Excl: ‘North fights back’ as Brexit policy dragged back on course at Shadow Cabinet and MPs prepare working-class caucus

Shadow Chancellor retreats from push toward ‘referendum before GE’ on Johnson deal
Labour back on track agreed by conference

John McDonnell is in ‘full retreat’ after accepting at today’s meeting of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet that the party’s conference policy means there can be no public vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit because it is not a credible deal, according to MPs. McDonnell, together with Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry, came out last week for the idea pushed by Tom Watson that a new referendum must be held before any general election.

MPs who were strong-armed into echoing a ‘referendum before general election’ argument in the weekend’s media are said to be livid at being compromised.

One MP said:

This is just typical – he marched us up to the top of the hill and marched us down again. Now he’s in full retreat.

Another said McDonnell was visibly affected by the grassroots outcry against any attempt to overturn the party’s conference decision to support Corbyn’s ‘prevent no-deal, then GE’ plan.

Public contributions from Jon Trickett and other MPs representing leave-voting constituencies added to the pressure.

The party’s northern MPs are now in discussions to build on their successful rearguard action by caucusing as a parliamentary bloc. One, speaking of an attempted ‘remainer take-over’ to force Labour to into a full ‘stop Brexit’ mode, said:

We need to make sure no one region of Labour can ever acquire this much dominance over policy and the narrative again. The north fought back and this episode has taught us that when we stand united we can make our voice heard.

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    1. yes I agree but thanks to yet another fuck up by that incompetent Lansman pillock he has made Twatson into a Saint !

      1. Ah, that’s a question I have been pondering labrebisgalloise. I tend to think it wasn’t but am not sure of motive/s.

      2. It was nothing of the sort Rob. It was a carefully crafted and contrived bit of skullduggery to get lots of bad press just as the conference was starting, and to play with the emotions of much of the left membership, first UP at the prospect of Watson losing the DL position, and then DOWN with a large thump when – as Lansman KNEW he would – JC steps in and stops it, along with lots of members then feeling anger towards JC because he did so.

        I mean is anyone aware of Lansman ever criticising Watson, cos I’m not, so does it make sense that he would suddenly come up with the idea of abolisishing the DL position. No, of course it doesn’t!

        The two of them are on the same side.

      3. labretc..
        Fuck up no 1 scuppering the Conf motion for Mandatory Reselction along with McCluskey
        Fuck up No2 this over Twatson fail “fucking student politics ” as Corbyn described it

      4. to clarify I am no Lansman fan and his dictator coup of the hierarchy of Momentum wayyy back sealed it for me

  1. No shit sherlock strikes again FFS Skwawky
    McDonnell confirms he did not shit in our custard, he was just trifling with us

  2. Northern MPs, if Skwawky can be believed, are pussy cats who cannot be bothered to build a decent case against a Farage obsession which will damage their constituents. They then present themselves as champions of the less well off, what a joke.

    1. Must be wonderful Jack T not being a member of the Precariat and having time on your hands to denounce those of us who hail from the perpetually depressed North or South Wales who don’t adore the EU. Indeed, many of us are fully aware its but a neoliberal front for the Ruling Elite, nothing whatsoever democratic about it – witness the shambles of its new Commission, which not one EU Citizen voted for. Alas, this imperialist club we must adore because, allegedly, economically the UK is better in than out – pure hogwash, but still, lets just adore.

      The fact remains in the depressed quarters of our nation the EU ain’t adored and England and Wales elected in a majority to leave it, a policy which Parliament has failed to uphold. I’m looking forward to the same RH excuses we get continually, but lets face, Labour can’t win an election without the North & Wales, areas Reaminaics, like the Tories, just desire to throw to the dogs – maybe its because we are all RACISTS?

      1. “the perpetually depressed North”

        It’s a f. sight more depressed since Brexit came on stage to drive down the economy.

        … and no rational analysis shows it getting better if this national hari-kiri continues.

        The hard fact is that the UK economy has been unbalanced for a long time – dangerously and detrimentally so. A priority of a Labour government is beginning a long-term programme of investment and re-balancing away from the unproductive activities of the funny money gambling industry to actual production – with a consequent shift of national wealth from the capital to the wage sector.

