Following her outburst last week, reportedly saying to Jeremy Corbyn:
You're a fucking anti-Semite and a racist. You don't want people like me in the party."
(more about which you can read in my previous post) Margaret Hodge has defended her accusation, although denies the swearing and repeated it in the media since, obviously without the swearing. On the 18th July she was sent a Notice of Investigation from Jennie Formby, General Secretary of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC). Luckily for us Hodge has tweeted it:
She has also tweeted the reply sent by her lawyers:
I'm not going to dissect the solicitor's letter here. I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions from reading it. It seems a pretty lengthy reply to what is just a notice of investigation. Note on tweet 5/7 how attention is drawn to abuse Hodge has received. Abuse obviously shouldn't be tolerated in any political party. However, it's ironic that abuse is raised in a case where Hodge has been abusive herself. It shows the double standards that some Labour MPs seem to hold about their standard of behaviour and that of supposed (but not proven) Corbyn / Labour supporters. Battle lines have most definitely been drawn and the tone has been set.
You would expect consternation about the notice of investigation from many Labour MPs but I wasn't expecting to hear that John McDonnell thought it should be dropped. The headline in the Guardian was:
Labour should drop action against Margaret Hodge, McDonnell says
What he actually said was:
Someone has made a complaint so that’s being investigated. My view is let’s resolve this very, very quickly, almost drop the complaint, and let’s move on. Or if someone wants their complaint investigated, let’s get that done quickly.”
While there is much to be said for dealing with the complaint quickly, presumably with the aim of healing yet another rift before too much damage is done, the complaint should continue. The headline must have been something of a kick in the teeth for the 3,017 people purged from voting in the Labour leadership election of 2016 either by suspension, expulsion or having membership denied for far less reason than the cause of the investigation against Hodge.
It is doubtful that many (if any) of those 3,107 would have had the means to so challenge the decisions, often arbitrarily made against them, let alone access to a Silver Circle law firm that:
Grace Blakeley also raises a good point:
In a party that designates itself as "the party of equality", the complaint should be fully investigated to show that there is not one rule for members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and another for Labour Party members in general.
There's a huge debate in the Labour Party right now about antisemitism (again, just as Labour are ahead in the polls funnily enough). The current furore is over the acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Labour have accepted the definition but changed the working examples so there is scope for political debate about Israel. You can read more about it here.
According to Jennie Formby, General Secretary of the Labour Party, the NEC Code takes the IHRA Working Definition and supplements it “with additional examples and guidance”, thus creating “the most thorough and expansive Code of Conduct on anti-Semitism introduced by any political party in the UK”. Similarly, Jon Lansman, a fellow member of the NEC, calls the Code “the new gold standard” for political parties, “stronger than anything of its kind adopted by any political party in this country”. The Code, he says, “fully adopts the IHRA definition, and covers the same ground as the IHRA examples” but goes further, making it more workable. That is the view from the inside."
The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) were unhappy with this and on Monday 16th July passed a motion calling on the National Executive Committee (NEC) to drop the code of conduct proposals. On Tuesday 17th July, the NEC refused to allow a vote on the proposals instead deciding to consult more Jewish groups over the Summer. A Labour spokesperson said:
“The NEC upheld the adoption of the code of conduct on antisemitism, but in recognition of the serious concerns expressed, agreed to reopen the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups, in order to better reflect their views.”
However, Margaret Hodge, a member of the pro-Israel / generally anti-Corbyn Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), was seemingly incensed by this. According to witnesses she approached Jeremy Corbyn after the Trade Bill votes on Tuesday evening and said to him:
You're a fucking anti-Semite and a racist. You don't want people like me in the party."
To which Corbyn is reported to have replied calmly:
I’m sorry you feel like that.”
Corbyn's office has since said that action will be taken.
Twitter exploded, with certain justification. The PLP are quick to jump on abuse from alleged Corbyn supporters and refer to it time and again in the media, yet here is a member of the PLP verbally abusing the leader of the party. When it comes to the language she used, it is interesting to compare it to when Catherine Starr applied to join the Labour Party to vote in the 2016 leadership contest. Her application was famously rejected because of a post on Facebook which said:
I fucking love the Foo Fighters"
Therefore, Corbyn supporters were understandably irate about Hodge's verbal abuse. The whole situation stank of rank hypocrisy. From the abuse angle and from the swearing angle.
The next day's response of the right wing of the PLP, including many members of LFI, was a co-ordinated tweet-a-thon about how Margaret Hodge saved her constituency, Barking, from the BNP.
So... Did Margaret Hodge actually save Barking from the British National Party (BNP)? In 2006 the BNP won 11 of the 13 seats it contested in local elections, after which there were calls for Hodge to be deselected and by 2010 had they had 12 seats. In 2007 Hodge assimilated the rhetoric of the BNP around the housing issue in particular, in much the same way as the Tories have assimilated the rhetoric of UKIP to hoover up their support since Brexit. She called for social housing policy to take account of length of residence, citizenship and national insurance contributions.
We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants"
This garnered praise from BNP councillor, Richard Barnbrook:
I am indebted to you for having the gumption to tell the truth about housing allocation"
and he reportedly wanted to deliver flowers to her for supporting BNP policy.
The Labour Party however, were horrified:
There is no evidence whatsoever that immigrants are causing a problem with social housing. My problem with that is that's the kind of language of the BNP and it's grist to the mill of the BNP."
Housing is allocated according to need and it is disingenuous for Margaret Hodge to suggest otherwise. The problem is lack of housing supply and it's a shame she wasn't so vocal in the campaign for the building of more council housing"
It is not fair for her to play one group of people off against another. Margaret Hodge is missing the point. The problem is clear, there are not enough council houses to meet the demand."
