Monday 23 October 2017 – Vile homophobic comments force Jared O’Mara MP to resign from the Commons equality commission

Updated: Tuesday 24 & Wednesday 25 October 2017


He was elected to the Commons in June at the General Election, defeating the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the Sheffield Hallam constituency.  Today, while remaining an MP, he has stood down from the Commons Women and Equality Commission after homophobic, misogynistic and fat-shaming comments he made came to light.


The comments he made were back in 2004 but had managed to avoid the light of day since.  Among the vile remarks he said that Michelle McManus only won Pop Idol “because she was fat”  and suggested it would be funny if jazz star Jamie Cullum was “sodomised with his own piano.” He also joked about having an orgy with the group Girls Aloud.  These comments were  made on the Drowned in Sound website and were revealed by the political blogger Guido Fawkes (Alex Wickham) on his website.


It has also emerged that he made other homophobic remarks in 2002 on an internet forum. Mr O’Mara addressed a meeting of his colleagues in the Labour Party and made a “full and very personal apology” and said he was “deeply ashamed” of his remarks.  He said he was “wrong to make the comments,” and added: “I understand whey they are offensive and deeply apologise for my use of such unacceptable language. I made the comments as a young man, at a particularly difficult time in my life, but that is no excuse.”  That’s two excuses straight away, right before saying that there is no excuse.


Condemnation of Mr O’Mara’s comments was swift.  Lord Scriven, the Lib Dem peer and former leader of Sheffield Council, said: “It seems like a nasty pattern of sexist language and misogyny is developing from the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam. He clearly isn’t fit to sit on the Women and Equalities Committee. He must stand down from that committee immediately and if he doesn’t, Jeremy Corbyn must take action to remove him.”

LGBT Labour group issued a statement in which they said:


“LGBT Labour are deeply concerned following the historical homophobic comments made by Jared O’Mara. These types of comments have no place within Labour or any other political party.

“Whilst we recognise that these comments were made some time ago that doesn’t excuse such ignorance and bigotry. We expect  a full and public apology from Mr O’Mara and ask that he meets with members of the LGBT Labour committee in order to understand the inequality many LGBT people face.”

The leadership of the Labour Party itself called the remarks “horrendous” and “vile” but said that Mr O’Mara will not be suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party.  One Labour MP, Wes Sweeting (Ilford North) came to Mr O’Mara’s defence after he made his apology:


“He offered what seemed to be a heartfelt and genuine apology and admitted that these are views he once held, which took guts.


“The battle for equality is a battle for hearts and minds and that must surely mean that people are allowed to change their views and therefore must also be offered a second chance.

“I hope I don’t end up eating my words and that he demonstrates his commitment to equality as a new MP. I think we owe him that chance.”

Writing in The Guardian, Owen Jones – a political activist, columnist, author and commentator – suggested that if Mr O’Mara had made his comments today and not over a decade ago he would have had to resign as a MP.  So far, he has only stood down from his role on the Women and Equality Committee at the House of Commons.  Mr Jones also believes that Jared O’Mara’s political future now “depends on showing he’s a man transformed.”


6720Owen Jones recommends that Mr O’Mara (pictured) take a leaf from the Labour MP Naz Shah, who after being caught out making antisemitic went on a personal mission to educate herself in her errors by meeting with the Jewish community.  Ms Shah then made a public apology and explained her ignorance and what she had learned from meeting the Jewish community.  Mr Jones suggests that Mr O’Mara now needs to go on a similar course in order to demonstrate that he has indeed changed from the man who made the vile comments reported on this week.

Labour MP Angela Raynor came to Jared O’Mara’s defence, saying that she believed he has genuinely changed his views from those he expressed in the past.  She told Sky News that his apology was “a very passionate, emotional speech,” and added:


“I think it’s important to recognise in a social media age that young people do put views and jokes and things that are absolutely distasteful and disgusting online and that they are there for ever. […] It was a very difficult speech for him. I suspect it was more difficult than his maiden speech but it was a heartfelt speech. […] He said he was homophobic, he was misogynistic, but those views he had 15 years ago were completely unacceptable and he changed his views from then. I think that’s courageous of him to do that.”

Following calls for Mr O’Mara to be suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party for his comments, Ms Raynor again came to his support, speaking to  BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:


“Yes, I am happy to sit alongside him. […] I’ve met many people in my life who have had homophobic, misogynistic and even racist views; I’ve knocked on doors where that has been the case. Jared changed his views, that’s what’s important, he recognised they were abhorrent and wrong and he changed. Fifteen years on, he is not the Jared that made those comments.”

CaptureLater on Tuesday more allegations surfaced that far from being long in his past, Jared O’Mara was making racist and sexist comments only months ago.  The latest allegations by a constituent of Mr O’Mara, Sophie Evans (pictured) who met him via a dating app.  She said that they were at a nightclub together when he called her an “ugly bitch.”  She said that they “didn’t really work out,” but that there were no hard feelings.  She continued: “Obviously, some  of the things aren’t broadcastable. There were some transphobic slurs in there.”  These comments are alleged to have taken just seven months ago, not the 15 years ago that Mr O’Mara says were the last time he made such comments.


