A-Z of Theresa May: more weak and wobbly than strong and stable!

At the start of this election campaign, Theresa May boasted repeatedly that she was “strong and stable”. Soon, she became a laughing stock, because she was anything but strong and stable. In this piece, I bring you A-Z descriptions of Theresa May.

She introduced the Dementia Tax. She is awful and appalling.

She likes foxhunting – killing foxes for fun. She is backward and barbaric.

She wants to take away universal winter fuel allowance which may lead to thousands of deaths annually.  She is cruel and callous.

She said that her Dementia Tax U-turn changed nothing. She is dishonest and deceitful.

Thousands of disabled people have died after DWP declared them fit for work, which she supported. She is evil and egregious.

She was too scared to debate Jeremy Corbyn head to head. She is feeble and failing.

Her support of NHS cuts led to 30,000 deaths. She is ghastly and grim.

She supported the bedroom tax. She is hateful and horrible.

She has overseen the worst Tory election campaign ever. She is inept and incompetent.

She has already alienated other EU partners with her silly posturing. She is juvenile and jeopardy.

She lied about opposition parties sabotaging Brexit. She is a “Liar Liar”.

She wants to take away infants’ lunches. She is mean and malicious.

She introduced the rape clause for mothers claiming benefits for a third child. She is nasty and nefarious.

She calls herself a “bloody difficult woman”. She is obnoxious and offensive.

Again and again, she does not answer questions put to her. She is pathetic and pitiful.

Nurses are having to use foodbanks under her watch. She is reprehensible and repulsive.

She puts her own career before anything else. She is selfish and self-serving.

She sought to exploit the recent terror attack by making policy announcements when campaigning was supposed to be suspended. She is terrible and two-faced.

She told lies about not calling a snap election but called a vanity election in the end. She is untrustworthy and untruthful.

Her government has denied disability benefits to 165,000 people. She is vicious and vile.

She is a U-turn queen who flip flops and collapses at the first sign of gunfire. She is weak and wobbly.

As home secretary, she sent “go home vans” in areas with high ethnic minority population. She is xenophobic and a zealot.

I have made the above into a YouTube video.

Tories’ desperate smears against Corbyn on security

On the eve of the election, the Tory attack dogs in the tabloids (the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express) have unleashed their most vicious smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn yet. This reeks of utter desperation from a Tory election campaign that has been woeful and lamentable. According to the Tory leaning Spectator, it has been the worst Tory election campaign ever.

The Tories have been so inept and incompetent that they can’t even run a smear campaign against Corbyn properly. On the one hand, they call him weak on security for being a pacifist, because unlike May, he will not readily press the nuclear button killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in one go. And on the other hand, they say that he is a terrorist sympathiser. How can he be a pacifist who renounces violence and a terrorist sympathiser who promotes violence at the same time? The Tories are so desperate that they are not even making any sense.

The facts are as follows. Corbyn spent his entire political career promoting peace and bringing an end to violence around the world.  He voted against the Iraq war, UK’s intervention in Libya and bombing in Syria. Theresa May voted for all three. Corbyn has been proven to be on the right of history as these interventions in the Middle East have raised the terror threat both in the UK and abroad. The ex-MI5 boss, Baroness Manningham-Buller, for example, had said that the Iraq invasion substantially increased the terrorist threat to the UK.

A vote for Corbyn is a vote for peace and an end to foreign wars. A vote for May will be a threat to our safety and security at home and abroad.

At home, May cut police numbers and she was warned by the Police Federation that it will increase risks of terrorism at home. We saw in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack that 1000 armed soldiers had to be deployed on our streets because of the police cuts. This was a failure of May when she was a home secretary. David Cameron’s former strategy chief put the blame for the recent terrorist attacks on May as he tweeted, “Theresa May responsible for security failures of London Bridge, Manchester, Westminster Bridge. Should be resigning not seeking re-election”.

Abroad, Theresa May is building a coalition of risk with Donald Trump. Like him, she sold weapons to Saudi Arabia which has been used to bomb Yemen. We saw after Trump was elected, May wasted no time to go over to the White House and hold Trump’s hand giving him her unconditional support. Trump has a dangerous and aggressive approach to foreign policy. He was on the brink of starting World War III with North Korea within months of being elected.

