EU Blocks Publication of MEPs’ Expenses – Again

The EU has again blocked the publication of MEPs’ expenses, with Euro-judges today quashing a three-year battle by journalists to get the documents published after the European Parliament itself previously refused to hand over any details. The judges in the ECJ’s sister court ruled that the Parliament was right not to publish the documents as it would enable the MEPs to be individually identified. That’s precisely the point…

Scandalously, MEPs will still be able to spend their annual €50,000 ‘General Expenditure Allowance’ – which they receive on top of their €100,000+ annual salary – without providing any proof of how the money of how the money was spent. MPs’ expenses were the political scandal of the decade in the UK – it’s just par for the course in Brussels…

So if the documents can’t be published because they would identify which MEPs are presently pouring your money down the drain, surely the EU will at least be making them available to the public in redacted form?

Not so. The European Court has blocked this too on the grounds that there wouldn’t be “any useful effect” in publishing the documents – precisely because they did not identify individual MEPs. Even Kafka’s worst nightmares can’t have come close to this…

Corbyn Out-Watted as Deputy Leader Plot Descends Into Farce

Team Corbyn’s feud with Tom Watson took a farcical turn at conference today as their attempts to undermine him backfired spectacularly. Allies of Corbyn had put forward a motion to install a second deputy leader – who was guaranteed to be female – in an attempt to dilute Watson’s influence. Just another day in the happy Labour family…

However, it was Watson who had the last laugh after he turned the row on its head by unexpectedly deciding to support the motion himself, making a “passionate” speech in favour of creating the post on the grounds of gender equality.

Now it was Team Corbyn who suddenly got cold feet at the prospect of a popular woman being given a powerful platform to challenge Corbyn from. The hard-left Campaign for Labour Party Democracy faction started campaigning vigorously against the motion this morning before it was abruptly withdrawn just hours before it was due to be voted on. Too much democracy for them?

A deadpan Watson told the BBC he was “very disappointed” and that it was a “great shame” that the CLPD had opposed a second deputy leader, saying that “they’ve got nothing to fear with more women at the top table…” Watson 1 Corbyn 0

Starmer’s Off-Script Remain Pitch Thrills Labour Conference

Sir Keir Starmer achieved the biggest cheers of Labour Conference so far for his endorsement of a second referendum on EU membership. The speech could have come straight from the 2016 referendum campaign – Starmer waxed lyrical about the benefits of EU membership while saying he was “devastated” by the outcome of the referendum. Dennis Skinner was not impressed…

Starmer’s “nobody is ruling out remain as an option” line was not in the pre-briefed version of his speech. This appears to be a deliberate move to ramp up the pressure on McDonnell and Corbyn ahead of the vote today. So much for the Labour “unity” he was talking about this morning…

Voters: Corbyn Incompetent on Brexit

Sky News has found that 71% of people think Jeremy Corbyn is not competent to negotiate Brexit, compared to just 22% thinking he is competent. Views of the Labour Party as a whole aren’t much better, with 68% of people thinking the party is not competent, and just 25% thinking it is.

How’s that “constructive ambiguity” working out for ya?

DJ Rayner Cuts Shapes to Stomzy

Shadow Education Secretary and touted Deputy Leadership candidate Angela Rayner was seen cutting some shapes at the CWU’s Monday night party at Labour Conference. She was on the decks playing Stormzy’s ‘Never Too Big For Your Boots.’

Sadly no sign of part-time DJ part-time MP Jared O’Mara…

Comical Keir: Labour ‘United on Brexit’

Sir Keir Starmer was doing his best impression of Comical Ali on Today this morning as he tried to deny the gaping chasms within the Labour Party over Brexit.

First he suggested that John McDonnell had only ruled out Remain being an option in a second referendum yesterday because he hadn’t had enough sleep:

KS: We finished our meeting about one in the morning and then John was up early doing the media round. I think John, to be fair…

NR: He was struggling with not enough sleep?

KS: No, no, to be fair, John did a number of interviews yesterday…

Starmer tried to move things on to Labour’s upcoming vote on a Brexit motion today, claiming that there was going to be “unity” behind it. In reality the Labour Party rank and file are confused, Guido suspects this confusion is a deliberate continuation of the strategic ambiguity on Brexit that is the party’s only consistent policy…

UPDATE: Starmer has refused to confirm that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th next year under Labour, telling TalkRadio’s Ross Kempsell that Labour could extend Article 50 depending on the circumstances. How is this piece of constructive ambiguity going to go down with Labour’s Brexit voters?

 

UPDATE II: The Tories are keen to point out that Keir Starmer previously said the official position was ‘There’s no dispute that Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019. Labour voted to trigger Article 50 and we did so knowing that we would leave the EU within two years’

Momentum Encouraging Mass Unemployment

Visitors to Momentum’s The World Transformed conference have been enjoying this delightful piece of ‘artwork’ calling for people to have the “right” to sit on their backsides all day while living off other people’s hard work. Where do they think their kale and quinoa superfood salads are going to come from? 

The left has truly gone full circle – the great campaigners of the past fought to ensure that everyone could have jobs. Now Momentum members are actively trying to promote unemployment on a national scale. Perhaps it’s inspired the many Shadow Cabinet members who’ve been popping down to TWT to address the faithful…

McDonnell and Starmer at War Over Second Referendum

John McDonnell seemingly offered a rare shred of clarity on Labour’s Brexit position this morning when he appeared to rule out the possibility of Labour supporting a second referendum with Remain as an option. He told Today and Good Morning Britain that Labour accepted the result of the first referendum and a “People’s Vote” would be on whether to accept the deal or not.