Meanwhile, the Guido Fawkes website has published more comments Mr O’Mara is claimed to have made back in 2002, including racists comments against Spaniards (“dagos”), and Danes (“pig shaggers”). In response to these new allegations, both the Lib Dem leader Vince Cable and the minister for women and equalities, Justine Greening have called for the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to remove the whip from the MP. Ms Greening said: “Violent, sexist and homophobic language must have no place in our society, and parliamentarians of all parties have a duty to stamp out this sort of behaviour wherever we encounter it, and condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Will you be removing the whip from him while the investigation is carried out?”  Vince cable, meanwhile, said: “If he did  make these remarks, Labour needs to withdraw the whip from him immediately.”


Other comments to emerge from Mr O’Mara’s past include the homophobic: “I find it funny how homosexuals think they have the monopoly on being subject to abuse.” Sophie Evans said that she was not surprised to hear the latest comments he is alleged to have made.  She said: “Fair enough for him to have said that about 15 years ago, but he won’t even acknowledge something that happened seven months ago.”


This point by Ms Evans is important.  Mr O’Mara is claiming he has been on a “journey” since the comments of 2004 and before, and that he no longer thinks like that.  The claims from Ms Evans suggests otherwise.  Ms Evans continued: “He’s never apologised to me or my friends that were involved in the situation. He’s called us liars. He’s called us liars in the press. He’s been on radio, called us liars. I just find it very, very hard to believe he’s changed.”

Despite in his apology saying that there were no excuses, he continues to make them.  In an interview with Huck magazine he blamed homophobic bullying in his past, despite the fact that he claims to be heterosexual: “I saw it as an attack, as a slur, and I transferred that erroneously on to people who didn’t deserve it. Weak people like bullies try and hurt other people to feel better about themselves. That’s obviously the mindset I was in.”  He also made a remark trying to justify him remaining an MP: “In terms of resigning as an MP, I think there’s a place for me. I want to educate people and help people going through those prejudices grow out of them. I’ve gone on that journey and feel I can help.”


Before he can “educate” others he needs to be honest and come clean on comments he is alleged to have made recently, long after he suggests his “journey” in self-awareness is supposed to have begun.  I don’t get the impression that he has made this journey and has far from grown out of these reprehensible views as he claims.  In the meantime, the Labour Party has begun an investigation into the latest allegations against the Sheffield Hallam Labour MP.  His time as an MP may yet be numbered.


While I agree that Mr O’Mara deserves a second chance, as I say above I don’t think he has given up his homophobic, transphobic, racist and sexist views.  I also don’t believe it took guts to admit his mistakes.  His apology only came after Guido Fawkes revealed the comments.  Mr O’Mara had no intention it seems to ever reveal his vile and bigoted views before Guido Fawkes did it for him.  Therefore, I find it hard to believe that Mr O’Mara has changed his views of fat people, his misogynistic view of women and his homophobic attitude to gay people – he has simply kept them to himself for the last few years.

Wednesday 25 October 2017 update:

This morning the Labour party has suspended Mr O’Mara from the party, and therefore automatically the whip has been withdrawn from him.  This has been done following new allegations emerging against Mr O’Mara and he will be suspended while the party investigates the allegations.


One Labour MP, Lucy Powell, was certain he should have been suspended on the basis that he did not bring up his past comments when he was being vetted and selected as a candidate.  She said:  


“One of the key questions you’re asked when you become a candidate for the Labour party, and you have to sign a contract to say this, is there anything in your past that would bring the party into disrepute? And I don’t understand, in all honesty, how Jared could have signed that paper. That’s why I think he should be suspended while that investigation is taking place.”


There is clearly an issue with the vetting of candidates for the Labour party.  Before the snap election this year there was a rush to get candidates vetted, and one source told The Guardian:


”There was a real problem in vetting all of those candidates so quickly after a snap election was called, it’s impossible to check almost 3,000 people in a week, apart from their party records, their criminal records and social media. These comments go back on fansites and sports sites from more than a decade ago.”

Sources & Further Reading:


News articles related to the 2017 Labour Party Conference in Brighton



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UK General Election 2017 Party Manifestos




Party leader: Theresa May

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 330


  • For a summary of the key points in the Conservative manifesto, click HERE.


  • To read the manifesto on the Conservative Party website, click HERE.


  • For a guide to the Conservative Party, click HERE.


Party leader: Jeremy Corbyn

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 229


  • For a summary of the key points in the Labour Party manifesto, click HERE.


  • To read the manifesto on the Labour Party website, click HERE.


  • For a guide to the Labour Party, click HERE.


Party leader: Tim Farron

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 9


  • For a summary of the key points in the Liberal Democrats manifesto, click HERE.


  • To read the manifesto on the Liberal Democrats website, click HERE.


  • For a guide to the Liberal Democrats, click HERE.


Party leader: Nicola Sturgeon

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 54


  • To visit the SNP website, click HERE..


  • No 2017 General Election manifesto at time of writing this post.


  • For a guide to the Scottish National Party, click HERE.


Party leader: Caroline Lucas

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 1


  • To visit the Green Party website, click HERE.


  • No 2017 General Election manifesto at time of writing this post.


  • For a guide to the Green Party, click HERE.


Party leader: Leanne Wood

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 3


  • For a summary of the key points in the Plaid Cymru manifesto, click HERE.


  • To read the manifesto on the Plaid Cymru website, click HERE.


Party leader: Paul Nuttall

Seats at dissolution of parliament: 1


  • To visit UKIP’s manifesto pages, click HERE.


