The Corbynista left professes to be totally opposed to voter ID checks, arguing they disenfranchise minorities and are exclusionary. Labour’s bitterly fought Lewisham East byelection selection takes place tomorrow morning. Labour members will have to bring ID cards in order to vote, obviously.
Jeremy Corbyn’s new peer Martha Osamor is embroiled in an anti-Semitism storm after it emerged she mounted an extraordinary defence of some of Labour’s worst anti-Semites. On 15 June 2016, Osamor signed a letter protesting against the suspension of several Labour members who had made virulently anti-Semitic comments. The letter – which itself should be enough to warrant suspension – defended the notorious Tony Greenstein, who was kicked out of the party after Labour’s NCC found him guilty of “repeatedly using ‘zio’ as a term of derision, stating ‘Gay zionists make me want to puke’ and referring to others as ‘Zionist scum’”. Osamor personally backed Greenstein.
The Osamor letter also defended Jackie Walker, insisting her suspension was “applied and publicised in haste, without due consideration”, and welcoming her re-admission to the party (Walker was later suspended again for claiming that Jews financed the slave trade). Osamor thinks Jackie Walker should still be in the Labour Party.
Osamor’s letter remarkably backed Ken Livingstone’s claims that Hitler was a Zionist: “It appears allegations of anti-Semitism are being used to stifle the sharing of information on some of the uncomfortable events that took place during the Shoah”. Osamor specifically called for Momentum activist Marlene Ellis to have her suspension overturned. Ellis called for Ken to be reinstated and dismissed Naz Shah’s call for Jews to be transported out of the Middle East as “not so outrageous within the historical context and involvement of Zionists with Nazis”. And the letter defended David White, the Croydon CLP secretary who was suspended for saying Ken was “largely accurate” to say Hitler was a Zionist. It appears Osamor thinks Ken and his defenders have done nothing wrong.
Osamor’s letter said the suspensions for anti-Semitism “undermine serious discussion and thinking”. What “serious discussion and thinking” about Jews does Osamor want to have? She goes on to claim “Allegations are also being made to silence criticisms of Israel, hamper the work of Momentum activists, and undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn”. This is a viewpoint Corbyn has himself condemned – so why is he putting Osamor in the Lords?
Her letter then compared the anti-Semitism scandal to the McCarthy era and the Salem witch trials. It states:
“We are uncomfortable with the parallel between the suspensions and what took place during the McCarthy era in the United States… Some members of the Party appear to have exploited a somewhat hysterical atmosphere which has been allowed to develop. This is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, rather than of calm, rational consideration… The current suspensions are perceived as a tool to intimidate activists on the Left which is inimical to the progress of the Labour Party.”
Just three weeks ago, Osamor shared another letter to the Guardian on her Facebook page which claimed Labour’s anti-semitism crisis was “weaponised” by the media to damage Corbyn and Labour ahead of the local elections. Again, this is a position Corbyn has condemned.
If a typical Labour member had said the things in Osamor’s letter, endorsing Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marlene Ellis and David White, they would be suspended. Instead Corbyn has given Osamor a peerage. Labour have been approached for comment. Will they act in light of these new revelations?
UPDATE: Martha Osamor says in a statement:
“I am and always have been implacably opposed to antisemitism and have spent my life as an anti-racist campaigner. As Jeremy has said clearly, raising concerns about antisemitism is not a smear. I welcome Jennie Formby’s recent actions as Labour’s new General Secretary to ensure there is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
Labour are declining to defend Osamor and have made her put out a statement in her own name. Oh dear…
UPDATE II: Campaign Against Antisemitism condemn Corbyn and Osamor:
“Mr Corbyn has promised action, not just words, against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Today his actions speak louder than ever. By elevating Ms Osamor to the peerage, Mr Corbyn has sent an unmistakable signal to those in the Jewish community who still harboured some hope that he might change. Mr Corbyn is telling us not only that he sees her behaviour as unproblematic, but that he sees it as being worthy of the highest honour and a lifelong seat in the House of Lords. Yet again, Mr Corbyn has sent the Jewish community a two-fingered salute, and the Labour Party has looked on inertly.”
