Excl: Centrist Birmingham Labour campaign chair voted GREEN last week

Penny Barber confessed on Facebook
Penny Barber on Facebook – and as Progress speaker

Labour structures in the West Midlands were long dominated by the right wing of the party – and in many cases still are. The faction ruled local selections and other events with an iron grip, even preventing thousands of local members in Birmingham from voting in selections until Labour – and Jeremy Corbyn personally – intervened.

Labour ‘local campaign forums’ (LCFs) are a key part of Labour’s local structures, managing candidate selection processes and election campaigns. Birmingham’s LCF chair is Penny Barber, who has spoken at the conference of the Blairite Progress faction – and former Labour parliamentary candidate.

Ms Barber has made a shocking admission via her Facebook account about her vote in last week’s local elections:

Ms Barber stated that expulsion is a ‘risk’ – but under Labour’s rules it is automatic for any member who supports a rival party.

The SKWAWKBOX has not been able to reach Ms Barber for comment.


Centrists – not just Ms Barber – have shown contempt for working-class voters who chose to leave the European Union. Ms Barber’s bizarre linking of Labour’s attempts to bring the country together on Brexit with ‘Soviet socialism’ are an example of the grossly misleading presentation of Labour’s policies and position.

Labour members and unions have long called for Progress to be a ‘proscribed’ organisation in the party – and the SKWAWKBOX has long said that a clear-out of right-wingers among its candidates and structures at local level is essential for the party to properly represent the people who need it.

By her own admission, Ms Barber has provided a case study.

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  1. Dear God. What an incredibly simplistic view of the world she has. “Soviet Socialism” indeed. The woman’s quite mad.

    1. “Dear God. What an incredibly simplistic view of the world she has”

      That’s a thought that frequently comes to mind here 🙂

  2. Does anyone know what Labour’s positive campaign message is to get the voters out for the EU elections.

    1. That’s a difficult one. Vote Labour, we’re on the fence? Or, vote for our candidate, they’ll spend your money with a smile. Or 8 grand a month? I should cocoa.

      1. Or “Vote Labour unless you voted Leave since Lord Adonis whom we’ve just appointed to a plum candidature says we don’t want your vote”?

    2. Good question. To be honest, the *actual* strategy seems to be the same as the Tories use in this ward (keep heads down and let the LibDems make the running).

      With the EU elections, it seems to be let Farage make the running, so that we can claim ‘Leave’ is the right policy.

      1. Well I’m Brexit and Voting Labour in South Wales with a big peg on my nose – failure to do so means JC will be attacked by the Rightists and we can’t have that can we?

      2. There is a very positive reason to vote Labour in the EU elections, you can vote Labour without holding your nose.

        7th May, 2019, 8:30 am
        Labour’s Euro election result matters. Here’s why
        Sabrina Huck

        Even if Labour MEPs end up being part of the next European parliament for only a short time, a strong electoral showing for Labour in the UK could have a big impact on the whole of Europe. Labour MEPs could shift the balance of power in favour of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the group in which Labour and our sister parties are organised.
        This is significant: the biggest group in the European parliament will choose the President of the European Commission.

      3. Interesting article on today’s Labour List about the European elections by the chair of Wandsworth Momentum.

  3. I’d never heard of this woman but the first thing that strikes me is that she’s thick and desperately short of accurate information. Cuba is not homophobic, it’s arguably one of the most progressive countries in the world now as regards LGBT rights (e.g. gender reassignment surgery is free). The society that is Cuba now would certainly not exist if it had not been for the support of the USSR and the socialist block as the USA tried to strangle the revolution. That US campaign still exists and is one of the prime reasons for US attempts to overthrow the Venezuelan government in order to cut off Cuba’s oil supplies. As regards Soviet socialism and EU capitalism (at least she’s honest about that; the EU is the only body in the world that has capitalism written into its constitution/Treaty of Lisbon), I have a friend from the GDR, long retired, not a member of the SED, a window dresser in the big department store on the Alexanderplatz, whose rent has gone up by 1200% since the wall came down. My experience of the GDR was also that there was very little crime and conditions for working class people were generally pretty good for a country that was not engaged in plundering the third world with unequal trade. Yes, there were problems but unfortunately, Gorbachev threw the baby out with the bathwater. That is not the narrative of the MSM but the MSM exists to diss socialism, be it yesterday, today or tomorrow. Perhaps the best thing about the USSR, GDR, Cuba etc is that there was/is no fucking middle class Green Party to muddy the waters.