  • No 2017 General Election manifesto at time of writing this post


  • For a guide to UKIP, click HERE.



Some party political brodcasts (YouTube videos)


Other YouTube videos

Saturday 13 May 2017 – Labour have a “mountain to climb” to avoid a Thatcher-style landslide for the Conservatives – and other election news


Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson (above), stated the obvious when he said that the party had a “mountain to climb” to prevent what he calls a “Margaret Thatcher-style”  landslide. There are less than four weeks to go until what could be the most important General Election since 1945, but Labour are struggling to close the large gap in the opinion polls between the Labour and Conservative parties and are failing to make themselves electorally appealing in all demographics, including their traditional heartland of working-class voters. Mr Watson told The Guardian:


“I’ve run a lot of by-elections and elections in my time for the Labour party and I know what it is like. It is going be very, very difficult to turn the poll numbers around, but we are determined to do it,”


He reflected on the consequences of a Theresa May landslide, similar to those of 140 and 100 seats she achieved in the 1983 and 1987 General Elections:


“If we get to 8 June and [Theresa May] still commands the lead in the polls that she had at the start of the election, she will command a Margaret Thatcher-style majority. […]


“A Conservative government with a 100 majority … It will be very hard for them to be held to account in the House of Commons. It means there won’t be usual checks and balances of democracy … all those things go out the window.


“You end up with governance by Theresa May without much accountability – and I don’t think anybody wants that.”


Theresa May has been deliberately focusing on targeting working-class voters this week, making personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and calling his policies “economically disastrous socialist.”  Mrs May has been focusing on the leadership question, playing up the view with many voters cannot envisage Jeremy Corbyn as a Prime Minister – even though many may support his policies. Tom Watson admitted that the leadership of the party was a concern for people when he was canvassing door-to-door in Wales:


“He does come up on the doorstep, Jeremy, but so did Ed Miliband, so did Gordon Brown, so did Tony Blair,”


Mr Watson was incredulous at the idea that Theresa May has represented, or if successful on 8 June will represent the working-class voter:


“[it is] the biggest myth perpetuated by London-based marketeers.


“We’ve got to show it is a myth.


“Labour are low in the polls in all categories – we’ve got a lot to do, we’ve got to convince people we are serious about government … We’ve got to try.”


Speaking in Tyne & Wear yesterday – a traditionally Labour heartland – Mrs May said:


“Proud and patriotic working-class people in towns and cities across Britain have not deserted the Labour Party – Jeremy Corbyn has deserted them […]


“We respect that parents and grandparents taught their children and grandchildren that Labour was a party that shared their values and stood up for their community.


“But across the country today, traditional Labour supporters are increasingly looking at what Jeremy Corbyn believes in and are appalled.”


The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, however later today tried to play down Mr Watson’s warnings of a possible Tory landslide. He said that senior Labour figures were “not at all” admitting defeat and that they were working “flat out to get Labour MPs elected.”  Speaking at James Paget University near Great Yarmouth he elaborated:


“I’m out here around the whole country, the party is out around the whole country, putting out a message that we’re a party for the many not the few, we will invest in our NHS, our education system, we will protect our pensions and pensioners and we will ensure that there is an expanding economy that works for all. […]


“I’ve been talking to my deputy leader this morning, we have been talking about the attacks on the NHS, about the cyber-attack, and about our policies to support art and culture which is of course within his brief.


“We are both working absolutely flat out to get Labour MPs elected on 8 June.”


Meanwhile former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke of how the Tories will increase poverty to levels even beyond those during the terms of Margaret Thatcher. Speaking in Kirkcaldy, Fife, he said voters were caught between two “extremes” and said that social justice should be the key element of the election.  He didn’t mention Jeremy Corbyn once during his speech. He quoted a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which suggests that 15.7 million people will be in poverty in the UK by 2022 if current policies continue.  Brown was clearly appalled by the prospect:


“That is more poverty than even under Mrs Thatcher. Mrs May’s Britain will have more poverty and inequality than even the poverty we saw in the Thatcher-Major years.


“She says she wants to unite the country, she will create a country that is more divided economically and more socially polarised than at any time in our history in the last 50 years.”

Jeremy Corbyn talks of a “Minister For Peace” and his policy on nuclear weapons


One dilemma Jeremy Corbyn faces is reconciling his long-held opposition to nuclear weapons with the reality of being a potential Prime Minister and seems determined to learn from the mistake of Michael Foot and his 1983 manifesto which called for unilateral nuclear disarmament. That manifesto became known as “the longest suicide note in history,” and helped condemn the Labour Party to a landslide defeat as Margaret Thatcher secured her second term in office.  The leaked draft manifesto pledges to maintain the country’s Trident missile system and, speaking in London, Mr Corbyn said that there would be “no first use” of nuclear weapons by a Labour Government, but they would do “everything necessary to protect the safety and security of our people and our country […] that is our first duty.” He also said that a Labour Government would “reshape” its relationships with our allies, including the United States, and that there would be “no holding hands” with Donald Trump – referring to Theresa May’s visit to Trump shortly after his inauguration at which she held the President’s hand.