Number 10 twist the knife into Bercow:
“PM has seen the alleged remarks and clearly thinks they are unacceptable. If a complaint is made then it should be fully investigated.”
Could the Speaker’s time finally be up?
This is the moment John Bercow allegedly called Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman” and “f***ing useless” on Wednesday. In an extraordinarily bad-tempered rant, even by the Speaker’s standards, Bercow eyeballs Leadsom and admonishes her in a particularly aggressive manner. Leadsom is so unimpressed at Bercow’s macho behaviour that she deliberately looks away and refuses to make eye contact. When you watch the video, you can see this visibly infuriates the pint-sized Commons ref, whose bluster builds into an almost deranged crescendo. When the Speaker finishes, the camera pans out. At this point Bercow turns to the left, clearly gesticulates towards Leadsom and appears to say something. An eye-witness tells Guido that Bercow said a number of words, one of which was definitely “outrageous”. Bercow does not deny that he also called her a “stupid woman” and “f***ing useless”.
The Speaker has previously flat out denied all the recent bullying allegations against him. Guido understands he has not denied this one because he fears footage will emerge proving he did say it. Footage in the Commons is controlled by the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit. There is always a camera on the Speaker, the PBU will have had the footage, as yet they are not being forthcoming about helping to clear up what was said. As with all parliamentary bodies, all roads lead to the Speaker, so the PBU will be under immense internal pressure to cover this up. This week MPs on the Standards Committee voted to block an investigation into Bercow. He is being protected by the system. Anyone who comes by the footage can leak it to Guido in confidence here…
A bizarrely shouty crackers episode of BBC Question Time last night – even by its current standards – during which the audience was allowed to heckle and jeer questions on Grenfell and the situation on the Gaza border. One audience member quipped to the mob: “this is not a Momentum meeting”…
Meanwhile, in the close-up cuts, it emerged one audience member sitting behind a questioner had worn their “you’re never more than 10 feet from a Tory” t-shirt, emblazoned with a giant rat and anarchist logo. Political banners and signs are not allowed in the audience. After a series of controversies involving hardcore Labour activists posing as audience members on the show – including one veteran agitator who was ejected – the producers last year boasted of the programme’s “rigorous background checks” to ensure balance. Looks like some more basic checks might be in order…
Only one Brexiter, again…
Eye-watering story from the Love Wapping website, who say they have got hold of internal documents that reveal one of the first orders of business for the new Labour council in Tower Hamlets has been to give themselves a giant pay rise costing a total of almost £400,000. These are the proposed increases to the Special Responsibility Allowances for senior Labour council figures:
How can they justify this to residents of one of the most deprived areas of London?
Lewisham East by-election candidate Claudia Webbe – who is backed by Corbyn’s office and the Unite and CWU unions – praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a “visionary” and hailed the regime of Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez. Webbe, who is Jezza’s pick in the fight for the candidacy, tweeted her “condolences“ on Casto’s death, despite the despot’s rule seeing widespread human rights abuses, particularly of homosexuals. Last year Webbe jointly hosted a quiz evening for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, where she spoke alongside Len McCluskey, Richard Burgon and a representative from the Cuban Embassy. What a night…
Webbe also praised Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez, whose revolution ultimately led to the collapse of the country’s economy and mass violence. Chavez is now so hated by Venezuela’s poor that last year residents of his hometown burnt down a statue of him. Not hard to see why she got Jezza’s backing…
John Bercow has remarkably granted an emergency SO24 debate to Labour on money resolutions based on exact same Urgent Question he granted to Afzal Khan last week. This is highly unusual behaviour from the Speaker – it is a repeat that allows Labour to bash the government using an emergency measure for what is objectively not an urgent issue. Tory sources say it as ridiculous that Bercow would even hear the application yet alone grant an SO24 debate. That is not the only curious decision the Speaker has made recently…
There was a very big showing on the Tory benches at Business Questions today. Bercow was faced with more questions from the government side than just about ever before. For the first time in years, he chose to cut Business Questions short.
