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We need to talk about Sadiq

This isn’t about me – nor about Jeremy Corbyn…

nor my followers, including













or @andyburnhammp












or @georgeeaton

george e











or @LabourEoin












or @tom_watson












or @JohnmcdonnellMP












or @georgegalloway












or @Rachael_Swindon



































or even @sadiqkhan













I happen to agree with Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. I was pretty appalled about the way the 172 Labour MPs disrespected democracy by trying to bully Corbyn into resigning outside of the rule book, and various antidemocratic moves were then subsequently tried – like keeping Corbyn off the ballot paper, then trying to stop 230,000 members from voting.

But we have to talk about my follower Sadiq.

I’ve been in the same room while Sadiq was giving a talk – and seen his manner and behaviour with people. He is very polite, and certainly not an ‘élitist’. I suppose he will wish to ‘side with’ the current Labour MPs who believe that Jeremy Corbyn will not win the 2020 election – but they can no more predict this than I can. I am though fairly confident that Jeremy Corbyn MP will win the current Labour leadership contest – and it is pretty unlikely that Sadiq’s comment will alter this outcome.

I’m not a Corbynista.


But the situation is clearly more nuanced than that.

There’ll be some traditional Labour voters who feel disenfranchised by the EU  – such as the undercutting of wages by multinational corporates, or local collieries being shut down due to application of EU ‘state aid’ rules.

I think Sadiq is pretty Fabian in outlook, though. I had to remind myself of Tony Blair’s aspirations for the Labour Party from a speech he gave to Progress last July. He believes that the socialist left wing errs when it does not project a positive vision about the future but is reactionary. Indeed the sole aim of the Labour government should not be to ‘fix’ the mistakes, but it happens that there are plenty of mistakes (e.g. tax loopholes, unconscionable profits in privatised utilities, market failure in social housing, rip off PFI deals crippling the NHS). It is of course essential Labour is vaguely attractive to all business, big and small, but I think Tony Blair fundamentally misses the point of how it’s also possible to have a vision about the future from Corbyn’s perspective, for example judicious use of investment in the North of England through an investment bank. Also, Blair’s caricature of socialists always being stuck in 1983 is clearly not true when aggressive tax avoidance and PFI are devices of today.

And the problems with Sadiq’s position politicially of doing ‘austerity lite’ is graphically represented by the closure of thousands of law centres in England on his watch as shadow minister for justice – not once did he pledge the timely return of these law centres, which like CABs were the lifeline of people like me who’d lost disability living allowance for no reason.

We were never a happy family in Labour. When I looked at this picture of me and Charlie Whelan, I thought of the time Nick Cohen was trapped in a pub with Charlie Whelan talking about the limitations of Alistair Darling during the global financial crash. As Nick knows, I defended Brown to the hilt, often irrationally, even when Brown claimed to be ‘saving the world’, during his 10p fiasco, when he was called Mr Bean by Sir Vince Cable, when he turned up late for the signing of a EU treaty, and so on. But Brown’s biggest mistake was probably the underregulation of the City – as the Americans pointed out, nobody forced the Brits to buy their dodgy securitised mortgage products.

In happier times maybe…? But remember how Brown tried desperately hard to get rid of Blair, and ultimately succeeded – then there was the fiasco of the election that never was.

Charlie Whelan















I don’t feel in any way betrayed by Sadiq suddenly decided to endorse Owen Smith MP. I suppose Sadiq as Mayor of London feels also obligated to represent those members who robustly oppose #Brexit, such as corporate lawyers.

Everyone knows Jeremy Corbyn will win in this current leadership contest by a landslide – the question is whether the shadow cabinet is up to the job of writing coherent policy not in a cliquey club, and taking this policy to the doorstep. Owen Smith MP is worse than really dire as a contender.

Kinnock thought he’d win in 1987 and 1992, and look what happened to him. Blair won in 2005, despite a disastrous share of the vote – it is said that even he was so depressed by his own performance he turned the TV off for an hour of the election coverage.

We’ve been here before…





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