Jeremy Corbyn also promised to create a Minister for Peace and insisted, against popular opinion, that he is “not a pacifist.”  Mr Corbyn’s anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons beliefs do not mean he is a pacifist or unwilling to fight when the cause necessitates a military response. Mr Corbyn would perhaps be more considerate to whether a war was justified and necessary, which – in light of unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – would be very welcome in a British Prime Minister who are often too quick to attack nations without any real justification.


Mr Corbyn, who is a former chairman of the Stop the War Coalition and is a lifelong member of the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament (CND), was speaking to the Chatham House international affairs think tank yesterday and said that he had campaigned for a more peaceful world throughout his life and, although he would do “everything necessary” to defend the country, the UK’s interests were best served by pursuing diplomatic and political avenues to end and prevent conflicts.


Sources & Further Reading:







Thursday 11 May 2017 – Labour’s leaked draft manifesto is a radical and transformative way forward?


With just four weeks to go to the General Election Labour’s draft manifesto has been leaked ahead of its official launch. If the document proves to be the final manifesto then it contains many radical policies and pledges that could, if implemented under a Labour Government, transform the nation and end nearly a decade of cuts, austerity and right-wing ideology. The extremely ambitious manifesto is perhaps the most radical and leftist Labour manifesto in decades – perhaps even as far back as the post-war manifesto of Clement Attlee’s Government that saw the nationalisation of industries, the creation of the Welfare State and the National Health Service.  Of course, the manifesto can only become reality if Labour win the General Election on 8 June. Opinion polls, and the results of the recent local elections in the UK, suggest that Theresa May’s Conservative Party will win a majority at the General Election. Labour are closing the gap in some polls, but may be too little too late. No doubt, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping that his radical manifesto will appeal to people across the country who have gone through austerity since 2010 and have seen public services devastated by Tory cuts.  The Labour Party has always said that people will be attracted by the pledges in their manifesto, but the question the electorate will be asking themselves is if they trust the Labour Party to be able to fund the radical and ambitious manifesto.  Many will also be asking whether they trust the Labour Party to follow through on Brexit. The draft manifesto says that they would “respect the Brexit referendum,” but would give Parliament a vote on any EU deal and would try to maintain the links with the European Union in relation to the customs union and single market. This may not please many who are maybe attracted to Theresa May’s hard-line approach to Brexit, which may result in Britain leaving the EU in 2019 without such assurances or without a trade deal.


The Guardian website today published a list of the draft manifesto’s key points:


  • Respect the Brexit referendum result and give a meaningful vote on any deal to parliament. EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights guaranteed unilaterally. Theresa May’s Brexit white paper would be replaced with a plan that aims to retain the benefits of the customs union and single market.


  • Bring parts of the energy industry into public ownership and introduce a local, socially owned energy firm in every area. Also introduce an “immediate emergency price cap” to make sure dual fuel bills stay below £1,000 a year.


  • Nationalise the railways.


  • Phase out tuition fees.


  • Make more funds available for childcare and social care.


  • Retain the Trident nuclear deterrent. A sentence from earlier drafts saying that a prime minister should be “extremely cautious” about using a weapon that would kill “millions of innocent civilians” has been removed.


  • Place “peace, universal rights and international law” at the heart of foreign policy, while committing to spend 2% of GDP on defence, as required by Nato.


  • Make zero-hours contracts illegal.


  • Build 100,000 new council houses per year.


  • Complete HS2 from London to Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Scotland.


  • Borrow £250bn to invest in infrastructure but stick to the fiscal credibility rule to balance day-to-day spending. Also raise taxes for people earning more than £80,000 and reverse corporation and inheritance-tax cuts.


  • Insulate homes of disabled veterans for free.


  • Extend the right to abortion to Northern Ireland.


  • Oppose a second Scottish referendum.


  • Lower the voting age to 16.


  • Employ 1,000 more border guards.


  • End the badger cull, keep the fox-hunting ban and support a ban on wild animals in circuses, as well as protecting bees by banning neonicotinoids.


  • Extend the Freedom of Information Act to private companies running public services.


  • Review universal credit cuts with a view to reversing them.


  • Recognise the benefit that immigrants have brought but introduce fair rules and reasonable management, working with employers that need to recruit from abroad but deterring exploitation.


The Guardian’s columnist, Polly Toynbee, isn’t convinced that the voters will trust Mr Corbyn enough to elect his party 8 June, but she is pleased with the draft manifesto:


“What a cornucopia of delights is here. The leaked Labour manifesto is a treasure trove of things that should be done, undoing those things that should never have been done and promising much that could make this country infinitely better for almost everyone.


“No, this is not a repeat of the “longest suicide note in history” 1983 manifesto. There is no reprise here of the killer pledges that caused the party to split back then – pulling out of Europe, out of Nato with unilateral disarmament, protectionist exchange and import controls, or nationalising pharmaceutical, building materials and many more industries. Reluctantly, no doubt, here is a pledge to keep Trident and spend Nato’s required 2% on defence, an essential backstop against those who regard Labour as perennially weak on national security.”


The National Coordinator of the pro-Labour organisation Momentum told the BBC that the manifesto would prove “very popular,” and said:


“We have seen an increase dramatically in the popularity of the Labour party. We are catching up in the polls.


“There has been a 10-point increase that was reported last weekend. We’ve now got four weeks. These policies set out in the draft manifesto have wide public support. Things like the £10 minimum wage – 70% are in support of that policy. Those are the sort of policies that people are going to be voting for in this election.”