And earlier on in this election campaign, Boris Johnson indicated that May will support Donald Trump in a bombing campaign in the Middle East without parliamentary approval. In April, Trump dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan known as the mother of all bombs. Trump’s belligerent approach to foreign policy is making the world less safe every day. May is making a coalition of risk with him. Only a Labour government led by Corbyn provides any prospect of ending the endless cycle of foreign wars and terrorism.

I have made a YouTube video on this topic.


Corbyn the underdog can win – just like his beloved Arsenal did on Saturday

[Published on Labour List on 30 May 2017]

 

On Saturday [27 May 2017], Jeremy Corbyn was at Wembley stadium watching the FA Cup final as his beloved Arsenal took on Chelsea, who had just won the Premier League title with 18 points more than the Gunners.

Despite Arsenal’s status as the underdog, they were victorious on the day and carved out a convincing win. Probably referring to his own status as the “underdog”, Corbyn bantered with fellow Arsenal fan Robert Peston on Sunday remarking that “underdogs win!”.

Corbyn went into this election campaign as the ultimate “underdog”. His personal ratings compared to May were rock bottom with an IPSOS Mori survey showing the latter as the most popular leader of a political party in living memory. According to opinion polls, the Tories were as many as 24 points ahead of Labour and projected to win a 200-seat majority while Labour were facing a possible electoral wipe-out.

Fast forward a month and the political landscape has changed completely. Dubbed as “the worst Tory election campaign ever“, the Tories are in complete disarray with May’s personal ratings having taken a battering. Labour has closed the gap in the polls to five or six points and Corbyn’s personal ratings have risen. He is a far better campaigner than May. Despite the continued media onslaught against him from the right wing, people are warming to him. The more they see and hear from the man himself, the more they like him. His status as the “underdog” maybe a factor too.

There is something in the British psyche that we like to root for the underdog. The success of Anne Widdecombe – the right winger with two left feet – on Strictly Come Dancing is a classic example. Susan Boyle, an unemployed former cook, is another who took to the nation’s hearts on Britain’s Got Talent and her first album became the fastest selling debut album in British history.

In political terms, the greatest “underdog” of them all was Clement Attlee who was openly derided by those within the Labour Party, and outside it. Left-leaning publications such as the Tribune and New Statesman were also critical of him. Winston Churchill branded him as a “modest man who had much to be modest about”. However, Attlee went onto defy his critics winning the 1945 election and bringing in much needed social reforms to rebuild post-war Britain. A recent study at Leeds University ranked Attlee as the greatest post-war prime minister.

Corbyn has been likened to Attlee in the way that the former is also derided in the media. Like Attlee, Corbyn has put forward a series of bold pledges in his manifesto to transform Britain in the aftermath of the recent global economic downturn. The popularity of the leader today may not be truly reflected in opinion polls, because of “Shy corbynites” – those who may not admit to liking him given the public derision towards him, but who may vote for him in the privacy of the polling booth. A survey found that people overwhelmingly support policies in Labour manifesto. “Shy voters” is a recent phenomenon that is said to have delivered a victory for Trump in America and Brexit in the UK.

The latest narrowing in the polls between the Tories and Labour has been credited to women surging towards Corbyn. Also, some two million young people under the age of 35 registered to vote before the deadline on May 22. Labour has the strongest support amongst young voters. If 30 per cent more young people vote for Labour, the Tories could lose this election. Corbyn has won the backing of a number of high profile artists who are popular among young people. Young voters are also likely to be attracted to Corbyn’s “underdog” status.

Corbyn knows all about how to win from the position of an underdog. He was a 200-1 outsider to win the Labour leadership in 2015, but beat his rivals convincingly. With less than 10 days to go before the polling day, Corbyn is not only being viewed as a serious contender, he has sent the Tories into panic mode.

Back to the FA Cup final. The colours represented by the teams, Arsenal in red overcoming blue Chelsea, could be a good omen. If Corbyn carves out victory on June 8 it would be the greatest underdog success story yet.

