Gerry Downing, who was expelled from the Labour Party after Guido revealed his rants about “the Jewish question”, has vowed to vote in the leadership election. Downing told LBC he will seek to vote as an affiliate member via his trade union. Marc Wadsworth, the Momentum activist who was suspended after abusing a Jewish MP, also says he will vote as an affiliate. Will Labour HQ try to block them?
Members of a private Facebook group which organised £25 payments for people to vote for Corbyn used an unsubtle code to disguise what they were up to. Thousands of Corbynistas signed up to the secret “Gimme 25 page” yesterday, all asking for the exact same sum, £25, to pay their “internet data” and other necessities by the exact same deadline, 5pm. The fee to vote in the Labour leadership election was £25 and the deadline was, you guessed it, 5pm. Guido has spoken to one source who joined the group and submitted a request £25 to vote for Owen Smith. The administrators of the group did not approve his post. Labour successfully shut down one group doing similar but last night large numbers claimed to have successfully had their votes paid for via “Gimme 25”. Good luck weeding them out, Iain McNicol….
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) July 21, 2016
There are many reasons to vote for a change of Labour leadership. Not having Diane Abbott on the radio every morning is just one of them…
— Michael Dugher MP (@MichaelDugher) July 21, 2016
Guido can reveal the existence of several new funds offering to help people pay the £25 charge to vote for Corbyn, after Labour yesterday shut down a Just Giving page doing the same thing. One private Facebook group named “Gimme 25” has amassed almost 3,000 members. It avoids explicitly saying that the money will pay for votes for Corbyn. But the intention is clear:
“Sometimes if you just had £25 to help towards something important it would make all the difference. There are many people who could probably spare £25 for someone who needs it much more than they do. This group is about bringing those categories of people together. Don’t think of it as begging, just think of it as direct socialism”
A second group named the “Hardship fund” claims to have raised almost £10,000:
Meanwhile Labour supporters have received unsolicited phone calls from Corbynista activists directing them to Facebook groups offering to pay the £25 charge. One Labour supporter says:
“Just got off the phone to a dude who offered to pay me 25 quid so I can go vote for Corbyn. He definitely got my number via ‘Momentum’, but it seems like a personal mobile. He suggested a few pages that are unofficially paying for peoples memberships, when I said I didn’t have the money.”
£25 is a small price to pay to Save Jez…
Theresa May was sounding an awful lot like the last female PM, she opened with a jibe: “In my years here in this house, I’ve long heard the Labour party asking what the Conservative Party does for women. It keeps making us Prime Minister.”
She was at her most Thatcheresque on Corbyn’s troubles:
“He refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity, and potentially unscrupulous bosses. I suspect that there are many members of the opposition benches who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss. A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers; a boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload; and maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career. Remind him of anybody?”
Chills up Guido’s spine…
An astonishing piece of colour in Nick Watt’s Newsnight profile of Owen Smith:
“During his time as a BBC radio producer, he was once asked to get a police response to an unfolding crime story. Smith telephoned 999, prompting an official complaint from the Met.”
The man wants to be Prime Minister…
Self-proclaimed “Barry boy” Owen Smith lived in a huge house in Surrey while he worked as an £80,000-a-year lobbyist for Pfizer, Guido can reveal. Despite his much-vaunted working class credentials, our pictures show the Labour leadership contender lived in a stunning four bedroom home in the desirable stockbroker belt village of Westcott. Smith registered the address on the electoral roll and declared it to Companies House when he was a director at the Bevan Foundation. He moved to Wales shortly after he was elected in 2010, and the property was sold in November that year for a £250,000 profit. The estate agent described it as “a beautiful family home which has been the subject of much recent improvement and extension”. According to Zoopla it is now worth well over a million pounds. Only one kitchen though, otherwise Oily Smith really would be the Welsh Ed Miliband…
Topline figures from Ipsos MORI’s July political monitor might have made gloomy reading for Corbyn supporters. When asked whether or not they agree that Corbyn has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister, only 23% agreed, with 68% disagreeing, 6% impartial, and 3% “Don’t Know” (Eagle scored 21%, 40%, 15%, and 24% respectively).
However, when this is broken down into just Labour voters, the picture changes dramatically. 47% of Labour voters agree Jez has what it takes to be a good PM – compared to just 30% for Angela Eagle. In total, net 3% of Labour voters agreed with the question for Corbyn, compared to -7% for Eagle. These are voters – not members – and therefore could represent Labour’s core more accurately than internal membership polls. Though the distinction is irrelevant – both Labour members and voters clearly back Corbyn…
Opponents of Owen Smith complain that the Labour whips office has intervened to ensure he beats Angela Eagle’s number of nominations. Smith was spotted deep in discussion with whip and top schemer Conor McGinn yesterday – the pair are close and McGinn’s wife used to work for Smith as an aide. McGinn, who was accused of orchestrating Shadow Cabinet resignations, is incidentally very close to Tom Watson…
Who is helping run Smith’s operation? Heidi Alexander and Lucy Powell have been canvassing on his behalf, and Vernon Coaker has been talking him up on the terrace. Smith has the backing of the “old right” of the party, which is ironic given he used to be a Blairite and is now positioning himself as a competent version of Corbyn. Smith’s official line is that he only decided in the last few days that he had to stand. This has surprised Labour MPs who received phone calls six months ago asking if they would support his bid. It’s a slick operation for “oily” Smith…
An email from “Judith” over Tom Watson’s threats to the Labour leadership poses a particular highlight in Cameron’s last PMQs against Corbyn. The buoyant PM looks raring to go…
Owen Smith is hoodwinking people on the left of the Labour Party into believing he is one of their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Smith’s nickname when he worked as a corporate lobbyist at Pfizer was “Oily Smith” because everyone was wise to his habit of telling people what he thought they wanted to hear. Here are some of the things he has said in the past…
In an interview with the Western Mail, 10 May 2006, on Iraq, Smith said:
“We are making significant inroads in improving what is happening in Iraq. I thought at the time the tradition of the Labour Party and the tradition of left-wing engagement to remove dictators was a noble, valuable tradition, and one that in South Wales, from the Spanish Civil War onwards, we have recognised and played a part in.”
