Tories widen lead over Labour to 13 points in new poll : Guardian.

Observer/Opinium survey shows support for Conservative party at 40% against 27% for Labour, with Jeremy Corbyn’s approval rating at 17%

Jeremy Corbyn in Stoke-on-Trent
Poll results will be sobering reading for Jeremy Corbyn as he campaigns in Stoke-on-Trent byelection. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The Tories have opened up a 13-point lead over Labour, according to a poll for The Observer that suggests Jeremy Corbyn’s party has been losing support ahead of next week’s two crucial byelections.

An online survey of 2,004 UK adults, conducted between 14 and 16 February by Opinium Research finds 40% of voters now back the Conservatives, an increase of three percentage points since a similar poll was conducted at the end of January.

The Tories’ gains are at the expense of Labour, down three points to 27% since the previous poll.

There was no change for the Lib Dems (8%) or Ukip (14%) between the two polls.

The findings make sober reading for Labour which is hoping to hold on to two seats when the voters of Stoke-on-Trent central and Copeland in Cumbria go the polls on Thursday.

They offer further confirmation that Corbyn has failed to win over voters: he has an approval rating of just 17% compared with Theresa May’s 45%.

Only 15% of voters trust Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, on the economy, compared with 44% who trust May and the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

The poll reveals that 33% of voters want EU citizens living in the UK to be automatically given leave to remain. A fraction more, 36%, want UK citizens in the EU to be granted similar rights. Only 5% of people think EU citizens living in the UK should be asked to leave. Among Ukip voters the figure rises to 17%.

  • Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. Full data tables and results are available here.

Link : The Guardian.

Why is Owen Jones helping to subvert Jeremy Corbyn? : Dissident Voice.

I have never been overly sold on Owen Jones. From his platform at the Guardian, he has spent far too much time whining about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to reach out to voters rather than using his rare spot in the mainstream media to help him to do precisely that.

But this news has knocked me sideways. It was announced yesterday that Jones is lined up to give a memorial lecture in April on behalf of the Jewish Labour Movement – the same group implicated in the recent efforts of the Israeli embassy to damage a Corbyn-led Labour party with confected allegations of anti-semitism. All of this was exposed last month in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation.

The Jewish Labour Movement was effectively shown to be acting as a front for the Israeli government’s efforts to oust Corbyn over a supposed anti-semitism crisis in the party. Israel hates Corbyn because of his long-standing position in support of Palestinian rights.

The announcement of Jones’ lecture was written by Ella Rose, the former Israeli embassy official who tried to conceal her past after she became the director of the Jewish Labour Movement.

She was one of those caught on Al Jazeera’s hidden cameras – in her case threatening to beat up black-Jewish Labour party activist Jackie Walker, who has been the prime target of these phoney anti-semitism allegations. None of this is secret history. I first wrote about the Jewish Labour Movement’s role in trying to subvert Corbyn back in September.

It is not even as though we can credit Jones with some kind of live-and-let-live attitude to free speech. Remember back in 2013 he pulled out at the last minute, and without warning, as a speaker at an important Stop the War rally to prevent British military intervention in Syria. His grounds? He had come under fire from the armchair interventionists because he was to speak alongside Mothers Agnes, a Syrian-based nun who was seen as being too pro-Assad. (The reasons Syrian Christians like Mother Agnes might support Bashar al-Assad were pretty obvious even then, but are blindingly so now.)

Mother Agnes pulled out of the rally to try to salvage it, but Jones continued to refuse to take part.

I criticised Jones then over his cowardly and irresponsible behaviour. Now he needs to explain how the principles that drove him away from the Stop the War rally can allow him to support a group, the Jewish Labour Movement, that is so clearly and maliciously attempting to subvert the elected leader of the Labour party.

Owen Jones has responded to this blog post both on Twitter, calling it “tedious nonsense” in his usual, dismissive style, and with a post here that tries to deflect attention from my argument with a straw man: that a conspiracy theory is painting him as a stooge of the Israeli government.

No conspiracy is being posited here – only very, very poor judgment. I have also not accused him of working on behalf of the Israeli government. Only of assisting, presumably thoughtlessly, those who are working on behalf of the Israeli government inside the Jewish Labour Movement, including most definitely its current director, Ella Rose.

Sadly, though predictably, he has avoided addressing the point of my criticism.