        The whole Brexit mess, apart from anything else, is a massive distraction from this already difficult task. All pain – no gain.

        A programme of nationalisation (the only possible partly rational asset of Brexit – making the process slightly less difficult) without the means is pie in the sky of the worst sort.

  3. I think john McDonnell must have been looking at the Squawk box article and the posters comments…Must have been a reality check for him.Everyone can stumble once and get back up,?

    1. “Everyone can stumble once and get back up,?”

      Not when the ultimate war crime (a war of aggression) has been committed and millions die, are maimed and their lives, societies and country destroyed, they cannot. That’s my answer to your question mark and McDonnell will always be someone to be wary of in my book. Apologists, that’s a term I hardly ever use and don’t use lightly, for such heinous crimes is not someone I could ever respect or trust in future.

      1. Maria…..we go back many years and socialism is in is DNA and his personal sacrifice for the cause is unmatched only by corbyn….step back a little and give the john McDonnell a chance,we need as many socialist mps as possible if we are to stay on course for a Labour government..

      2. Joseph, I have stepped back and don’t like or will I ever find an acceptable reason for what McDonnell has done re Blair and Campbell. I am not and will never be a western exceptionalist ‘socialist’.
        Of course I want British citizens to have better lives but not at the expense of millions of ‘unpeople’ and bad foreigners which is the message McDonnell gave out to me loud and clear. I have zero influence in LP or British politics so don’t worry I am sure many in LP will forgive McDonnell and find reasons for his 180 change of opinion (and principles)… ponderings of targetting the GQ middle aged men demographic and other such tosh just raises questions about just how ‘flexible’ LP principles and manifesto policies will be to win a GE and in Gov to me.
        I was under the impression LP was about changing hearts and minds through discussion and evidence, not saying whatever might appeal to a demographic or sweeping heinous crimes under the carpet so LP can ‘come together’! That way leads us back to Blair years and same old egregious, murderous, imperialist foreign policy, not forward.

      3. Maria I am not worried about opinions and I respect your thoughts and opinions like many others.Your analysis for the average politician is good and your socialist principles are whats needed in any attempt at a coup.or if the Corbyn project to survive.I am a little worried that the casualties from the mini coup could be some good socialist mps who are not Watson fanatics and John MacDonnall could be one of these.Corbyn and MacDonnell litteraly faced down the establishment and the police on the lines in the miners strike and in the early days of the civil rights movment in N all I.have mentioned and especially the picture in Ireland was met by lethal
        force from the establishment….I was there and so was corbyn and McDOnnell….I have no Crystal ball but if john has stumbles I will be there to remind him where he comes from and and I am sure that he needs no reminders of who the enemy within are… Full stop

      4. “.I have no Crystal ball but if john has stumbles I will be there to remind him where he comes from and and I am sure that he needs no reminders of who the enemy within are.”

        From my POV ‘the enemies’ are finance Capital or ruling classes/established order and imperialism is central to their modus operandi and ‘plans’. Whitewashing heinous, aggressive, destructive crimes of imperialism is an absolute red line for me precisely because I see imperialism as the mechanism of continued western finance Capital hegemony at home as well as abroad.
        Forgive war crimes (lest we forget the lies and deception that enabled those crimes) and you support western imperialism, it’s that simple. If you believe it’s right to continue to support McDonnell based on his history that’s your right but it brings his current views into question for me and that’s what matters today when LP is hoping to be in Gov. I don’t believe it was a ‘stumble’, it was a clearly calculated interview, it was a political statement and a major red flag to me personally.

        We will have to agree to disagree but I will never change my opinion and concerns on this issue and it was too big and important a “stumble” for me to brush it aside for a perceived ‘greater good’. For me it doesn’t bode well for the future whatever your views on McDonnell’s past. I don’t classify myself in any political term but my understanding of Socialism is that it is (was?) vehemently anti-imperialist.

