Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The Last Word: Tragedy in Westminster

An attack on the heart of British democracy, Aaron Bastani’s #fakenews and Jon Lansman’s secret plot – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

This week a terrorist struck at the heart of British democracy – and PC Keith Palmer gave his life protecting it. At the time of writing, three others have died of injuries sustained during Wednesday’s horrific attack. In this tragedy, the unsung heroes of public life – Britain’s public servants – shone brightest. Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative member of parliament, tried in vain to save PC Palmer’s life and, in doing so, earned the admiration of a nation. But it should not take a tragedy of this kind for us to appreciate those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. After the harrowing assassination of Jo Cox, there was much talk of the need to change the nature of Britain’s often toxic discourse – but little action. Within a week ‘business as usual’ had resumed and the trolls were out in force, aping the hateful language of Cox’s murderer without remorse.

If anything good comes from the events of Wednesday afternoon, let it be a redoubling of our determination to rid public life of the language of hatred that, all too often, leads to acts of hatred. We owe that much to the victims of Wednesday’s horrific attack – and to Jo Cox.

You can donate to PC Keith Palmer’s memorial fund here 

FACT: Corbyn has more staff than Miliband

Fake news is everywhere. It is one thing when people exaggerate, another when things are totally fabricated. The latest from the camp once describing themselves as ‘straight talking, honest politics’ is that Jeremy Corbyn’s office is starved of resources and much-needed staff. This, apparently, accounts for his ongoing poor performance.

However, it was revealed at the National Executive Committee this week that this is just not the case – or fake news if you will. Corbyn currently has 28 staff, overseen by Karie Murphy’s ‘unique’ management style, and is advertising for a further four vacancies – soon to be seven as even more leave the sinking ship. Ed Miliband had just 25 for most his leadership, only getting to 28 in the height of the general election.

Skwawkbox – the British Breitbart of the Corbynite hard-left – started this spurious rumour as if it was fact. They have encouraged local parties to pass motions of no confidence in Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary. While councillors are busy trying to hold county council seats and members are working hard for Labour victories in the mayoral and local elections about to take place this nonsense is both unwelcome and vindictive.

Thankfully others in the hard-left know how toxic it is. Corbyn used the NEC to deliver the slapdown and Christine Shawcroft has done the same on Facebook.

Aaron Bastani refuses to take Corbyn’s word for it and say he has too few staff for the founder of Novara Media to get a meeting. Amusing, according to a write up of Jon Lansman’s talk to Hounslow Momentum for the Alliance of Workers Liberty front newspaper the Clarion, the leader’s office is ‘large and unwieldy with lots of staff there to ensure you don’t get to speak to the leader himself’.

I am sure the fact neither Bastani, nor Lansman, can meet their hero should not be taken personally; when they got in touch it was not the fault of his staff – Corbyn was most likely on a lieu day.

Either way, this is fake news. Can we now focus on beating the Tories?

No news here

It came as no surprise that Momentum owner Jon Lansman has a secret plan to both take over the Labour party and, more importantly, arrange for Unite to affiliate to Momentum if Len McCluskey gets reelected. What is surprising is that Lansman believes that a general election would get in the way of the aforementioned plan and their central task to takeover Britain’s centre-left party, rather than focus, the way the rest of us are, to get the Tories out of government.

Tom Watson was castigated in the summer when he shone a light on the 1980s-style entryism taking place in the Labour party. He has not just been vindicated, but many of his worse fears in this regard have been shown to be true. It was right – behind closed doors – that the parliamentary Labour party used Monday’s meeting to back up our deputy leader and ask serious questions about what the Labour leader knows about Lansman’s plans and Sueamas Milne’s uncomradely briefings.

At the heart of Lansman’s plan is the McDonnell amendment – the hard-left’s attempt to reduce the nominations threshold to five per cent of MPs and MEPs. The decision on Labour’s future does not lie with Lansman and his friends in Momentum, but with Labour delegates who have been selected all across the country. Make sure you put yourself forward or support a local moderate to be your constituency Labour party’s delegate to conference, so we can stop the McDonnell amendment and focus on the central task of beating the Tories.

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Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell

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Richard Angell

is director of Progress

1 comment

  • Dear Richard, I feared from the sub-title that you were going to show that Corbyn or Lansman or Momentum were behind the Westminster murders, so well done for resisting that temptation.

    But could you explain to me what Tom Watson and you think that Momentum (I am not a member) are trying to do in one direction that Progress (I am not a member) are not trying to do in another? If one is illegitimate surely the other is too?

    And if Momentum is doing this plotting in secret, might that be preferable to Progress continuing to attack the elected leader of the Party at every opportunity in public and as loudly as possible? It doesn’t make us very electable.

    Yours, Puzzled of Brigham

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