in Britain," he said.

The election was sparked by Ed Miliband's resignation in the wake of the party's electoral defeat in May.

Mr Burnham topped the list with 68 nominations, followed by Ms Cooper on 59, Ms Kendall on 41 and Mr Corbyn on 36.

This leaves 28 Labour MPs who did not nominate anybody.

Mr Corbyn's appearance on the ballot paper was criticised by Labour MP John Mann, who tweeted: "So to demonstrate our desire never to win again, Islington's Jeremy Corbyn is now a Labour leadership candidate."

But it was welcomed by other Labour figures who said it would ensure a wider range of candidates.

Former shadow cabinet minister Sadiq Khan - who is running for the London mayor - said he would nominate Mr Corbyn, without voting for him in the ballot, to ensure the "widest possible debate".


Ms Abbott called for changes to the Labour leadership election process

Labour MP and another London mayoral hopeful, Diane Abbott, who stood for the leadership in 2010, told the BBC the way the party elected its leaders must change, claiming the 35 MP threshold "artificially narrows the choice".

"And it doesn't just lock out the left, it locks out newer candidates and younger candidates," Ms Abbott said.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said there was some "unease" among MPs - both that the party had rushed into a contest and about the calibre of the line-up.
'Too cumbersome'

Former Labour minister Frank Field has written to Labour Party chairman John Cryer to request a rule change to make it easier for the party to get rid of a failing leader.

Mr Field told the Mail on Sunday: "We cannot hide from the fact that we made catastrophic errors in the choice of our two most recent leaders, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

"Having chosen them, it was then impossible to change them when we were hurtling towards election defeat."

He said the Conservative Party "would not have hesitated for a moment" to ditch their leader if they had been in the same "predicament".

Under his proposal, a vote of confidence in the leader would be called if it had the support of 30 anonymous Labour MPs. A vote on his proposed changes is expected next week.

Margaret Hodge, who backs a change in the rules, said that now was the right time to do it, before a new leader was elected.

"Our rules are just too cumbersome, unlike the Conservative Party's," she told BBC2's Daily Politics programme, adding that the aim was to "mimic" the Tories in this area.

Put to her that it suggested a lack of confidence in the current candidates, Ms Hodge disagreed, saying: "This is entirely about putting in place a mechanism that we can use, because of our experience in the past, without actually passing judgement on any individual."

Labour made "catastrophic errors" electing Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, according to Mr Field

Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper both made speeches on Monday setting our their pitch.

Mr Burnham said he wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the leadership election, saying it had to be "a campaign for Labour to reach out to every corner of the country and win again".

The shadow health secretary also said Labour would need to "look again" at the tuition fees system.

Ms Cooper, shadow home secretary, set out her background as a "comprehensive girl" whose first job was picking fruit on a farm before she went on to secure a place at Oxford University.

She said the UK should invest 3% of GDP on "science, technology and innovation".

The winner will be decided by a vote of Labour Party representatives, members and affiliates, to be conducted on a one-member, one-vote basis.

The result will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.

A vacancy has also arisen for the deputy leadership, after Harriet Harman announced she would be stepping down once the posts were filled.

Nominations for that election close on Wednesday, with seven candidates in the race.

Labour leadership timetable

15 June: Nominations for leader will close at midday

17 June: Nominations for their deputy will close at midday

12 August: Deadline for people to join the Labour Party

14 August: Ballot papers sent out by post

10 September: Polling closes at midday

12 September: Winners announced at special conference

27 September: Labour's party conference begins
  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Religious Orders



Ayatollah Khameni the supreme spiritual leader of Iran has issued a new fatwa (religious order) which bans women from riding their bikes in public.

Now this seems like quite a restrictive fatwa to me, as someone who has little opportunity too ride my bike in private, although on the bright side the ruling is not quite as devastating as the fatwa urging all 'good' Muslims to murder Salman Rushdie for writing his novel The Satanic Verses.

