‘Odd couples’ article misses point – shows Establishment still rattled by Pidcock

A Gaby Hinsliff article in today’s Observer lists a number of supposedly-unlikely parliamentary ‘odd couples’ under the emetic title:


The piece amounts to little more than a barely-veiled attack on Labour MP Laura Pidcock, who shook the Establishment with her SKWAWKBOX interview in August, in which she expressed her hatred for Tory policies and her lack of interest in letting Parliament’s ‘clubby’ atmosphere change her opinion of the Tory MPs who pass them: the enemy of her constituents.

The impact of that interview – termed by one right-winger ‘the interview that launched a thousand comment-pieces‘ – is still being felt. The depth of the shock-wave it created could be perceived in the avalanche of attacks on Ms Pidcock by Establishment journalists and politicians.

Ms Hinsliff’s article has been published, coincidentally or otherwise, on the same weekend that Laura Pidcock, in an interview with Owen Jones, reaffirmed  her view that she is in Parliament to oppose Tories, not to befriend them – as well as commenting on the not-unrelated truth that the Establishment is afraid of Labour’s authenticity and strength on social media.

Ms Hinsliff manages, without any apparent sense of irony, to miss the point by a country mile. Of the five ‘odd couples’ she chooses to showcase, the only relevant pairing is that of Shami Chakrabarti and Sayeeda Warsi – we’ll come back to them. The other four merely illustrate the problem with Labour politicians’ chumminess with their Tory counterparts – that well-known syndrome:

“They’re all the same.”

Ms Hinsliff makes a big thing of the different backgrounds of the pairings she picks, for example ‘old Etonian’ Nicholas Soames vs ‘labourer’s son’ Frank Field; privately-educated soldier Johnny Mercer vs former union rep Ruth Smeeth.

But nobody has suggested it’s a bad thing for Labour MPs to be friendly with MPs from different backgrounds – where people come from is irrelevant.

Tony Benn was a Viscount – but he fought to change the law to be able to renounce his title so he could continue as an MP to serve the people. He’s a hero to the left. Frank Field may be a labourer’s son, but he’s despised by many left-wingers for his perceived arrogance and his right-wing stance on a range of issues.

It’s not where you came from, it’s where you are now – and where you believe we need to get toAnd in that, there’s barely a fag-paper between Hinsliff’s ‘odd couples’ on issues that matter to many.

Ms Hinsliff knows this – because she says it about pairings in her article.

About Field and Soames:

What seems to make the friendship tick… is a knack for reaching identical conclusions from different starting points

About Steve Reed and Tory MP Heidi Allen:

[I]t’s quite difficult to get Allen and Reed to pinpoint an issue on which they disagree

Jess Phillips and Anne Milton consider each other ‘soulmates’. When Ms Smeeth wants to highlight Mercer’s solicitousness toward her even when they’re having a ‘fierce disagreement’, she does not choose one of the major social issues dividing the country – inequality, homelessness, education, the persecution and demonisation of the poor, sick and disabled or the impoverishment of our young people through tuition fees and inflated interest rates on student loans.

Instead, she says:

Even if you’re having fierce arguments about whether it should be 2% or 3% of GDP expenditure on defence

And that is the problem. Not background, race or class, but this:

Are you for helping and protecting people and their communities – or are you part of the problem, voting in order to take money away from disabled people and their carers, or to push through a new benefits system in spite of enormous evidence of the desperate straits in which it is putting people?

The hope that is inspiring people to re-engage in politics and which is threatening the Establishment has been born out of seeing that there are politicians who are in Parliament to fight the system that is hurting people – not to be a gnat’s-whisker’s width away from them except in the circus of PMQs.

That truth is one that will be immediately recognisable to people facing the harsh reality of life under Tory policies, even if it seems to be beyond the wit of a few mediocre journalists and politicians who have jumped to support Ms Hinsliff’s article in unpleasant ways on social media.

It’s a truth that Ms Hinsliff misses – or at least omits – from her article. It’s one that the Establishment wants to sully or obscure it, so things can return to ‘normal’. It’s one that those who care about the oppressed cannot afford to let be obscured – one that we need to make even more noise about.

The only relevant and potentially problematic couple in the article are Chakrabarti and Warsi, to whom we said we’d return. But the pair describe their friendship as forming around issues on which they were both distinctly on the anti-Establishment side of the fence: 42-day detention; racism in the EU referendum campaign; most recently, an anti-Trump demonstration.

So if the pair are an exception to the desirability of Labour parliamentarians fighting MPs who represent an ideology that is the enemy of ordinary people, they are a small one – and the one that ‘proves the rule’.

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  1. Its the same old Toffs and Us argument of the third way Blairites, in a way it is their class envy.

    They want to get rid of House of Lords , the Royal family and replace it by their own totalitarian system.

    Get rid of private schools yet retain a few and top Academies for their children, praise accents but make sure they don’t have one.

    In the third way government, created by Blair and continued to almost total solidarity and no politics, with for example, Sir Narey in bed with Gove on adoption and now special needs and care and whoever tory on prisons.

    The Charitable sector renamed the third and controlled by the Charities Act 06 is another fusion between parties.

    This third way ethos/modus that has got the country in such a mess, now has been in power effectively for the last 20 years and depends for its power on the union between Tory and Labour.