Then there was his grandstanding during the Points of Order after PMQs yesterday. Bercow delivered a long rebuke to Chris Grayling, accusing him of an “abuse” of parliament by failing to give Labour enough warning about his statement on the East Coast Main Line. Bercow issued a direct warning to the government, referring to his nine years in the Commons and, with classic hyperbole, boasting about how they can’t “stop me”. The Labour benches loved it…
“I hope that that message is heard loudly and clearly on the Government Front Bench, at the highest level, by the people in particular by whom it needs to be heard. If I have to make the point again on future occasions, and to use the powers of the Chair to facilitate the rights of this House in other ways, no matter what flak emanates from the Executive, I will do so in the future, as I have always done over the past nine years, and no one and nothing will stop me doing my duty by the House of Commons.”
A pattern is emerging. Yesterday morning Guido revealed Bercow had worked with Labour and advised them on how they could use a humble address motion to attempt to force the government to release private papers on Brexit. This behaviour from the supposedly impartial Speaker left Tory MPs understandably livid.
So what is he doing? Bercow is reliant on the support of Labour MPs to keep him in his job. His position will only truly come under threat when Labour MPs decide to pull the plug. Over the last few weeks, following the bullying revelations and the emergence of Harriet Harman as a possible successor, Labour’s historic support for Bercow has come into question. It appears Bercow is now, more than ever, granting Labour spurious SO24 debates, Points of Order and even advising them on how to use arcane parliamentary procedures to whack the government, in an attempt to shore up the support he needs on the Labour benches. Why would Labour want to get rid of the Speaker if he grants them everything they ask for and uses his position in the chair to facilitate partisan attacks on the government? Bercow and Labour are undermining the impartiality of the office of Speaker to help him stay in post…
Vote Leave’s campaign director Dominic Cummings has refused to appear in front of the DCMS Select Committee next week. Committee chairman Damian Collins has taken umbrage at this and says he will therefore be reporting the matter to the House, presumably to try and get him adjudged to be in contempt of parliament.
It is for the House to decide whether a contempt has been committed and, if so, what punishment should be imposed. The process for raising a complaint of breach of privilege or contempt is, according to Erskine May, as follows:
- A Member writes to the Speaker asking for a specific matter to be given precedence.
- The Speaker announces in the House that he has agreed that the Member may raise that specific matter, and the day on which he will give the matter precedence.
- The Member then tables a Motion on the Order Paper for that future day, as the first item of substantive business after Questions and Statements.
- Such Motions usually take the form of a reference to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, which reports its conclusions to the House in a published Report with any recommendations for further action. But Motions may be tabled in other terms as well and, subject to the Chair’s selection of amendments for debate and decision, may be amended by the House.
The House’s power to punish non-MPs for contempt is untested in the modern age, it would probably fall foul of human rights legislation. In theory Cummings could be summonsed to the bar of the House to be reprimanded or imprisoned. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666…
Barry Gardiner is still pocketing tens of thousands of pounds from a law firm whose head is linked to the Chinese regime. New figures show the Shadow International Trade Secretary has accepted £43,500 from Christine Lee & Co so far this year. The latest donations are on top of £180,000 he previously accepted from the firm…
Christine Lee describes herself as a “legal adviser to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UK” and “legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council” in China. Her son, Daniel Wilkes, works in Gardiner’s office as a parliamentary researcher. The register states Wilkes is “paid by Christine Lee & Co (solicitors) for the work I do in Parliament”…
Gardiner’s current brief concerns international trade with China. He was a vocal advocate of the Hinkley Point power station deal, which involved a Chinese state-backed firm. Both the donations and employing Christine Lee’s son are allowed under parliamentary rules. Beijing Barry, still on the make…
Labour MP Jared O’Mara, who sang about “smashing” women “in the face”, called a constituent an “ugly bitch”, asked Girls Aloud for an “orgy”, said fat women don’t “deserve our respect”, talked about “taking your mum’s virginity” and “receiving fellatio” from Angelina Jolie, wrote about “sexy little slags” being “fingered” and told a woman “I’d lay on your rack any day”, is hosting a coffee and cake party celebrating female equality in his Sheffield Hallam constituency next month. He’s been on a journey…
The announcement this morning by Matt Hancock that stakes on gaming machines (FOBTs) in bookies’ shops are to be cut to a maximum of £2 is being spun as a victory for anti-gambling campaigners and social justice warriors from across the political spectrum – uniting IDS and Tom Watson. It is actually a victory for casinos and amusement arcade owners who lobbied hard to hobble their competitors.