    1. There was also the issue that people who wanted to leave risked their lives because of the shoot to kill at the border which was also boobytrapped. Yes life hot expensive, because basic items were kept low in price. Luxury items were expensive.
      We have freedom of movement, people there did not. It was an extreme way of dealing with ‘brain drain’ (poaching of trained workers/graduates).

    2. “GDR … Yes, there were problems”

      Like a major part of the population being recruited to work for the STASI?

      “Perhaps the best thing about the USSR, GDR, Cuba etc is that there was/is no fucking middle class Green Party to muddy the waters.”

      Nah – just apparatchiks of the Party aristocracy skimming the cream.

      Yer’ve godda larff : A Brexiteer comes clean on democracy. You know it makes sense – no electorate would opt for the corruption of the GDR in preference to the corruption inherent in capitalism. That’s why the STASI.

  4. Some people think like Thatcher but some glimmer of conscience at the human cost to the hated proles makes them reject the possibility that they themselves might be that despicable.
    Tony Blair gave the shy Tories a home by allowing them to cloak their personal ambition in the yuppie faux socialism of “New” Labour.

    Line up everyone who’s ever said “I support Jeremy but…” and I’ll drive the steamroller.

  5. Skwawky: “Centrists – not just Ms Barber – have shown contempt for working-class voters who chose to leave the European Union.”

    Skwawky never fails to disgust. Using Tory tactics of attempting to divide the electorate by using us to further his obsession with leaving the EU is despicable and no better than the creepy Nigel Farage.

    1. Jack it would be good to learn what definition of ‘working class’ is being applied. By the way John McDonnell wrote a great article in the Morning Star recently about this topic/issue.

      1. Jack T

        If you are so regularly disgusted by Skwawkbox, why do you stick around, if not to wind people up?

      2. timfrom: “If you are so regularly disgusted by Skwawkbox, why do you stick around, if not to wind people up?”

        To introduce a little balance to the comments from the myopic Brexiters which Skwawky seems to attract.

    2. Are you two pay cheques or less from the gutter? Then you’re working class.

      (Unless you’re on mega bucks and have no ability to control your spending. In that case you’re just an bumhole)

    3. … and of course, there’s the mythical nonsense that ‘working class’ Labour voters are inveterate ‘Leave’ supporters – when most voted ‘Remain’.

      Sort of sums up the actual ‘working class’ credentials of the ERG supporters.

  6. The Greens (like Plaid Cymru) are a bunch of fraudsters, peddling the fiction that one can reform the EU. The EU/EEC was intended as an inoculation against socialist change, and was therefore designed so that it cannot be reformed on socialistic lines. See Lee Jones’ superb analysis below. At least the SNP being more proudly reactionary don’t emphasise the reform angle as much.


  7. That was one of the reasons, I left Labour, because I’m voting Green in the European Elections. She should resign.


    “Sadly nothing less than a second, fairer referendum could redress the unfairness felt by the exclusion from the electorate of both the 16-18s and the non-UK EU residents. This all paints a very sorry picture of the effectiveness of UK democracy. Brexit is not the will of the people in the UK. It never has been. Had all the people spoken on the day the result would almost certainly be what the pollsters had predicted, and what the UK, according to the polls, still wants, and that is to Remain.”
    Professor Adrian Low, London School of Economics.

    1. …..and also that, 3 years, on a significant number of the voters in the referendum have died, so that a large number of elderly leave voters on the register have been replaced by younger, mostly remain voters.
      ‘Respecting the 2016 result’ means prioritising the views of the dead over the living.

