On a Zoom call to Labour members last week, as well as Angela Rayner erasing Labour herstory, Sir Keir Starmer boasted that if he were in Government, the lockdown would have come earlier, with stricter controls.
“I think if you look back, what you would have seen from a Labour government is a willingness to act more clearly and more decisively. So we were saying weeks ago that there should be strict controls, that it was clear that the infection was getting out of control, and that the government need to act more quickly and more decisively. And we would have done that.”
At that actual time Starmer was staying very quiet, and his top team were loudly opposing calls for stricter measures. Here’s Shadow Chancellor Anneleise Dodds disagreeing with Rory Stewart’s call to enact harsher measures on Westminster Hour on 8 March:
“I completely take on board what Rory was saying but I’ve been very very impressed by the world of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor… the problem is if you move immediately into, for example measures like stopping large scale events, that can have unintended consequences because people can then congregate in other areas that are actually even more likely to cause contagion.”
“I feel really strongly about this.”
Dodds went on to support the Government’s plan, and emphasised the need to listen to the scientific advice the Government is receiving.
“I don’t think this is a reflection of passivity, just to make that clear. The Action Plan that the Government has set out, and I mean okay the Government are of a different political persuasion to mine, but they have stated that at some point we will have to shift from the containment stage to the delay stage…
They set out the risks from potentially doing that too early. I’m talking about just medical professionals being involved in this [decision to lock down], it’s also got to be those who understand about the set up of the social care system, of other public services, they need to be part of this decision.”
Dodds was defending the work of SAGE against Rory Stewart’s claim on the program that politicians need to be the ones to take decisions as scientists often have a narrow focus.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the approach that was taken, it’s clear that silent Starmer and Government-supportive Dodds would not have done anything particularly differently to the decisions that the Government made early on. Perhaps this is why Sir Keir is doing PMQs tomorrow with Raab, rather than letting his Shadow Chancellor stand in…
Speaking to the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast, Sir Keir confessed his hidden hatred of having to sell himself to the Labour membership during the leadership contest, saying he much prefers having to take leadership decisions as leader of the Labour Party. Labour activists might be seeing red flags with Theresa May’s face on right now…
Shy Starmer clearly managed to overcome his timidity with the help of the £175,000 he’s declared that he raised from just three donors, on top of £22,000 in freebies – which included printing (presumably of his campaign poster). Starmer’s confession of modesty will come as a shock to Labour’s 500,000 members, who during the leadership campaign each received a giant poster of Keir Starmer’s beaming face, captioned with the phrase “Integrity, authority, unity”. Not the typical move of a modest man…
McDonnell’s Socialist Campaign Group is driving a wedge between Labour’s hard left and the party’s new leadership in response to the leaked Antisemitism report. Labour’s former leadership duo have resisted speaking publicly about the document, written by their allies before their toppling from power. Until now…
Speaking to a video conference of Momentum’s new internal faction ‘Forward Momentum’, the former shadow chancellor said, “the recent leaked report has demonstrated just what we were up against. Even for me, even though we knew there was undermining taking place, even to me it’s pretty staggering”, claiming to have been ‘staggered’ at the “language used, the bullying, the racism and sexism”.
McDonnell drove the wedge between the former and current Labour leadership further, claiming Sir Keir’s response – in the form of an investigation into how the document was leaked – does not go far enough, and arguing the main focus of any investigation “has got to be the substance of the report and the way in which people were abused and the undermining of the Jeremy Corbyn campaign to win that election in 2017.” Guido’s not sure an investigation drawing public attention to the content of the 850-page report will do the Labour Party any favours…
Read the full transcript of McDonnell’s comments in full below:
Corbyn claims to the New Statesman that but for the PLP coup attempt he could have won…
“We were within a whisker of winning that general election. And had the party been more united than we had been in 2016, I’m absolutely confident we could have won that general election, because it was all absolutely going our way and our manifesto was very much in tune with the way people were feeling.”
So why did they lose in 2019 with a Corbynite manifesto and Corbyn chosen Shadow Cabinet?
Labour activists really got into the true meaning of Easter this weekend, spending days arguing over their historic mistreatment of Jewish people. Left-wingers are sharing a leaked internal report produced at the fag end of the Corbyn era – by Corbynistas – to prove that they were wronged by the moderate senior management team at Labour HQ. This is undoubtedly true and that makes it even funnier. We have a copy and unfortunately we’re holding back on publishing it in full for now because we think a lot of names should probably, in all fairness, be redacted. Having skim read it – 851 pages – Guido can confirm it is both an hilarious and tragic score settling opus.
Starmer has announced an “independent inquiry” into the hyper-factional internal inquiry document:
“We have seen a copy of an apparently internal report about the work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism. The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern. We will therefore commission an urgent independent investigation into this matter. This investigation will be instructed to look at three areas. First, the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned and the process involved. Second, the contents and wider culture and practices referred to in the report. Third, the circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain.
We have also asked for immediate sight of any legal advice the Labour Party has already received about the report. In the meantime, we ask everyone concerned to refrain from drawing conclusions before the investigation is complete and we will be asking the General Secretary to put measures in place to protect the welfare of party members and party staff who are concerned or affected by this report.”
Some of the thousands of quoted emails and WhatsApp messages are hilarious. Guido is glad to see the moderates are as contemptuous of the Trots as proper right-wingers.
Guido’s already seen one Labour councillor be kicked out of the party for saying Boris “deserves this” after the Prime Minister was rushed to intensive care on Monday night. Labour HQ might, therefore, be equally interested in looking over the Facebook account of Leeds councillor Julie Heselwood.
In response to a post by TV and radio presenter Ryan Swain, Cllr. Heselwood wrote
“It’s a publicity stunt-they we’re [sic] doing badly being criticised for their handling of this, next thing he’s in hospital in ICU-a publicity stunt fir [sic] sympathy and to change the narrative. Don’t fall for it”
When someone called Jools out, Labour’s councillor doubled down, saying
“I just understand politics-abd I’m out there in the community I represent”
Conspiracy theorist Julie might want to question why NHS staff would sacrifice a bed in an IC unit just to help government propaganda. Unless the doctors and nurses are in on the conspiracy too...
UPDATE: The West Leeds Dispatch reports that Jools Heselwood has removed her comments from Facebook and issued an unreserved apology and written to the leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake to say:
“I am deeply sorry for my crass and offensive comments about Boris Johnson’s hospital treatment. I was wrong, I should never have made that claim and I apologise unreservedly. I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery and my thoughts are with him and his family at what I know is a very difficult time for them.”
A Labour party spokesperson added in a statement:
“Leeds City Council is working round the clock in one of the country’s largest districts to respond to this global public health crisis. All Labour councillors are doing what they can to keep services running, keep people safe and support their communities. Julie Heselwood fully accepts her post was wrong and has apologised unreservedly for it.”
UPDATE 22/04: Heselwood has been sacked from her council cabinet role