 


Iranian women defy fatwa against cycling by taking to their bikes

Cycling Weekly - September 21, 2016

Women in Iran are defying a newly-introduced rule that they should not cycle in public as it "contravenes women's chastity"

Women in Iran have responded to a new fatwa banning women from cycling issued by the country’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei by riding their bikes in public.

Ali Khamenei ruled that a woman riding a bike is sinful, and said that: “Riding a bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity.”

Women have been filming themselves riding in Iran since the fatwa was introduced, and then posting videos and photographs on the ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ Facebook account with the hashtag #IranianWomenLoveCycling.

On Monday, a mother and daughter posted a video of themselves riding in Kish in the country, and said that “We love cycling and we will never give up”.

>>> Iranian women forced to sign contract pledging never to cycle in public

“Bicycle riding is part of our lives,” they said in the video. “We were here when we heard Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa banning women from bicycling. We immediately rented two bicycles to say we’re not giving up cycling.”

“It’s our absolute right and we’re not going to give up.”

Another woman posted a photograph of herself cycling, and left the message: “In order to be able to lead an ordinary life, I, as a woman, have to engage in a daily ‘war’.

“Am I a criminal because I love life and I love cycling? Let’s be mindful of the fact we can attain victory by fighting tirelessly [for our rights]. Long live peace, life, and respect for each others’ rights.”

In July, the Independent reported that several women were arrested in Iran for riding bicycles. The women had to sign a pledge to say that they would not cycle again in public.

Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/iranian-women-defy-fatwa-cycling-taking-bikes-285528#Tw1SqDJhdjWPgbmp.99

North Lanarkshire Update



A kind reader has drawnly attention to this press release from North Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) which claims that the future of the Council's Home Care service has been secured.

Now I'm not so sure that things are quite as cut and dried as the press release makes out because it's pretty obvious that a major review of the Council's service is underway.

Yet, so far at least, there appears to have been very little in the way of discussion as to what this actually means for the workforce while the JIB (Joint Integration Board) highlights the need to meet increasingly complex client needs including end of life care. 

I must have a look at the JIB papers which are accessible online and as I said in a previous post if I were a Home Carer in North Lanarkshire, I would be paying much more attention to this particular issue in the weeks and months ahead.

I assume that the trade unions are arranging meetings with Home Care members to report back from the JIB discussions, especially as the deadline for any changes to be agreed is the spring of 2017. 

 



Protecting home support

Joint Integration Board approves measures to protect home support




North Lanarkshire Joint Integration Board (JIB) has approved action to ensure that demand for home support can be met while securing the employment of in-house staff.

At its meeting this week, the JIB considered a report which set out the challenges of delivering increasing levels of home support. Contracts with current independent providers expire in March next year, meaning Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire (the operational arm of the JIB) is required to begin putting in place new contracts now.

The Care at Home plans approved by the JIB will see the highly-skilled council-employed staff support people through reablement, provide complex support and also sensitive end-of-life care. This will secure the employment of the in-house staff.

Councillor Harry McGuigan, chair of the JIB, said: "This is an excellent outcome for people who need support and for the existing council workforce. Demand is growing and people with more complex needs are increasingly being cared for at home. It's essential we can meet that need so that people can lead safer, healthier, independent lives.

"The council workforce is highly-skilled and mobile and so it makes sense for their focus to be on complex needs. The consequence of this report is the securing of employment for in-house staff. For many years around 70% of home support has been provided by in-house staff, with 30% coming from independent providers.

"Our Care at Home strategy will maximise the use of our resources, will address increased need and, most importantly of all, improve outcomes for people who require support. It means that we can deliver the right support in the right place at the right time. We will be engaging with staff to develop the new arrangements."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Can't Cut The Mustard

Image result for cant cut the mustard

I listened to quite the most devastating assessment of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership abilities on Radio 5 Live, the other day, from his first wife Jane Chapman.

Now this was not the bitter rant of a woman scorned, not least because Jane voted for her former husband first time around when he won the Labour leadership in 2015.