      1. Simon, you’ve homed in on the very reason the Brexit fanatics do not want a second referendum under any circumstances. They care not about democracy, they are intent on circling their wagons around the ill gotten result of the referendum in case the sheriff rides in and wrenches it from their cold dead hands i.e. the dead hand of isolationism.

      2. @Simon

        Can kicking has gotten us here. It should have been implemented already. That people have died, or matured into voting age is irrelevant.

        Imagine the General Election of 2016, where Labour won. And that they still aren’t the true government.

        How would you arguement wash then?

        Do you think that Labour should not be in control due to Labour voters passing away, and Tory voters coming of age?

      3. Yet another confirmation of the naivety of ‘Never Voting Labour Again’. if you and your other hard-core Brexiters thought that after decades of co-operating with our partners in the EU and having multiple common agreements, we could just leave without lengthy negotitions, you are dim to say the least.

      4. That’s just it. There are no negotiations…

        The EU have drafted the agreements, and the stupid May has agreed to all of it. Have you looked at the withdrawal agreement? Its the kind of document a country that has just lost a war has to sign…

        There’s absolutely nothing naive about walking away. Its probably the best leverage we have…

      5. ” Its the kind of document a country that has just lost a war has to sign…”

        Now. What’s the name of that joke Tory MP that dresses up as Churchill…?

      6. No. You’re taking the piss, dropping snidy comments by reading things that simply are not there.

        The only person who thinks Churchill was any good, is Johnson. And the clue is in the name, no?

        Have you read the linked document? Would you sign it? Would you be cheerful or reluctant whilst doing so?

        If you can’t answer this decently, then go disappear to your local This is website, where you can learn to troll properly instead of wasting people’s time here.

      1. It’s pretty obvious that the views of this intelligent chap flew right above you. He was concentrating on fairness and democracy not economic theory. It’s not surprising though that you missed it, because democracy is the last thing Brexit fanatics are concerned with.

      2. Do you play any other tunes?

        We had a vote. How much more of a democratic process do you want? (Apart from fiddling a result that goes your way…)

        The registration servers were kept open longer than they should have been, the government used government money to prop up the remain campaign, the campaign had all the “right” people involved.

        And it failed. Narrowly, granted. But the Scottish referendum was also narrow. 54%. I don’t hear many people endlessly whining about that result.

        Its about you, and your needs, just like the professor is writing about his needs (lives in Spain). Neither of you are more important than anyone else.

        “Fairness” would be following through on the results, and then trying to restore the status quo. But that doesn’t line up with your interest, does it Jack…

    1. Either that or vote tactically, depending on choices available.

      There’s always the option of spoiling your paper, but considering recent events counting a spoilt paper, that may not be the best move

  9. It is absolutely amazing how the ERG-supporting wing of the Party doesn’t get it. We have the usual ritual abuse and electoral illiteracy presented as some kind of wisdom and some form of ‘socialist’ (a term that has been drained of real-world meaning) righteousness.

    Meanwhile, here in a divided city, pretty representative of the country, , I see around me the Greens+LibDems polling half as many votes again as Labour and good people who actually still voted Labour doing so expressing massive doubts because of the Brexit ‘policy’.

    Elsewhere, UKIP has indeed increased its vote share a bit – but has not captured any seats. Whilst Labour has lost some at a time that should be one of harvesting a few, given the Tory collapse.

    If you want religion – ‘Mene, mene Tekel ….etc’.has something to offer.

  10. This tweet by Richard Murphy neatly sums it up.

    “I can understand why right-wingers want Brexit. They want to destroy regulation and let a financial elite run rampant. But I find Lexiteers incomprehensible. They want to create an environment that destroys regulation and lets a financial elite run rampant. And that’s insane.

  11. According to the BBC R4 News there is official confirmation from the Cabinet Office that it has been agreed that the EU elections are definitely going ahead,

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