Some will no doubt compare the manifesto to that of Michael Foot in the 1983 General Election, which proved so disastrous for the party. The shadow Chancellor, however, today dismissed such comparisons:


“This is an extremely modern, progressive set of proposals. And it is looking to the long term future. And most people are extremely excited at what they’ve seen. […]


“It’s progressive. For example, if you look at the energy proposals, they are what a lot of modern European states have done over the last five years. So it is quite comprehensively modern. […]


“It’s a transformational programme. It will modernise our economy and it will ensure that everyone shares in the prosperity of the country.”


While defending the draft manifesto, he said he was disappointed that it was leaked. The draft manifesto does not contain costings for the policies and pledges, which will be included in the final manifesto to be released on Tuesday. Mr McDonnell said more, speaking of the nationalisation of railways proposed in the draft manifesto:


“In terms of railways, I just say a lot of foreign countries now actually own our railway system, a lot of of foreign companies who are then ploughing those profits back into their own railway system. It seems a bit odd that we are subsidising German Deutsche Bahn, for example. […]


Railways renationalisation has been Labour party policy for a number of years. That means when the franchises run out you bring them back into public ownership. In fact, they are in public ownership at the moment, but they are owned by usually other foreign states.”


Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, said the manifesto was “really, really exciting” and that he believed its policies were wanted by Labour voters. He said that rail nationalisation would be the most popular policy in the document and continued:


“If the British electorate can only look at that rather than the obsession that you people have about the leadership of the Labour party.”


Mr McCluskey, of course, has hit the mark by suggesting that many voters are turning away from Labour because they don’t trust Jeremy  Corbyn as a potential Prime Minister.  In Britain we elect parties to run the Government, not directly for the Prime Minister as say Americans directly elect their President. However, in reality, people are deeply influenced by the leader of the party. Voters may support policies in the Labour manifesto and wish they could be implemented, but if they don’t trust Mr Corbyn to implement them then, at best, they are going to abstain – at worse, they will vote Conservative.  The first-past-the-post system used in British General Elections also ensures that only a handful of constituencies around the country make a real difference to the result. The Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn have to win those marginal seats, as well as capturing non-marginal seats, if they are to have a chance of winning the election or even stopping the Conservatives from achieving a majority.  Pessimism tells me is not going to be able to achieve this next month. That is the most frustrating aspect of this election. Labour’s manifesto will offer a radical and transformative way out of austerity and if successful would revitalise and restore many pubic services and institutions that have been devastated by the effects of seven years of Conservative Government.


Later today Jeremy Corbyn and around 80 Labour figures from the shadow cabinet and National Executive Committee met for a meeting to finalise the draft manifesto. Mr Corbyn said that amendments had been made to the leaked draft – not specifying what changes were made, but perhaps referring to the inclusion of detailed costings of all the manifesto’s  pledges as promised earlier in the day. He said that the final manifesto will prove “very popular,” but that everyone will have to wait until the launch in a few days before he answers further questions. He did say, however:


“We have just unanimously agreed the contents of [the manifesto], we have amended a draft document that was put forward in the most informed, interesting, sensible discussion and debate in our party.


“Our manifesto will be an offer, and I believe the policies in it are very popular, an offer that will transform the lives of many people in our society.”


He also announced that the Labour Party will hold an internal inquiry into the overnight leaking of the draft manifesto. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, took the opportunity to use the leaking of the draft manifesto as an example of how “shambolic” the Labour Party is, and said:


“[the draft manifesto] shows the sort of chaos that we would see from a Labour government.


“If you take their manifesto overall, actually, what they are suggesting is taking us back to the past.


“What I’m interested in is dealing with the challenges that we face today but making a better future for this country.”


The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said: “The very fact that this draft manifesto has been leaked shows how divided and chaotic the Labour Party are – most of their MPs do not even support these policies.” While a Welsh Labour spokesman said: “It is not Welsh Labour’s manifesto and contains many England-only proposals. Welsh Labour will be publishing its own distinct manifesto.” Tim Fallon, leader of the Liberal Democrats focused on the issue of Brexit:


“It doesn’t matter whether it was leaked or not leaked, the Labour manifesto ceased to be relevant in any way, shape or form the moment Jeremy Corbyn and his party held hands with UKIP and Theresa May and voted for the triggering of Article 50.”


On a side note, a BBC cameraman trying to capture the Labour leader arriving for today’s meeting had his foot run over by Mr Corbyn’s car as it entered a narrow passageway into the building holding the meeting. The cameraman, along with several others, were pushing and jostling against the moving car trying to get their footage when the accident happened. He was treated on the scene and then taken to hospital. Watch the video.

Sources & Further reading:







Wednesday 26 April 2017 – Labour continues to focus on public services, promising a pay rise for nurses and steps to protect the NHS & other election news


While the Prime Minister continues to ask the electorate to “strenghten her hand” for the Brexit negotiations by voting Conservative at the 8 June General Election, the Labour Party and it’s leader Jeremy Corbyn continue to attempt to hold the Government to account on its record on delivering public services, today focusing on the National Health Service (NHS). With pledges to give “overworked” nurses a pay rise and to “end Tory privatising” aspects of the NHS. These policies are bound to go down well with the electorate – with the NHS traditionally seen as Labour’s strongest policy front.


