Those bemoaning Khan’s Conference absence show it’s to be welcomed

The Guardian is reporting today that Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham are likely to be ‘cut’ from Labour’s 2017 Conference programme in order to make more space for member contributions and debate on the issues important to members.

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The Guardian describes Khan’s 2016 ‘Labour in Power’ Conference speech as ‘powerful’, but in fact the only notable thing about it was that it managed to be smug and dreary at the same time.

Khan attempted to capitalise on what was – even more clearly so after the General Election – a significantly Corbyn-driven win, helped by an ugly, dog-whistle campaign by his Tory opponent, to make a thinly-veiled attack on the Labour leader with a repetitious, uninspiring speech that amounted to little more than a call to the centrism that people had forsaken yet again to vote for Corbyn in droves in the leadership election.

Khan had supported Owen Smith and his words of congratulation to Corbyn on yet another huge win rang hollow.

The ‘Corbyn surge’ at the General Election – and since, with polling even better than led to Blair’s landslide in 1997 – showed clearly that centrist moans that popularity among Labour members didn’t equate to popularity among the electorate were just more naysaying by those devoid of anything better.

And in that context, Khan’s ‘powerful’ speech looks empty of substance and bereft of vision – a failed attempt at cheap, small-minded point-scoring.

He will be missed by few of the majority of members who support Corbyn’s leadership and vision, assuming the ‘cut’ materialises.

But even more than his uninspiring politics and presentation, those who spoke to the Guardian in outrage at the idea that he wouldn’t feature at this year’s Conference show why his absence will be no loss.

Neil Coyle and Wes Streeting jumped up to object to the prospect, with the latter claiming it “would be a terrible snub not to have him addressing our conference.” Streeting has been a persistent denigrator of the Labour leader who then tried to redeem himself by singing ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ at a post-election event.

Coyle – who expected to lose his Bermondsey and Old Southwark seat but won with a 10-point increase in his majority – didn’t even have the sense to show gratitude for a win that surprised him, bleating that he was not going to be a ‘cheerleader’ for Corbyn. He had to be slapped down by his own constituents and others who had campaigned for him – but seems to have learned little if anything from the experience.

Khan was uninspired and uninspiring in 2016, backed the wrong horse in the leadership race in spite of the obvious impact of Corbyn’s policies and authenticity on the London mayoral result – and his own speech showed he was out of touch with voters and lacked the imagination and vision to understand what was happening. In that he’s not remarkable among ‘centrist’ Labour politicians.

But the mere fact the likes of Streeting and even more so Coyle are bemoaning the idea of his absence would be a good enough reason in and of itself for most Labour members to welcome it – even if they weren’t unfortunate enough to have to sit through his 2016 Conference contribution.

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  1. I voted for Khan. Trump’s success has made me rethink things. Prior to him I have always voted for the lesser of two evils & Khan was without doubt a lesser evil than Zac.

    Trump didn’t appear from a vacuum though. Politicians are rewarded for lying. Look how rich Tony Blair is…Sadiq Khan lied again and again in his manifesto. He was rewarded for it. I helped reward him for it. I don’t think those of us who have voted for a liar can escape our role in bringing about evolution to the uber-liar Trump.

    And more recently, Macron was voted for by many who don’t like him & his resultant complacency/delusions-of-popularity may lumber us with a fascist next time.

    No more voting for toads. Sad thing is Sadiq Khan likely to be Labour candidate next time. As regards his speech last year; it wasn’t technically good oratory. George Galloway may be a pillock, but he can do public speaking well. It is not just about the content. He just doesn’t have the skill either.

    1. Voting for the lesser of two candidates you aren’t too keen on is the nature of democracy, alas. The alternative on election day is not to vote at all, which may help the even worse candidate.
      Of course there is a solution: become active in the partyand therefore have a greater chance ensuring a better candidate next time!
      (apologies if you already are!!)

      1. You are only thinking in the short term. Not voting may help the worse candidate in the short term, but the long term effect may be good.

        When in the voting booth you need to consider both the short term effects & the long term effects of any vote. By rewarding little devils you help evolve the big devils. I plan to still go to vote, but then spoil it. I am a party member, but you shouldn’t need to be to have a positive effect.

        In retrospect I know that I helped with the long term genesis of Trump, as did anyone who voted for Khan or Blair.

    2. The problem here is the very real evidence that those on the right of the LP who refer to themselves as centerists or centre-left were not aligned with Trump but with his opponent who was also sold as a centerist or center left. Some of these Party figures even went over to the States to help the self styled centerist’s campaign against Trump.

      At present a substantial section of those who consider themselves on the progressive side of politics have left themselves wide open and exposed to aligning themselves with facists even more dangerous than Trump. Unless of course it is going to be claimed that those responsible for supporting facists in Ukraine, supporting jihadits in Libya and Syria and supplying arms to Saudi Arabia for use in the Yeman, along with political and diplomatic support, are more progressive and left leaning than Trump on the grounds of them not using a crude dog whistle.

  2. First the centrists tried to sabotage the Labour Party in the run up to the General Election, and now ill-disciplined and divisive centrists like Wes Bleating and Neil Spoil are trying to sabotage Conference.

    These people are an electoral and reputational liability to the party. They seem to only ever be happy when they are undermining the Labour Party.

    If there is one key principle in politics it is this: divided parties don’t win elections. Wes Streeting, Neil Coyle and their fellow destructive right wingers never learn. They do nothing but sow discord and division in the Labour Party.

    They are like a dead weight to the electability of the party.

  3. Interesting, and I pretty much agree with every word – – except I find it hard to believe that such details have already been decided.
    Let’s hope it’s not another stunt designed to rouse the moribund, for “one more push” against democracy.

  4. Didn’t Khan say he was going to stay neutral during the centrist’s swivel-eyed leadership challenge (who could forget the “ISIS at the negotiating table” moment), only to come out against Jeremy just before the ballot opened?

    And then there was his mayoral campaign promise to set up “Energy for London” (www.sadiq.london/a_greener_cleaner_london). Looks like the denizens of the City of London’s corporate Red Light District had words with Khan about that because it’s not to be.


    Khan’s pure 1997, another Blairite flower forced to bloom out of season.

      1. Thank you, I hadn’t seen that. Shame it’s not a proposal to set up a not-for-profit energy supplier for the whole of London … that’d set the cat among the big-six pigeons =)

  5. I am happy to hear Khan won’t be in the Conference speech but A. Burnham, I like him although he was not necessarily nice to Corbyn when Jeremy went congratulate Andrew B for his victory. It is shame Burnham would be a very good allies for Corbyn. They appeal to young people and young people love them. I wonder why they don’t get on.


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