No, Jeremy, don’t do it

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of yvette cooper attacking corbyn

Those who were paying attention during Yvette Cooper’s challenge for the Labour leadership last year would have been aware of the undisclosed £75,000 businessman Peter Hearn contributed to the New Labour enthusiasts campaign.

The mainstream media didn’t pay much attention to the scandal at the time. On September 22 of that year, columnist Fraser Nelson wrote tellingly of “the terrifying victory of Jeremy Corbyn’s mass movement” at staving off the coup attempt against him. Two days later, New Labour Corbyn critic and MP for Normanton, Ponefract, Castleford and Nottingley tweeted the following:

Congratulations re-elected today. Now the work starts to hold everyone together, build support across country & take Tories on

Less than 48 hours after her insincere message on Twitter, the Blairite MP engaged in a media publicity stunt intended to draw a wedge between the PLP and the membership.

Cooper’s crude ‘politics of identity’ strategy inferred that shadow chancellor John McDonnell was a misogynist for his use of emotionally charged language in defending the “appalling” treatment of disabled people by the last Tory government.

The context in which McDonnell attacked the former Tory Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, was set against a backdrop in which she planned to cut the benefits of more than 300,000 disabled people. That Cooper rushed to the defence of a Tory who presided over some of the most wicked policies of arguably the most reactionary and brutal right-wing government in living memory, is extremely revealing.

What was also revealing, were the media’s obvious double-standards. A few days prior to the media’s onslaught against McDonnell’s “sexist” comment, Guardian journalist Nicholas Lezard called for the crowdfunded assassination of Corbyn. Needless to say, there was no media outrage at this latter suggestion.

Selective outrage is what many of us have come to expect from a partisan anti-Corbyn media. In May, 2015, independent journalist and Labour activist, Mike Sivier reported on Yvette “imaginary wheelchairs” Cooper’s criticism of those “using stigmatising language about benefit claimants”.

But as an article from April 13, 2010 below illustrates, while in office as Labour’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Cooper had drawn up plans that would almost certainly have met with the approval of Iain Duncan Smith and the newly appointed Secretary of State for Work a Pensions, David Gauke

Indeed, the policy plans outlined by Cooper were subsequently adopted by the Coalition government under the tutelage of Esther McVey. In policy terms, it would thus appear Cooper has more in common with McVey than she does with McDonnell. This, and her disdain towards both Corbyn and McDonnell and the mass membership they represent, explains her outburst. She was not motivated by sisterly love.

This is the relevant part of the 2010 article implicating Cooper’s policy outlook with that of the Tories she supposedly despises:

“Tens of thousands of claimants facing losing their benefit on review, or on being transferred from incapacity benefit, as plans to make the employment and support allowance (ESA) medical much harder to pass are approved by the secretary of state for work and pensions, Yvette Cooper.

The shock plans for ‘simplifying’ the work capability assessment, drawn up by a DWP working group, include docking points from amputees who can lift and carry with their stumps.  Claimants with speech problems who can write a sign saying, for example, ‘The office is on fire!’ will score no points for speech and deaf claimants who can read the sign will lose all their points for hearing.

Meanwhile, for ‘health and safety reasons’ all points scored for problems with bending and kneeling are to be abolished and claimants who have difficulty walking can be assessed using imaginary wheelchairs.

Claimants who have difficulty standing for any length of time will, under the plans, also have to show they have equal difficulty sitting, and vice versa, in order to score any points.  And no matter how bad their problems with standing and sitting, they will not score enough points to be awarded ESA.

In addition, almost half of the 41 mental health descriptors for which points can be scored are being removed from the new ‘simpler’ test, greatly reducing the chances of being found incapable of work due to such things as poor memory, confusion, depression and anxiety.

There are some improvements to the test under the plans, including exemptions for people likely to be starting chemotherapy and more mental health grounds for being admitted to the support group.  But the changes are overwhelmingly about pushing tens of thousands more people onto JSA. 

If all this sounds like a sick and rather belated April Fools joke to you, we’re not surprised.  But the proposals are genuine and have already been officially agreed by Yvette Cooper, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.  They have not yet been passed into law, but given that both Labour and the Conservatives seem intent on driving as many people as possible off incapacity related benefits, they are likely to be pursued by whichever party wins the election…..”