Nor was this 'uninformed' opinion of someone with an axe to grind since Jane is now widely regarded Professor of Communications at the University of Lincoln and a visiting Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge.

Nonetheless Jane's view was that Jeremy had failed to mark his mark in any of the roles he has played throughout his life as a local government councillor, a trade union official and/or as a Labour MP, observing that:
  • as a local councillor Jeremy chaired nothing more important than a council sub-committee
  • Jeremy's trade union career never progressed beyond the 'entry level' rank
  • as Labour MP for 32 years Jeremy never took on any position of responsibility - not even that as the chair of a parliamentary select committee 
So without rancour or any hint of personal animosity, Professor Chapman essentially came to the same view as the vast majority of Labour MPs - that Jeremy Corbyn does not possess the skills for the job of Labour leader.

Which is, of course, my considered view as well.


 


'Bog Standard' Officials (24/06/16)

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on The Last Leg

I was unfazed one way or the other by Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on 'The Last Leg' TV programme which had the Labour leader arrive in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, dressed in a dinner suit and a full-length white fur coat.

After all if you have an image problem, then why not do something out of the ordinary to confound and confuse your political opponents.

But no, my real problem with Jeremy is that in answer to a 'dolly' question about how he would rank the importance of the next week's EU referendum on a scale of 1 to 10, Jezza responded with the unbelievably lame answer of "7 to 7 and a half".

Now when so much is at stake in next week's referendum, you would think a Labour leader worth his mettle would have emphasised, in the strongest possible terms, the very real threat to the UK economy, jobs and investment posed by the country's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

So Jeremy's a complete fool if you ask me, a political half-wit, but that's what you get if you elect as Labour leader a man who rose to the dizzying ranks of 'bog standard' union official before finding a niche as a backbench Labour MP in the House of Commons for the next 32 years.

And while there are some decent trade union officials around, believe me there are plenty of complete 'duds' in the ranks too, as the Labour party and the country is finding out to its cost.

  

Political Doldrums (29/06/15)

Image result for Labour's political doldrums + images

As I arrived in London in 1983 to take up a post as a full-time official with NUPE (the National Union of Public Employees), Jeremy Corbyn was just taking his leave having been elected as the Labour MP for Islington North in May of that year.

None of my new NUPE colleagues had a good word to say about their ex-colleague, perhaps because no one shared Jeremy's fantasy brand of politics. 

Nothing I've heard since then has caused me to argue with my colleagues' opinion although I've never ceased to be amazed at the way in which trade unions often get rid of their least talented officials by packing them off to the House of Commons.

The only thing I would say about Jeremy is that he is a model of consistency: consistently wrong that is, as a backer of Michael Foot's election manifesto in 1983 (dubbed the longest suicide note in history) and Ed Miliband's doomed pitch to become Prime Minister in 2015.

But the fact that Jeremy Corbyn gets on the Labour leadership ballot paper while someone like Mary Creagh drops out (due to a lack of nominations from fellow MPs) tells you that the People's Party is set to remain in the political wilderness for some time to come. 

 


Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn completes the line-up


null

Four candidates will compete to become Labour's new leader, after left-winger Jeremy Corbyn secured enough nominations to get on the ballot.

Mr Corbyn reached the 35 MP threshold just two minutes before the noon deadline, helped by colleagues wanting to widen the range of candidates.

He joins Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in the contest.

Ms Kendall's campaign team has complained to Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper about media briefings against her.

Labour MP Toby Perkins, who chairs Ms Kendall's campaign, wrote to the two candidates saying he was "sad" to see negative reports about her based on anonymous briefings.

He said a description of her supporters as "Taliban New Labour" reported in the Daily Telegraph was "inappropriate and offensive", adding: "It was particularly surprising that your campaigns have chosen to do something that, predictably, had the effect of taking precedence over the speeches that both of you were making today."

Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper's teams have distanced themselves from the "Taliban" quote, which was attributed to a source in one of their campaigns.
'Full debate'

The contest will involve a series of public and televised hustings over the coming weeks, with the winner announced before the party conference in September.