Jomathan Ashworth, the Labour shadow Health Secretary said NHS staff had been undervalued and that NHS workers have been “ignored and insulted” by the Conservative Government. A “big” pay rise for staff in the NHS, he said, would be paid for by raising corporation tax. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Tories, under George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had repeatedly cut corporation tax for businesses and that the rises he proposes would  end years of NHS staff being undervalued, overworked and underpaid. Not wanting to pre-empt the upcoming Labour election manifesto, he did not specify by how much the pay rise would be or by how much corporation tax would rise. He did say that the pay rise would take into account the cost of living and that the situation in the NHS was “getting worse” as a result of pay levels and inadequate staffing levels. Ashworth argued that Theresa May’s claims on how much the Government is giving the NHS is a lie and that Labour “will give the NHS the funding it needs.”


Labour will lift the 1% pay cap on NHS rises and will base wages on the results of collective bargaining and the findings of  independent pay review bodies. Speaking at a Unison conference in Liverpool, Mr Ashworth said:


“Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain. Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not any more. Enough is enough.


“NHS staff have been taken for granted for too long by the Conservatives. Cuts to pay and training mean hard-working staff are being forced from NHS professions and young people are being put off before they have even started. Now Brexit threatens the ability of health employers to recruit from overseas.”


Mr Ashworth also promised that Labour would “end Tory privatisation”  of the NHS by reversing all Conservative attempts to allow private providers into the NHS. He also said that a Labour Government would introduce legislation that would make it necessary for staffing levels in the NHS to take account of patient safety and will examine whether staffing levels in some areas of the NHS need to have legally-binding patient to staff ratios. He argued that “Tory mismanagement” had left parts of the NHS “dangerously understaffed.”


According to the Independent, the Labour plan will be a three-point one:


1.  Increase NHS pay to a “sustainable level”, with awards made through “collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies”.


2. Legislate for safe staffing – to “ensure that patient safety always takes priority over financial considerations when staffing levels are being set”.


3. Fully fund education for health professions – by reversing cuts to funding and other support for students taking health-related degrees.


Also speaking on Today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt argued that it was too expensive to pay NHS staff more: “I would certainly agree  NHS staff do a brilliant job and we would certainly like to pay them more than we are able to at the moment but we have had to face a very difficult period financially.” When challenged about his own pay rise as an MP – which, of course, MPs themselves vote on raising, he argued that as a Minister he had taken a pay cut:


“Ministers have actually given themselves a pay cut – that’s the only pay we have control over. I have accepted my pay rise as an MP and my pay cut as a minister and that’s the point: all ministers have done because we recognise we have to set an example.”


Mr Hunt then tried to deflect the debate back to what the Government wants to focus on – Brexit – arguing that the NHS would only be ‘’strong” if Theresa May is elected again to implement Brexit. Yet again the Government is trying to keep the issue of this election focused on Brexit, and not let the electorate dwell on the fact that 1.3 million NHS workers are to receive a pay rise of just 1%, which in many cases is barely a rise of £5.00 per week. This means that for six consecutive years under the Conservatives and previously a Conservative-led Coalition, NHS pay rises have been well below the cost of living, with inflation currently at 3.2%.


Meanwhile, a Conservative health minister Philip Dunne said that the Conservatives had “protected and increased the NHS budget and got thousands more staff in hospitals,” and continued: “That’s at risk with Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical economic policies that would mean less money for the NHS,”


The Lib Dem health spokesman agreed with the Labour plan to lift the 1% pay cap on NHS pay, arguing:


“In effect we are asking very many staff across the NHS to just, year on year, take a pay cut in real terms in order to sustain our NHS. And I don’t think that’s acceptable. I think ultimately it’s dangerous. We are seeing widespread vacancies … Actually people will vote with their feet and leave if you don’t maintain wages at least in real terms.”


He said that their manifesto would explain how they would do the same, but said that reversing corporation tax cuts to pay for it was not credible:


“The problem with the Labour position is their proposal just isn’t credible … The money from corporation tax increase has been spent about 10 times over.”


This is an age-old political problem – or tactic if you like – where parties working out their funding pledges for election manifestos are prone to use the same source more than once. Mr Lamb is claiming that Labour has pledge to raise corporation tax for ten separate uses:


1. Bringing back the education maintenance allowance and university maintenance grants;

2. Paying for additional teachers, nurses and police;

3. Funding social care;

4. Extending pension credit to support women affected by the change to the state pension;

5. Paying for an efficient post office, good public transport, and fast and comprehensive broadband for small businesses;

6. Supporting the pensions triple lock and investing in social care;

7. Funding public sector pay rises;

8. Investing in the UK steel sector;

9. Reversing cuts to disability benefits; and

10. Reversing the cuts to the adult skills budget.


I guess we will have to wait for the Labour manifesto to be published to see just which, if any, of these are funded by a rise in corporation tax.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn face off at the final PMQs of this Parliament


Possibly for the last time, the Prime Minister Theresa May faced the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn across the dispatch boxes in the House of Commons. This was the last Prime Minister’s Questions of this Parliament, with the Parliament dissolution next week. With the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, giving retiring MPs the chance to answer a final question, it was also thought to be the longest PMQs at nearly one hour long.  Naturally it was a chance for opposing MPs to sling insults back and forth ahead of the snap election six weeks from tomorrow.