It is great that he wants to pay his respects to a friend’s late father, and I am sure there are responsible ways he can do that. But one of them is certainly not by adding his name and credibility to an organisation that was recently exposed by an undercover investigation to have been acting as a front for Israeli government efforts to subvert the elected leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement has been working to confect allegations of anti-semitism against other Labour party members. That is a serious form of verbal violence against members of Jones’ own party that has the power to do its victims great harm, personally and professionally.

Let’s not also forget, as I pointed out, that Ella Rose, who will be hosting Owen Jones’ lecture, was filmed threatening physical violence against a fellow Labour party member, Jackie Walker.

I was astounded that Jones accepted this offer from the Jewish Labour Movement. I am even more astonished that he is so casually dismissive of the very real harm caused by the actions of this organisation and its leaders.

Update 2:

Depressing to see that Owen Jones has now retweeted approvingly a conspiracy theory against critics like me. Apparently we are CIA-funded.  Paradoxically, in Jones’  original response, he accused his critics of being “conspiracy theorists”.

Link : Dissident Voice.

Jeremy Corbyn may quit as leader before general election, new campaign manager admits : Telegraph.

Jeremy Corbyn may quit as leader before Labour fights the next general election, the party’s new campaign manager has admitted.

Ian Lavery said Labour had “plenty” of potential leaders waiting in the wings should Mr Corbyn choose to stand down “of his own volition” if he decides “it’s not for him” in 2020.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn 
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn  Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

It came as another Labour shadow minister claimed leaked polling on possible replacements for Mr Corbyn was intended to improve Labour’s messaging in the north of England ahead of two crucial by-elections.

Mr Lavery said he was “pretty confident” Labour could hold its seats in the Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-elections, but described the possibility of losing only as a potential “hiccup”.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics programme: “There’s plenty of leaders to pick from if and when Jeremy decides, of his own volition, that it’s not for him at the election. That isn’t the case at this point in time.”

It came as the deputy leader Tom Watson warned Mr Corbyn he “must improve” the party’s popularity ratings, which has left Labour 15 per cent behind in the polls.

Asked about Labour’s chances in the upcoming elections, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show:  “I don’t know whether we’re going to win these by-elections or not but the campaign team on the ground are running a good campaign.”

Read More : The Telegraph.

Jeremy Corbyn fills gaps in shadow cabinet after Brexit bill rebellion : Guardian.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, seen by some as potential future leader, appointed shadow business secretary, replacing Clive Lewis

Rebecca Long-Bailey
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the new shadow business secretary. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the MP for Salford, has been promoted to the job of shadow business secretary, as Jeremy Corbyn replaces the members of the shadow cabinet who resigned rather than vote to trigger article 50 and begin the Brexit process.

Long-Bailey, a solicitor and close ally of John McDonnell who is regarded by some as a potential successor to Corbyn, takes the place of Clive Lewis, the Norwich South MP who resigned on Wednesday night before voting against the government’s Brexit bill.

Labour also announced that the Workington MP Sue Hayman would be shadow environment secretary; the Neath MP Christina Rees would be shadow Welsh secretary; and the Bootle MP Peter Dowd would replace Long-Bailey as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

Corbyn has carried out five reshuffles since taking the leadership in 2015, in response to a series of resignations including the mass walkout that preceded Owen Smith’s leadership challenge last summer.

Long-Bailey, the daughter of a Salford docker, whose 2015 election campaign was backed by the Unite trade union, is Corbyn’s fourth shadow business secretary – a key position, given the party’s hope of winning back its reputation for economic competence.

The Brexit bill will now move on to the House of Lords, where Labour has tabled eight amendments. Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, hopes to push the government to make a firmer commitment on giving parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal and to safeguard the rights of EU citizens.

Lady Smith told the Guardian’s Politics Weekly podcast that she had no intention of being scared off by threats from the government about curtailing the powers of the Lords were it interfered. “We’re seeing particularly some Tory MPs almost harking back to the old westerns: this is High Noon and we’re going to have a gunslingers battle. That’s not how we operate,” she said.

Read More : The Guardian.

Labour MPs turn Tories’ Brexit crisis into a bid to oust Corbyn : Socialist Worker.

MPs have turned Theresa Mays crisis into a crisis for Jeremy Corbyn

MPs have turned Theresa May’s crisis over Brexit into a brewing crisis for Jeremy Corbyn


A crisis in the Labour Party over the European Union (EU) has led to renewed speculation that left wing leader Jeremy Corbyn could resign or be challenged—yet again.

Corbyn has rightly said Labour will not try to block Brexit—Britain’s exit from the EU. Working class people in many Labour seats voted Leave as part of a revolt against the establishment.