    2. “stumble”!? So THAT is what it was, a stumble? So no problem then Joseph, because that it explains it, never mind the damage that AC deliberately and calculatedly did by so publicly saying he had voted LibDem in the EU elections, and did so knowing full well that it would incur automatic expulsion from the LP. And needless to say he also got his oar in about A/S at the same time, criticising the LP/JC for the way they’ve handled it all, the following from the Independent being an example of how the MSM covered it:

      Tony Blair’s former spin chief attacked the decision [to expell him], contrasting the ruthless approach with “the way antisemitism cases have been handled”.

      Yeah, right, so let’s welcome AC back into the LP with open arms, cos no doubt HE just stumbled as well when he voted LibDem, and also when softening the public up to invade Iraq.

      1. We were discussing MacDonnall ,not Alister Campbell,hes yesterdays news.And hopefully that is how AC has you call him will remain,thanks again for the reports AH

  4. We need to make sure no one region of Labour can ever acquire this much dominance over policy and the narrative again.

    We’ll hold you to that! Some good news here, at least…

    1. I beg every socialist out there not to fall into the trap of thinking that this is about Brexit, or even about Blairism. We are, not for the first time in our history, in a war between the socialists and the power freaks. The likes of McDonnell, Thornberry, Watson et cie will bury every principle they ever had for a taste of power.
      Lest we forget, Corbyn was elected leader because of his reputation for integrity, on that we must rely. Better an honest opposition than a corrupt government.

      1. Ceredig, with you 100% on your final sentence.
        Thornberry proved herself useless today and not only because she was unable to answer a Tory challenge.
        She pronounced nuclear as newcular ffs.

      2. Ceredig
        After 2015 GE you could hear the collective scream across the entire country
        It was a cry for clear red water, JC was a breath of fresh air, a new old socialist,
        Your point on McDonnell is an old truth, for the Tories and LibDems its sex
        For Labour its money and power that corrupts,
        Methinks its hopefully been nipped in the bud before it all went a bit SDP, Chuka saved us,
        The members and supporters at conference set us straight,
        So fecking close yet so far to go, head down arse up

    2. @David McNiven. Oh yes, Thornberry regularly mouths the fashionable American mispronunciation of nuclear as ‘noowcular’, first popularised Bush junior.

  5. Our Brilliant SkwawkBox on it again, many thanks. Now we need to push for mandatory reselection .

    1. Andrew Bryant Bristol at 8:22 pm

      Short memory?

      If you look back a year I think you’ll find that Skwawkbox was against mandatory re-selection and was singing the praises of the current system that the unions have lumbered us with.

      1. SteveH, it must be a difficult choice for an influential blog – whether to criticise, naysay & predict doom or try to stay positive when things don’t turn out as hoped.
        Who’d want to add to glee & backslapping in CCHQ?
        Doesn’t matter so much what we say because nobody reads us.
        Quite a responsibility being the Skwawkbox though.

  6. Head down arse up? now thats a phrase I haven’t heard since I was on the tools. Our friend and comrade Chris Williams would know what it means. That and nose bleeding

  7. This was a Blairite + coup from the start nothing to do with Bresit all to do with stopping Corbyn. I feel they have all had their notices given to them by the grass roots. Now we must get rid of Watson!!!

  8. “Brutus:
    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.”

    All credit to Jon Trickett et al. It’s extremely good news both in principle and for the longer term. In the short term, however, it all looks a little academic to me. Weeks and weeks ago it was my gut feeling that we needed an election sooner rather than later. RH will be my witness because (of course!) he disagreed with me.

    Boris is moving closer to an EU withdrawal agreement by the hour and the word is that the Tories will get right behind him. If you want a Canada minus, W.A deal – some would say the best of all deals from a Lexit point of view – then fine … perhaps. If, however, we want the choice of either remain or a Labour Brexit alternative, then It’s Kinnock et al that should be the focus.

    Perhaps J.Mc.D. has spent too much of his credibility to be the fixer.

    Perhaps I’m wrong; it wouldn’t be the first time!