Jeremy Corbyn said of the impending election: “The election on 8 June is a choice…between a Conservative government for the few and a Labour government that will stand up for all of our people.” He also said that a Tory victory would lead to a  “chaotic Brexit”  and said the Tories were “strong against the weak and weak against the strong”.


Meanwhile the Prime Minister repeated her “strong and stable” claim her leadership would bring to the Government and the country and took the opportunity to attack Mr Corbyn, speaking of what she says is  his: “refusal to say he would strike against terrorism, to commit to our nuclear deterrent and to control our borders […] Every vote for him is a vote to weaken our economy. Every vote for me is a vote for a strong economy with the benefits felt by everyone across the country.”


Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, used his opportunity presented by the Speaker to say of Theresa May: “20 years ago she berated the Conservative Party for being the nasty party, but her party has never been nastier”. He also said that the Labour Party was the most incompetent opposition in history.


The biggest issue raised at PMQs was pensions and, in particular, the so-called triple-lock that was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2010 and guarantees that pensions rise by the same as average earnings, the consumer price index, or 2.5%, whichever is the highest. Many opposed this during the last seven years because it was protecting pensioners from austerity, and as a consequence the rest of us suffered even more. Others, including many MPs simply feel it is unaffordable or unsustainable to keep the triple lock. Jeremy Corbyn has already pledged to keep the triple lock but the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny it will be retained.  When asked by SNP MP Angus Robertson at PMQs today: “Will the PM give a clear and unambiguous commitment to maintaining the triple lock on the state pension?” she again refused to guarantee the triple lock and simply said that “pensioners’ incomes” would  continue to increase under a Conservative Government. Mr Robertson bemoaned that she couldn’t answer a “simple question,” and “the only reason they will not guarantee it is because they want to cut pensions”.

Debates seem even more unlikely as Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part without the PM


Also at today’s PMQs Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that unless Mrs May takes part in a televised leaders’ debate he won’t take part either. A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said it was extraordinary that Mrs May wouldn’t debate the leader of the “only other possible government.” Like the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn is willing to appear individually on other shows if the debates don’t take place, but his spokesman explained:


“If you’re talking about a debate about the possible outcomes of the general election, you’re talking about Labour and the Conservatives first and foremost, so to have a debate among the opposition parties doesn’t meet that objective at all.


“We’ve made clear that this election is a choice between a Conservative government or a Labour government; there is no other possible outcome, and it’s extraordinary that the prime minister feels unable to face a television debate with the leader of the only other possible government that could come out of this election.


“It’s a sign of weakness, not of strength, and we are continuing to press to have those debates, and to have a head-to-head with Theresa May, and we are confident that if the British public gets to see that debate, with Theresa May having to face Jeremy Corbyn in a direct debate, they would respond to Labour’s message, and that’s one of the reasons they’re running scared.”


I feel this is a mistake by Mr Corbyn as it takes the pressure off the Prime Minister to appear. I think he should have kept up the pressure till the end and appeared on the debates himself, even if Mrs May doesn’t. I agree that the Prime Minister is running scared from debating in person Mr Corbyn as she realises that if she does he will bring up domestic issues such as the NHS, public services, schools, and the economy which the Prime Minister wishes to avoid. It is in Labour’s interest to get their message across “in our own voice” as the party says itself.  Being so far behind in the polls it is essential that people hear what Labour has to offer. Many of their policies are popular but the electorate need to be convinced and debates were an ideal way for this to happen. On this issue, the Labour spokesman said:


“We are confident that we can win this election, and we’re fighting for every seat, and we’re confident that once Labour’s message is clearly heard and there is a chance for the public to hear policies that many of them won’t have heard before, but which are extremely popular, and we know to be so, that will have cut-through, and Labour support will increase.”


“The politics and the polling is actually quite complex and quite varied across different countries, and I don’t think it’s just a technical issue to do with the polling companies that we’re in; I think it’s to do with the volatile and fluid political situation, with much more fragmentation.”


As for the Prime Minister, she can now continue to ignore the debates and carry on with keeping on message – i.e. to talk about Brexit and how a Tory Government after 8 June will ensure that Brexit is carried through – at least how she wants it to be carried through. Her oft-repeated election slogan of a “strong and stable” Government got plenty of airing by the Prime Minister at PMQs today.

Further reading:


  • If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now – READ MORE (


  • Labour promises to abolish NHS staff pay cap – READ MORE (


  • Tim Farron sacks Lib Dem candidate for ‘offensive and antisemitic’ remarks – READ MORE (


  • David Cameron: Brexit vote ended a ‘poisoning’ of UK politics – READ MORE (


  • The Guardian view on the last PMQs: now the unnecessary election – READ MORE (

Friday 21 April 2017 – Jeremy Corbyn will abolish zero-hour contracts and raise the minimum wage. – Plus other General Election news


Labour leader, speaking in Swindon this morning, said he would be publishing his party’s manifesto soon but wanted to highlighted some of their policies. One of those policies is the abolition of zero-hour contracts and the increase of the minimum wage to £10 per hour. Currently set at £7.50 an hour, the minimum wage was rebranded by the Conservatives as a so-called “living wage” although the Living Wage Foundation sets a realistic living wage at £8.45 an hour and £9.75 within London. Mr Corbyn pointed out that around 1m people are on zero-hour contracts and some 6m living on inadequate wages. Those on zero-hour contracts have few workers’ rights and don’t know from one week to the next how much they will earn. The Conservatives always claim that zero-hour contracts suit many people, especially students, who choose to work under the contracts to give them flexibility. No doubt some do appreciate the flexibility of zero—hour contracts but the overwhelming majority have little choice in accepting these exploitative contracts. Mr Corbyn said of them:


“Why do we allow this form of employment in this county. A Labour government would end zero-hour contracts.”