What the above indicates is that Cooper laid the groundwork, and was responsible for, setting in motion the Tories regime of welfare cuts and system of testing to the most vulnerable of our citizens, many of whom would have been Labour voters.

It should be deeply concerning that some activists and others within the party are seemingly prepared to overlook Cooper’s treachery as a trade off for her alleged ‘hard-hitting’ experience. Cooper is one of many Blairites who have suddenly had an apparent Damascene conversation and have seemingly bought into the popular wave of Corbynism.

But activists shouldn’t be fooled. Actions speak louder than words. The plans Cooper drew up seven years ago against disabled people were so brutal, they were kept in place by the hard-line Tory, Iain Duncan Smith, who oversaw the excess deaths of thousands.

My advice to Corbyn, for what it’s worth, is that he should think very carefully before appointing his new team. He should stick as much as possible with those who loyally remained by his side over the last two years and who have worked hardest against those Blairites within the party who would have preferred a Tory landslide over a Corbyn victory. Cooper, who is a cynical opportunist careerist motivated by money and self-interest, is one such person.

I would go further. Corbyn and his team should seriously consider looking at ways to clear-out Blairites at constituency Labour party level. Many people, including millions of Iraqi’s, Libyan’s and Syrian’s would not consider that to be mere spite, rather a small step towards justice.

Compulsory deselection is the obvious way forward but to date, Corbyn has suffered from an inability to influence constituency labour parties at the local level whose full-time paid staff are institutionalized. They see in Corbyn somebody who is a potential threat to the status quo. The General Secretary, Ian McNicol represents the apex of this kind of tendency towards self-preservation.

This explains why during the election campaign the website Skwawkbox was able to allege that “almost no resources were made available for the fight to win Tory-held marginals or even to defend Labour-held ones.” Party officials and national executive right-wingers either assumed that Labour could not win seats or deliberately sought a bad result to undermine Corbyn.

The Morning Star reported on the case of Mary Griffiths-Clarke, the Labour candidate in Arfon who won 11,427 votes to Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams’s 11,519 — missing out on the seat by just 92 votes, or 0.3 per cent of the vote. She told the paper that her campaign had received “no support — not even a tweet” from the Labour Party at the British or Welsh levels.

It was the party machine, not the leadership, which declined to put resources into her campaign, she said. “Jeremy [Corbyn] was amazing. He was in touch throughout the campaign and even on polling day itself.”

But Ms Griffiths-Clarke says she did not get a campaign manager from central office and had been told by an official in Welsh Labour, when she asked for help, that the party’s priorities in north Wales did not include Arfon.

“It was like campaigning for a franchise — I had the logo and the excellent manifesto, and that was it. Labour sent no activists to campaign in Bangor even on the day of the vote.” She said she was speaking out as it was important for Labour to not make the same mistake if another election is called.

Of the 262 parliamentary Labour MPs, roughly 60 hold genuine left-wing views, while a similar amount tread the ground between the left and right. The vast majority of the PLP – roughly 140 – however, are right-wing disciples of the Chicago school  who are unprincipled cynical opportunists or, as Tony Benn put it, “weathervanes”. They will only go with the Corbyn programme if it looks good for their money-making prospects. This illustrates the battle Corbyn and his supporters are up against.

Disappointingly, the influential commentator and economist, Paul Mason, was quick to announce on the BBC that Corbyn’s subsequent electoral “success” should be used to broaden his cabinet and policy platform by bringing Blairites like Cooper back into the fold. I have often found Mason’s commentary to be convoluted at best and highly contradictory at worse.

His latest appeal does nothing to alter my suspicion that he is a controlled opposition figure in much the same way Owen Jones is/was. If Corbyn ends up being too accommodating to the Blairites it will only encourage them, resulting in the blunting of Corbyn’s radical message which is the major part of his appeal and the very reason why Labour voters, especially the young, voted for him in such large numbers in the first place.

Keeping young voters on board is particularly important given the fact that the proposed boundary changes that the Tories will be keen to bring in before the next election will benefit them by 18 seats. This will provide the ideal opportunity for Corbyn to force through the compulsory re-submission of candidates to members who are energized by a very different set of priorities to that of the Blairites.