This clarity was short-lived as Keir Starmer publicly slapped down McDonnell this afternoon, insisting that “we weren’t ruling out options, and nobody was ruling out Remain”The two positions are not fudged. They are irreconcilable…

Teacher at Labour Conference: Teach Children to not be Tories

Sion Rickard, a teaching assistant and “cover supervisor” who teaches classes of children was applauded and whooped at Labour Conference for shouting that “If we give [children] a proper education… we’ll probably not have any tories because we will have brought up our kids properly.”

Last year Tory MP Bob Stewart revealed that a teacher told his son’s class to not talk to him “because he’s the son of a Conservative MP.”

More Brits See Labour as Racist than Tories

YouGov have found that more people see the Labour Party as racist than the Tories. Despite his repeated claims to be an “anti-racist campaigner”, twice as many Brits think Jeremy Corbyn is racist (20%) than think the same for Theresa May (11%).

The same poll found that 30% of Brits think Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, compared to just 5% who believe Theresa May to be. Intriguingly, the same number of Brits see Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn  as Islamophobic, at 9% each…

Corbyn ‘Death Trap’ Cab’s MOT Mystery

After Guido reported that Labour’s ‘Corbyn Cab’ was campaigning earlier this year without an MOT, the car quickly passed a new one. Strangely, just a month later the car had a highly unusual second MOT, eleven months before it was required to. The Corbyn Cab spectacularly failed this second MOT, with fourteen major defects. According to Guido’s man in the blue-overalls it was a ‘Death Trap’. How did the Corbyn Cab pass its MOT test right after Guido’s story when it had fourteen major defects which were identified only a month later?


Taxi for Corbyn…

McDonnell’s Clause IV Moment

John McDonnell has given a full-throated endorsement of the principles of Labour’s notorious “Clause IV” that committed the party to “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” until it was removed by Tony Blair in 1995. Margaret Beckett’s face is a picture…

McDonnell: You Can’t Break the Law “These Days”

John McDonnell had a trip down memory lane this morning on LBC, reminiscing about his days in the hard-left Labour bloc on the GLC after Dawn Butler caused a stir by praising the Militant-dominated Liverpool Council of the 1980s for breaking the law. The would-be chancellor lamented that “you can’t break the law these days”. Just the sort of man you’d want to hand the keys to the Treasury to…

Boris Backs IEA’s Alternative Brexit Plan

Boris has given his backing to the IEA’s alternative Brexit plan launched this morning, telling Channel 4 News that it is a “very good piece of work” which “shows the flaws with Chequers” and deals with some of the “difficult questions” around the Irish border.

Brexiteers have been on the back foot since Chequers because of the accusation that they did not have a credible alternative. Now they believe they do…

UPDATE: Boris tweets…

What’s Going On This Week

  •  Monday:
    • Second day of Labour Party Conference
    • John McDonnell speech: 12:15
  • Tuesday:
    • Labour to vote on adopting a second people’s vote as party policy.
    • Labour Brexit policy to remain constructively ambiguous.
    • Theresa May at UN General Assembly.
  • Wednesday:
    • Corbyn’s conference speech at 12:15. Strong message here.
    • Last day to vote in Conservative London Mayoral Primary.
    • Peston on Wednesday inaugural show.
  • Thursday and Friday
    • Everyone gets over their hangovers and it starts all over again…

Labour NEC Chair Sparks Anti-Catholic Sectarian Row

Not content with only having a row over anti-Semitism, Labour has now become embroiled in another sectarian row too at conference. Scottish trade unionist Andy Kerr, who chairs Labour’s NEC, said he would not call a delegate to speak if, as he suspected, she had made a sign of a cross before getting up to speak. Anti-popery has long featured in Scottish politics.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said it was “completely unacceptable” and there have been calls for Kerr to resign his NEC post. Scottish Labour has long been plagued by sectarianism. On this evidence they still have a way to go to root it out…

In Full: Alternative Brexit Plan

Brexiteers have released their much-vaunted alternative Brexit plan this morning. Dubbed “Plan A+”, the plan attempts to set out a viable alternative to Chequers and respond to the common critiques of a Canada+ model.

The paper is written by Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote of the IEA and will be launched later this morning by a panel including David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Read for yourself here…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Are You An Anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn?

“Anyone who is suffering racism is in a position to define it.”

“And I say to Rabbi Sacks, with all due respect that is beyond excessive, let’s park that one…”

Corbyn Refuses To Say If He Would Back Remain or Leave

AM: “If there was another referendum now, with one option being broadly speaking stay in the EU, and one option broadly speaking leave the EU, how would you vote?”

JC: “Well, that’s conjecture as to what the question would be.”[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Stephen Bush writing in the New Statesman‘s morning briefing…

“The terrifying truth is that the Opposition is too divided – within the parliamentary party, within the trades unions, within the Shadow Cabinet and even within the leader’s office – to be anything other than a veto player as far as Brexit goes, and the party’s whole gambit is really about trying to make that weakness look like a strength. Keir Starmer saying that Labour is “increasingly likely” to vote down the deal is simply a reflection of the fact that the one thing the Labour party will be able to agree on as far as Brexit goes is that Theresa May’s deal is no good.”

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