Under Labour these contracts would be abolished and the minimum wage raised to  £10 per hour. Mr Corbyn accepted that many small firms would have a problem paying the new minimum wage so proposed a compensation scheme for such companies. While this last point is perhaps a political necessity to counter Conservative attacks and to reassure small businesses, I feel that this compromise is wrong – at least in the long-term – as it will be exploited by companies to ensure that the taxpayer subsidises their wage bills. Nevertheless, the abolition of zero-hour contracts and a truly realistic minimum wage above the current living wage levels suggested by the Living Wage Foundation are welcome.

Labour criticise the Tories on their schools policy


Speaking in Cardiff later today, the Labour leader will speak of the Government’s policies towards Britain’s schools and how they “have left our schools in a terrible state.” He will claim that children are “crammed into classrooms like sardines,” and  that “seven years of Tory failure and broken promises have left our schools in a terrible state” and that “hundreds of thousands of our children are paying the price”. The Labour party’s own figures say that 40,000 primary-age pupils are being taught in classrooms with more than 36 pupils and 16,000 are in classes of more than 40, a complete failure – they say – of the 2010 Conservative party manifesto pledge to deliver “small schools and smaller class sizes.” in response to this situation, Mr Corbyn will say:


“Labour will stand up for all children by building a schools system for everyone, keeping class sizes down and making sure schools and teachers have the resources they need to ensure that every child, whatever their background, has access to a world-class education.”


Backing up Mr Corbyn’s planned promise, the shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, said:


“This situation is becoming unsustainable; too many children are being taught in classes which are simply too big.


“The system for school place planning is broken. The Tories need to let go of their unjustified fixation with free schools, but instead they have relaxed the rules so even more can be built in areas where there is no demand for places. Free schools are clearly not addressing the growing pressures on schools.”


Labour clearly wants to draw the Government into a debate on schools and education. It is also planning a pledge on free school meals and will oppose the creation of new grammar schools, which it says only benefit better-off children and has a negative effect on non-grammar schools. We will have to wait for the publication of the manifesto to see how their pledges will be funded. The Government have attacked Mr Corbyn’s plans, particularly in Wales where the Welsh Assembly control schools. The Assembly is controlled by Labour and the Lib Dems. A Tory spokesperson said it was a “massive own goal in Wales,” claiming “the number of infants in large classes has risen by 18% in just three years.” Despite the Conservatives’ counter-attack, many backbench Conservative MPs are expressing concern the effect budget cuts are having on schools and the cuts are also causing disquiet among parents – neither of which the Government want this campaign to focus on.


UPDATE: Jeremy Corbyn’s figures were fact-checked by the BBC, who concluded they were inaccurate.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper challenges the Prime Minister on Brexit and is bookies favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn


According to Ladbrokes, the bookmakers, bets are “pouring in” on Yvette Cooper becoming the next Labour leader, presumably by people who think that Jeremy Corbyn cannot survive as leader a defeat on 8 June. Ladbrokes itself doesn’t seem confident in a Corbyn victory. They say that they have “taken a few small bets” on Corbyn being Prime Minister after the election but that “nothing that has left our trading department quaking in their boots just yet”.


On Wednesday, at Prime Minister’s Questions,  Ms Cooper took the Prime Minister to task over her claim that the election was to stop Parliament scuppering Brexit:


“The Prime Minister yesterday said she was calling a general election because Parliament was blocking Brexit.


“But three quarters of MPs and two thirds of the Lords voted for Article 50 – so that’s not true, is it? A month ago she told her official spokesman to rule out an early general election, and that wasn’t true either, was it?`


“She wants us to believe she is a woman of her word. Isn’t the truth that we cannot believe a single word she says?”


Some are citing this attack on Theresa May in the Commons  a “leadership pitch.”  Ms Cooper is married to the former shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls. He lost his Parliamentary seat at the 2015 General Election and has already announced that he will not be attempting to return to Parliament at this election.

Theresa May pledges to preserve the 0.7% of GDP spending commitment on foreign aid


After speculation that the Prime Minister was considering scrapping the commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, today she has announced that the commitment “will remain,” but also said that it must be spent “in the most effective way.” The commitment was begun by David Cameron in 2010 and later enshrined in law. It has been a long-standing suggestion by the United Nations, dating back to the 1970s. Britain has met the 0.7% spending pledge every year since 2013, spending some £12 billion on foreign aid in 2015 alone.


George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer who is standing down as MP for Tatton at this election, tweeted that it was “morally right,” emphasising that it would maintain Britain’s global influence. Aid organisations, including Unicef and Save the Children welcome the decision, but the Taxpayers Alliance said that it was an “arbitrary and meaningless” target and that it should be scrapped. Theresa May added: “What we need to do though is look at how that money is spent and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way.”

Further reading:


  • Leaked documents suggest the EU wants Britain kept under European Courts… read more (


  • May’s election still only offers cynicism… read more (


  • The election campaign that just cannot escape Brexit… read more (