In 2010 Nick Griffin, the BNP leader himself, contested the Barking seat and came third with 6,620 votes compared to Hodge's 24,628. Did she see him off? Or did she attract enough of his voters by pandering to BNP rhetoric? Or perhaps credit should instead be given to the multicultural voters of Barking, where turn out was high, thanks to Labour campaigners, for not voting for Griffin. Indeed, Griffin himself blamed the high turnout for placing him at a disadvantage and for leading to all 12 council seats being lost.
As for Liz Kendall's tweet saying Hodge has "fought tax dodgers" and for women's rights, it has perhaps slipped her memory that in 2013 the Telegraph headline was:
and if you were to dig further back to her time as leader of Islington Council:
We also shouldn't forget she has form for haranguing Corbyn - from the being one of the instigators in the letter of no confidence in 2016 to this in Islington in 1995:
Imagine disliking someone so intensely for so long then they become leader of your party. How that must stick in her gullet. However, it's no excuse for the hypocritical verbal abuse which should now be dealt with - with the severity that Labour Party members using similar language, in abusive and non abusive situations, have been dealt.
Theresa May is so scared of a leadership challenge over her Chequers Deal that she has suggested parliament break up for recess a week early. At a time when the UK is facing it's biggest peacetime challenge, May wants everyone to go on holiday.
Even though some MPs are against:
it is expected to pass.
This is quite despicable. Since the House returned on 5th September 2017, parliament has been in recess for 71 days, not including conference season. You can see the dates here. Summer recess, starting on 24th July as originally planned, would add another 42 days. So in this parliamentary year, MPs will have 16 weeks and 1 day in recess. Adding another 5 days, as May is suggesting, will make one day short of 17 weeks of holiday in one year. That is more than school children, who are better behaved and teachers who, I would argue, work much harder. You don't see teachers finding the time to write newspaper columns for example, books even, owning other businesses etc. You may find teachers having second jobs, as many MPs do but not usually through choice and not usually in high, well paid, corporate positions with a revolving door when their teaching career ends.
MPs will argue that they use recess time to catch up with their constituencies, that it is not holiday as such. They may indeed spend some of this time pursuing constituency business but to all intents and purposes they are on holiday.
In what other area of work does anyone get so much holiday? Indeed, what business would be expected to run itself for 6 weeks while it's bosses all went on holiday? MPs are paid more money than most of us could dream of and they can claim huge expenses on top of that. Many go straight into highly paid, corporate positions when their career in politics is over, thanks to that ever revolving door. The pension scheme is more generous than many of us could hope for and worth the insecurity of tenure that it is purported to reflect. More information on parliamentary pensions can be found here:
The current parliamentary system is a disgrace and it's in every MP's interest to perpetuate it. Therefore, it will never change. It is too steeped in tradition and privilege, with MPs hungry for the revolving door that follows, for any of them to vote for it to change. But change it should. Sixteen weeks of holiday is obscene. Making it seventeen makes it even more so.
On 23rd June, 2018 there was an Anti-Brexit march which called for a People's Vote on the final deal. It was attended by various MPs from across the political spectrum, including Tim Farron, former Liberal Democrat leader and Vince Cable, current Liberal Democrat leader. Rightly so, as the Liberal Democrats have positioned themselves as the pro-Remain party. Their mission is to save the country from Brexit.
At the march, the crowd delighted in taking the, "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" chant from the general election campaign last year and turning it into, "Where's Jeremy Corbyn?"
Yesterday, less than a month later, there were crucial votes on amendments to the Chequers Deal. The amendments to the resulting Taxation (Cross-border) Trade Bill were forced on Theresa May by the hard Brexit, European Research Group (ERG). Two of the votes only just scraped through by a majority of three.
It is worth mentioning here that many Tories rebelled in these two votes and the reason they passed is because of three Labour MPs - Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer. I've linked to their Twitter pages, apart from Stringer who doesn't have one, if you'd like to tweet them about this.
However, the leader and ex leader of the Liberal Democrats were nowhere to be seen. Far from riding in on their white chargers to save the day, they just didn't show. Tim Farron was at this event:
Earlier this week, prior to Donald Trump's first visit to the UK since becoming President of the United States, it was mooted that he would like to meet his "friend" Boris Johnson. Indeed the US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said:
Boris Johnson has been a friend of the President"
Trump himself has said that Johnson would:
make a great Prime Minister"
All of which makes you wonder if they know what Johnson has said about Trump in the past.
In 2015, during his campaign to become the Republican Presidential candidate, Trump claimed that there were no go areas in London, where even police were too scared to go. He had been talking about banning Muslims from America when he said:
We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives. We have to be very smart and very vigilant"
To which Johnson replied:
I think Donald Trump is clearly out of his mind if he thinks that's a sensible way to proceed, to ban people going to the United States in that way, or to any country. What he's doing is playing the game of the terrorists and those who seek to divide us. That's exactly the kind of reaction they hope to produce.
He went on to say:
Crime has been falling steadily both in London and in New York - and the only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
Surely Trump and Woody Johnson know this? If they don't, should we tell them? Should we warn them of his hypocrisy, duplicity and disloyalty? That the only person to whom Boris Johnson is a friend, is himself? Because, as Theresa May has found out, with friends like Johnson who needs enemies? Or would it be much more fun to let them find out for themselves?
Besides the fact it might prompt a challenge to May's leadership and so potentially force a general election.
The top 5 reasons, in pictorial form so even he can understand.
4. Davis N0-Notes