Mr Corbyn told BBC 2's Daily Politics he "fully acknowledged" that some of his nominations came from colleagues who did not support his candidacy, but who wanted to ensure a full debate.

"I will take part in that debate and hope that at the end of it the Labour Party emerges stronger and more resolute in opposing the principles behind austerity and impoverishment of the poorest in Britain," he said.

The election was sparked by Ed Miliband's resignation in the wake of the party's electoral defeat in May.

Mr Burnham topped the list with 68 nominations, followed by Ms Cooper on 59, Ms Kendall on 41 and Mr Corbyn on 36.

This leaves 28 Labour MPs who did not nominate anybody.

Mr Corbyn's appearance on the ballot paper was criticised by Labour MP John Mann, who tweeted: "So to demonstrate our desire never to win again, Islington's Jeremy Corbyn is now a Labour leadership candidate."

But it was welcomed by other Labour figures who said it would ensure a wider range of candidates.

Former shadow cabinet minister Sadiq Khan - who is running for the London mayor - said he would nominate Mr Corbyn, without voting for him in the ballot, to ensure the "widest possible debate".


Ms Abbott called for changes to the Labour leadership election process

Labour MP and another London mayoral hopeful, Diane Abbott, who stood for the leadership in 2010, told the BBC the way the party elected its leaders must change, claiming the 35 MP threshold "artificially narrows the choice".

"And it doesn't just lock out the left, it locks out newer candidates and younger candidates," Ms Abbott said.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said there was some "unease" among MPs - both that the party had rushed into a contest and about the calibre of the line-up.
'Too cumbersome'

Former Labour minister Frank Field has written to Labour Party chairman John Cryer to request a rule change to make it easier for the party to get rid of a failing leader.

Mr Field told the Mail on Sunday: "We cannot hide from the fact that we made catastrophic errors in the choice of our two most recent leaders, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

"Having chosen them, it was then impossible to change them when we were hurtling towards election defeat."

He said the Conservative Party "would not have hesitated for a moment" to ditch their leader if they had been in the same "predicament".

Under his proposal, a vote of confidence in the leader would be called if it had the support of 30 anonymous Labour MPs. A vote on his proposed changes is expected next week.

Margaret Hodge, who backs a change in the rules, said that now was the right time to do it, before a new leader was elected.

"Our rules are just too cumbersome, unlike the Conservative Party's," she told BBC2's Daily Politics programme, adding that the aim was to "mimic" the Tories in this area.

Put to her that it suggested a lack of confidence in the current candidates, Ms Hodge disagreed, saying: "This is entirely about putting in place a mechanism that we can use, because of our experience in the past, without actually passing judgement on any individual."

Labour made "catastrophic errors" electing Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, according to Mr Field

Mr Burnham and Ms Cooper both made speeches on Monday setting our their pitch.

Mr Burnham said he wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the leadership election, saying it had to be "a campaign for Labour to reach out to every corner of the country and win again".

The shadow health secretary also said Labour would need to "look again" at the tuition fees system.

Ms Cooper, shadow home secretary, set out her background as a "comprehensive girl" whose first job was picking fruit on a farm before she went on to secure a place at Oxford University.

She said the UK should invest 3% of GDP on "science, technology and innovation".

The winner will be decided by a vote of Labour Party representatives, members and affiliates, to be conducted on a one-member, one-vote basis.

The result will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.

A vacancy has also arisen for the deputy leadership, after Harriet Harman announced she would be stepping down once the posts were filled.

Nominations for that election close on Wednesday, with seven candidates in the race.

Labour leadership timetable

15 June: Nominations for leader will close at midday

17 June: Nominations for their deputy will close at midday

12 August: Deadline for people to join the Labour Party

14 August: Ballot papers sent out by post

10 September: Polling closes at midday

12 September: Winners announced at special conference

27 September: Labour's party conference begins