But he is facing rebellions by both right and left wing Labour MPs who want to block Brexit.

Corbyn will be under huge pressure to resign if Labour loses either of the two by-elections it faces in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland on 23 February.

Now rumours are flying that some MPs could be moving to replace Corbyn—including Clive Lewis and Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s “soft left”.

Meanwhile the Labour right is said to be preparing a challenge from Labour’s shadow “Brexit minister” Keir Starmer.

The EU referendum split the Tory party down the middle, but these manoeuvres have turned what should have been their crisis into one for Labour.

The Labour right are themselves divided on whether to block Brexit (see right). But they are all desperate to keep Britain in the European single market, which restricts workers’ rights and prevents nationalisation of industries such as rail.

They are openly pushing to end EU freedom of movement, with more restrictive immigration controls.

Yet many of Labour’s members and supporters want to stay in the EU because they associate leaving with attacks on migrants and workers’ rights.

Predicted 

Some 7,000 Labour Party members are reported to have quit after Corbyn told Labour MPs to vote for the bill to begin Brexit in parliament last week. And a number of left and “soft left” Labour MPs were also predicted to defy Corbyn in a vote in parliament which was set to take place on Wednesday of this week.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said last Sunday that Labour would not “frustrate Brexit”.

Yet when asked about the consequences of rebelling, Corbyn described himself as “very lenient”.

This could leave his position open to challenges from MPs such as Lewis, who has said he will vote against the bill if Labour’s amendments are not accepted.

It comes after 47 Labour MPs—mostly from the right—rebelled against Corbyn at the bill’s second reading last Wednesday.

Corbyn has tried to hold his party together by appealing to both the right and left. This muddle lets the Tories—who should also be divided over Brexit—off the hook.

Corbyn could unite those with a vision for a socialist, anti-racist Brexit—whether they are for or against leaving the EU.


For Europe but not for Europeans—rebels want to attack migrant

Read More : Socialist Worker.

Corbyn calls for Nato to stop sabre-rattling : Morning Star.

JEREMY CORBYN said yesterday that no more British troops should be sent to the Baltic states and urged that the Nato members’ eastern borders with Russia be demilitarised to reduce tensions.

Troops from Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and Norway have been dispatched to the region.

Asked if he considered it a mistake to have sent British soldiers, Mr Corbyn told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “I don’t think it should be increased.

“I think we should be looking to try to reduce tensions within the border area.

“It will also help, of course, in bringing about a better dialogue in the dreadful situation in Syria and bring about a real ceasefire,” he added. Mr Corbyn said that Nato’s involvement is not calming the situation.

He said: “[Nato] has expanded quite a lot towards the east, Russian militarism has grown quite a lot.

“My point has always been there has to be an improved and deepened dialogue between Nato and Russia in order to demilitarise those borders in order to reduce tensions in the area.

“Both sides sending troops to the border isn’t doing anything about that long-term situation.”

But his spokesman had previously suggested that Britain’s deployment of troops and jets to Estonia was ramping up the conflict with Russia.

Link : Morning Star.

Corbyn: no space on front bench for Brexit rebels : Morning Star.

SHADOW cabinet members can’t stay on the front bench if they vote against the Brexit process, Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday.

The Labour leader told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “It’s obviously impossible to carry on being in the shadow cabinet if you vote against a decision made after a very frank and very long discussion of the shadow cabinet earlier this week.”

Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens and shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq announced their resignations on Friday in response to the imposition of a three-line whip on Labour MPs to back the Bill that will open EU exit negotiations.

Both Ms Stevens’s and Ms Siddiq’s constituencies — Cardiff Central and Hampstead & Kilburn — voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum. Ms Stevens said Brexit was a “terrible mistake.”

Labour whips Jeff Smith and Thangam Debbonaire — who are meant to enforce party discipline — have indicated they will rebel in this week’s vote, according to the Press Association, which also suggested that more resignations would follow after Mr Corbyn said he had made it clear that Article 50, the cue for Brexit talks, “has to be implemented.”

A vote on Article 50 is now mandatory after the Supreme Court ruled last week that the government must have the permission of Parliament before starting the two-year process to leave the EU.

Mr Corbyn insisted that Labour planned to secure crucial amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill and said that quitting was a premature move.

He told Robert Peston: “There was no need for anyone to resign at this stage.”

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said the divisions in the party would be handled sensitively and suggested some of the rebels could be back in senior roles within months.

Link : Morning Star.