Unite head’s full response to Guardian columnist’s filtered by newspaper – but reproduced below
As voters went to the polls in the Peterborough by-election last week, the Guardian published an article by columnist Polly Toynbee claiming that the popularity of the Brexit party meant Labour must go full-remain.
As part of her attempt to square that circle, Toynbee turned her fire on what she described as,
the Corbyn/Len McCluskey stand aligning with the right, clinging to an imaginary ideal of the perfect Labour voter as “old, white, male, with a regional accent”
This sparked a withering response from Unite general secretary McCluskey – but while the Guardian published part of his letter, it edited out the real meat of his critique. The letter is reproduced below, with the sections removed by the Guardian highlighted in bold:
Polly Toynbee cannot help caricaturing herself as the metropolitan snob whose disregard for life outside north London still leaves her, three years on, struggling to understand the 2016 referendum result https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/06/labour-peterborough-byelection-brexit-party-remain.
That is her affair. But she has no business caricaturing me as representing the “old, white male with a regional accent”, apparently a key figure in her demonology.
I would remind her of the tremendous diversity of the union I lead, and that it is those members that I speak for. I don’t need to make awayday trips to the “north” to find out what working people are thinking, why so many voted “leave” in 2016 and why, whatever their views on Brexit, they are cautious about a second referendum.
The Peterborough by-election result did not pan out as Ms Toynbee clearly anticipated. The result vindicates Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit, seeking to unite the country, leave or remain, so that we can get on with the urgent job of fixing the ills dividing us.
I would urge her to reflect on this misjudgement, and on her serial misunderstandings of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Reflect, too, that every time she writes she alienates more ordinary people from the “remain” cause she champions.
Unite the union
McCluskey’s withering description of Toynbee as a self-caricaturing ‘metropolitan snob’ – and of her history of regularly misjudging Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour movement and its appeal to voters deserves proper airing to balance the record.
But it typifies an entire journalistic and political group, not just one columnist.
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