Two bald men fighting over Liam Byrne’s reshuffle hopes.
Liam Byrne’s membership of the reality based community upsets lefty types on the best of days, but today they are particularly vocal over his new line of attack. Here’s what Byrne said about the welfare cap to Progress in January 2012:
“…where they go wrong is their politics is divisive and it sets one person against another and you see that, my goodness, running right the way through the Welfare Reform Bill that we get in the House of Commons tomorrow… they are about setting against one neighbour against another, sowing the policies, sowing the politics of division, sowing the problem of ‘the other’ and actually we have to be the party that governs for everyone and that is particularly important at a time when the electorate and the electoral coalitions are in a state of flux”
Now Baldemort has attacked the government for not going far enough with that very same cap. The New Statesman are having such a hissy-fit about it that they label Byrne “morally dubious”. Dubious, perhaps, but only in terms of credibility.
This morning Nick Robinson observed on the Today programme of David Miliband “He was not just the other brother, he was the New Labour brother.” Robinson also reported that one senior figure on the left of the Labour Party told him late last night: “It’s important for the left to avoid triumphalism but it obviously marks the date when New Labour finally accepted that the crisis requires us to turn the page… Now there can be no excuse for timidity [from Ed Miliband] because the Blairites are decisively weakened.”
Milburn, Reid, Purnell and now David Miliband are all gone as they see the writing on the wall, a frontbench packed with more supporters of Ed Balls than David Miliband despite him having won far more support from the parliamentary Labour Party. Dan Hodges identified it yesterday before the news from David Miliband – his brother Ed is a hostage to the left of his party together with the unions who put him in place and hold the purse strings. He can’t move towards the voters on policy without undermining himself and party unity. The Owen Jones digital Bennites are in the ascendant supported by the siren calls of Polly Toynbee, fronting the drive among activists for more left-wing policies – the inherent problem for a party with socialist activists far to the left of the electorate on, for example, welfare reform. As they rise in the polls and scent power the left becomes more furious in its policy demands…
Ed’s current poll lead means the left-wing of his party is in no mood for compromising with the electorate. The remaining Blairites like Liam Byrne are on the receiving end of vitriol last seen when Derek Hatton was in his prime. The unions are in no mood for moderation, Len McCluskey last week wrote to congratulate the 44 MPs who defied a three-line party whip to vote against Liam Byrne’s official line on welfare reform. They enjoy principled opposition, the Blairite accommodation with reality was an aberration, it matters not a jot to much of the rank and file that it was the most successful period in history for the Labour Party. The capacity of the Labour Party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is legendary – a left-wing Labour Party will not form a coalition government in 2015…
Hope South Shields ends up with a North East candidate who sees being an MP as an actual full-time service.
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) March 27, 2013
Above was how Owen Jones greeted the news of David Miliband’s exit from British politics. Tony Blair hints in his more generous statement of his fears “He is obviously a massive loss to UK politics… I hope and believe this is time out not time over.” It is over, all that remains for Labour moderates is for the last of them to switch off the light…
As if by magic, Labour Birmingham Mayor wannabe Siôn Simon has waded into a row entirely manufactured by his allies in Westminster. After Harman and Watson took flack from their colleagues for suggesting that MPs should be banned from triggering by-elections in order give Simon a clear run, he has been able to ride in like a white knight and declare that the plan could not work. There’s one small catch though…
Writing in the Birmingham Post, the union-backed Brownite calls for his rival (either Liam Byrne or Gilesa Stuart) to meet the costs of any by-election from their own pocket:
“Sitting Labour MPs should now be allowed to stand. They should sign undertakings to abide by the result and not to run as independents if they lose, and perhaps also to repay to the Labour party and the Exchequer the cost of their by-elections if they win.”
Wasting taxpayers money is something our Siôn knows all about it. He managed to siphon £21,000 of public money to his sister before being caught red-handed. As an MP he was able to merely pay back the money. As a Mayor in all likelihood he would have been done on corruption charges…
With half the Shadow Cabinet descending on Birmingham this morning there was one very obvious face missing from Ed’s May election campaign launch. How odd that local MP and potential Mayor of Birmingham Liam Byrne was not on the platform, or even invited. Guido has been tipped that there was a row about Byrne, with Labour’s “Campaign Coordinator” (and rival candidate supporting) Tom Watson blocking Baldamort’s attendance.