Those motivated primarily by money will disappear by stealth into the ether. But in order for this to happen, Corbyn needs to grab the bull by the horns by cleverly negotiating the tide of optimism sweeping throughout the grass roots of the party. He must, in my view, seize the moment by taking control of the hierarchy of the party that he currently lacks.

The Blairites are currently on the defensive and Corbyn should exploit this situation to the maximum. The worse case scenario is one in which the former wrestle back significant control. By giving the likes of Cooper prominence, will only encourage this eventuality.

The contradiction between Cooper’s deeds and words outlined above, highlight the extent to which the ideological consensus between the New Labour hierarchy and the ruling Tory establishment, is structurally embedded within a dysfunctional system of state power that is no longer fit for purpose. Corbyn’s task in changing this situation around is difficult but not impossible. He should resist all calls to bring ‘heavyweights’ like Cooper back into the fore.

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19 thoughts on “No, Jeremy, don’t do it

    1. No but his ‘mouthpiece’ Campbell has raised his ugly head to say the Blairite Tories in red should be included in Jeremy’s Government! Fortunately the REAL supporters of JC won’t pay heed to this puppet!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You’re right , Danny- now is a very opportune moment to begin cleansing the movement of its bombheads and career personalities- particularly those still loyal to Blair and his repugnant henchmen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every word shines true from the page. Cooper will never be forgiven by the disabled community. She and the New Labour DWP were in thrall to the Unum / ATOS mantra of “disability doesn’t exist”. I have looked on the internet for many of the pre-2010 documents about Cooper – it looks like she has used the interim to get the internet to “forget”. They put the systems in place to allow the worst Social Darwinist policies to be enacted, and smoothly transition into the horrors perpetrated by Grayling, IDS, Evil McVey, Priti Patel, and others. Without the work of Cooper and New Labour, they would have spent five years or more having to develop their own systems of death and suffering. That could have saved tens of thousands of vulnerable people from avoidable deaths, hundreds of thousands from mental health problems caused by the DWP. Those of us who have survived the savagery of her legacy will not allow a little Google reputation cleansing to rehabilitate her.

    (the assessment of Owen Jones & Paul Mason spot on. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said! I’m a victim of her little tweeking frenzy! They removed points for manual dexterity, the only points that qualified me for esa! I appealed and won, despite those administering the systems derision and doubt about my personal injuries (nerve pain) that prevents me from doing a ‘Proper’ job! lol (here in Cornwall)! Only to lose it again within 5 months of winning appeal. However, my limitations help me ‘Rise’ to the occasion when it comes to ‘Activism’ in the Shires…:) Regarding the points you so eloquently raise in this article, I agree Jeremy would do well to choose carefully his team, and keeping those most dependable, honest and loyal to his moral compass in developing ‘Our’ future society, but whatever has gone before, should be seen in its context! This is a social war that has been going on between the masses and the 1% (10%) for generations, and the pressures on individuals to (co-operate) with the Puppet Masters, must be intense. I’m not absolving ‘them’ from responsibility, but forgiving them their trespasses against the people they were supposed to be representing. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, with the will of ‘The People’ behind him, beside him, and all around his Leadership, want a compassionate/forgiving/caring/and sharing Society, which means ‘it must work both ways’ to work at all. JC knows this better than most! 🙂 People are people, and the left have career politicians/activists, too! 😉 We have to learn to work with people and not fall back into that chasm that was The Split’ Labour Party, ever again. We have to work with extensions of the likes of Evette Cooper and Co, on the ground at grass roots. Lets do it together and nail the tories, maybe teach them how to really live, along the way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I left the Labour Party in the late 80s as it went rightwards towards New Labour. I rejoined just before the election was announced to back Corbyn. I always said Blairism wouldn’t last, and I always said a socialist manifesto would be enthusiastically received by the working class. Corbyn proved this in the last few weeks. When the election was announced I believed Labour had a good chance, despite bing 23 points behind. I wasn’t surprised we did so well. We would have easily won were it not for 2 years backstabbing by Blairites. On the bright side, their attacks on Corbyn actually prove to the masses that he is the real deal. Time to clear out the Tories from the Party and go from strength to strength! Next we need to get poor people, who still think ‘they’re all the same’ behind Labour by opposing ALL CUTS IN LABOUR COUNCILS.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on de frémancourt and commented:
    This is a hugely important message to the British Labour Party and to HM Leader of the Opposition and Prime-Minister-in-Waiting the well and truly Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP. These people did everything possible to undermine Jeremy, and Jeremy fought under very challenging circumstances and achieved what he achieved last week. Taking them in would be the first step in ruining everything Jeremy and genuine Labour supporters and wellwishers have done so far. So the right-wing, neoliberal ideological streak in the Labour Party – which is a spent force – should no longer be allowed to serve on the front bench. Full-stop.