Yet today Smith claimed he was against the Iraq war:
He supported NHS privatisation:
“Where they can bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services that the NHS is not able to deliver, and where they can work alongside but subservient to the NHS and without diminishing in any respect the public service ethos of the NHS, then I think that’s fine. I think if their involvement means in any way, shape or form the break up of the NHS, then I’m not a fan of it, but I don’t think it does.”
And even welcomed PFI:
“We’ve had PFI in Wales, we’ve had a hospital built down in Baglan through PFI. If PFI works, then let’s do it. What people want to see are more hospitals, better services. City academies in certain parts of inner city Britain, where schools were failing, where children were not being well served, have made great inroads. I’m not someone, frankly, who gets terribly wound up about some of the ideological nuances that get read into some of these things, and I think sometimes they are totally overblown.”
Last year Owen Smith accepted the need for austerity:
“I don’t think it’s realistic to say that they [public spending cuts] are wholly unnecessary. There is a very serious point that we don’t know what would happen to a government that failed to tackle its debts in the long run.”
He went further in the Sunday Express, writing of the deficit that the Labour Party had “…. to acknowledge that when people asked the question, “Did we spend too much?” it wasn’t enough to simply say, “No.” There was a debate to be had, a record to defend and some failings to acknowledge. And our refusal to take that head-on, to ’fess up to shortcomings, was a key reason why people baulked at putting us back in charge.”
“Oily” Smith’s Blairite past is something that will make the now overwhelmingly left-wing membership uncomfortable…
Barriers and police were deployed at Labour HQ to protect National Executive Committee members from their own support base. According to conspirators, 100 protesters gathered at the HQ, with some trying to storm the rear entrance to confront NEC members being ushered in. The NEC are deciding on whether or not to allow Corbyn automatically onto the ballot. Sure that will do their man a lot of favours…
UPDATE: Not a Guido “scoop”, got it from Laura Kuenssberg’s Twitter feed.
UPDATE: Labour NEC votes 17/15 for a secret ballot on whether or not Corbyn should be automatically nominated. Corbyn apparently refusing to leave.
Owen Smith is launching his Labour leadership bid in the next few days. “Who he?” Guido hears you ask. Owen is a career politico who has never had a real job outside politics or the media. Those who know him say the man now pitching himself as the soft left candidate used to be “more Blairite than Blair”, running on a right-wing Labour ticket in 2006. He seems to be Labour’s answer to Alan Mak, as one friend puts it: “he’s been in every single faction in the Labour Party”. And what about his much-vaunted working class credentials? When he began lobbying the government for Pfizer the self-proclaimed Barry boy moved his family to the Surrey stockbroker belt. His CV makes Andy Burnham look in touch…
1986: Joined Labour at 16.
1992: Graduated from Sussex University.
1992-2002: BBC radio producer for shows like Today.
2002-2005: SpAd for Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy.
2005-2008: Head of Government relations for Pfizer.
2006: Lost Blaenau Gwent by-election.
2009-2010: Candidate for Pontypridd, Wales.
2010: Elected to parliament.
2012-2015: Shadow Welsh Secretary.
2015-2016: Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
The Barry boy claiming to be the unity candidate who’ll win over Corbynistas is really a Blairite careerist who’s never had a real job…
Andrea Leadsom has admitted making “misleading” claims about her City career to today’s Times, following up a story questioning her credentials on Iain Martin’s new site Reaction. Andrea’s campaign chief Penny Mordaunt has just been on the Today programme attacking the article as “bogus” and insisting she had a “stellar” banking career. This isn’t the first time an ambitious Tory has been accused of talking up their City CV – remember Sajid Javid last year. Leadsom’s main obstacle is clearly going to be questions over her experience. Guido fact: she has more actual ministerial experience than David Cameron did before he became Tory leader…
At last! Angela Eagle says she is ready to challenge Jez:
“There are many people asking me to resolve this impasse and I will do so. I have the support and I will do if he doesn’t act.”
Owen Smith is briefing that he has more numbers. Labour plotters have long believed this will only work if they can agree on one challenger. Clowns can’t even agree on a single candidate…
Pro-Corbyn supporters are jumping on Cameron’s call for Corbyn to “go“. Dave looked like he was being sincere but has he made it harder for Labour to get rid?
Ed Miliband has now called for Corbyn to go – no Shadow Cabinet job for him then. Momentum have curiously cancelled their “Keep Corbyn” event tonight “due to overwhelming demand”, which is odd. The manoeuvring John McDonnell meanwhile has a “major” speech lined up for Friday morning. Team Corbyn are under no illusions what that means…
Pat Glass has resigned as Shadow Education Secretary after just two days on the job. Got to be a record…
Whips office are mutinous and there are rumours Burnham is considering changing his mind. LOL-tastic.
Today I'm stepping down as Shadow Minister heartbroken at state of Party & recent events so sorry things have came to this, statement later
— Emma Lewell-Buck (@EmmaLewellBuck) June 29, 2016
Burnham says rumours untrue.[…] Read the rest