Though Byrne’s people are denying it, he somehow ended up spending the day in Harlow…
As predicted here, Baldamort is off to run for Mayor of Birmingham. A smart move…
UPDATE: Comrades greet the news:
Great news that Liam Byrne has quit the Shadow Cabinet. He was a major block to Labour ever offering a genuine alternative to the Tories
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) March 29, 2012
UPDATE II: Byrne’s people are said to be furious that this has leaked today. He won’t go until a referendum has gone through in Brum, but had told Ed his intention to run today. The Watson-backed Sion Simon campaign, which will be the Brownite alternative to Byrne, are being accused of dirty tricks in spoiling their rivals launch and briefing the news out on a busy day for minimal impact. This one is going to get nasty…
Liam Byrne is "agonising", a friend says, over whether to go for Labour nomination for Mayor of Birmingham. Odds are he will.
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) March 27, 2012
Michael Crick has finally caught up with what Guido told you in Daily Star Sunday on 11 March:
LEAVING the Treasury after Labour’s General Election defeat, the Birmingham MP Liam Byrne famously left a note for his successor which simply read: “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.” After the uproar this joke caused, Byrne, right, kept his bald head down as a backroom figure for Ed Miliband. Dubbed “Baldamort” by David Cameron, he wants to escape what could be a long opposition. We hear Byrne is being encouraged by the likes of Alan Johnson to seek Labour’s nomination as the candidate for Mayor of Birmingham. Labour sources seem almost certain he will throw his hat in the Bull-ring. With Brum having a budget of £3.5billion, though, that note might yet come back to haunt him.
It doesn’t say much for the leadership when the person in charge of the policy review for the Labour Party has had enough and is ready to jump ship. A bit like the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party quitting to go and be a police commissioner…
The Labour left and the Guardian are getting very worked up about the perfectly reasonable housing benefit cap proposal
“for example Louise Ryan, 41, who lives with her husband and two children in Islington, north London, will see the £438-a-week benefit, which covers the rent, reduced to £340 under the changes to housing benefit introduced this month.”
To just afford that £438 rent those of us who work would have to earn as below:
That rent alone is higher than median wages. It takes the taxes of four people on median wages to cover Louise’s rent. Add on her other benefits and Louise has a household income equivalent to a working family with a household income of over £40,000. Where is the social justice in paying welfare benefits to people that are higher than the majority of the tax paying working people’s take home pay? This simply cannot continue.
To be fair the Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne recognises this, so the Labour left have begun excoriating him as “a reactionary”. The ubiquitous Owen Jones, author of “Chavs“, is representative of the Labour left. He thinks it is “progressive” to pay out to welfare recipients more in benefits than the majority of working people earn:
"Labour says it supports the principle of the benefit cap" – sorry, what? http://t.co/ZUh0OHB0 That's it – Liam Byrne has to go.
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) January 2, 2012
The Guardian reckons thousand of benefit recipients will have to move out of Kensington and Chelsea. Doesn’t your heart bleed? Guido really hopes that Owen Jones succeeds in getting the Labour Party to go into the election with a manifesto commitment to reverse the cap. It will be a huge electoral liability on the doorstep…
Liam Byrne has popped his head above the parapet this morning to slam Francis Maude as “Britain’s most expensive butcher”. Apparently the government’s promised “Bonfire of the Quangos” has been a damp squib. But what’s this from July 2009?
The Treasury has called for a crackdown on quangos, which are costing taxpayers billions each year.
Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has written to Whitehall departments demanding an urgent review of all quangos to assess which can be abolished, merged with other bodies or taken back directly into their ministries.
Where’s your axe now Baldemort?
What We Learned From the Referendum | FT
Scottish Crisis Moves South | Nick Wood
English Democrats Accidentally Celebrate Yes Victory | Pink News
Union In Its Current Form is Dead | Janan Ganesh
Labour Could Be Split in Two | Sun
Ashcroft Poll: Why Scotland Voted No | Buzzfeed
Boris: Change Barnett Formula | Sun
Cameron is Back | Dan Hodges
What Happens Now | James Kirkup
Cairo of the North | Quentin Letts
Labour are the Biggest Losers | Phil Collins
Diane Abbott on the Daily Politics:
“Labour MPs will unite behind Ed Miliband, once we find out what our policies are.”