    This is not about politics. This is about human dignity. This is about standing for the most vulnerable in our society. This is about ensuring that Britain gets a true negotiator like Corbyn and an excellent manager like John McDonnell and a presentable internationalist like Keir Starmer to negotiate a win-win Brexit deal. This is about protecting and reinforcing LGBTQI Rights, and reinforcing the rights of non-cisgender and non-cis-heteronormative people. This is about ensuring that Labour remains, true to the Corbyn ethos, non-ablist, and respectful. This is about Labour having a sensible foreign policy approach – the one Jeremy pioneered during the election campaign – which the British public – in the face of terror attacks – accepted as the most advisable way forward. In sum, this is about our shared future, and the right-wing in the Labour Party should have no place at the Corbyn-McDonnell front bench or in the Shadow Cabinet. Corbyn should, deserves to, needs to and MUST surround himself with pro-Corbyn politicians, pro-McDonnell politicians and that is the one and only promising path forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We are all judgemental, we often make a call based on first impressions. I like to think that I am often proved right by my instinctive feel of individuals. Some people in politics wield the power to inspire and lead for the common good. Not seeking any personal kudos or gain. Some do it through oratory such as Bevan, while others such as Benn did it by weight of the application of common sense in any argument and then stating the bleeding obvious. They were first of all leaders and secondly they were statesmen.

    There are others who will always remain on the fringe. Who need to have their ego stroked, to receive compliments and assurances from their small group of self congratulating political friends. Cooper is not and never could be an inspirational leader. She does not have the tool kit and her whole body language is always aggressive. All you get is an animated appearance with well rehearsed faux gestures when talking. Which then changes to looking disinterested and dismissive when listening.

    Corbyn has that warm relaxed demeanour and you know that he will listen to your every word. His manner and body language is not at all aggressive but neither is it passive. This is a powerful weapon against adversaries because it disarms them. He oozes that certainty – that Corbyn possesses much more knowledge than you and its you that will want to listen. This is a rare skill and equally as powerful as an orator. Corbyn comes across as the quiet man of politics, that you know you must never underestimate.

    Corbyn is a man who is very comfortable and relaxed in what he does. You instinctively know his values are not measured in pounds and pence. Cooper however gives the slick, glitz impression of doing the job for the money. Riding the Westminster gravy train, in the bubble that places her outside of life and in the rarefied, sterile atmosphere of the apparatchik. She is irritating and the sort who would undo with flippant, dismissive comments a lot of what has been achieved. Hence her regular appearances as a half cocked, smoking gun with Andrew Neil.

    Cooper is a blind, devoted follower of Blair and the New Labour ethos. She could not and cannot embrace change. I don’t see her as an asset, I see her more as a dragging anchor. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong political party. She does not warrant, command or deserve any high office in government. I see a future for her as a good constituency MP but not necessarily in the Labour Party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You articulate my thoughts exactly and extremely well. Public relations is more suited to celebrity and the illusions that this implies. Ultimately Blairites are narcissists more interested in celebrity than politics.

      Like

  6. Labour – Left wing w*ores that want to destroy all national borders until anyone can go anywhere. There are far more people in the third world than there are in our country, & the bombs have only just started.

    An organisation that will leave us the same as always. Equal rights alright. Just equally zero. Just ask Russia.

    When there are 300 corporations running the show instead of 300 nations, & everyone’s on $1 a day, the right will have won. Of course, all your Labour politicians will be part of the boardroom. You’re all idiots. At least you have some money & food under the Tories.

    Like

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