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Claire Kober and her allies should wake up to public opinion

People are sick and tired of privatisation, outsourcing and 'developments' designed to fill the pockets of global corporates. What happened in Haringey proves that

HARINGEY council leader Claire Kober continues her round of TV and radio studios, before she stands down in May, to accuse unnamed people in the Labour Party of bullying and sexism.

Other Labour members seeking justice in response to perceived abuse would be expected to put their case to the national executive committee, but Kober doesn’t do so, accusing the NEC itself of being part of the problem.

BBC presenter Andrew Marr pointed out that Kober’s complaints appear largely based on hearsay, which poses the question: Why should one major news programme after another give space for her unsubstantiated allegations?

The same applies to the decision of the Daily Mail and the Daily Politics BBC TV programme to offer a platform to Nora Mulready, whose claim to fame appears to be that she joined Labour 20 years ago and has decided to leave.

Mulready nails her colours to Kober’s mast, demeaning the vast swathe of local opinion that opposed her Haringey Development Vehicle.

According to Mulready, “those who now dominate Labour” … “fought (and have probably won) to keep people in positions of deprivation.”

She adds: “I am someone who speaks out, I believe in debate, I believe in saying what you think and, right now, I don’t think the Labour Party is safe for those who do that.”

In doing so, she and Kober play into the hands of the Tories, who, bereft of ideas to justify their divisive and destructive policies, have hit on “hard-left bullying” as their latest hobby horse after their disgraceful efforts to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of tolerating a wave of anti-semitism in Labour.

Theresa May called for a crackdown on intimidation in politics at the weekend, warning of a “permanent coarsening and toxifying” of public debate unless action is taken.

Her party also launched a petition on this issue, laying bare the intention to make political capital rather than confront a real problem.

Her chairman Brandon Lewis confirmed this yesterday with his insistence on resurrecting the old canard of John McDonnell supposedly threatening Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey with violence.

May noted the unacceptability of anyone having “to face threats and intimidation” because they have expressed a political opinion.

“We can all see this change happening and I know that many share my concern about it,” she added, as though this is a new phenomenon and she has been foremost in confronting it.

Nearly half the recorded threats and abuse to politicians in Britain have been directed against one woman: Diane Abbott.

Tory politicians, including May, allowed the torrent of threats, racist and sexist insults to pass unremarked until quite recently — but that was before they saw an opportunity to capitalise.

Had the Tories been honest about the need to confront abuse and lay down acceptable standards for public life, they would have approached Labour and other parties to adopt a collective position.

They didn’t because they have profited from years of gutter journalism in the Murdoch rags, the Mail and others where abuse of Labour politicians, notably Tony Benn, was viewed as useful by Tory Party HQ.

No-one can point to a single incident where, in political terms, Corbyn has played the opponent rather than the ball.

His approach is based on power of argument, which has contributed to the growing realisation in Labour that privatisation, in all its various forms, including the Haringey Development Vehicle, does not benefit working-class people.


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