Unspun: Monday at Labour conference 2019

Before a vote had been cast, much ink and broadcast time was dedicated to analysis, speculation and spin of what could be understood from votes and gossip from Labour's 2019 conference in Brighton as delegates debated the party's next steps on Brexit.

One insider said it was "comical" to watch inaccurate reporting of events from the inside, congratulating commentators and the media for "completely inventing" their own narrative of the day in the morning before using it to lead their reports, broadcasts and columns in the evening. 
 
On Brexit 
 
Members opted for the party leadership proposed motion which would see a Labour government remain neutral on the question of "leave or remain" while negotiating a new deal with the EU. 
 
Within six months, the party would put their proposed deal to the people in second referendum; with the party holding a special conference deciding whether to back that deal or to instead campaign to reverse the original decision and remain.
 
Senior figures including Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said they "dissapointed" by the vote as they would have preferred to go further and back an unambigous remain position, but supported the wider movement on a second referendum. 
 
Labour MP Ian Murray, a frequent critic of the leadership on Brexit, said the support for a second vote was the "only show in town". 
 
He said: “It’s important to recognise that we now have a policy of a public vote on any deal with the option to remain. That’s really the only show in town.
 
“But it is of course deeply disappointing that we have not chosen to campaign for remain at this stage, as that certainly does not reflect the strong views of the overwhelming majority of our members and supporters.
 
“It is simply not tenable for our leadership to be neutral when we face the biggest crisis our country has witnessed in modern times.
 
“However, we are now closer than ever to securing a parliamentary majority to give people a final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU. 
 
“When that contest comes, Labour members and supporters, most MPs, Scottish Labour, the trade unions and senior Labour frontbenchers will all be four-square behind remaining in the EU because it is in the best interests of every single community in Scotland and across the UK.”
 
Elsewhere at the conference
 
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry made an important commitment that a future Labour government would finally deliver justice for veterans of Britain's nuclear testing, who have for decades been denied a fair settlement or even an acknowledgement of their suffering by succesive governments. 
 
John McDonnell, Labour's Shadow Chancellor, promised a raft of measures to end in-work poverty and cut the average working week to 32-hours with no loss of pay for the worker.
 
As well as promising to introduce a £10 per hour minimum wage, he said: "But work isn’t just about wages. It’s about freedom from drudgery; having dignity, respect and a voice in the workplace.
 
That means a strong trade union movement and collective bargaining. But also, in the new public services we’re creating, it means management by workers and service users rather than by remote bureaucrats in Whitehall.
 
In large companies it means a third of directors being elected by workers and a tenth of shares being owned by those workers. It means doubling the size of our cooperative sector so wherever you work you will have a stake and a say."
 
Today [Tuesday] conference debates will largely be dominated by debates on climate change, with the motion on a so-called "green new deal" set to debated by conference. Followed later by a speech from Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader. 

 

 

Image: Rwendland

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