It seems like a distant memory now when Keir Starmer’s last reshuffle was being lauded by SW1 commentators as a shake-up that ‘exuded confidence’ and brought back ‘big beasts’. David Lammy has been working especially hard to undermine Starmer’s intended image of a top team with an eye on winning power. This weekend was no different…
On Times Radio David Lammy told Lucy Fisher that he doesn’t support these strikes:
“I don’t support strikes… It hurts working people… This is not a moment for posturing, standing on picket lines”
Which, regardless of backbenchers breaking Starmer’s no-striking edict, at the very least flies in the face of deputy leader Angela Rayner’s comments that the workers have been “left with no choice”.
Lammy’s comments on the rail strikes weren’t the only words out of his mouth yesterday to outrage unions. He also categorically opposed floated strikes by BA workers, leading to condemnation by Unite’s Sharon Graham who accused Labour of a “direct attack” on workers. There’s just one problem with this – it appears Lammy’s approach to strikes has changed someone since as recently as 2018…
This hard-line attitude from Lammy earned him a damning tweet from his own constituency Labour Party, which wrote “disappointed that our MP won’t stand side by side with his constituents on a picket line”
Disappointed that our MP won’t stand side by side with his constituents on a picket line. A serious MP joins the fight for the working class because that’s their role, to fight for the rights of their residents. #RMT #Strikes https://t.co/8PcwYIa6VL— Tottenham Labour Party (@LabourTottenham) June 26, 2022
The revolution will eat its children, David…
Labour’s Chief Whip, Alan Campbell, will only decide after Saturday’s strike action what, if any, disciplinary action he will take against members of Labour’s frontbench team who defy Starmer’s instructions not to picket today. As per Guido’s morning story, at least two shadow PPSs have already broken the edict, as well as the constituency Labour Party of the Shadow Transport Secretary herself. It’s seemingly not just the rail unions and Labour’s chief whip on strike today; credit to PoliticsHome for getting this line – Guido asked Labour’s press office the exact same question two and a half hours ago to blanket silence…
Yet again, Peter Mandelson has some advice for Sir Keir. It seems the Blairites’ wet dream of a leader is beginning to frustrate moderate grandees; having successfully conducted a purge of the hard left from the party machinery, Starmer’s policy offering remains decidedly thin on the ground. Following the Hartlepool by-election, Mandelson told Labour it needs to learn from Blair. Now he’s got some further suggestions…
Later today Mandelson will use a speech to tell the party to overhaul its economic policy, focusing on raising the country’s growth rate while saying there’s a “desperate need” for the party to retain parts of Tory policy, especially on research and innovation. The arch remainer will say Labour needs to “build a more equitable globalisation” and “pay greater attention to issues connected with national resilience and security” to “mitigate the effects of Brexit.” Specifically on the party’s one remaining Corbynite policy of spending £28 billion every year for 10 years to transition to net zero, he believes:
“Just announcing a massive spend and a big policy goal does not in itself deliver economic growth”
“This only translates into new jobs and prosperity in the U.K. if we are investing in U.K. businesses”
While Mandelson is undoubtedly right about Labour’s almost non-existent policy offering, his own suggestions briefed ahead of the speech seem pretty thin on the ground. We know Sir Keir enjoys LSD – will he be persuaded by Mandy?
Now the Met’s Partygate investigation has concluded with no additional fines for the PM, Labour is realising they’ve truly backed themselves into an awkward corner given it’s now Starmer more likely to be defenestrated. Back when Durham Police launched their investigation, Labour was apoplectic with fury. Emily Thornberry went on LBC to slam the Tories and the press for forcing a politically-motivated hit job on the party:
“I think they have been put under pressure, not just by the media by Conservative MPs, I think there’s been a campaign… I’m saying there’s been systematic pressure and there’s been an enterprise put together by the attack unit at Conservative Party Central Office, this is not being denied…”
Marr: “And the police have folded – I don’t think Durham police would be very happy to hear you say that.”
Now Thornberry appears to have totally changed her tune. With a crocodile smile on Newsnight yesterday she claimed to viewers:
“We welcome the fact Durham are investigating this, and Keir has been perfectly clear about this…
Derbyshire: You don’t welcome it, Emily Thornberry, come on!”
Does Emily really think voters believe her claim that Keir, who looks to be in pain in interviews, welcomes the investigation?
Guido’s campaign to get Labour to publish their shadow cabinet meetings with media proprietors and editors, as pledged following Leveson, seems to be going nowhere, despite repeated promises from Labour HQ to pull their finger out. Yesterday Labour’s relationship with press transparency got colder, when Sir Keir invited just three tame broadcasters into the room, blocking any hacks who may have asked difficult questions from attending. GB News’ Tom Harwood was told this was due to “limited space”. Guido is old enough to remember when the Lobby was collectively outraged when only selected broadcasters were invited by Lee Cain for a briefing…
Bad look for Labour after running away from Lobby all day. pic.twitter.com/wpI7VbfDFj— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) May 9, 2022
Now Guido’s spotted another press frontier on which Labour’s dropping the ball: publishing press releases. Labour’s website hasn’t published a press release in over 40 days, the most protracted period of policy publishing paralysis since Starmer took over.
Prior to David Lammy’s speech the pace of uploads had already slowed down, with seven press releases uploaded in February and just five in March. Perhaps not a good look when even the Labour-supporting press is starting to suggest Sir Keir needs some policies to win, not just claims of personal sainthood…
Following Labour’s smear attempt flop in the New Statesman earlier today, Guido noted how Labour may be learning from the New Labour policy playbook, though they are still a long way from running a competent political briefings operation. By total coincidence, Guido now spots the party has just put up a job ad for a £68,000-a-year “Director of Attack and Rebuttal”. Is Mandelson up to much?
According to the job ad, which also specifies an annual fixed sum allowance of £2,608, the role will involve being:
“responsible for the production and dissemination of materials to support Labour’s election strategy.
The successful candidate will have excellent news judgement, excellent knowledge and understanding of the current political situation, experience of producing content for news stories and successful experience of delivering high quality and accurate written products.”
Starmer actually told the Observer of his plans to create such a role way back in February 2020, begging the question of why it’s taken so long to organise. Should the successful applicant need some tips, they can always get in touch…