Labour can ensure the Maybot’s empty slogans come back to haunt her

[First published in LabourList on 8 May 2017]

However we spin it, there is no doubt that the local election results last week were a significant blow for Labour. Tory leaning media outlets have since been rubbing their hands with glee and projecting massive wins for the Conservatives at the general election next month. This presupposes that voters are “stupid” and do not understand the difference between a local election and a general election.

A week is a long time in politics and there are still four of them to go before the general election. Labour has more than 500,000 members to mobilise and make a difference in its campaign especially as the Tories appear not to offer a real vision for the country. Theresa May’s repeated “strong and stable” mantra parroted by her Conservative colleagues has turned their election campaign into “no more than a slogan”, according to George Osborne in his first leader column as the editor of Evening Standard.

Labour, on the other hand, has announced a raft of popular policies. Corbyn has been out and about on the campaign trail speaking to ordinary voters. His refreshing style won him plaudits from the most unlikeliest of sources as The Spectator wrote, “In praise of Corbyn’s campaign”.

Unlike Corbyn, May looks awkward engaging with members of the public and has kept a distance from them. She has preferred to address party activists in a forest hideout in Scotland, a business hub in Leeds after workers went home and on a housing estate in Bristol where residents were not invited. May’s stage managed appearances have been described as “fake meetings” by Craig Murray, a former British ambassador.

May has made this election all about her in what has been described by commentators as the most presidential election in living memory. Placards held up by Tory party activists at her rallies do not talk about what the Tories are offering in this election, but their claim that May offers “strong and stable” leadership.

May herself seems unable to open her mouth without spluttering out “strong and stable” even where it does not make sense. When asked in a radio interview what a mugwump is, May’s response was: “What I recognise is that what we need in this country is strong and stable leadership”. May’s robotic utterances have earned her the nickname “Maybot” and made her a figure of fun on social media.

May borrowed the slogan from David Cameron who deployed it in the run up to the 2015 general election tweeting, “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband.” It is in fact Cameron who has given this country “chaos” by calling and losing the EU referendum, which has caused the biggest political crisis since the Second World War.

This was summed up rather eloquently by Ed Miliband when he tweeted recently, “Strong & Stable Gov 1 (2015):PM resigns, manifesto shredded, Scottish independence threat, election called, man buys shed. Fancy the sequel?”

Like Cameron, May’s talk of “strong and stable” leadership is an illusion. Repeating it endlessly does not endow her with those qualities. She has been described as a “pound store Margaret Thatcher“. Her record as a home secretary was disastrous. The Telegraph ran a story on its website “Theresa May is a great self-promoter but terrible home secretary” in the run up to last year’s Tory leadership contest.

May’s failings in the Brexit negotiations thus far shows that she is in fact presiding over a “coalition of chaos”. Her delusions and lack of knowledge and compromise have emerged from the disastrous dinnerwith Jean-Claude Juncker. This is why the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, has taken to trolling May over her robotic slogan when he tweeted, “”Any #Brexit deal requires a strong & stable understanding of the complex issues involved. The clock is ticking – it’s time to get real.”

Lynton Crosby, the mastermind behind Maybot, in trademark fashion plants one or two soundbites into voters’ minds, because he believes that they are unlikely to remember policies when they go into the polling station. Crosby failed spectacularly in his last assignment on Zac Goldsmith’s bid to be London mayor.

The Tories’ reliance on vacuous slogans while being light touch on policies offers Labour a perfect opportunity to make its case to the great British public. Labour’s policy to support the NHS has won the backing of NHS workers who have been expressing their support using the hashtag #publicduty on social media warning of their fears of a Conservative victory.

Corbyn received a standing ovation from hundreds of head teachers at a conference of the National Association of Head Teachers as he pledged to close the Tories’ £3bn funding gap in schools.

Labour is offering real hope in this election while Tories parrot meaningless soundbites. Labour has an opportunity to close the gap in opinion polls in the coming weeks with a strong grassroots campaign. It is resonating with young voters who are more likely to vote Labour in this election. Some 390,000 people aged under 25 have already registered to vote since this election was called. A recent poll has found that as many as third of people are considering to vote tactically to prevent May’s hard Brexit, which may favour Labour candidates up and down the country. A lot will happen between now and the general election and Tories may live to regret making this election campaign all about May’s empty slogans.