    It is this that must be fought unless the Tory believes in the new Labour agenda.

  2. Background does matter. Pointing out individuals as ‘proof’ that it doesn’t is not sufficient argument. And why mention disabled and their ‘carers’. They don’t necessarily exist together. Depends what you mean by disabled I suppose. In a normal time people had sisters and brothers and wives and husbands and friends. Now they’re all classified as carers, it’s disgraceful.

    1. Not all disabled people need, or have, carers. Some do. It’s a list of people attacked by the Tories, neither exhaustive nor interlinked

  3. There, is no difference, between, those who fight for the right, to those who fight, with the right, who are Labour Parliamentarians!
    Therefore, I agree with MP Laura Pidcock

  4. And of course we ought to take on board everything Ms Hinsliff has to say. I mean she never produced FAKE NEWS? No of course not. Sheesh. Is this supposed to be important journalism? Hells bells. How bad can it get?

  5. Like I’m arsed that they’re ‘upset’ Laura’s said she won’t have owt to do with those that wreck people’s lives in order to enrich themselves…

    Well in, lass.

    In any other scenario, someone what wanted to have me or mine over would have their heads well & truly kicked in. I make no apologies for it, neither.

    But they’re politicians, so that makes it alright to shaft me & my community? Like I should thank them – or even ASSIST them? Get tae f…

    So, the MSM lackeys whinging because Laura won’t entertain the idea of ‘working with them’ shows just what sort of total w*nkers we have in the establishment. W*nkers that she’s entirely correct to blank. If I was elected, Laura’s stance’d seem rather tame by comparison.

    The establishment & the toff elitists get off VERY lightly as it is. They ought to be VERY grateful it’s only having their politics hated…

  6. Of course it is completely immoral for a Labour MP to fraternise with Tory MPs. By doing so they are associatingthemselves with a party which, according to the Royal Institute of Medicine, causes 30,000 people a year to die avoidable deaths as a direct result of that party intentionally underfunding the NHS.

    The list of immoral acts of the Conservative Party is simply too long to list here. The list includes the imposition of Tory policies which cause death, homelessness, suicide, hunger and destitution.

    Being friends with an MP of a party which enforces immoral policy makes them a fellow traveller of those individuals. Labour MPs who do so are not fit to be members of the Labour Party.

    Seeing Jess Phillips laughing in unison with a member of a Tory party which implements policies that kills citizens is simply ghoulish.

    1. I posted your words somewhere else I hope you do not mind, they say it better than I can, I will remove them if you want me to.

  7. Great fightback, SB.

    The ongoing response to Laura P’s original statement of intent is a tacit admission of a convergent MediaMinster’s rottenness and of how invested in it the likes of Hinsliff are.

    Laura P. touched a nerve, alright; did she ever!

    And the dross that’s been wheeled out on the Labour side to defend this cosy, defacto-Tory dining club … Sheesh, the list would almost double as a list of priority deselections!

    You’d have thought these people would want to keep a lower profile, under the circumstances =)

  8. Reblogged this on The Night Owl and commented:
    Laura Pidcock has been a breath of fresh air, ever since she was voted in as an MP, and I truly wish that more of the ‘old-school’ Labour MP’s would start to emulate her thinking.
    Unfortunately, there are still a few die-hard Labour MP’s serving among the Party, who continue to have the same, awful, views that Blaire and his cronies did when in charge of ‘New’ Labour – where ordinary people, and those who are so very vulnerable, are the last thing they think of – unless it’s as a target to blame for the world’s ills!
    There really still IS a ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ attitude in this country, brought about by these basic divisions, and it’s about time it was got rid of!
    NOBODY, whether rich, or poor, is superior to anyone else – OR entitled to better treatment – just because they were fortunate enough to be born into monied families.
    We are all born naked, and we all go to our graves taking nothing with us, so to continue to treat those with less, as if they were beneath contempt (which, unfortunately, is still the prevailing attitude among so many Tories), just because they didn’t have all the advantages money can buy, is beyond contempt.
    No, MP’s DON’T have to look on each other as enemies (even though Tory MP’s have been treating Labour MP’s as a joke for far too long), but ANY MP who wants the best for their constituents, rather than the hell-on-earth being made for them with every Tory policy made so far, must know they can’t be Pals with their opposite number in Parliament?
    There has been far too much of this chumminess, made at the price of too many deaths, especially of the most vulnerable in our society. This terrible list has grown ever bigger, especially over this last seven years of Tory government, and I really do feel that it’s this inability to separate who is for, or against, such powerful issues, that has caused so very many people to give up any hope of a better future – which has made people stop caring, and stop voting, and has allowed those who are just hungry for power to rise to the top, rather than having decent men and women fighting hard for the rights of those constituents who voted them into that power in the first place!
    What most of the MP’s who vote for the policies that are killing us all forget, is that Loyalty goes both ways – and the worse we’re treated, the more likely it will be that they will soon be out of a job!
    There must surely be one or two Tory MP’s who see the terrible harm being done to the people of the UK, people who don’t have the advantages of wealth, or a so-called ‘good’ birth?
    If so, they are keeping very quiet, so it really IS up to our Labour MP’s, just like the amazing, brave, and very vocal, Laura Pidcock, to start working for things to be improved for ALL of us in the UK, not just the Few – which is, after all, the Labour slogan!

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