October 24, 2020

Political News from Britain – Labour Party

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654095_com_labourlogoBoth related stories from The Voice

Diane Abbott Tumbles Out Of Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet

By Natricia Duncan

Long-serving Labour MP loses out as new roles are handed out leaving her as ‘free agent’

Senior Labour MP Diane Abbott has been sacked from her position as shadow public health minister in Labour’s shadow cabinet reshuffle. [September 2013]

Abbott, who is known to speak her mind and has openly questioned the party’s position on immigration, appears to have paid the price for not throwing her full weight of support behind party leader Ed Miliband.

She told the BBC: “I think Ed wanted more message discipline.”

Ed_Miliband_0During the Syria Commons vote she caused controversy by declaring she would quit the party if they backed military action.

Critics have dubbed Labour reshuffle “a cull of the Blairites”. But there are rumours that Abbotts’s sacking was a strategic move to support her London mayor ambitions.

The MP has remained positive, writing in the Guardian, that Milliband was “very nice” as he broke the news of her demotion and claiming that she told him his decision “must be right”.

Abbott, one of the party’s most prominent left wing figures who also competed for the Labour leadership in 2010, said she is happy being a “free agent”.

She added: “I have enjoyed being on the frontbench but I plan to enjoy being a free agent on the backbenches even more.”

Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote said he was “bitterly disappointed”, and accused the party of ill-treating Abbott.

He said: “There are a number of cases in which black women are being treated badly by the Labour party, particularly at a local level, and it deeply troubles me.

“Above all it troubles me that whilst we are in election mode that the Labour Party bosses can pay such scant regard to the black vote.”

Abbott was the first black woman MP when she joined the party in 1987.

Diane_Abbott_dolled_upPHOTO: OUT OF THE SHADOW: Abbott has been sacked as a shadow cabinet minister (PA)

For more on this story go to:

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/diane-abbott-tumbles-out-ed-milibands-shadow-cabinet

Ed Miliband: ‘Ordinary People Are Suffering’

By Elizabeth Pears

The Labour leader on high living costs, black unemployment and the decision to fire Diane Abbott

A few months ago this newspaper threw down the gauntlet and challenged Labour on what it has done for black voters in recent times in exchange for decades of support.

The timing is significant: in less than two years Britain will take to the polls to elect a new Government – and ethnic minorities wield huge power of which way the electoral tide will turn.

There is a growing feeling amongst the African and African Caribbean electorate that Labour has been taking their support for granted and, alongside other parties, has put the race agenda on the backburner or bought into myths of a post-racial society where racial discrimination is a thing of the past.

The Voice caught up with party leader Ed Miliband during a recent visit to Peckham, south London, where he was continuing in his quest to address “the cost of living crisis.” A few weeks ago he took on energy companies vowing to enforce a price freeze for 20 months, should Labour be elected come 2015. At the London Mutual Credit Union, he waged war on payday loan companies like Wonga, which he accused of preying on society’s most vulnerable.

With the most recent YouGov poll (Oct 23) putting his party seven points ahead of the Conservatives, Miliband might just be on to a winner.

LOANS

But while community-led credit unions – something Miliband plans to introduce more of – might be a safer option for short-term loans in times of emergency, surely the end game is to create a society where people do not have to take loans to pay basic bills like rent or buy food? The 43-year-old politician nods in agreement.

“That’s why we’re promoting a living wage, increasing the value of the minimum wage and cutting energy bills. These are the reasons why people are in such a crisis. I want to stand up for ordinary people across the population who need a government on their side – not one who stands up just for the rich and the powerful,” he responds.

“As I said in my conference speech, David Cameron is strong standing up to the weak, such as people on benefits, but he is incredibly weak when it comes to standing up to the strong. He doesn’t stand up to the energy companies. He doesn’t stand up to Wonga,” he adds, banging the table for emphasis where he sits surrounded by advisors. “We have a situation where people are really suffering.”

The PM, according to Miliband, believes in “trickle-down economics which doesn’t work; that if the rich and powerful do well the rest will also benefit.”

The Oxford educated Miliband, who attended a comprehensive school in north London, argues that if the private sector were to put profits to the side and pay a living wage, for every £1 they invested, the Government would save 50p that could be used for other things.

But it is getting people into work that is the most immediate challenge. And though ONS figures show that unemployment is falling nationally, it is rising amongst the African and African Caribbean community. In June 2012, the unemployment figure was 123,000. A year later, it had risen to a total of 148,000.

When pressed on whether he would consider introducing a targeted approach to addressing black unemployment, which he admits is “shocking”, Miliband says: “I think the question for Government is, do you have the political will to sort it out? The best way of sorting it out is to guarantee jobs for everyone who has been out of work for a year. We plan to ensure if there are specific issues around discrimination or skills, we have to tackle those as well.

“Some will ask are the jobs there? Well, we have a very specific plan. Tax the bankers’ bonuses and use the money to fund a back to work scheme and let’s all be part of getting young people working again.”

The issue of high unemployment will be one of the topics people can share their thoughts on as part of Realising One Nation: Developing a New Race equality strategy for Labour, which was launched last week. The party has also managed to secure the support of one very integral black figure: Doreen Lawrence, who is now a Labour peer.

The fierce and relentless campaigner has been one of the most instrumental figures in civil rights in Britain and has been critical about issues of race being taken off the agenda.

MODEST

Miliband says: “[Doreen] is an incredibly modest person but she has a unique voice, and a strong voice for injustice. I feel incredibly moved and incredibly proud that she has agreed to be a Labour Party representative.

“We have come such a long way from Stephen Lawrence’s murder [in 1993] but you have to keep making moves in the battle for equality. We have to be alive to these issues and I know Doreen will be a big part of making sure that happens.”

And from one powerful black woman to another: Hackney and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott – whom Miliband recently fired from his shadow Cabinet. The Labour leader comments: “It was a hard decision. Diane is a very independent person and sometimes she agrees with the party and some of the time she doesn’t. I felt that rather than her feeling like she can’t say what she thinks, she can be an advocate for the Labour Party on the backbenches.

“I absolutely do not rule out Diane coming back to the front bench or as a minister. She has a huge talent.”

He adds: “I’m incredibly proud of Chuka, Diane and David [Lammy] who represent us so well in parliament but we have got to do better and I am determined to do more [to increase black representation].”

Considering that he has been an advocate of all-women shortlists, he seemed less keen on the idea for affirmative action for black candidates. “I will always keep that in consideration but that’s not what is going to happen now,” he says when pressed for a commitment.

But one area he seems happier to talk about is the increase of anti-immigration sentiment and offensive gimmicks such as the Government’s ‘Go Home’ campaign which Miliband describes as “terrible”.

“I’m the son of immigrants so I know the benefits immigration can bring to a society,” adds Miliband. “I am proud of the multi-ethnic diverse Britain that we have in London and the rest of the country but the key is to make that work for everyone.

“How do we do that?” he asks. “We address concerns about Europe. I know we have second and third generations who are concerned about new migrant communities who they view as competition for jobs. We think about integration and we ask, have we talked enough about how we talk about immigration?”

So Miliband has started a dialogue with black Britain – one that will no doubt run until election day 2015. It will be up to voters to decide if they like what he has to say.

For more on this story go to:

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/ed-miliband-‘ordinary-people-are-suffering

 

 

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