One of the main lobbyists for the change was Gabino Stergides, of the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry, with whom Matt Hancock is pictured above. Among the other funders of the anti-gaming machines campaign were the casinos Genting, Les Ambassadeurs Club, The Palaces and the Hippodrome Casino. Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBT, has been wined and dined by Simon Thomas – the owner of the Hippodrome mega-casino. The whole campaign has basically been funded by the bookies’ gambling industry rivals.
The irony is that in a casino £2 is likely to be the minimum not maximum stake. You can lose much more than £100 on the spin of a roulette wheel…
Channel 4 have today announced a new drama about the referendum starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings. Guido has some suggestions for the rest of the cast…
Rimmer from Red Dwarf as Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott. He’s already nailed the mannerisms.
Vote Leave comms chief Paul Stephenson would have to be played by Bob Odenkirk, aka Saul from Breaking Bad. “Better Call Saul” becomes “Better Call Paul”.
Surely Damian Lewis as Vote Leave spinner Rob “Roxstar” Oxley? He already has the coat and scarf.
Vote Leave’s Lee Cain and James Starkie, above right, were key players behind the scenes and are now SpAds for Boris and Gove respectively. They’d be played by Right Said Fred.
Seriously, how good is this one?
Perma-tanned Leave.EU wind up artist Andy Wigmore would be played by Deuce Bigalow’s Rob Schneider. He knows why.
Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix is the spit of Stephen Merchant. And about as comical a character.
This being Channel 4, the show will no doubt be a big Remainer whinge about data. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory is BeLeave money man Darren Grimes.
Kelly Osbourne just needs a slight trim and a pair of glasses and she is Observer whistleblower Chris Wylie.
Fellow whistleblower Shahmir Sanni promised Watergate and delivered a dodgy Zoolander. He’d be played by Ben Stiller.
And, guest starring as Carole Cadwalladr, Homeland’s Claire Danes.
Albert Einstein defined madness as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Jeremy Corbyn today topped-off a staggeringly poor PMQs performance – naturally, in blindingly severe contrast to last week’s outing – by calling on the Prime Minister to resign. He screeched:
“If the prime minister cannot negotiate a good deal for Britain why doesn’t she step aside and let Labour negotiate… Step aside and make way for those who will.”
In October last year Jezza stood in exactly the same spot and wailed across the despatch box:
“Isn’t it the case that if the PM can’t lead, she should leave?”
Just three days before last year’s general election, when asked whether he would call on May to resign over police numbers, Corbyn replied:
“Indeed I would.”
The same month he said May must:
“Go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.”
Then in September he demanded of her:
“For Britain’s sake pull yourself together or make way.”
Every few weeks, at an increasing frequency, perhaps altered by imperceptible changes in the earth’s magnetic field (observable only to Piers Corbyn) – or due to signal fluctuations received from the short wave radio housed in the attic of the Russian Embassy – Jezza’s behaviour suddenly enters an almost lycanthropic mode. In the dead of night he morphs into the ‘resign now’ monster, a humiliating Hyde to his bumbling Jekyll, an embarrassing form of political lunacy. At PMQs the mask slips and we see a lone oddball, repeatedly bashing his head against the proverbial brick wall, endlessly howling at the moon…
Just before a PMQs Ed Miliband panicked and asked Ayesha Hazarika about his grey hair streak: “I’ve got to ask you something. Just look at me honestly, do you think I look like a badger?” Seriously?
Its a strong look!
Emily Thornberry is rightly under fire for talking up Assad’s popularity in a bizarre interview with Prospect magazine:
[…] Read the rest
“There is an argument that if [President Bashar al-Assad] had been as overwhelmingly unpopular as the rebels told the west at the outset then he wouldn’t be there.