    1. Paulo…2centre right politicians,both in trouble one in Britain and one in Ireland….They can and have to make a deal…..Varadakar and Johnson both a couple of loosers,but this time rhey will forge a deal and both will sellout there own countrys….Thats globel capitalism and it must be fed.Lets hope we have not missed the boat in dithering over an election.Johnson might just decide to tell the opposition to go whistle for a General election and sit tight for another couple of years .Then the knives will be out across all the opposition parties.

      1. Thanks for the response Joseph.

        I’ve felt for some time that the “we will leave – deal, or no deal” propaganda was a classic decoy: aimed partly at pre-empting an election in order to give Boris time for the kudos in the public perception that will attach to having come back with a deal (no matter how bad it may be) and partly to make people vote for any deal so long as it’s not no deal. Perhaps I’m stating the obvious.

        Let’s hope we haven’t missed the boat and that when we hop on, it’s the right one.

        Obviously, you have a much better informed perspective than me re Ireland and the deal. Will be interested in your viewpoint over the next couple of days!

  9. This was accidentally posted on another article on here:

    I’d like Labour to employ clever strategists to work out what will give the best chance of winning the next GE. MPs representing Leave areas are hardly unbiased.

    I read an analysis that concluded Labour would lose seats in Remain areas if they supported Leave. Although if they supported Remain they’d lose votes in Leave areas, these wouldn’t be enough to make a difference to the overall result.

    My fear is that going for a GE first, many Leavers would vote Tory /Brexit Party and many Remainers would vote LibDem, or Green.

    But having a referendum first would get Brexit out of the way so voters could concentrate on Labour’s wonderful policies instead.

    If Leave lost then the Tories’ credibility would be shot to pieces, which should increase Labour’s chances of winning the following GE.

    Ideally, there should be a VONC to bring Bojo down. Then a Corbyn led interim government (which would skip the need for a GE, which Bojo could win) that could negotiate a less harmful Brexit deal and put that to a 2nd vote against Remain & Reform.

    Once whether we Brexit or not will be decided, we could then have a GE based on policies.

    This would still be in line with what was agreed by Conference.

    1. “RemaIn & Reform” is not an option. The other 27 are all neo-liberal states (some maybe dressed up as “socialist”). Remain or leave is the only choice

      1. Indeed. “Remain and Reform” is a scam by the Fake Left.

        Ask any “Remain and Reform” Fake Leftist how exactly they would achieve EU reform (such as making nationalisation of our public utilities lawful). It would require a complete absence of neoliberal governments in the EU.

        The EU structure is designed to be impervious, as explained in this piece.

      2. To die hards at both ends of the Brexshit debate, first and foremost this is a cheap and nasty Tory party psychodrama and we should not have touched it with a barge pole,
        See Scotland
        No matter what the question the answer is Twas the Tories what got us into this mess and it will be the Labour party that gets us out of it
        Using Danny and JackT as goal posts, you are both right but practically useless,
        Short answer is wie leave and pay the fee that allows us to keep best practice of customs union and single market but also allows us to implement our manifesto commitments
        The only thing to negotiate is the fee
        We know that is what 80% of the country is crying out for

      3. Pretend left wingers pretending that neoliberalism isn’t failing is pathetically, transparently propping up the Tories.
        The EU is RIPE for reform.

      4. The out-dated piece by Lee Jones that Danny links to – and every other piece making the same point – neglect one crucial point when they argue, quite correctly, that every brick of the EU edifice is placed so as to enforce neoliberalism.

        The point they omit to mention is that the UK is exactly the fucking same. So is the US and so is the rest of the fucking world.

        So why pick on the EU? Because it suits their purpose to pretend that outside the EU it’ll be different.

      5. marty at 11:12 pm .
        “The other 27 are all neo-liberal states “

        Not all of them.

        PES President Sergei Stanishev said:
        “António Costa is a great leader. Under his government, Portugal has turned the page of austerity and implemented social policies that help everyone. Costa and Partido Socialista have also shown that these policies can bring success in the ballot box and that social democratic policies do connect with the people. This is a great encouragement for our political family to stay true to our roots”.

        The PES notes that, despite the rise of a far-right party in this election, xenophobes continue to be marginal in Portuguese politics.

