The desperation of smears by right-wing Labour figures reached a new low tonight. Labour lost a council seat in Coulby Newham, a well-to-do Middlesbrough ward that borders on another even more wealthy part of town and one that has always had a substantial Tory vote.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP since 2010, Tom Blenkinsop is one of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s most entrenched opponents – and tonight he lost no time at all in trying to pin the blame for the loss on Corbyn:
Here’s the thing – Coulby Newham is in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. Blenkinsop’s own constituency.
This writer has met Tom Blenkinsop on a number of occasions – mostly on the terrace at Westminster, but elsewhere too. You would be quite hard-pressed to find a more arrogant, less personable or engaging human being – even among blairite MPs.
Leaving aside any questions of the biased media coverage that the people of Coulby Newham might see or hear, having an MP who’s not only so unpleasant but who also never wastes an opportunity to talk down his party’s electability might have a lot more to do with a loss in a well-off area.
Labour’s defeated candidate, Annalise Higgins, to judge by her Twitter feed, is a very nice woman. But that same Twitter feed contains not one mention of the Labour leader – nor, for that matter, of the Labour Party.
Given the complete absence of Corbyn from her discourse, it’s highly unlikely that he played a significant role in her defeat – and certainly nothing like as significant as the impact of having an awful MP who’s held in contempt even by the majority of his local Labour members.
But a closer look at Blenkinsop’s tweets this evening suggests that he himself knows full well where the real blame lies for the Coulby Newham loss – he gives the impression of someone lashing out and determined to put the blame somewhere, anywhere else than on his own shoulders.
Blenkinsop also pours scorn on the ‘Local Campaign Forum’ – the Labour organisation responsible for planning campaigns – or, more precisely, on its ‘director’. And he did so, apparently without shame or self-awareness, to the whole local Labour party:
Blenkinsop has form that makes Coulby Newham look like a triumph. If tonight’s result saw Labour lose one councillor, Blenkinsop managed – in just one week – to lose eleven. His machinations and personal ‘qualities’, combined with those of his neighbouring MP Anna ‘arsehole Len’ Turley, resulted in the resignation of 11 local councillors in 2015.
Sorry, Tom, but a lost seat in your own back yard is your responsibility. Blame Corbyn, blame the LCF, blame whatever you like – it won’t change the fact. Blaming Corbyn for Coulby Newham is as transparently hypocritical as it would be to blame him for Brexit when you couldn’t persuade your own voters to vote remain.
Oops – you did that too, by backing the ridiculous ‘chicken coup’ of resignations after the referendum result. It seems if you want to find the fundamental reason for the loss in Coulby Newham, you should look a lot closer to home than Islington.
Like in a mirror.
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