The Tories are now the UKIP light party and unfit to negotiate with Europe, says David Lammy

On Saturday 6 May 2017, my local MP, David Lammy launched his re-election campaign with a guest appearance from Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary.

Addressing the local Labour faithful, Thornberry set out the Labour party’s alternative to May’s hard Brexit. She also said that the country was crying out for a Labour government to create a fairer and more equal society.

As well as campaigning locally in Tottenham, Lammy appealed to local members to be generous and campaign for Labour candidates in marginal seats such as Rupa Haq in Ealing and Acton, Tulip Siddiq in Hampstead & Kilburn and Wes Streeting in Ilford North.

Lammy highlighted the importance of retaining marginal seats as the key to Labour’s success at the general election.

After the speeches and a photo session on Tottenham Green, I caught up with Lammy and asked him the main reasons why we should oust the Tories on 8 June.

Lammy said, “If you believe in state education, then you should certainly get rid of the Tories, because they are planning cuts to our schools where we had a 20-year concensus on extra funding in state schools.”

“I think if you are worried about the growing trend of nationalism and frankly about a mainstream party like the Conservative Party becoming a UKIP light party, then we also really want to see the back of them. We need better negotiators on our future with Europe.”

“I also believe that we do need those extra police officers, 20,000 of them.”

“And I am really concerned about what is happening with the NHS – if you are ending up in A&E or you have got a loved one and an elderly relative; the collapse in social care and queues we now have in our A&E services across the country.”

“For all those reasons, we need change; we need a better prospect, and I believe we need a fairer society and that means voting Labour.”

Labour should forget the polls and use its grassroots army to campaign on its core values every day until June 8

[Originally published in LabourList on 25 April 2017]

It has been a week since Theresa May called a snap general election. The main Tory election strategy so far has been to repeat opinion poll findings through their biased media outlets and satisfy themselves they are on course for a landslide victory. This is why May will not even bother to defend her record in a television debate.

Labour members should ignore these opinion polls, however, because polls do not win elections. What wins elections is getting out and speaking to voters. Labour has the largest number of members of any political parties in Europe. Thousands of new members have joined the party since this election was called. This is an opportunity to mobilise and form the biggest people-powered electoral campaign in British political history.

First off, the entire Labour family must come together as one united force. Labour has had its fair share of divisions since the 2015 general election, but now is not the time to have those internal debates. The electorate will not vote for a divided party. Members should take a leaf out of Sadiq Khan’s book. The London mayor has backed Jeremy Corbyn to be the next prime minister although he supported Owen Smith during the last leadership election.

Labour has been and will always be a broad church. In the 1983 general election, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were elected as Labour MPs under Michael Foot’s leadership even though they both went onto set out a fundamentally different vision for the Party. Instead of internal ideological differences, Labour members need to focus on the bigger picture, which is to oust this Tory government on 8 June 2017. The entire labour movement is united in this vision.

Spending even one minute debating our own differences is a minute wasted which could be spent attacking the Tories right now. A recent example is when members were circulating petitions on Facebook to expel Blair because he had appeared to suggest that people should vote Tory or Lib Dem candidates if they were open minded about Brexit. He has subsequently clarified that he does not propose tactical voting. However, that is not the point. The point is that as Labour members, all our energies should be focused on attacking the Tories. If members must circulate anything on social media, there are plenty of articles about Tory failures from over the last seven years.

Let us not forget May’s cynical motive behind calling this election, which is to boost the Tory majority significantly. This is where Labour members will need to campaign cleverly. Members from relatively safe seats will need to go to marginal Labour seats to help out with campaigning there. By way of example, I live in the safe Labour seat of Tottenham, which has a majority of 23,564 and I have been co-ordinating members to go and help out Tulip Siddiq defend a majority of 1,138 in Hampstead and Kilburn and Joan Ryan defend a majority of 1,086 in Enfield North. Up and down the country, Labour members should deploy themselves accordingly to ensure that we hold onto all our seats. We need to get our house in order first.