        Sergei Stanishev said:
        “Costa’s government has chosen inclusive policies over division, solidarity over confrontation. Europe can learn a lot from Portugal”.

      6. The European Socialists are now the (or one of the very) largest group in the EU, so most influential. Our Labour MEPs are in this group. Had people voted for more Labour MEPs in the EU elections we would have an even greater voice, but we still have influence and the other Socialists MEPs are our friends.
        Jeremy gets lengthy standing ovations when he attends their conferences. They have tremendous respect for him as he leads the largest political party in Europe, and it’s a Socialist Party. So change IS possible!!

      7. Wanda
        I was completely baffled by those ‘Labour supporters’ who claimed to be registering some sort of protest by not voting in the EU elections. WTF did they think they would achieve by lessening the socialist representation in the EU. With more Labour MEPs there would have been a very, very good chance that the new President of the EU Commission would have been a socialist. It is amazing how small minded and parochial some people can be. So much for their claims of international solidarity.

      8. Remember, “socialist” is a largely meaningless term now. Blair would have called his government “socialist”, the opposition certainly did. Socialism and neo-liberalism should be mutually exclusive, but don’t appear to be. Maybe we sould use the term “collectivism” instead of the discredited “socialism”

  10. Don’t know why you were going after Joh McD in the first place Skwawky…. I’ve supported and appreciated you for a long time but that was a daft “moment”, no doubt Mr A Campbell was chuckling into his tea at getting folks to do the headless chicken so effectively

    1. Sorry, but what the hell is McDonnell even doing associating with the war criminal Campbell, who was expelled from the Party for being a closet LibDem – if any regular Party member shared a platform with Campbell they too would be ejected from the Party – see charges against Christopher Williamson. Still, its one rule for the PLP and Party hacks and another for the regular folk, this in a supposed democratic socialist Party.

    2. Novara media did quite a good analysis of the McDonnell interview- I highly recommend it

  11. Christopher Rogers McDonnell didn’t share a platform and the interview was strictly for the non Labour audience and thats why he gave a pre General election campaign interview to a known enemy of the Labour party.Brave but foolish mistake in underestimating a Blairite spin doctor second to none.John McDonnell came across as the favourite jovial uncle of the Labour party ready for government.,.John MacDonnal that I know has socialism in his DNA and like me was brought up to hate the Torys and the establishment .,if he stumbled I will not throw rocks,but I will be staggered if he’s crossed over to the Dark side.

  12. Hi labour member from the north here just to say please don’t tar us all as thick as pig shit brexiteers who are cheering on the far right and tory project designed to fuck over the poor.

    In fact despite being in a Brexitish area I still thankfully have not met one of these legendary lexiteers at any of our meetings or at the campaigns.

    Most of the local brexiters are full blooded gammon ukippers with a touch of the BNP. I would guess there a some tories as well but I try not to meet them if I can help it plus they got there own tiny constituency so they could win a seat.

    If an MP is not willing to risk his seat in a leave are to stop the further impoverishment of that area then he is litterally not doing his job.

    1. Indeed, Will C : the platitudes around classifications like ‘*the* working class’ or ‘*the* North’ are tedious in the extreme – and as patronising and ill-conceived as any Bullingdon Boy could muster.

      As to simply going along with what a slim majority of constituents *want* – the motivations may be principled, but not necessarily so. You can end up simply contradicting what you purport to represent – like Margaret Hodge exploiting xenophobia in Barking.

      Would you laud a Labour MP who went along with austerity for ‘benefit scroungers’, just because a slim majority of constituents had been reading the Mail and the Sun?

      It is interesting that such a high percentage of the words here focus around such generalisations whilst simply attacking members of the Labour Party.rather than focusing on other aspects of real political debate – again with generalised terms of opprobrium.

    2. Will parents moved out all of our family after the collapse of the cotton industry to th the south…BOLTON and many other towns have been left to decay by candidates parachuted in by Labour for what used to be a safe base for Labour.Now Bolton have for the first time in in over half a century since my family got on their bike we have a Tory regime controlling Bolton…says it all really,…do not take for granted the heartlands the same as we did with Scotland….I am an old man now and a teenager who left not because we wanted to but because we had to like thousands of others who fled the collapse of our whole region. The Town has deteriorated over the years and many dispair and turn to extremists politics and racism….even the old victoria orange lodge has been resurected and the marching..again not seen in Bolton for many years.ignore the North at your peril.