We will then need to look at Tory, Lib Dem or SNP marginal seats where Labour can make gains by putting in a strong people powered campaign. We need to learn from how Barack Obama mobilised a grassroots campaign in the run up to his famous presidential win in 2008.

Labour can run a similar grassroots campaign in this election. It has been reported that more than 100,000 under-25s have already registered to vote since this election was announced. Because Brexit will have the biggest impact on young people, this election means more to them than ever before. This is one particular demographic that Labour should target. If young people turn out in large numbers to vote, it will have the effect of turning traditional opinion polls on its head.

Some 34 per cent of registered voters, including significant number of young people, did not vote at the 2015 general election. There is widespread disenfranchisement and apathy amongst these voters. In the same way that hundreds of thousands of new members have been energised to join the Labour movement in the last couple of years, they now need to speak to their friends and neighbours to take the same leap of faith and vote Labour. This is the “neighbour-to-neighbour” campaigning model which emerged from Obama’s successful electoral campaigns.

There are 44 days left from today until 8 June and we have about 46 million voters in the UK. Labour has over 500,000 members. If each member speaks to at least two people every day, we would reach over a million people every day and we would have spoken to every single voter by the time of the election. As well as knocking on doors, we need to make sure that we speak to our relatives, friends and neighbours. We can also do this from the comfort of our homes using various social media platforms.

If any party can turn the opinion polls around, Labour can. It has a huge energised membership, which is its biggest strength. Opinion polls only represent opinions. After the 2015 general election, the president of YouGov, Peter Kellner said that politicians “should campaign on what they believe, they should not listen to people like me and the figures we produce”.

 

How Labour can win the 2017 general election

22 April 2017: I was out campaigning with my local MP, David Lammy for the upcoming general election. There is lots of energy and enthusiasm amongst my Labour comrades, because we have an opportunity to dump this awful Tory government on 8 June 2017.

Having said on multiple occasions that there would be no snap election, Theresa May called one as part of her cynical attempt to increase her majority because of her commanding lead in the so-called opinion polls. If opinion polls actually mattered, we should just declare Theresa May winner now and go home. There is only one poll that matters and that’s on the election day. There are still many weeks go and Labour can turn things around. Here is how:

1. We need to change the Tory narrative and turn this election into not just about Brexit, but about Tory failures on education, NHS, living standards, housing, public services, transport and so on.

2. We need to focus on the 34% of registered voters who did not vote at the last general election (often young people). It is staggering to think that only 24% of all registered voters voted for the Conservative Party. This means that more people did not vote than voted Tory.

3. We need to make maximum use of social media. In this election, social media will be more important than ever before. People are switching away from traditional media. We need to be the ‘media’ and use all our social media platforms to speak to voters.

4. We need to deploy Labour’s members to get out and fight for every vote. We are the largest political party in Europe with 500,000+ members. We are at a massive advantage compared to the other parties.

Campaigning in Tottenham Green

Saturday 8 April 2017: The sun was out and it was a warm morning. It was around 11 o’clock. I hurried past Tottenham Hotspurs fans who had emerged from Seven Sisters underground station slowly making their way to the ground for the lunch time kick off. They looked cheerful not just because the sun was out, but because Spurs are doing rather well this season (unlike my own team Arsenal!).

I met up with some of Tottenham’s Labour councillors for knocking on residents’ doors in Grove Park Road (off West Green Road). I quite enjoy speaking to residents who are mostly pleased to see a friendly face (that’s me!). One particular resident invited me into his home and explained some problems where he needed council’s help. I took down his details so that local councillors could deal with it as casework.

After the campaigning session, I sat down with my comrades for a drink at a local Portuguese cafe called Bom Pecado. The place was buzzing. It was clear to see that people loved the authentic taste and the flavours served up in this little cafe. For some, it was like home away from home.

Tottenham has always welcomed people from all corners of the earth. I came to live here from Bangladesh with my family in 1993. I was a 12 year-old boy. Initially, it was difficult for me to adapt to a completely different environment not least because I did not speak any English. Once I settled down, Tottenham became my home. Although I travelled, lived and worked in many countries around the world, I always returned to Tottenham. I know this place like the back of my hand.