    3. Will C, you perhaps need to read a few books?
      I am Northern working class and have come to support Leave.
      I recognise (Streekt, How Will Capitalism End? 2016) that the last 40 years has seen the erosion of democracy and Govts ruling for the primacy of the market (Neo-Liberal capitalism) and it has captured the EC so some of us left wing democratic socialists are trying to break the Neo-Liberal chain.
      If Labour hopefully wins the GE and it offers
      a Better Brexit with a Remain option in a public vote then I will campaign for Labour’s Better Brexit.
      We will draw from socialist analysis and planning and your side, well I’m not sure what you will draw from -,The Guardian, Observer, Liberal Times?

  13. I see that Benn is not exactly making much of an effort to fall in line with C14 today, albeit he stops short of saying “growing support …” from the labour party.

    “MPs likely to push for vote on confirmatory referendum on Saturday, says senior Labour MP
    Hilary Benn, the Labour chair of the Commons Brexit committee, was interviewed on the programme immediately after Bridgen. Asked if he knew whether what Bridgen was saying about opposition plans was correct, Benn at first did not answer the question directly. But he did say, if there were an agreement, he would expect to see it brought to the Commons on Saturday. When the presenter, Sarah Montague, asked a second time if Bridgen was right, Benn replied:

    There are many MPs who are in favour of a confirmatory referendum, as am I. If the government brings a deal before the house on Saturday, then it would not surprise me at all if an effort were made to say, okay, but subject to a confirmatory referendum. That is not a surprise to anyone given the growing support that there is for that idea.”

    1. I wonder what that cockroache Big Benn thinks of a confirmatory……… General election.,.I am surprised that he finds time whilst keeping his head down and plotting….Who’s he kidding Corbyn has been on to him for the last four years.

  14. Typical disrespect for the members yet again. And the continued disrespect of democracy by Watson needs addressing.

    Sorry but Corbyn’s soft approach of persuasion is just being abused. If we had a decent Dep Led they could come down hard on the likes of Jess Phillips. We are either a democratic party or a selection of mixed individuals we can’t be both and the last one doesn’t work.

    1. All the polls and academic studies confirm that the vast majority of the membership support staying in the EU.

  15. I like the last sentence ‘The north fought back and this episode has taught us that when we stand united we can make our voice heard.’

  16. Good on ’em!
    Now let’s nail the Neo – Liberal Lib Dems who threaten to take some of Labour’s votes. Neo-Libera Lib Dems with Tories:
    Cut taxes for the rich & corporations to protect them for Austerity, so austerity only for working people – YOU!
    Corps used money save to buy govt bonds so instead of paying tax were reaping interest in then Tories/Lib Dems increased VAT so working people made up the tax loss – a Tory/Lib Dem Triple Whammy!
    Tuition fee increase.
    Voted for Bedroom Tax and cuts to welfare for the poorest.
    Supported Tory Housing & Planning Bill, reduced planning powers councils (and costly to object) ‘A Developers Charter’ & less say local people.
    Neo-Liberal Lib Dems voted with Tories to remove need element from LA funding and count population size only – result Northern mainly Labour Councils losing £6.9b and £3.5b gain mainly Southern Tory Councils!
    Tories/Lib Dems gave hedge funds £145m in tax cuts then hedge funds donated £50m to the Tories.
    Big Brother Lib Dems say is only one truth -Remain and Leave is to banned (17.2m Leave votes annulled) – ILLIBERAL UNDEMOCRATS!
    Lib Dems the Tory Neo-Liberal 2nd X1.

    1. syzygysue 16/10/2019 at 9:59 pm

      …. and if Corbyn decides that’s the right thing to do then who are you or I to question his judgement.

      It is nonsensical to want JC4PM and then question every decision he makes about the running of his own office.

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